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Author Topic: "Rise" of Atheism and Paganism  (Read 11794 times)
matthew
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« Topic Start: May 07, 2007, 11:07:37 am »

It seems to me that a select few individuals are promoting a "rise" in atheism, or rather a few individuals are becoming more vocal about it.  Books seem to be coming out non-stop which attack religion, claiming it to be the worst "human invention" that plagues mankind.  The authors focus on religious wars and conflicts, usually ignoring contributions (such as the storage of knowledge by the Muslims; the Catholic Church's contribution by devout Catholics to genetics and Astronomy; etc).  They seem to ignore several conflicts promoted by atheists, such as the atrocities of Stalin and Mao.

Most of their arguments are against Christianity.  Thankfully, nothing to worry about there.  But it seems they feel the three-monotheistic faiths are the only ones worth mentioning.  Some mention other religions such as Buddhism, but many polytheistic faiths are ignored.

One article in Newsweek a couple weeks ago (I can find it if needed) had an interview between Rick Warren ("Purpose Driven Life") and an atheist.  The atheist claimed "... no one worships other gods anymore, like Zeus..." (paraphrase).  Now, of course, anyone reading this can see how he displays his ignorance.  I, for one, do worship Zeus.

Richard Dawkins, when he had his 15-minutes (it seems), would constantly constantly, and with much annoyance on my part, claim "[w]e're all atheists to those other gods.  Atheists go one step further."

This case of ignorance and perhaps intellectual arrogance probably stems from the fact that modern Paganism is still largely ignored in the academic community.  Only recently has it started to become a subject of interest as Paganism grows and matures.  Is this acceptable though?

How do you (the reader) respond to this, both emotionally (religion is a very emotionally-driven area of life) and intellectually?  I can't help but get a sinking feeling, as well as a feeling of self-doubt, as if my faith is somehow invalid.  I get over it, but it is a very psychologically damaging experience.  It upsets me a great deal.
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« Reply #1: May 07, 2007, 12:19:58 pm »

How do you (the reader) respond to this, both emotionally (religion is a very emotionally-driven area of life) and intellectually?  I can't help but get a sinking feeling, as well as a feeling of self-doubt, as if my faith is somehow invalid.  I get over it, but it is a very psychologically damaging experience.  It upsets me a great deal.

I'm slightly unclear about exactly what it is you're asking how we respond to.  The idea that religion is a bad thing?  The lack of Pagan religions in the public eye?  The public ignorance about Paganism?  Something else?

Either way, it's not something that's really affected me much, I guess.  That "they" don't believe people like me exist, or that "they" think religion is a bad thing, or that "they" don't know what I do, doesn't prevent me from doing my thing, worshipping my gods, believing what I believe.  Others' doubt does not make my faith invalid.  I might get exasperated sometimes, but that's about it, I think.  *shrug*
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« Reply #2: May 07, 2007, 12:27:44 pm »


How do you (the reader) respond to this, both emotionally (religion is a very emotionally-driven area of life) and intellectually?  I can't help but get a sinking feeling, as well as a feeling of self-doubt, as if my faith is somehow invalid.  I get over it, but it is a very psychologically damaging experience.  It upsets me a great deal.

I could care less about the ignorance of the general public.  I can't help but view the majority of humanity as idiots, so what they think doesn't matter to me in particular.
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« Reply #3: May 07, 2007, 12:43:07 pm »


How do you (the reader) respond to this, both emotionally (religion is a very emotionally-driven area of life) and intellectually?  I can't help but get a sinking feeling, as well as a feeling of self-doubt, as if my faith is somehow invalid.  I get over it, but it is a very psychologically damaging experience.  It upsets me a great deal.

I don't particularly care one way or the other what people think about my religion. *Shrugs*. My roommate and friend (an "Other" sort of person himself) is hardcore atheist. When we first met, he thought I had lost my mind, because in his opinion, people use religion as a crutch. when he say that this was patently untrue, that I and others like me do not do this, that I do take full responsibility for my life, don't let anything religious excuse behavior be it bad or good, and that I don't let anyone tell me what to think - I question everything, he was fine with my beliefs. Yes, he goes through phases where he worries that I'm going to raise the dead or curse him (silly man - if I were going to do any of that, I already would have Tongue ), but he trusts that I'm not crazy, that my beliefs work for me and don't harm me or anyone else, and he leaves it at that.

I for one like atheists. I tend to flirt with atheism myself, wandering from definite belief in my gods and my religion, to doubting it all, to believing it again. I tend not to believe anything unless I have proof, so sometimes this faith thing is tough - even with gods speaking to me occasionally! I feel that it is their right to believe that there are no gods, just as it is my right to worship the gods of my choice. As long as they don't interfere in my ways(or anyone else's)  and I (or anyone else) don't interfere in theirs, everyone should remain fairly happy

And since I love a good thought-provoking, faith-challenging conversation, I do love to listen to interviews with atheists. Penn Jillette is a particular favorite of mine!
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« Reply #4: May 07, 2007, 01:45:30 pm »

One article in Newsweek a couple weeks ago (I can find it if needed) had an interview between Rick Warren ("Purpose Driven Life") and an atheist.  The atheist claimed "... no one worships other gods anymore, like Zeus..." (paraphrase).  Now, of course, anyone reading this can see how he displays his ignorance.  I, for one, do worship Zeus.

I'm on a message board with a reasonably high skeptic/atheist population.  Every so often someone will trot that one out, I will correct them, and pretty much nobody ever seems to notice.

I think it's an amusing sort of selective blindness -- the theism/atheism standing wave argument is so focused around a particular type of Christianity (not even Christianity in general) that only things that are in common with that get heard.  I think the people who have their arguments depending on omnipotence and omnibenevolence are too insecure to acknowledge that other paradigms even exist, because it blows holes in their belief structure entirely.

The liberal Christians have a hard time getting heard in the 'the fundie god is implausible!' arguments.  Other Abrahamic monotheists have a hard time getting heard about misapplied presumptions.  The further away one gets from beard-in-the-sky theology, the harder it is to get the people who are fixated on beard-in-the-sky's nonexistence to recognise that there's something there to argue about.

They fancy that they have statements of great relevance, and can't see how unimportant they are to people who don't share their axioms about the divine.  They simply cannot see other axioms, and block them out when someone with those other axioms puts in an appearance.
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« Reply #5: May 07, 2007, 05:39:44 pm »


This case of ignorance and perhaps intellectual arrogance probably stems from the fact that modern Paganism is still largely ignored in the academic community.  Only recently has it started to become a subject of interest as Paganism grows and matures.  Is this acceptable though?


They way I see it is, yes, I would like for Paganism to be acknowledged as an actual belief system that is valued instead of slandered, but it has grown none-the-less.  I would actually prefer it not to be in the limelight quite as much though because it attracts both rebellious people who will give others a bad name, and it also attracts a lot of negative attention from those who truly believe that it is their right as _____ to not allow such people to live/prosper/whatever.  I find that most of the articles that I've read talking about the "rise of atheism and paganism" to be very skeptical and somewhat jaded and almost sarcastic.  There have been more recently that aren't as bad, but I feel that in this case it should be just the whole "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" or in my opinion, "If you're going to say something stupid- keep your mouth shut."
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« Reply #6: May 07, 2007, 06:03:18 pm »

It seems to me that a select few individuals are promoting a "rise" in atheism, or rather a few individuals are becoming more vocal about it.  Books seem to be coming out non-stop which attack religion, claiming it to be the worst "human invention" that plagues mankind.

This is really nothing new. The only difference is this time many of the authors/speakers actually come across as personable and knowledgeable -- even to those who violently disagree with them.

Quote
Most of their arguments are against Christianity.  Thankfully, nothing to worry about there.  But it seems they feel the three-monotheistic faiths are the only ones worth mentioning.  Some mention other religions such as Buddhism, but many polytheistic faiths are ignored.

This doesn't bother me. Most of the arguments against the existence of God do not work nearly as well against pantheons of deities none of which are said to be all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good, etc. And unlike the most Western Monotheists, I could care less whether someone believes in my Gods or not.
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« Reply #7: May 07, 2007, 06:29:05 pm »

Most of their arguments are against Christianity.  Thankfully, nothing to worry about there.  But it seems they feel the three-monotheistic faiths are the only ones worth mentioning.  Some mention other religions such as Buddhism, but many polytheistic faiths are ignored.

Richard Dawkins, when he had his 15-minutes (it seems), would constantly constantly, and with much annoyance on my part, claim "[w]e're all atheists to those other gods.  Atheists go one step further."

Heh... have you read The God Delusion?  He addresses and dismisses polytheism in literally about three paragraphs.  This is one of the reasons why I wasn't fully enraptured with his argument for atheism by the end of the book (actually at the start of the book I was convinced I wouldn't be converted)--I'm certainly not an atheist to all "those other gods."

How do you (the reader) respond to this, both emotionally (religion is a very emotionally-driven area of life) and intellectually?  I can't help but get a sinking feeling, as well as a feeling of self-doubt, as if my faith is somehow invalid.  I get over it, but it is a very psychologically damaging experience.  It upsets me a great deal.

Like Randall said, this doesn't bother me.  When I read The God Delusion, I was literally making notes in my head where his argument against religion falls apart when met by polytheism the way I believe in it.  My faith is strong in my gods, and I don't care whether anyone else believes in them or not.
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« Reply #8: May 07, 2007, 07:37:48 pm »

I read The God Delusion and Breaking the Spell. They're both good in a lot of respects. I love science, but I take their comments about religion with a grain of salt. They're ignorant of basically all other religions besides the Judeo-Christian faiths. Do I agree Sky-God Yahweh doesn't exist? Yes, as they imagine him. But that doesn't invalidate Deism or other types of faiths. In fact, Dawkins said he has no problem with Deists or Pantheists, I just don't think he realizes that's what a lot of Pagans are.
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« Reply #9: May 07, 2007, 08:04:21 pm »

I read The God Delusion and Breaking the Spell. They're both good in a lot of respects. I love science, but I take their comments about religion with a grain of salt. They're ignorant of basically all other religions besides the Judeo-Christian faiths. Do I agree Sky-God Yahweh doesn't exist? Yes, as they imagine him. But that doesn't invalidate Deism or other types of faiths. In fact, Dawkins said he has no problem with Deists or Pantheists, I just don't think he realizes that's what a lot of Pagans are.


I don't see it as the Christian god not existing, or even that he doesn't exist as they imagine him.  I believe that it is one path to the same overall end, like the top of a mountain.  Lots of ways to get to the top, not one of them is the same, though some of them may cross at some times.  I think if we are to say that they are wrong and we are right then we are just as guilty as they are when they say that we're going to Hell because we don't follow Christ.  I think that for some people being in a Christian church is a good thing.  For some people it brings very positive change to their lives, and for others, well they need to belong to something and it's better than them joining a street gang Wink
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« Reply #10: May 07, 2007, 08:16:21 pm »

I don't see it as the Christian god not existing, or even that he doesn't exist as they imagine him.  I believe that it is one path to the same overall end, like the top of a mountain.  Lots of ways to get to the top, not one of them is the same, though some of them may cross at some times.  I think if we are to say that they are wrong and we are right then we are just as guilty as they are when they say that we're going to Hell because we don't follow Christ.  I think that for some people being in a Christian church is a good thing.  For some people it brings very positive change to their lives, and for others, well they need to belong to something and it's better than them joining a street gang Wink

I hear that, "All paths lead to the same end" line a lot. I don't believe it, because we can't ALL be right. And if some religion says to kill other people who believe something else, I don't think that's a valid path to "enlightenment" or "The Divine" at all. I like science a lot, and Deism and Pantheism makes sense to me. Anything that can be described as "supernatural", like the Christian God, does not. Religion does a lot of bad things, I agree with Dawkins on that point, especially when it comes to Christianity and Islam. Yeah, it does some good. And sometimes people do feel like belonging in something, but I think we can adress that inner psychological need in ways that are more positive than, "Believe this, give us money, join our cult." I know tolerance is a good thing, but there can be such a thing as too much. I don't believe we should tolerate religions which indoctrinate children to be close minded fools who talk back to their biology teachers and believe Creationism is LITERAL FACT. I don't believe we should tolerate people who believe that to have a peaceful world, everyone must be Muslim or dead. I call bullshit on tolerating that, or saying that those paths lead to wisdom, because I can't possibly see how that can be. I don't agree that all religions are bad or harmful, obviously, but I'm tired of it being considered wrong to point out how horribly bad that some of them can be.

Also, Dawkins does think Pagans are foolish. But to a hardcore rationalist, yeah, some of the more flamboyant members might make us appear foolish. We have to understand the context. He's not saying that our religion is wrong, because he doesn't really understand it, but if you read it in the context of a scientist proving that the world can exist with out Creationism or a Christian God, then it's great.
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« Reply #11: May 07, 2007, 09:12:20 pm »

I hear that, "All paths lead to the same end" line a lot. I don't believe it, because we can't ALL be right. And if some religion says to kill other people who believe something else, I don't think that's a valid path to "enlightenment" or "The Divine" at all. I like science a lot, and Deism and Pantheism makes sense to me. Anything that can be described as "supernatural", like the Christian God, does not. Religion does a lot of bad things, I agree with Dawkins on that point, especially when it comes to Christianity and Islam. Yeah, it does some good. And sometimes people do feel like belonging in something, but I think we can adress that inner psychological need in ways that are more positive than, "Believe this, give us money, join our cult." I know tolerance is a good thing, but there can be such a thing as too much. I don't believe we should tolerate religions which indoctrinate children to be close minded fools who talk back to their biology teachers and believe Creationism is LITERAL FACT. I don't believe we should tolerate people who believe that to have a peaceful world, everyone must be Muslim or dead. I call bullshit on tolerating that, or saying that those paths lead to wisdom, because I can't possibly see how that can be. I don't agree that all religions are bad or harmful, obviously, but I'm tired of it being considered wrong to point out how horribly bad that some of them can be.

Also, Dawkins does think Pagans are foolish. But to a hardcore rationalist, yeah, some of the more flamboyant members might make us appear foolish. We have to understand the context. He's not saying that our religion is wrong, because he doesn't really understand it, but if you read it in the context of a scientist proving that the world can exist with out Creationism or a Christian God, then it's great.


I agree... with just about everything you said up there.  I'd really like to read more of Dawkins' opinions on pagans; does he address the issue at any length in any of his other books?  If you know?
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« Reply #12: May 08, 2007, 01:01:32 am »

How do you (the reader) respond to this, both emotionally (religion is a very emotionally-driven area of life) and intellectually?  I can't help but get a sinking feeling, as well as a feeling of self-doubt, as if my faith is somehow invalid.  I get over it, but it is a very psychologically damaging experience.  It upsets me a great deal.
Your faith is no more invalidated by the disbelief of militant atheists, than by the disbelief of hard monotheists.  It may seem to be a more creditable invalidation, since the atheists so strongly associate themselves with reason and logic - but on this issue, their association with reason is pure lip-service, since (as others have pointed out) their arguments rely on the false assumption that polytheism (and other non-monotheistic models) have already been disproven.  Because they do not question this assumption, their position is an emotional one rather than a rational one.  In other words, there's no logically-supportable reason why Richard Dawkins should be more distressing to you than Jerry Falwell.

That's not meant to be dismissive of your distress - it may not be logically supportable, but it's a real thing for you nonetheless.  Myself, I'm rationalist enough that deconstructing their pseudologic is sufficient comfort, so that's what I offered you in the preceding paragraph - I hope it provides at least some help in averting the psychological effects, but if your mind doesn't work that way, it might not.

My I-think-just-one-great grandfather, so say our family stories, was completely color-blind, and was very impatient with any and all references to this phenomenon he was incapable of perceiving - apparently, he suspected "color" was something people had made up.  (I've heard other similar stories; it appears that's pretty common among those with no color perception at all.)  A parallel condition seems to exist among some (by no means all) atheists - they really don't have any perception at all what the dickens we spiritual/religious types are talking about or why it's interesting to us.  Some of them accept it as just individual differences (much like the way that I can't wrap my head around sports-as-religion, f'ex), but others are deeply offended by it, and are as loudly grumpy as my great-grandfather.

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« Reply #13: May 08, 2007, 06:41:17 am »

Religion does a lot of bad things, I agree with Dawkins on that point, especially when it comes to Christianity and Islam. Yeah, it does some good. And sometimes people do feel like belonging in something, but I think we can adress that inner psychological need in ways that are more positive than, "Believe this, give us money, join our cult." I know tolerance is a good thing, but there can be such a thing as too much. I don't believe we should tolerate religions which indoctrinate children to be close minded fools who talk back to their biology teachers and believe Creationism is LITERAL FACT. I don't believe we should tolerate people who believe that to have a peaceful world, everyone must be Muslim or dead. I call bullshit on tolerating that, or saying that those paths lead to wisdom, because I can't possibly see how that can be. I don't agree that all religions are bad or harmful, obviously, but I'm tired of it being considered wrong to point out how horribly bad that some of them can be.


There is one thing to consider with that. To the best of my knoweldge neither Christianty, think the crusades, nor the Muslim religion, think jihad, espouse killing in their respective 'bibles'. There may be a passage here and there that could be translated as such, but the over all message is not to kill all non-believers. One function of religion is to give people a moral base, particularly as the tribal society mindset was streched and in most cases broken by the expansion of communties. Tribal society created protocals to live by and all the members complied with that tribes culture or they were punished until they complied. Communities expanded, and that earlier way of creating members of a community that would support the community instead of tearing it apart, litteraly or figuratively, became difficult at best. Local law enforcement is one way to create a standard of behavior within a community, and religion was another way. Religious texts created a moral base for people to live by, however they are, as with all things, only as good as the person who interperts them. You can go into the bible and find a passage or two that will support most view points if you get creative enough and don't mind pulling things completely out of context.
   Yes, people have done very horrible things in the name of religion and that should not be ignored. Just as people have done very horrible things in the quest to gain personal power. Anything, information, religion, weaponry, magic, power of any type, can be abused within the hands of a human. Humans as a whole are very inventive and resourceful, but not always to the good.

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« Reply #14: May 08, 2007, 07:14:08 am »

There is one thing to consider with that. To the best of my knoweldge neither Christianty, think the crusades, nor the Muslim religion, think jihad, espouse killing in their respective 'bibles'. There may be a passage here and there that could be translated as such, but the over all message is not to kill all non-believers. One function of religion is to give people a moral base, particularly as the tribal society mindset was streched and in most cases broken by the expansion of communties. Tribal society created protocals to live by and all the members complied with that tribes culture or they were punished until they complied. Communities expanded, and that earlier way of creating members of a community that would support the community instead of tearing it apart, litteraly or figuratively, became difficult at best. Local law enforcement is one way to create a standard of behavior within a community, and religion was another way. Religious texts created a moral base for people to live by, however they are, as with all things, only as good as the person who interperts them. You can go into the bible and find a passage or two that will support most view points if you get creative enough and don't mind pulling things completely out of context.
   Yes, people have done very horrible things in the name of religion and that should not be ignored. Just as people have done very horrible things in the quest to gain personal power. Anything, information, religion, weaponry, magic, power of any type, can be abused within the hands of a human. Humans as a whole are very inventive and resourceful, but not always to the good.

Jinx
 

psst: Jinx.  Instead of breaking up your paragraphs like you would on paper, can you use a blank line between them instead?

It's a lot easier to read on screen than *standard* paragraphing.  thanks.
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Serpent 0 1015 Last post June 09, 2010, 10:53:49 pm
by Serpent
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