DiaBlogue: It Takes Tao to Tango

Alan has kindly responded to my post about hell, but in a way that I must confess leaves me with more questions than answers. I think part of the confusion is that he isn’t clear about whether I’m trying to convince him my views are “true” vs. merely “consistent.” Then again, maybe I’m not either. 🙂
At any rate, I think his most important statement is this:

Would it not be accurate to say that Christianity and the Bible were the starting point for my personal observations? And I have left it behind, because in my search for the Tao (as I suppose you could call it), I have found that much of what I would call Christianity, as well as other theistic religions, have substantial deficiencies, and what is left cannot be properly called Christianity.

Fair enough. [Read more] for my attempt to unpack that.

In particular, I will try to create a Brickman of what might be called Alan’s Meta-Tao. I think Alan believes:

1. There are universally valid norms for human ethics, which are necessary and sufficient for both individual happiness and social welfare
2. These norms are, at a practical level, discoverable by the use of reason, observation, and empathy, without requiring any sort of divinity.
3. In particular, religious faith (including belief in god(s) and/or an afterlife) would not appreciably increase my [his] ability to either perceive or observe valid ethical standards.
4. Neither does it seem to increase the overall ethicality of religious communities (including Christians), at least according to my [his] standards.
5. In particular, the Bible is either not reliable or not clear enough to provide a suitably strong ethical foundation for life, and any attempt to follow its teachings in it could well do more harm than good.

Does that summary accurately capture your position? If not, how would you rewrite it?

One more question. When you say “Christianity”, are you referring to:

a. The teachings and actions of Jesus Christ (as recored, with some non-zero accuracy)
b. The teachings of Paul (whichever ones you may consider authentic)
c. The entire canon of Scripture as represented by the modern Christian Bible
d. The various systematic theologies loosely grouped together as “orthodox Christianity”
e. The various worshipping communities that claim the New Testament as their basis for existence.
f. Your personal experience as a member of such a community

I infer from your context that you mean to include all of them, but I want to be sure. Thanks.