I sure hope so since this is how I identify myself. At the risk of getting kicked out of the Atheist club, let me elaborate.

While my attempts as a child to believe in God like a good little citizen failed, my exposure to living science, quantum physics, seeing the universe and all that is in it as a whole lot of life-in-action, stuck with me. As I grew up and began to explore my world from the angle of all things being made up of the same 'stuff,' the known and even greater unknown interconnectedness and energy within this 'stuff' and thusly the interconnectedness and common DNA between you, me, my cat, my snake, a tree, a rock, the wind, an asteroid, a star, carried with it a lot more reason and beauty than “God did it.”

At the same time, I have learned indirectly on my own and directly from other sources a fair amount of meditation and self-control-through-the-mind techniques. Dealing with chronic pain, dealing with a weird but needed-to-be-dealt-with phobia, finding my own greater strength in martial arts. All of this involves a degree of grasping control in our own selves over things we and even the scientific community have yet to fully understand or define. An athlete mentally prepares and gets in the zone before the big game; visualizes the goal line, visualizes him/herself in top physical form. Is that supernatural hoodoo?

Likewise, while quantum physics, atomic energy and Unified Field Theory make perfect sense to me, they make for boring visuals when I'm trying to 'get in the zone.' I don't know what atomic particles look like. But, the image of Halle Berry in the first X-Men, vanquishing my inner demons much like she vanquished Toad, makes for a cool visual that my brain can definitely latch onto.

This is where practices of Paganism and even methods of Witchcraft come in handy for me. E.g.; I really need to be able to go to Dad's funeral without my sister driving me to insanity. So I find some quiet time, burn some sage or incense, create my sacred space, and envision a psychic shield around myself which my sister can not penetrate with her well-meaning but insanity-provoking behavior.

Do I literally think the sage/incense have mystical powers in and of themselves? Not really. They are pleasant aromas and ones both my conscious and subconscious mind have come to associate with relaxation and getting rid of the worries of the day. Plus, they carry a historical, traditional role in getting rid of the worries of the day, a fact which stimulates other parts of the psyche. Do I literally think I have created a magical, sacred space around me that looks like a light show out of a Disney cartoon? Not really. But what I have done is found a quiet place and filled it with pleasant light and smells; an act psychologically proven to enhance focus and concentration. Do I literally think I have created a physical, psychic force field? Not so much in the literal sense but what I am doing psychologically is tapping in to parts of the brain that I and modern science have yet to fully understand in order to try and make myself less-driven-insane by my sister when the time comes.

In other words, yes – there are bona-fide crystal crunching new agers out there who have replaced 'Jesus' with 'Goddess,' but otherwise little has changed. They literally believe in fairies and tree spirits and angels and that they are Princess-whomever reincarnated into the saps they are now.

But then there are some of the practices themselves: Respect for nature. Envisioning the tree as a living organism. Picturing the planet in terms of a collective, living organism. Wrapping one's mind around the concept that both I and the rock I'm sitting on are ultimately made up of the same 'stuff' (protons, neutrons, electrons). Envisioning the Unified Field and interconnectedness of the cosmos, attempting to tap into the coolness of that interconnectedness to somehow improve my own state of mind, awareness of the space around me, or athletic performance so I can win the game today. I've met many a Pagan/Wiccan who holds this point of view; that they don't believe in most of it literally, but rather as a psychological exercise that works well for them scientifically.

So, does that get me kicked out of the Atheist club? Or can one dance naked under the Full Moon or welcome the Summer Solstice from a purely beauty-in-science point of view?

Views: 4689

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

I don't mean to rain on your parade, I don't mind a little Goddess love, but either something has a scientifically measurable effect, or it doesn't.

If alternative medicine worked than it would be called medicine. Derive all the spiritual placeboness you want from it if you like, but things like homeopathy have no known observable value, period.

Ritalin is a drug which we know has an effect on the mind. There are differing theories as to the best uses of this drug, but it's not 'quack' medicine just because it may be overprescribed.

Scientists constantly check each others work because they are skeptics and critical thinkers. Please read the book Trick or Treatment on a scientific breakdown on some of these matters.

If truth is important, than critical thinking must be upheld.

For the basics of critical thinking, please watch http://herebedragonsmovie.com/
"If alternative medicine worked than it would be called medicine."

It is called medicine. 'Medicine' is in the title. All of the above examples I gave of the very measurably effective treatments I myself have benefited from were recommended to me by my very Western-Medicine doctors. Suffering a tooth abscess once which bordered on blood poisoning, the dentist+doctor pumped me full of 3 kinds of antibiotics, but also recommended, "Since you're not going to keep much of anything else in your stomach, eat yogurt. It's a natural antibiotic and right now you need every ounce you can get in any form possible."

This is not the same as saying, "Screw the antibiotics, just eat yogurt," or that yogurt is completely ineffective. Effectiveness of medicine is not measured in terms of 100% or nothing at all.

Some of what I mentioned - Shiatsu and homeopathic allergy medicines - are indeed the most effective treatments ... for me ... for my specific circumstances. Other 'alternative' treatments like yogurt as an antibiotic or green tea as an antioxidant merely supplement the larger treatments. Some things that get tossed under the heading of 'alternative medicine' do nothing for me but might work for you, but not so well for this other person, but works great for her.

And yes, because there's no official FDA stamp on alternative medicine, all the snake oil out there gets lumped under that title as well, necessitating the differentiation between alternative medicine that has genuine, scientifically recognized benefits, and that which doesn't.
"The problem with trying to determine the effectiveness of these and other alternative healing methods, is that a person who seeks out the alternative healing therapy is assuming that these things work before they walk through the door of the naturopathic healer's office, and they will take any positive feelings as evidence for their effectiveness"

Again using myself as an example - a cynic who very much understands the placebo effect:

I assumed my entire life that when I took Claritin or Benedryl, that these things would work. Doc tells me these will get rid of all my symptoms, American medicine kicks ass, therefore the benefits I'm getting from these drugs are the best possible. In a health food store once, on a whim, I picked up some homeopathic allergy medicine figuring it might be a nice supplement but having little faith that it would do much good. It erased symptoms I assumed for a lifetime no medicine could erase. If the only thing at work here was a placebo effect, then the Claritin and Benedryl should have been far more effective since these were the medicines I believed would be most effective.

The recommendation for Shiatsu massage came from a Western doctor, after nearly 20 years of trying and failing to find much relief from traditional Western treatments for my nerve injury. I had no faith that something as simple as massage could do what years of physical therapy could not, but started going simply because the massage itself felt good overall. When I realized that the second-to-second, minute-to-minute pain had gone away is after I could no longer afford the Shiatsu and stopped going and the pain returned. Again, had the placebo effect been the sole factor here, the Western treatments that I had way more faith in would have been way more effective.
Religious people like to say that humans have free will. It's just not true; We can't pick our place, time of birth, our parents, the culture we're born into, etc. Humans have the ability to rationalize their future actions as long as they're not constrained by absolutes from religion. Each of us needs to be allowed time to grow. For that to happen in society, we mustn't ignore the psychological need fulfillment that rituals provide.

Ritual practices in society are important. Such practice lends support in time of need. Some have needed the support of an invisible imaginary playmate/s and myth in tough times. Paganism provides these rituals and myths.


"What I don't appreciate about paganism is their disdain for the scientific method of understanding the world."

I agree with you but you'll always have skeptics for any science, not even scientists believe all scientists. In fact, it's important that there are skeptics and those with supernatural thoughts to lend a degree of imagination to the production of theories. So, while I agree that science is important, so is a little mythological imagination in producing a good scientific method as long as the mythology is not set in absolutes and the practitioner is allowed to change beleifs. What good is science without something to disprove?

The best thing about paganism is it doesn't deal in absolutes. Practitioners are allowed to improvise as they see fit. There are no absolutes.

Paganism differs from other religious practices in that the problems of religious controls on society isn't so much a problem with ritual practices, such as paganism, but with constraining absolutes that come with religious dogma. Absolutes that prevent us from growing and rationalizing. Meaning, it's much easier to teach and raise a pagan how to rationalize than it is to teach a fundamental xtian.

Sorry if his posting is a bit disjointed. It's hard to get the contained points across.
My wife is Wiccan. She doesn't actually believe in the Gods, and calls herself an athiest wiccan, but she likes the rituals and community feeling. I don't know if it makes sense in the definition of the word...(I'm skeptical of an atheist christian since Christ did claim to be the son of God)...but her intent is obviously to teach morals through story and narrative, in the same way we might discuss Aesop's fables knowing that they are not real.

I guess you get my vote.
I too am really skeptical when I run into people who claim to follow Wicca and/or Atheism, but also Christianity. Yet more of those who in part want to break from Christianity, but also in part cling to it out of fear (fear of alienation from society? From friends and family? Fear of a god they do still believe in despite what their higher reasoning tells them?).

Belief in the Xian god to the exclusion of all others is a core tenant of the faith. Don't believe in this, then you don't get to claim to be Xian.

On the other hand, Wicca and many other forms of Paganism are not organized religions with such strict rules per se. These are often based in finding one's own power and literal belief in supernatural deities is not a prerequisite for that.
I have no idea if "pagan atheist" is an apt term at all for what you are. Mostly, when I hear "pagan" I think of idiots who really believe in fairies and multiple deities and crap, but since all those hippie-fairy-feak-oes tend to be the only ones carrying around those ideas of that holistic interconnectedness of things, calling oneself by their identifying term carries an uninsignificant amount of aptness that I can't ignore.

This sounds a lot like the stuff I went through during my "Let's look at the legitimacy of metaphysical claims" phase. Of course, now I can't help but take a "This isn't really happening; it's just how you end up perceiving it due to the approximations used not only in your perceptions but even in your very cognition." The logical fallacies that pop up, fully valid, are bloody addictive in their right-hemispherity.

I kind of miss it.
A hearty RAmen!
YES! thanks for articulation of the way I feel about wicca....there are the fundie types, and there those who don't take in the superstition and use it as a healthy psychological exercise....thank you!!!
An actual From-the-Nature religion with disregard for superstitious! Now, this is interesting. No. Even if you do believe in spirits and fairy, I think you are still atheist. If only at technical level.
I get that you shouldn't have some criteria for whether you fit into the atheist club. But if you can be a pagan atheist, can someone also be a Christian atheist? I doubt the general reaction would be the same, though it would be possible for an atheist to admire Jesus (at least, the nice hippie image of him). I see double standards in how atheists act toward different religions. If you can be associated with one religion and be an atheist, you should be able to be associated with any. (I do think atheist Buddhism is compatible, being that some branches of Buddhism don't have a deity.)

I think most of what you are describing is more pantheistic than pagan. Then again, so many pagans are just in it for the party and the festivals. The word "pagan" is one of those words that means whatever the hell the person wants it to mean. That's why pagans have huge arguments over whether they are pagans or Wiccans!
Follower of christ but not Christian? I think I heard that somewhere...

But yeah. I think it is fine. It isn't like you follow 100% his teaching, anyway.

Umm... at least that's what I assume.

RSS

Support Atheist Nexus

Donate Today

Donate

 

Help Nexus When You Buy From Amazon

Amazon

 

Latest Activity

Freethinker31 replied to Bertold Brautigan's discussion Pity Poor Rush, Whose Panties Are in a Wad Because There Might Be a Black James Bond
1 minute ago
Joan Denoo replied to Loren Miller's discussion Christmas: Behind the Curtain (The Thinking Atheist) in the group Hang With Friends
3 minutes ago
Joan Denoo replied to Loren Miller's discussion Christmas: Behind the Curtain (The Thinking Atheist) in the group Hang With Friends
5 minutes ago
Bertold Brautigan replied to Dr. Allan H. Clark's discussion Atheism and the Holocaust: Primo Levi and Os Guiness
13 minutes ago
Joan Denoo replied to Loren Miller's discussion Christmas: Behind the Curtain (The Thinking Atheist) in the group Hang With Friends
20 minutes ago
Tom Sarbeck replied to Matt Gabe's discussion Atheists who preach religion and theists who preach atheism
29 minutes ago
Tom Sarbeck replied to Dr. Allan H. Clark's discussion Atheism and the Holocaust: Primo Levi and Os Guiness
35 minutes ago
Visvakarman Svetasvatara-Upanish replied to Visvakarman Svetasvatara-Upanish's discussion God Loves Uganda.
50 minutes ago
Visvakarman Svetasvatara-Upanish replied to Visvakarman Svetasvatara-Upanish's discussion Do you guys know what tomorrow is?
54 minutes ago
Grinning Cat replied to Ruth Anthony-Gardner's discussion Camo cats in the group Atheist Ailurophiles
57 minutes ago
Loren Miller commented on Warren Jappe's photo
1 hour ago
Patricia replied to Bertold Brautigan's discussion Pity Poor Rush, Whose Panties Are in a Wad Because There Might Be a Black James Bond
1 hour ago

© 2014   Atheist Nexus. All rights reserved. Admin: Richard Haynes.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service