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Author Topic: Do pagans really believe in greek gods?  (Read 33358 times)
Louisvillian
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« Reply #60: April 18, 2008, 05:23:29 pm »

Unless, of course, I am misinterpretating your meaning...? perhaps you are saying it is the validity of the Bible that troubles you?
That's part of it. I'm not saying that Judeo-Christianity is necessarily wrong in believing what they do or that their interpretation of El is wrong. It's just not quite what I believe in. I think people are horribly misinterpreting what I am saying.
I don't see El as the one-and-only supreme creator god that Christianity sees him as. I view El, as I said, in the way the original Levantine tribes most likely did: as one of several gods in a diverse pantheon. This does not mean that I look down on other ways of interpreting that figure.
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« Reply #61: April 19, 2008, 04:05:50 am »

That's part of it. I'm not saying that Judeo-Christianity is necessarily wrong in believing what they do or that their interpretation of El is wrong. It's just not quite what I believe in. I think people are horribly misinterpreting what I am saying.
I don't see El as the one-and-only supreme creator god that Christianity sees him as. I view El, as I said, in the way the original Levantine tribes most likely did: as one of several gods in a diverse pantheon. This does not mean that I look down on other ways of interpreting that figure.
To me that sounds a bit like the Wiccan positions that all goddesses are aspects of one goddess.

If I'd say a Hellenic Pagan worshipping Athena is worshipping an aspect of the Great Goddess, am I implying that he/she isn't really worshipping Athena and would the Hellenics be insulted?

Or if I believe that a Christian prayer for someone ill means sending good energies to him/her, should I shut my mouth because it might insult Christians?

If I was an atheist who believed that Gods are really just only ideas that help the worshipper to see sense in the world (or a father/mother figure who meets her/his psychical needs) am I intolerant?

I don't know a solution to the problem straight away. Christians who believe I'm worshipping the devil annoy me too. I'm just playing devil's advocate here. If they have a rather zoroastric view on good & evil, they'd have to change their faith to believe I'm not worshipping the devil, or not? So complaining about how they interpret my religiousity means complaining about their faith. (Not that that keeps me from complaining.)
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« Reply #62: April 19, 2008, 01:00:10 pm »

To me that sounds a bit like the Wiccan positions that all goddesses are aspects of one goddess.

If I'd say a Hellenic Pagan worshipping Athena is worshipping an aspect of the Great Goddess, am I implying that he/she isn't really worshipping Athena and would the Hellenics be insulted?

Or if I believe that a Christian prayer for someone ill means sending good energies to him/her, should I shut my mouth because it might insult Christians?

If I was an atheist who believed that Gods are really just only ideas that help the worshipper to see sense in the world (or a father/mother figure who meets her/his psychical needs) am I intolerant?

Uh-huh, fair enough questions.

It would be easier if everyone was open-minded enough to say "oh, that's fine that you believe that. I don't, though, I believe this". But unfortunately, that's not the case. There is a possibility that you may insult people by saying the things that you have mentioned above. I guess you've just got to weigh up the person in front of you and decide whether or not you should keep your mouth shut. For instance, my mother-in-law is so absolutely sure that her way is the only way (she's a Jehovah's Witness) that I just keep my mouth shut around her. But then on the other hand, to a lot of people on here I often feel quite at ease to say 'I don't believe what you do, I believe this'. That's why I like it so much here on TC, the majority of people are completely fine with that.
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« Reply #63: April 19, 2008, 04:24:27 pm »

Uh-huh, fair enough questions.

It would be easier if everyone was open-minded enough to say "oh, that's fine that you believe that. I don't, though, I believe this". But unfortunately, that's not the case. There is a possibility that you may insult people by saying the things that you have mentioned above. I guess you've just got to weigh up the person in front of you and decide whether or not you should keep your mouth shut. For instance, my mother-in-law is so absolutely sure that her way is the only way (she's a Jehovah's Witness) that I just keep my mouth shut around her. But then on the other hand, to a lot of people on here I often feel quite at ease to say 'I don't believe what you do, I believe this'. That's why I like it so much here on TC, the majority of people are completely fine with that.
Good examples. I think that common sense and courtesy is what matters, because any faith you have interprets other faiths differently than the adherents of these do or you can just cause a shock by mentioning your faith itsself.

If you're a strict dualistic Christian, you can't help believing that everyone who worships something apart from God is really worshipping the devil (in disguise or knowingly). If it is part of your faith that Athena is an aspect of the Goddess, you're a soft polytheist. If you would believe a Hellenic Pagan was worshipping an entity of its own, you wouldn't be a tolerant soft polytheist, but a hard one IMO. (Any polytheist correct me if I'm wrong.)

What makes tolerance IMO is not having a taboo on everything that might disagree with any other faith, but not thinking you are a better judge on religious/spiritual things than anyone of a different faiths and following them around bothering them with your conceptions.

I wouldn't go to a Christian community and tell them that they send positive energies when praying for someone according to my personal faith (which doesn't necessarily exclude God btw). But I don't see why I shouldn't mention it on a Pagan discussion forum, that would be Pagan self-censorship in the wrong place. (Please notice that I'm discussing this generally, of course it's the moderators' decisions how to handle this on TC.)

Also I think every fundie has the right to believe we all are really devil worshippers and tell anyone who wants to listen. He/she just doesn't have the right to come in our homes if we don't want and harass us. He doesn't do right by telling lies about Pagans like that he literally witnessed a coven eating a baby or something, but he can tell around that it's his personal belief, that he had a vision or Jesus told him if anyone wants to listen. (Even if it makes me personally angry that people tell around such things.)

As long as Louisvillian doesn't go harassing Christians with his belief or tells lies about them ('rather than I believe that their God is...') I don't see it as intolerant, he just has a different belief of what they call 'God' and since when do Christians have the monopoly of defining God for everyone?
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« Reply #64: April 19, 2008, 05:00:48 pm »

As long as Louisvillian doesn't go harassing Christians with his belief or tells lies about them ('rather than I believe that their God is...') I don't see it as intolerant, he just has a different belief of what they call 'God' and since when do Christians have the monopoly of defining God for everyone?

Well, I'm not a Christian, but what I found offensive was the statement that our (the JCI) God didn't even exist.  Had he simply said "I view the JCI God as X, Y, Z." that would have been different.  (Heck, people here do that all the time.  I may not agree with them, but I'm not offended, either.)  If he had been an atheist saying that no deity exists, it would have been different.  But to say that only our God doesn't exist, and that we who have studied the God of Abraham, Isaac, Miriam and Rachel for years, and are still not aware of the figure we are worshiping is offensive.  This is especially true when it is evident from Louisvillian's statements that he is basing his whole idea of our Lord on a few ancient Pagan influences.  I would not deny that such Pagan influences exist, but a heck of a lot has happened in the intervening few thousand years.

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Waldfrau
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« Reply #65: April 19, 2008, 05:54:06 pm »


Quote from: Louisviallian
I don't believe the Christian God exists as Jews and Christians interpret him.
I didn't read it as 'I believe the Christian God doesn't exist at all' or as 'Christians and Jews have just the same view of God in every aspect', but as 'I believe the Christian God is really different from what basic beliefs Christians and Jews share about him.' I see it's rather ambigously put and my own perspective must have been rather narrow when I read this post.

Honestly, I'm very easily offended religious/spiritual myself by certain positions, but it depends on the situation how I react. A bunch of Christians can discuss themselves if Pagans are really worshipping the devil in disguise and I can't proof them wrong, just say that I don't believe in the devil. So if their faith is as valid as mine, they can believe in the devil and that he's seducing half of the world. And I think they also should have a place where to express their beliefs, including the less interfaith-agreeable ones, even though those beliefs offend me personally.

But if they know I'm Pagan and seek me out to shove their views down my throat that's what I find inacceptable.

Hmm...I guess interfaiths discussions are really hard to do. If you censor heavily everyone will get along with each other, but there won't be much religious discussion. But maybe I'm just too idealistic, I don't know.

Or did you rather have a problem with how the sentence quoted above was put than that it expressed such beliefs at all (if it meant your God didn't exist)?
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RandallS
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« Reply #66: April 19, 2008, 06:03:44 pm »

If I'd say a Hellenic Pagan worshipping Athena is worshipping an aspect of the Great Goddess, am I implying that he/she isn't really worshipping Athena and would the Hellenics be insulted?

This depends on how you say it.

If you say something like "I believe that all Goddesses are really aspects of one Goddess, so in my belief system you are really worshipping a aspect of the Great Goddess when you worship Athena" I'd probably just say that that's not how I believe (explaining what I believe if needed) and drop it.

However, if you say something like "The deity you are worshipping, Athena, does not exist except as an aspect of the Great Goddess" and imply that even though you cannot prove this to be true I am simply WRONG to believe otherwise, I'm very likely to snap at you.

Telling me what you believe to be true about Athena is fine. Stating it as a fact instead of as a belief or stating/implying that I need to just drop my "incorrect" beliefs about my own deity is not fine.
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« Reply #67: April 19, 2008, 06:13:04 pm »

However, if you say something like "The deity you are worshipping, Athena, does not exist except as an aspect of the Great Goddess" and imply that even though you cannot prove this to be true I am simply WRONG to believe otherwise, I'm very likely to snap at you.
That clears things up. Believe me, I don't want to be bitten by that owl. Wink
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« Reply #68: April 19, 2008, 06:23:21 pm »

Or did you rather have a problem with how the sentence quoted above was put than that it expressed such beliefs at all (if it meant your God didn't exist)?

Honestly my biggest problem with it was that it seemed to imply that Christians and Jews were too stupid to know that we are really worshiping ancient Pagan deities.  The tone was pretty condescending.

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Louisvillian
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« Reply #69: April 20, 2008, 12:54:10 am »

To me that sounds a bit like the Wiccan positions that all goddesses are aspects of one goddess.
Seeing as I am a Solitary Wiccan, it kinda makes sense that this is the view I take of deities. Wink

Honestly my biggest problem with it was that it seemed to imply that Christians and Jews were too stupid to know that we are really worshiping ancient Pagan deities.  The tone was pretty condescending.

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I absolutely did not mean to seem condescending. I guess expression of tone and emotion is difficult over an electronic medium. To clarify: I was not saying that they were wrong or that they were stupid. Simply that I do not automatically count out that deity, but as a less cosmocratic figure.
I guess as less controversial way of phrasing it is: I do not believe in the Abrahamic God. However, I believe that one of many gods in existence is El, a Bronze-Age Levantine deity whose name, meaning "Lord", appears in the Bible in association to YHWH.
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« Reply #70: April 20, 2008, 10:41:19 am »

I didn't read it as 'I believe the Christian God doesn't exist at all' or as 'Christians and Jews have just the same view of God in every aspect', but as 'I believe the Christian God is really different from what basic beliefs Christians and Jews share about him.' I see it's rather ambigously put and my own perspective must have been rather narrow when I read this post.

I didn't read it as saying the Christian and/or Jewish God doesn't exist, either. I read it as saying that Louisvillin interprets the Christian and/or Jewish God differently from the way Christians and Jewish people do. If Louisvillian had of said 'the Christian God doesn't exist as Jews and Christians interpret him' I would have been rather outraged by that. But what was actually said was 'I don't believe the Christian God exists as Jews and Christians interpret him'.

That may seem like such a slight and unimportant difference to some, but to me it makes all the difference.
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« Reply #71: April 20, 2008, 11:08:20 am »

Off topic:
Sorry, can't refrain from asking. Who is that beautiful cat in your avatar? Is that a white speck she's having or something dangling from her neck?
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« Reply #72: April 20, 2008, 12:12:49 pm »

Off topic:
Sorry, can't refrain from asking. Who is that beautiful cat in your avatar? Is that a white speck she's having or something dangling from her neck?

That's my cat Gizmo. She is completely black apart from that one white spot on her chest.  Cheesy
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« Reply #73: April 20, 2008, 02:11:13 pm »

I didn't read it as saying the Christian and/or Jewish God doesn't exist, either. I read it as saying that Louisvillin interprets the Christian and/or Jewish God differently from the way Christians and Jewish people do. If Louisvillian had of said 'the Christian God doesn't exist as Jews and Christians interpret him' I would have been rather outraged by that. But what was actually said was 'I don't believe the Christian God exists as Jews and Christians interpret him'.

That may seem like such a slight and unimportant difference to some, but to me it makes all the difference.

I think that the interpretation I made was due in large part to the wider context of the conversation.  Someone had just been talking about Pagans that believe the JCI God doesn't exist, and that phrasing made it seem like he was agreeing that the JCI God didn't exist or that Jews and Christians were unaware of whom they were worshiping. 

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« Reply #74: April 20, 2008, 02:17:56 pm »

I guess as less controversial way of phrasing it is: I do not believe in the Abrahamic God. However, I believe that one of many gods in existence is El, a Bronze-Age Levantine deity whose name, meaning "Lord", appears in the Bible in association to YHWH.

The problem with this is that there are clearly many influences that went into the current conception of the JCI deity, only one of which was El.  The JCI God has many, many names, only one of which is El.  Put succinctly, I think that evidence could show El as an aspect of the JCI God, or as an influence on perceptions of the JCI God.  I see no evidence that El could be the totality of my God.

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