As I knew he would, Rocketstar came to my "Why I Believe In God" post with a skeptic's eye. In his comment, he says:
If everyone’s God was like yours Ken (just a basic higher power, creator of the universe and everything in it with no other detailed plan or rules to live by [correct me if I misstated that]) I may not even be an atheist (the conversion may have never happened) if that is what humans believed God was.
Some humans-actually, many humans--do believe in a god/higher being/power/what have you with these characteristics. Native Americans believe an animating force lurks within everything. There's no 'detailed plan' from the spirits on The Right Way To Live, although a person might, on his own or through his shaman, seek advice from them. That advice, from what I've read, is geared towards living in harmony with the life, the universe and everything.
Buddhists don't have a god. Their 'god' is a man who just happened to 'wake up' one day. He said anyone can 'wake up' like he did, and while there are many theories on how to go about 'waking up', you don't see Buddhists killing each other over them. Pretty much everybody in that philosophical tradition (you can't very well call it a 'religion' does agree (though they'll perhaps word it differently) that 'waking up' entails living in harmony with life, the universe and everything.
Hindus have scads and scads of gods and goddesses--in some traditions. There's also a very detailed set of rules for right living (called 'dharma', which translates, loosely, as 'duty'). But that set of rules is very widely interpreted...and some Hindus are atheists.
The first vice-president of India, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, once said "Hinduism is not just a faith. It is the union of reason and intuition that can not be defined but is only to be experienced." Their concept of divinity permeates all living beings, and therefore their rules for right living can be said to allow one to live in harmony, with life, the universe and everything.
I can go on. If you're pagan, Wiccan, or a New Ager, living in harmony with life, the universe and everything is the central tenet of your belief system. Even in the Sufic tradition of Islam (and Islam itself is, for my money, the most rigid and unbending of faiths), sharia law is only the external manifestation of a largely internal process towards divine unity. Christianity also concerns itself with divine unity: the sermons of Jesus are chock-full of allusions to it.
People describe their belief systems with different words and occasionally they take differing approaches. You'll hear references to One God, many gods, or no god, for example, and that in and of itself seems to be an insurmountable difference...especially since so many people are willing to kill over it.
But the end goal of any belief system, be it religious or scientific, is knowledge. I myself believe that the division between scientific and religious thought will eventually melt away as science learns more about the smallest unifying components and energies in 'life, the universe and everything' and religion comes to realize and accept that it is merely one way of stating truth. (That latter might take a while: one detestable trait of humanity is the seemingly bottomless need to feel superior...and sole ownership of the One True Path to the Divine is a great way to feel
I rejected Christianity as a faith when I realized one day that people all over the world, no matter what religious (or irreligious) tradition they live by, tend overwhelmingly towards the assumption that their own tradition has it right and everyone else is wrong. In other words, Christianity was suddenly reduced in my mind from the one true path to a he said/she said squabble. On the heels of that realization, I quickly came to another: that there was no way to prove any faith correct and any other wrong. Even a direct appearance by God Itself wouldn't cut it. Because no matter what this God-figure did, there would be many people determined to believe that (a) it was the work of the Devil or (b) it wasn't divine intervention at all but only some aspect of science in action we didn't understand yet. That divine action and science in action can be the same thing is something that never seems to occur to people.
So, armed with those insights, I embarked on a quick tour of world faiths. I didn't submerge myself in any of them: I was only looking for similarities. The above is what I came up with: pretty much every faith going has a stake in unity with the Divine. Pretty ironic, when you think about how divisive religious faith is.
I've come to a point where I'm usually able to discard all the dross and ritual in any faith you throw at me and discern an underlying sense and sensibility. I believe very much that, as Stephen Gaskin put it, "Religions only look different if you get them from a retailer. If you go to a wholesaler, you'll find they're all the same."
I don't accept religion from retailers. All sales are final and there's no warranty.
But wholesale? What I call "God" you might call "Unified Field Theory" or "Nature" or "Life, the Universe and Everything"...or you might not call it anything at all. That's fine. The God I believe in doesn't have the human need to be worshiped. Neither does it have the human need to judge. It's nothing less and nothing more than an animating force.
This may strike people as an impersonal God. I don't see it that way, not when we're all (in my belief) part if it. In Neale Donald Walsch's terms, we are all "co-creators" trying to experience the "next greatest version of the grandest vision" ever we had about Who We Are. Which is as close to a working meaning of life as I've ever seen.
Thoughts, opinions, protests?