Apparently my last post in which I admitted to being a Theistic Satanist rather than an atheistic one, caused a bit of discussion on Twitter. So I had my five minutes of fame and nearly missed it altogether! See here.
It was important to me to be honest about the way my thinking and lifestyle has developed, but perhaps what I said was not entirely clear because people have different interpretations of what theism and atheism actually mean. These confusions run so deep that I don’t think I can clear it up in one post. What I can do though is clarify what I mean.
The way I see it, the main problem is that most people define atheism by Christian definitions of God. By those definitions, I am still very much an atheist. I don’t believe in the Christian God or that the Christian God exists. Nor do I believe that Satan is anything like the way Christians or their non existent god define him.
Moreover, in most respects I am still what most people would define as an atheist. I believe in science and the power of science to explain things. I believe in the Big Bang and in evolution. I think the idea that God created the world in seven days and then created humans starting with Adam and Eve, is dangerous rubbish that should never be presented in schools as if it were true.
But what about those definitions of atheism which state there are no gods of any kind? The problem I see there, is that it all depends what you mean by “God”.
Does a God have to be the one thing that created everything else? Does a God have to have what we would recognise as human qualities? There are plenty of gods in many religions which are not like this.
Lately I have been mixing with a lot of Pagans. Most of the ones I know describe their relationship to deity as “working with this god or that god”. But it is clear they don’t see their god or gods as necessarily being the ones who created the universe. Some of them use the phrase, honouring the gods, rather than worshiping them and a lot of Pagans acknowledge more than one god, sometimes whole pantheons of gods. Some believe that their gods are real, actual beings of some sort while others see their gods as energies or symbols relating to aspects of the universe.
Are these things what atheism is against? Clearly these things have very little similarity to the idea of God in Christianity and related religions.
So does atheism mean being against any concept of god whatsoever? There is an idea in many Satanic traditions (Theistic and atheistic) that we ARE or CAN BECOME gods ourselves. I believe this. I find the idea empowering. Indeed in most branches of Satanism that I know, there is some form of the belief that we are our own gods. But if atheism states that the very idea or even the word “God” is toxic, then perhaps we should not believe in ourselves?? This is ridiculous.
So it seems to me the word and idea of atheism, has become too vague and bland because it is always related to the word and idea of god which itself has perhaps thousands of potential meanings. Indeed saying that you don’t believe in God has about as much meaning as saying you don’t believe ‘Something”.
But some atheists go even further. Some insist that you can’t believe in anything that can’t be seen or proved by science. Fifty years ago nobody (not even scientists) knew that a thing called Ultima Thule existed. But it did exist! Now we have seen photographs of this thing on the edge of our solar system. Fifty years ago the idea that I could exchange instant messages with my friends on the other side of the world would have seemed like magic or science fiction. Now I do it on my phone everyday. I think science will know everything; but it doesn’t know everything yet. Just because you don’t know or can’t explain something doesn’t make it unreal or untrue.
It seems to me that atheism has been infected with a kind of arrogance that is totally unscientific. The scientific mind should be open, not closed. Yes, question everything. But that does not mean disbelieve everything on principle.
While we should always be open to the possibility that we are wrong, we should allow ourselves the possibility to trust our instincts, or at least follow them and see where they lead. I suspect some of the biggest scientific breakthroughs were made in this way; by people who ignored what those around assumed to be the right way to do things.
I’m a witch. I have been studying and using occult magic since before my teens. I know it works. For some things I’m pretty sure I know how it works and I could explain it scientifically… But I can’t explain everything. It still works though.
I still believe that maybe 95% of my Satanic path comes entirely from me and that Satanism is to a very large degree about opening up your own psychological pathways in order to progress as a person. I can see scientifically and psychologically how that works. But I have had a steadily growing feeling that a part of my path is lead by some outside force. As I have grown and developed on my path I have begun to study demonology and work with spirits or forces that many religions regard as taboo. Again, I am prepared to believe that part of this is actually opening up my own psychological pathways. But not all of it…
In the midst of all of this I have had the feeling that Satan, it or himself, is guiding me. And my feelings and instincts tell me that this force, whatever it is, is external to me. I was brought up to believe that if somebody is kind and helpful to you, you should be kind and helpful in return. To deny the help I feel I am getting from this outside force would seem to me to be unkind and disrespectful.
I do not pretend to know exactly what this force I call Satan actually is. But I am very open to the possibility that many kinds of intelligence and forces can exist in the universe. I certainly do not believe that Satan is a god in the way that the word god is usually defined. But that should not minimise the power or influence that Satan may prove to have.
I’m 19 this year, so still fairly young. I have plenty of time to learn and even to change my mind if necessary. For now however I have come to the conclusion that I need to acknowledge the outside force that I feel has guided me on my path. Indeed, I feel I have grown in certain ways just by doing that.
Even if I turn out to be wrong on this occasion, I still think the arrogant side of atheism is a dangerous thing. In fact it is as “religious” in all the wrong ways as many religions are. We need to have open minds. We need to be open to things that don’t seem possible according to our present understandings, because what we understand will change over time. This does not mean we stop asking questions or being critical.