in buddhism The non-deluded perspective would generally be traced back to the buddha and knowledge transmitted teacher to student wouldn't it? Are mystical or experiential ideas from people not in line from the buddha valued in the east? i guess it is basically the priests putting it all together for everyone, and those who haven't received transmission from a teacher are not enlightened? sure, but then you have to include the secular perspective, which i feel is more amenable to me than to you. In other words, i am perfectly happy with contrasting religious ideas and secular ones, while you seem to insist on accepting one or the other, hence the problem with taking that step of faith - yours doesn't allow for questioning. I wouldn't take that step if i was told i couldn't question. I was, however, told that there was authority beyond my understanding, and THEN eventually one either has to trust the idea that they can see, or one has to say they are blind and forever will need a guide. Someone might call rebelling being "over-confident", but you are not looking at the long process from belief to doubt to belief-and-doubt. It takes time to realize your teacher is wrong, first you have to know enough to know what they are even saying, and that takes time - and that "rebellion" isn't always from confidence but sometimes comes from the necessity to drop things you believe are impossible. (What i am saying is no different from what i heard from a buddhist teacher recently who mentioned the conspiracies we have in our minds. He says people find out that the teachings make sense after following them.) you are denigrating other philosophical positions beyond it's position in people's lives, but i agree most people's respect for the sacred, mine too, is only part of their existence, although for me, for most of life, it is also the most meaningful "only part" of my existence. well if we have no trust in humanist knowledge then we are truly at the philosophical mercy of those who are religious enough to claim objective truth of God. Fortunately, enough people claim this and disagree with each other that I don't feel it is reasonable to expect all of them to be objectively correct, although it is possible they are all metaphorically correct, or correct in describing their experience. As far as humanism goes, i am not defining humanism as an all-compassionate "flowers for all humanity" philosophy, which is too far-reaching to describe humanism in general, as i understand it, as a historical development against the idea that humans have faulty perspectives by nature and everything they think is incorrect without correction by a religious leader or prophet. i would say that pre-destination is an unexplained idea, and a totally inaccurate image as explained. It proposes that God ordains everything that comes to pass in such a way that freewill is "established". (westminster confession of faith) That will make sense to me when someone explains it much better than anybody has so far that i have seen. Pre-destination is an idea that supposedly brings comfort to the flock, although when examined it can also bring incredible distress. Does God ordain that i drink some ice water right now, in order that i can choose to drink it? That is a difficult idea - definitely koan territory, not rational territory. The cornerstones of human rights are based on the idea that we are inherently, soul vs soul comparison, equal. I am not willing to give religion the ability to destroy basic human rights - that to me is an impossible place to stand, i.e. saying human ideas are wrong, not just my ideas at some point in my life. Of course, instead of requiring a paradox, this could easily just be seen as ,"you are wrong, the buddha is right because he wasn't like you." Apparently we still are not getting to the point here of how to trust yourself not to trust in yourself. if you want to talk about synthesis, then yes. It takes a creative mind, willing to move towards heresy, to do that. Most of what we think however is just a gallery of ideas we got from somewhere, not meshed together into something new, but rather coexisting with all the other ideas in our minds. Deciding between hinduism and something else for example, is clearly going to be done by assenting to external ideas (at least the ideas are external until they are your ideas). good luck with that idea. It doesn't explain everything, unless you are willing to suspend your perceptions and accept on faith, in whole not in part, everything a religion teaches. I wouldn't join one of those religions either (now). I wouldn't even go now to join the church i joined many years ago, but i am not upset i did it then. THE question is whether we should say, as Syne might suggest (i don't know), YOU will understand when YOU understand, along whatever path you follow, rather than saying, you will understand when you FOLLOW, nevermind needing to UNDERSTAND. EDIT - just to be clear i wasn't saying that syne might say, "i don't know", i doubt that would happen, i was saying he might ask for personal responsibility and a perspective of trust in oneself over being a follower. P.S. regarding the whip and horse idea, that assumes someone has the idea that they are the rider and you are the horse. Nobody contends that riders whipping each other makes a thoroughbred.