Hi, I’m doing an odd project.

I’m exploring my beliefs and identity.  I’m calling them Terranism.

Scroll down to see my goals for this project.

Once a Christian, I have spent the last few years exploring and learning what it means to be outside of faith.  Honestly, it feels great but my comfort and happiness haven’t stopped me from obsessing over the mechanisms that make religion work, and why it had been so important to me.  The things I’ve learned and continue to learn have become a happy burden on my mind, pushing me to wonder how I can use it.  This project is what I’ve decided to apply my fascination to.

Originally this was an atheist project.  I wanted to craft an “atheist religion” which might still be possible, though it’s fanciful.  However, Alain de Botton and Kurzgesagt seem to already be working on that so I’ll just leave them to it.  Additionally, I no longer consider myself an atheist, so starting an atheist religion under that pretext would be a bit silly.

Instead, I hope to make a syntheist religion.  My inspiration comes from the Alexander Bard, the American movement of spiritual naturalism, and the writings of Karen Armstrong, Donna Haraway, and Yuval Harari.

Finally, I make no special claims that will assist me in this project.  I am not a god and I have no divine right or authority granted to me by any god.  I am a private individual who is not a recognized scholar, and I claim no academic authority.  I do not have exhaustive knowledge about religion or spirituality, and I claim no divine inspiration.

And with that, my odd project begins.

Thus I declare,
I follow the Terranic Creed
I am Terra’s Prophet.

Project Goals

A strong foundation is necessary before expanding this project into something more. I believe in doing this slowly and carefully. I will purposely avoid trying to “finish” Terranic theology by a certain date. My sense for what this is and where it is going is clear, but the devil is in the details. I expect this project to be ongoing for the rest of my life, but there is definitely a point when Terranism will have enough working pieces to “run”. This list is what I expect these pieces to be.

These goals are flexible. Their purpose is to give context to what I believe belongs in Terranism before trying to “run” it.

  • Justifying doctrine
    • I must be able to clearly provide a justificiation for existence. This differs from the mechanics of existence, which can be found in any science textbook. The justification for existence is a repeatable act or mantra designed to remind/affirm the user of their value. I think the best form of this doctrine will have a justifying argument coming from two directions: internal justification and external justification.
  • Salvational doctrine
    • There must be an opportunity by which a soul can be “saved”. There is a need for salvation when a person feels they don’t have value. A salvational doctrine is important for priming someone to accept the justifying doctrine, or to reinforce/restablish the justifying doctrine. The primary hurdle with this doctrine is defining what the person is being saved from.
  • Death Doctrine
    • There must be a justification for death which allows a soul to accept it. Crucially, this doctrine must not provide grounds for death-denial on the one hand or death glorification on the other. Death should be seen as a truth, a synthesis of value and fact, which will never be “solved”. Hopefully, the doctrine will be structured as such that the acceptance of death provides grounds for value rather than nihilism.
  • Faith focus
    • There must be an object or event which inspires faith and forward movement. Traditionally this is the transcendant object of heaven/utopia, but I want an immanent object/event. In order to serve its role, the focus must be universally positive and desirable.
  • Metaphysics
    • The foundational nature of reality must be clear. This is different from scientific explanations of reality, and are instead a means to interpret scientific data.
  • Founding myth
    • There must be a myth which:
      1. articulates the justifying, salvational, and faith doctrines
      2. articulates the universe’s metaphysics
      3. provides coherent ritual program
  • In-group / out-group doctrines
    • There must be a doctrine which comprehends the difference between the souls inside the religion and the souls outside of it. Such a doctrine should
      1. justify the existence of the in-group in relief to the out-group
      2. allow permeability between the in-group and out-group
      3. be capable of criticising the in-group and praising the out-group
      4. allow for a liminal space between the in and out groups
      5. articulate a “third place” other than the in-group and out-group.
        • [This 5th goal particularly important to me. My current headway is a sacred/secular/wilderness trichotomy.]
  • Ritual program
    • Enough ritual material must be available for a weekly service with variety.
  • Eternal demand (sin/virtue)
    • There must be a demand which shapes ethical guidelines. What does Terra need from us? This demand should:
      1. contextualize the faith, salvation, and justification doctrines
      2. encourage pro-social behaviour
      3. discourage anti-social behaviour
      4. be open ended enough to prompt introspection and deliberation
  • Cosmic problem
    • There must be a problem which guides the direction of the individual and religious institution. What trouble is Terra trying to navigate? This problem should:
      1. contextualize the faith, salvation, and justification doctrines
      2. encourage institutional cohesiveness towards a common goal
      3. guide individuals towards the eternal demand
      4. avoid articulating a “win state” that could encourage violent zealotry
      5. encourage participating productively in the world rather than separating from it
      6. Provide a spiritual mystery (an unsolvable problem which yields insight into the universe through its contemplation)
  • Magical curriculum
    • A means to teach congregants basic magical literacy and proficiency. Logic, math, reading comprehension, public speaking, musical literacy, civic literacy, and meditation are all candidates.
  • Organizational structure
    • I must be aware of how a Terranic congregation will be organized and scaled. Specifically, there must be a plan for institutional hierarchy (or lack thereof), and congregation parameters.
  • Organizational failsafes
    • The institution of Terranism (aside from its theology) must be capable of responding to and recovering from internal problems. Specifically if abuse happens within a congregation or between a leader and congregant. There must be an avenue that treats criminals and abusers justly.
  • Financial model
    • It must be clear how Terranism will support itself financially. Will there be a monetized product? Will it rely on tithes? Will it rely on offerings? How will it distribute funds?
  • Financial theology
    • How does Terranism’s theology play with its financial needs? Are there any methods of earning and using money which the institution will not allow? How should congregants view their money?
  • Community offering
    • What will Terranism purposely do for the communities it becomes a part of? Aside from religious ceremonies, what will Terranic spaces be used for?
  • Founding sermons
    • There must be a handful of founding sermons or tracts which succinctly articulate the important parts of Terranic doctrine, institutional structure, and ritual.
  • Emblem catalogue
    • There should be an established catalogue of emblems, symbols, and visual representations which give representational structure to Terranic doctrines.
  • Evangelical meme
    • There must be a clear, marketable message that serves as the tip of the iceberg for Terranic thought. It must work in concert with the established evangelical meme, “We Are Terra”.
  • Evangelical tract/book
    • There should be a few easily digestible resources which can be easily shared and provide a basic understanding of Terranic thought.
  • Evangelical theology
    • Terranism must understand what it’s evangelism looks like, what the ethics of it are, whether there are forms of evangelism that are off limits, and whether evangelism is a part of the eternal demand or not.