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August 2017

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curiosity

Some thoughts on Atheism

I've been thinking about Atheism this morning. skreidle posted some comments from the atheist community.

I sometimes consider myself an atheist, in the sense that I don't believe in gods the way some people seem to. I thought about the nature of gods a lot when I was young. It seems to me that if gods exist (the way fundamentalist insist) as individual beings like you or me then regardless of their powers or incorporeal state they would manifest more consistently. As Douglas Adams pointed out they would go around to atheist's houses and throw rocks through their windows. Even Terry Pratchett's Discworld stories can be interpreted as advocating Atheism. If gods really existed (that way) people would never question their existence any more than we question the existence of rocks or each other.

But it still seemed to me that even if people were wrong about the nature of gods there was still something real that people were trying to describe with the word god. So that is the position I have taken. To me gods are anthropomorphic personifications of ideas. As such they do exist and they do have effects on people, they are born, they grow, they change over time, and sometimes they die. So, of course I believe gods exist, as I believe that Truth, Justice, Honor, and Love exist.

And I know many Pagan priestesses who would agree with me, and some others who take a more fundamentalist approach. And to be honest I envy the fundamentalists sometimes, it would be nice to have that kind of faith.

But what about the atheists? I don't like to hang out with Atheists. They believe a lot of things that aren't true, about religious people. I don't mind people criticizing my faith for good reasons but it is really irritating when they get it wrong. I have a book at home that is a Christian overview of new age religion. It has a section on Wicca that is very accurate. When it come to the "why is Wicca wrong" section the reason given is "because they don't worship the one true God". Well I can live with that. He thinks I am wrong because I don't agree with him. He is right that I don't agree with him.

But what do you do about posts like this: satyrsdance posted in atheist
"After years of having Christianity shoved down my throat and then force-feeding myself 7 years of devote paganism to the goddess Isis. I've finally decided that I'm atheist. I began to doubt God and then my own beliefs in a goddess started to falter. After looking over why and when I came to believe what I thought was true, I realized that these "religions" were merely crutches for me and my actions. Once I freed myself from these entanglements; everything had slowly (with my own actions)begun to fall into place. Its all very relieving, in fact I've never felt this free."

Well, any belief can be a crutch even Atheism. And as I already mentioned you can be an Atheist and a Pagan. I can't really confront this person because there would not be any point. Her beliefs are based on her experience and I really don't want to proselytize. She seems to feel better about herself as an atheist and that is good. It is ok with me if people don't want to be Pagans. Part of me just wishes they would do it for the right reasons. And not say nasty things about those of us who take a different path.

Like jordandelange's comment in reply to satyrsdance
"just wanted to say how refreshing it was to see someone also renouncing a pagan religion. Christianity, especially as a hierarchal organized religion, turns many people off. However, they still need the crutch of supernatural belief, and so turn to a pagan religion. That's why its cool to see someone reject that as well, because it means they no longer need anything to support them except themselves. its freedom from ignorance, but its also a loss of innocence: there is no longer a safety blanket of life-of-death to comfort yourself with."

There is that word "supernatural" I don't believe in the supernatural. To me one of the major philosophical points of Neo-Paganism is that there is no supernatural. There is only the natural. Nothing is outside of or above nature. But not everything that exists in nature can be measured.

It is also insulting to be called ignorant and compared to a child who still clutches a blanket for protection from the real world.

Part of me sees how obviously some Atheists still need the crutch of support from an "outsider" community. How ignorant some of them are of what religious people actually believe and what religion can give to its practitioners. How self-righteously some of them cling to the safety blanket of moral and intellectual superiority. And that is why I always end up leaving Atheist groups.

Comments

"Oh Aturo, Prince of Irony"

Not surprisingly, I'm with ya all the way, Zahde. I find it amusing that the comments of satyrsdance above so clearly show that while he is free of the crutch of "supernatural religion", he is leaning very hard on the crutch of "intellectual superiority" and "strength in numbers".

Hmm, don't know if I'm leaning an "intellectual superiority" crutch at the moment - as I know I am want to do. Maybe my crutch is "incredulous disbelief that anyone could possibly approve of what the Bush Administration is doing".

Re: "Oh Aturo, Prince of Irony"

What is it about that post that comes across so "needy"?

Re: "Oh Aturo, Prince of Irony"

The judgement, I think. You don't judge atheists, pagans, or christians...you acknowledge the difference and accept it. They notice difference and condemn...it implies a need for superiority. At least in my eyes.

as you may recall...

We are somewhat in agreement about this issue...

I happen to think of ritual as a way to reach into yourself through "personifications" of the goals we are trying to reach.... these woud be manifested in descriptions of the divine.... Various cultures seem to take similar concepts and describe them as slightly different deities or in some cases VASTLY different deitiies..... It can be very important which defined deity you choose to call upon, as there are enough differences between them that you will have more success if you are careful in which aspects of yourself you choose to call forth for each ritual.

In my case, though I may not believe that Saraswati is an ACTUAL entity, I still feel that devoting myself to the goddess of education & music and creation is probably very appropriate for a teacher to do.... there is enough merit to the fact that the IDEA exists that if gods and goddesses were personifications of ideas then they do INDEED exist, even if it's merely deep within us....

Strangely enough, even when I was a child, growing up as a Christian/Protestant, I felt this way.... that God was within us all and could be reached with a call within ourselves... and that the divine was also to be foudn in the purring of a cat, the beauty of a tree, the love of friends and family....etc..... whatever....

I wonder if that's why I'm having trouble adjusting to saying "the gods" and such.... because I've always seen the divine as an overall concept..... Paganism is, for me, a way to incorporate ALL genders, a multitude of ideas that weren't allowed in Christianity and a more open-minded way of looking at things.....

Re: as you may recall...

I don't really feel like I HAVE to... it just sounds weird against all my pagan friends who DO say things like "gods" "the gods" "goddess" to be saying "god" so I tend to say things like "good grief" and other non-entity things *lol* Ahhhhhh the peer pressure of it all ;-)

Re: as you may recall...

Don't worry- it was said somewhat as a joke....
I recognize that I'm a product of my upbringing :)
and I have no real problem with that....
I just find it intriguing to hear people say things like "goddess" to replace god when it sounds so odd to me..... Part of me would like to be able to feel comfortable saying that just because... nothing really to do with other people's way of saying things...

Re: as you may recall...

yeah- I can agree with that....
Though as a saying it doesn't really work for me....
Whcih is why I decided to stop worrying about it and go with what I'm used to :)

Re: as you may recall...

I agree...I always kind of wished I could say it and mean it, but it's a term that's just an expression, and it would be forced if I said it.

However, I have been known to mutter under my breath, "Goddess, give me STRENGTH," in an exasperated tone when I'm dealing with people with thick skulls. No other situation though, for some reason.

Re: as you may recall...

In this post I didn't even touch on the purpose of ritual, which incidentally doesn't have to involve gods at all.

You are still missing my point that that which can be reached within many is necessarily outside of any one. Gods do exist out side of their believers just as Love exists outside of any individual lover.

I also didn't really talk about what I call God Prime, or the Divine Spirit in all things. That which came before creation, or perhaps simultaneous with creation. But definitely before any gods. That which all gods and all creation is a manifestation of. And is symbolized in Braided Wheel ritual by the center candle.

Rig Veda
Creation Hymn
The non-existent was not; the existent was not at that time. The atmosphere was not nor the heavens which are beyond. What was concealed? Where? In whose protection? Was it water? An unfathomable abyss?

There was neither death nor immortality then. There was not distinction of day or night. That alone breathed windless by its own power. Other than that there was not anything else.

Darkness was hidden by darkness in the beginning. All this was an indistinguishable sea. That which becomes, that which was enveloped by the void, that alone was born through the power of heat.

Upon that desire arose in the beginning. This was the first discharge of thought. Sages discovered this link of the existent to the nonexistent, having searched in the heart with wisdom.

Their line [of vision] was extended across; what was below, what was above? There were impregnators, there were powers: inherent power below, impulses above.

Who knows truly? Who here will declare whence it arose, whence this creation? The gods are subsequent to the creation of this. Who, then, knows whence it has come into being?

Whence this creation has come into being; whether it was made or not; he in the highest heaven is its surveyor. Surely he knows, or perhaps he knows not.


Re: as you may recall...

Well... maybe I'm not actually missing the point, perhaps I'm disagreeing.... to a point.....

I feel that the divine is EVERYWHERE and thus can't really be considered to be outside of us if the universe is a totality. So really, when we light the center candle, we are lighting the center, the core of our being, as WELL as the universe since it is all the smae.....

good try

I'm with you on those examples.

Yes

You make a good point
What a wonderful metaphor...! I have to digest that.

Whoah!

I'm in shock!

... To me gods are anthropomorphic personifications of ideas. As such they do exist and they do have effects on people ...

Your post is quite fascinating and resonates very well with my personal beliefs. The above sentence perfectly fits with my personal views except for the fact that I might not use the word "gods." But I understand the manner in which you are using it and I am digging the entire post!

I also loved agoodshinkickin's comment about crutches. As I've matured, I've softened my younger militaristic perspective on thest types of things. In my early twenties, I was more of a dogmatic humanist. I wanted to place myself as far away from the way I was raised as possible. If someone got all spiritual on me, I just ignored it and viewed it as a crutch. A weakness of a sort. That was ok then. That's what I needed. That perspective was my crutch to get through a dramatic time in my life. We do what we do to get through the day. Now that I'm older, and I hope a bit wiser, I have a spiritual open door policy. I'll change my mind, think about forces in my life as various deities or angels. Veer toward Catholicism for a bit. I do what I do and use whatever crutches I find leaning against the wall to get me through the day. That's all anyone can do really.