How is Belief Science different than Christianity?
Belief Science is based on postmodern philosophy (a fully relationship-based philosophy as presented on this website), whereas Christianity is based on ancient ways of understanding the world. Belief Scientists believe that children are precious, innocent, and beautiful in every way, whereas Christians believe that babies are stained by original sin. Belief Scientists hold that people are basically good if their needs are met, whereas Christianity holds that people are prone to evil and must be saved. Belief Scientists believe adult consensual sex is a beautiful act, whereas Christianity prohibits or degrades consensual adult sexual activity in many forms. There is no condemnation or sin in Belief Science, whereas Christianity condemns non-believers (e.g., John 3:18), and people who do wrong are defined as sinners. Belief Science purports that when someone does something harmful to another person, forgiveness should first be sought from the offended person, whereas Christianity holds that an uninvolved third party can forgive someone’s sins. If Belief Scientists as a community believe in god, then god is among them and between them in their daily interaction (a truth for the believers), whereas Christians believe in a universal god that represents the only truth. Belief Scientists treat all people fairly, including gays and women, whereas Christianity has a history of discrimination against gays and women. Belief Science values human accomplishment and encourages people to be successful and generous, whereas Christianity purports that being wealthy is an impediment to salvation. Belief Science values family and commitment to child rearing, whereas Christians are directed to leave their families to follow Christ. Belief Scientists are optimistic of the human condition and the future of humanity, whereas Christians believe there will be an apocalypse. These are just a few differences between Belief Science and Christianity.
What about “God” with a capital “G”: Is the Science of Belief simply agnosticism?
No. Belief Science is not agnosticism. Agnosticism, as defined here, is the philosophical position that humans are unable to know, with any certainty, that a “god” exists. By contrast, the Science of Belief is clear in defining “truth” as deriving from consensualizing. There is no mystery of faith. There is no lack of understanding or knowing. What is known is known through relationships among human beings coming to believe together. There are knowable truths that come from sharing beliefs and from acting on those beliefs. So if Belief Scientists come to believe there is a god, then god is among them. Their interaction represents a truth of their god’s existence. But the god is not outside of them as a universal truth—god is in their interaction. Their god is with them in those moments that adherents share deeply with each other. Their god is with them and between them. Their god is in their language and in their actions. They embrace their god as they embrace each other. So if the question is about a “god” (agnosticism reflects such questioning), then it is clear that the Science of Belief is not agnosticism, because certain Belief Scientists can come to know and share with certainty their vision of their god. However, it is fully acceptable for some Belief Scientists to come to agreement to study as agnostics, so long as they abide by the Canons of the Church. In other words, god is knowable, to those that believe together, but it is just as valid to come together to believe that god may never be known (agnosticism), or even that god does not exist (atheism). The Science of Belief is a high order way of thinking that incorporates all ways of believing while holding to ethical principles in defining the acceptability of belief systems.
Is the Church of Belief Science a cult?
Start-up religions are often viewed as “cults” They may be viewed as potentially dangerous to newcomers. The Church of Belief Science is nothing like a cult. In fact, it is so different than a cult, it can be considered the “anti-cult.” Cults, by definition, limit the nature and types of interactions between members. Communication with non-members is often limited, except for attempts to convice (or even to strong-arm) individuals to join the cult. Cults typically involve discouragement of dissent, active methods to suppress member doubt, isolation of members, punishment for leaving the group, a claim of superiority, and required devotion at the cost of self interests and family interests. There is often disregard for outside authority. The Church of Belief Science, by way of contrast, simply requires a commitment to 12 ethical Canons–easy guidelines that all encourage and enhance healthy relationships. Families and loving relationships are valued. Members may practice in different ways that allow minimal or significant interaction with other members of the Church, so there is no active restraint of members. Members may quit the Church simply by communicating to the Administration their resignation, or they may act outside of consensus with the ethical Canons of the Church (thereby nullifying their membership). There is no punishment for membership resignation. There is no claim to superiority; in fact, the ideals of the Church support the concept of many truths flowing from the foundational Canon of the Church–consensualizing. The free flow of ideas is valued and welcomed. People who want to escape cults, or individuals seeking to educate others about religions that are not cult-like, will be well-served to communicate the ideals of the Science of Belief.
How is Belief Science different from the Unitarian-Universalist Church?
There are major differences between the two religions. Here are two differences. First, organizationally, the Church of Belief Science has assemblies that may be organized around different religions or philosophies (or any combination of philosophies or traditions). An Assembly of the Church of Belief Science in the study of Christ’s teachings, for example, would look similar to a Christian Church. An assembly in the study of Buddhist ideals might appear to operate like a Buddhist temple. Unitarian Universalist congregations may address any number of religions or philosophies all within the operation of one congregation. Philosophically, there is also the issue of individual conscience, which is honored by the Unitarian Universalists, whereas Belief Scientists hold that there is no individual conscience–conscience (or mind) is in the social matrix. Decisions are a reflection of the ideals and principles held by members of a spiritual collective. So conscience is not about individual choice, it’s about contextualized choice. This issue is a major philosophical difference between the two religions. Unitarian Universalists locate conscience (or mind) inside the individual, whereas Belief Scientist locate mind within the social web of relations within which one is enmeshed. Belief Scientists would point out that all decisions are made from a particular point-of-view involving past and present relationships, which are not only influential, but constitute the context for action.
How is Belief Science different from the Baha’i faith?
The Church of Belief Science is based on a philosophy that is unique in its idea that what is known or understood comes from agreement through social interaction. This is in stark contrast to the Baha’i faith that believes that what is understood derives from an existing, objective god-force which takes multiple forms (as described by prophets, for example). Belief Scientists believe that any conceptions of a god as an absolute supreme being derives from consensualizing—socially coming to agreement and acting upon what is agreed as true. So therefore, any “god” would be within the sphere of social discourse; literally, the “god” would be between people and among people, but not outside human interaction. The Baha’i faith is founded on a belief in an objective god, whereas Belief Science is founded on a belief that what is understood to be “true” derives from people in communion and is inherent in relationships. It is possible that some Belief Scientists might come together to believe that there is no supreme being or god-force. This belief would be fully acceptable according to the Science of Belief, but not in the Baha’i faith. Also, although the Baha’i faith at face value teaches acceptance of many prophets in the name of God, the writings of Baha’u’llah demonstrate intolerance of some religious beliefs. For example, in Gleanings from the Writing of Baha’u’llah, (Baha’u’llah is a prophet at the foundation of the Baha’i faith) there is the following passage which is scathing of the Jewish faith:
“These people of Israel are even unto the present day still expecting that Manifestations which the Bible hath foretold? How many Manifestations of Holiness, how many Revealers of the light everlasting, have appeared since the time of Moses, and yet Israel, wrapt in the densest veils of satanic fancy and false imaginings, is still expectant that the idol of her own handiwork will appear with such signs as she herself hath conceived! Thus hath God laid hold of them for their sins, hath extinguished in them the spirit of faith, and tormented them with the flames of the nethermost fire.”
Such statements are not consistent with tolerance of diverse views. The Science of Belief acknowledges all belief systems as valid within the community of adherents. And those individuals who are outside of the Church are not viewed as inferior or defective in any way. The Church of Belief Science simply welcomes those that can abide by the Canons of the Church, and Church members certainly accept that some individuals may choose not to do so.