I wrote these tidbits and bit them together back in 2006 for a blog.... Some of these ideas have changed over time, but I found this while looking for something else from around the same time. I just thought I'd share. The Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything The Ultimate Answer is simply forty-two - according to Deep Thought, the second greatest computer in all of time and space, in Douglas Adams's classic science-fiction comedy, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. If only it were that simple. Maybe it is? Who knows? It would be quite funny if it were - but I highly doubt it. As such, here are some of my personal thoughts on "life, the universe, and everything": On God and Religion. If you're interested in what I personally believe, I am an agnostic - atheist in practice - with views of the universe similar to that of a pantheist. I understand God in the metaphorical context similar to the way Albert Einstein, Carl Sagan, and Stephen Hawking have conceived of the term. Similarly, I have found a rabbi's (of the Reform affiliation) interpretation of God to be quite enlightening. To him, God is possibility. In this way, God exists as the catalyst for existence and is also infinite (as opposed to probability which is not). To believe in possibility is to have hope, which for many is the basis of metaphysical belief. Books like the Bible are interesting texts, but I do not take them literally. They contain both useful teachings and outdated paradigms. From a scientific or historical perspective, they are rife with errors and misunderstandings. They teach both kindness to fellow man and intolerance on the same pages. Religious leaders use them to teach their own agendas. Some have man's best interests at heart; some have their own. For those who simply want comfort and answers, the former can be very conducive to a productive and fulfilling personal life with an overflow into the community, while the latter can have some pretty interesting, sometimes devastating, results (for an example, look at Fred Phelps's group). But for those who endeavor to understand the questions, to look at the larger picture, and to do so with logical methodology, religion can very well seem too narrow and contrived. On being human. Contrary to what some may think, I do not consider myself a spiritual person - but human. The following is an essay I wrote on a concept I call humanality: Humanality is the state or quality of being concerned with that which is human. It is not a philosophy, and it serves no specific creed or moral agenda. Its purpose is neither to extol nor to condemn humanity â€“ but rather to explore what it means to be human in a personal sense. There are many ways to be humanal. Exploring what it means to be human is a complex, life-long endeavor and may have many focuses including by not limited to: finding meaning and purpose, developing values, evaluating theological posits, improving one's physical or emotional wellbeing, acquiring peace-of-mind, developing awareness, and achieving self-actualization. Discussions in humanality are generally informal and are only as useful as the persons engaged in them find them. Humanality is not a replacement for spirituality. It is a much broader concept; the base of spirituality itself, since, subjectively, everything is human. To be spiritual is firstly to be humanal as there is no way of proving that things such as spiritual entities even exist. It is the mind that makes the belief. Humanality is not rigid or exclusive as it is meant to be individual in nature. Being religious or nonreligious is not a prerequisite. Knowledge and inspiration can come from anywhere â€“ in this respect, holy books, science fiction novels, and scientific journals are equal. Beliefs are only as important as they are to the person who holds them. On existence and meaning. To quote existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, "existence precedes essence." Objectively, life has no value; subjectively, it has as much value as one is willing to give it. Those who share this view are faced with a paradox. We know that life has no meaning, yet we are compelled to live it as though it does. Such is an equally freeing reality as it is sad one. On life. The goal of life is optimization achieved by our endeavor to realize our potential (attributes we possess biologically â€“ defined by DNA) through our parameters (circumstances, environment). On rights. Rights exist only as concepts â€“ they are intellectually conceived. Rights are born when a society recognizes innate or socially constructed commonalities and agrees to afford them protection. On interpersonal and intercultural ethics. Paxism "A philosophy of peace" Core Principles: Ultimate Reality is an unknown. Absolute truths theoretically exist; however, universality cannot logically be tested positive. Therefore, all statements have the potential to be proven false. Thusly, all statements are evaluated with reason, which varies from one person to another based on one's unique apprehension and interpretation of available information. One is responsible for one's own beliefs, and therefore, one must use one's own discretion when evaluating truth claims which lack evidentiary support. Input from external sources such as friends or clergy members are only useful insofar as the individual deems them so. Humankind, cognizant of its existence, is free to formulate beliefs and act within the context of the world. This freedom extends to every individual without qualification. Conflicts arise when individuals use their inborn freedom to act upon the world in such a way that inhibits the freedom of other individuals. Therefore, in the interest of peace and stability, this freedom cannot go unchecked. The equilateral stasis of personal liberty, as defined as "the maximum degree of freedom an individual can possess without unjustly limiting the freedom of other individuals," becomes the optimum goal for society. Laws and customs are the product of the society from which they develop and should not be applied universally. Sovereignty is the right of all people. In conclusion: The world is a grand marketplace of ideas â€“ and our ideas are the only realm in which we are truly free. Diversity, rather than being a hazard, tends make the world an interesting place and encourages the development of new â€“ and sometimes "better" â€“ ideas. To put in a musical perspective: If we were all the same note on a scale, we could never harmonize. I have known devout religious believers and the most ardent atheists alike to project their views on the rest of the world. In my view, this is both an extremely naÃ¯ve and dangerous practice, an obstruction to personal liberty, and a condition that has historically led mankind to violence over and over again. It is, in my opinion, something which ought to be deterred by tolerance â€“ not necessarily of all beliefs themselves â€“ but in another's right to hold them.