Universism In a Nutshell

Stephanie Simon of The Los Angeles Times profiles the non-prophet founder of a new, doubt-filled religion — Universism — Ford Vox (who also runs the online forum for the 8,000-member faith, Universist Forum: History in the Making). In a piece that Vox, in his forum, declared largely accurate, Simon described Universism as an attempt at “‘the world’s first rational religion'” that offers “rambling chants about the meaning of life”; online talks with theologians and scientists; a profound appreciation for confusion and uncertainty; and neither claims to universal truths nor requirements for blind faith. But that doesn’t mean it’s without its own near-denominational biases and sales-pitches: better than Christianity for its openness and anti-authoritarianism, and better than atheism for its comparative respectability and spiritual mystique. Apart from the wry and ever-so-slightly condescending humor employed by Simon (like so many writers covering the circles of organized disbelief), the piece shows a good ear for the unique earnestness of skeptics that makes for a human portrait, even if it’s one that still finds it hard to take them as seriously as believers from more faith-filled faiths.

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