I was looking for a general introduction thread but only found one specific to the homeschool section.
I was not raised Christian, but in circumstances so liberal that I can generally critique the Christian establishment better than most atheists. Science has always been my fundamental outlook on the world, and it is on that basis which I explored philosophy and religion. Existentialism was my first stepping stone, for that is what provided me a means to even understand what the word “God” could possibly refer to. My studies of existentialism brought to the conclusion that the fundamental existentialist faith was that life is worth living. Then I came to believe that the faith in God played the same role for religious people. From that equivalence I was able explore what sort of God best played this role of giving us a faith that life was worth living. It was a journey that ultimately lead to a Christian faith.
I am not new to discussion forums and a search of my username will quickly reveal what I have had to say elsewhere. In general you will find that stand up in the defense of science, Christianity, and principles of a free society like tolerance. But perhaps the following explication of terminology will explain a lot more: objective versus subjective, absolute versus relative, and religious versus secular.
Our most basic access to the world is personal experience and this is the essence of what subjective means. The objective is an abstraction which we piece together as an understanding of what is the same for everyone. One of the most successful methods and strictest standards for this is found in science, which gives us written procedures anyone can follow to get the same results. While personal experience may be the most compelling reason for our own belief, it does not provide a basis for a reasonable expectation that others should agree. That expectation, derived from proof and evidence, is what the objective is all about and when we have them it only makes sense for this to take precedence.
Many rules and standards we have are relative to society and culture because, like which side of the road we drive on, it is more important to have a rule than what the rule actual is. Thus relative truths are a matter of convention and I do not consider putting the authority of God behind them as sufficient to make something absolute, for that only makes it relative to the particular religion or god you believe in. Instead the basis for absolute standards must be when there is a good reason why one alternative is better than the other. And when we have a good reason why one alternative is better then it does not make sense to cling to the relative dictates of convention.
Many of us have cherished beliefs which we cannot prove to others and these can be categorized as religious – often difficult to compare since they tend to only address the questions which they are interested in. Yet we come to value a society which welcomes diverse religious perspectives and thus we need a way of governing a society which protects our liberty to pursue our own religious beliefs – this is the reason for secular rule. Surely it is obvious that our religious liberties must be limited by the same liberties of others and thus cannot extend to forcing our religious beliefs on others. So as long as the secular is acting to protect us from the excesses of religion then we must accept that our religious liberties only make sense when the demands of the secular are given precedence.