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Atheism and Paganism

By Ian Corrigan

[Snip] A certain segment of the Pagan population has decided to adopt in large part the ideology of modern atheism and philosophical materialism. They often consider themselves to be within the strain of modern thought called ‘humanism’, and have labelled themselves as ‘Naturalist’ Pagans. I have no objection to any of this (except the latter, see below). Paganism does not require any fixed set of opinions to be Paganism, and this lot seems reasonably focused on ritual, meditation, and service, which *are* Paganism-indicators, to me. However they are not just Pagans who happen to be atheists, they also seem to act like atheists who happen to be Pagan. Where I find myself objecting is when members of this school present their ideas as Truth of some sort, or as “more true” or “more in touch with reality” than those of more mythic perspectives.

Modern atheism suffers from imitation of Christianity in its evangelical desire to assert its ideas as “the truth”. I’m not interested in doing hard philosophy here; we’ll be vernacular about “truth”. I am entirely unwilling to accept that materialist, scientistic worldviews more accurately describe the reality of religious phenomena than those of tribal mythic systems. In fact I find atheism and materialism in every way inadequate to describe religious phenomena, though they have developed some complex rationales to attempt to do so. Thus I dismiss them as useful “truth”.

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