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Atheist Heathen


Guest NoImagination
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I'm sorry if this topic has been covered before, I had a search and I couldn't find anything.

 

Sooooo my question is....... Is it possible to be an atheist/agnostic Heathen?

 

If you could expand on "no" or "yes" that would be really helpful :o_bounce2: .

Edited by NoImagination
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I'm sorry if this topic has been covered before, I had a search and I couldn't find anything.

 

Sooooo my question is....... Is it possible to be an atheist/agnostic Heathen?

 

If you could expand on  "no" or "yes" that would be really helpful  :o_bounce2: .

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How hard have you been looking NI ? <_< :D :ph34r:

 

edited to add that new enquirers will find a thorough answer within the valley!

Edited by Moonsmith
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I typed "atheist heathen" into the search facility.

 

That's pretty thorough I'm sure you'll agree ;-).

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Have a look at the "I'm and Atheist" thread and look at who says what :o_bounce2: <_< :D

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Yes, of course you can be an Atheist Heathen. I know quite a few of them actually, especially in the reconstructionist movement.

 

They still honour ancestors, land spirits and have the same views about community, luck and all the other good stuff but just no gods.

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Yes, of course you can be an Atheist Heathen. I know quite a few of them actually, especially in the reconstructionist movement.

 

They still honour ancestors, land spirits and have the same views about community, luck and all the other good stuff but just no gods.

 

Thank you Birka. A nice simple, concise answer!!

 

I find it interesting how Atheist Heathens don't (obviously) believe in gods but still are able to honour/believe in land spirits. If one is possible surely the other is too?! Of course I may not have the correct understanding of what a land spirit is to a Heathen so I may be barking in an inappropriate vicinity ;) .

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That's one I don't get either NI!

 

I remember discussing the point with once with one such atheist and it seemed to boil down to definitions. They defined gods as the whole omni-present, omni-potent, creator deal and that's what they didn't believe in. How I defined gods was to them, just sort of big wight and not a god at all. That was just them though, I think.

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yes, I can appreciate that difficulty, cos its one that I am stuck on meself...understanding polytheism is a very different sort of 'ism' isnt it. and one that I am happy to explore and to try and understand too.

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Yes, of course you can be an Atheist Heathen. I know quite a few of them actually, especially in the reconstructionist movement.

 

They still honour ancestors, land spirits and have the same views about community, luck and all the other good stuff but just no gods.

 

Thank you Birka. A nice simple, concise answer!!

 

I find it interesting how Atheist Heathens don't (obviously) believe in gods but still are able to honour/believe in land spirits. If one is possible surely the other is too?! Of course I may not have the correct understanding of what a land spirit is to a Heathen so I may be barking in an inappropriate vicinity :) .

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That's an interesting point about the land spirits but they wouldn't be the only atheists that have pretty much animist tendencies. I personally don't understand it but I suspect it has to do with how they divide 'natural' and 'supernatural'. Still, the best person to ask would be Animystic as he's an atheist and an animist :D.

 

Esk - that's true, if you see the gods as being 'big wights' and not the omnipotent, omnipresent beings that gods are generally expected to be, it is a bit different. However the question then becomes where do these 'big wights' live in the natural world? We are told they live in other 'worlds' such as Asgard, this can be very definitely considered a supernatural place (although I do remember T once outlining his UPG that they were just different dimensions). Maybe that has something to do with it?

 

Also people seem more likely to come across land spirits than deities and whether you believe that what you just saw or what happened was down to land spirits or a trick of the mind, with some of the stories going around, new stories about people upsetting the land spirits monumentally and then having dramatic losses of luck, people tend to ere on the side of caution anyway.

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I think it's certainly possible although difficult to be an Atheist Heathen. The central questions, at least for me, are the ability to separate high mythology (the gods, who to us are essentially "big wights" as has been previously said but are still called gods for their greater recognition and power) from low mythology (land-wights, ancestors, elves, disir, hamingja, and the like), and the ability to live one's life as a Heathen in the first instance. Oddly enough, in Asatru Lore there was a discussion similar to this one, in which people were asked whether they would more readily accept: a) someone who claims to be fully Heathen and worships the gods but is essentially doing so for the "cool" factor and doesn't really put anything of Heathenry into practise; or :) someone who doesn't worship the gods but adheres to the principles of Heathenry in all other respects. Suffice it to say that there was an overwhelming majority who declared that they would more readily accept the latter.

 

In summation, adherence to the core principles of Heathenry is the most important factor in my view, not whether one worships the gods. Although the gods themselves are important, they're not the be-all and end-all of Heathenry. Not by a longshot.

Edited by AsatruThorsman
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I think it's certainly possible although difficult to be an Atheist Heathen. 

 

I think that would depend on which Heathen community a person belongs to. If it's more recon then I don't see the problem but the more UPG-based communities(judging by previous responses to such questions) would almost show offense and claim that person isn't a Heathen.

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I am an atheist and consider myself heathen. I do not, currently, believe in gods or wights as something distinct from my own psyche. Having said that, exploring my path is taking me some very interesting places.

 

If other heathens insist that makes me 'not a heathen'[TM] then stuff them (no offence to those who think me not a heathen, btw!). Either I am a heathen, albeit a flavour they don't like, or I am following my own, norse influenced pagan path.

 

Frankly, my gut feeling says that if Odin does exist, he would prefer me, a guy who doesn't recognise the gods and wights as distinct entities but *does* honour his family and friends, works for the community, keeps his word and fights for what he considers to be right, over anyone who works with the gods and wights and believes in them as distinct entities but lies, cheats, dishonours his family and bitches about his friends behind their back, all while sitting alone in his flat, playing world of warcraft. :rolleyes: (I added that last bit myself - couldn't resist the embellishment - apologies to any WoW fans!)

 

That feeling made the heathen values more important to me than anything else. And it is they that I have built my path upon.

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good for you, NN! its good to see honour and family is alive and kicking.

 

I admire that in a person.

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Thanks.

 

I think it is a little easier when you come from a large family in the first place. Because my mum was the eldest of 10 siblings, 'the clan' met every weekend and that helped build a sense of community, I guess.

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I am an atheist and consider myself heathen.  I do not, currently, believe in gods or wights as something distinct from my own psyche.  Having said that, exploring my path is taking me some very interesting places.

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I note the word "currently" and it gives me hope :)

 

I was an "atheist" when I was young. At the time, it seemed like a rational position to hold, since I can't see the sense in believing in things for which I have no evidence - personal or otherwise. Ockham's razor seems reasonable here.

 

I think I was also a moral person and to be honest, if my morals & ethics and way of viewing the world has become more concrete, they haven't radically changed. As an atheist I had strong ideas about community and family & what was important in life (deeds were - talk wasn't). I wouldn't call myself a heathen and didn't even know what "Asatru" was (sometimes it feels that I still don't)

 

Then I had a personal experience and suddenly the world was a little bit more interesting and a little bit odder. It certainly wasn't the huge revelation or anything - just a nudge that there was something(s) else out there. That was in my early twenties. With this nudge and a little bit more thought I became a believer. Without this nudge, I don't expect anybody else to believe what I do (since I didn't).

 

As I said on the atheist thread - I still don't believe in omnescient, omnipresent gods who create the universe and then disappear for 2000 years - does any heathen? My UPG is that our gods are of this world. If it makes it easier - thinking of Gods as Big Wights is alright with me. I think the difference is that for whatever reason the Gods have a role to play in our lives and existence. Wights don't - they are simply life & possibly completely uninterested in us.

 

Since then I've had periods of doubt and periods of certainty - though as I grow older I'm more certain and less doubtful. Mostly through introspection and thought but also the occasional nudge and push. But only the stupid and mad know they are right and cannot be wrong. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

 

Suppose tomorrow I have a crisis of faith - would that stop me being a heathen? No. Because the important things which make a heathen are what we do in this world not what we imagine in our dreams.

 

Marcus

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If other heathens insist that makes me 'not a heathen'[TM] then stuff them (no offence to those who think me not a heathen, btw!).  Either I am a heathen, albeit a flavour they don't like, or I am following my own, norse influenced pagan path.

 

Good for you........ i feel the same when people feel and atheist can't be a pagan (not that folks here are generally of that view).

 

Marcus that was good to read.

 

Mike

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I note the word "currently" and it gives me hope :o_wink:

 

I was an "atheist" when I was young. At the time, it seemed like a rational position to hold, since I can't see the sense in believing in things for which I have no evidence - personal or otherwise. Ockham's razor seems reasonable here.

 

<snippety snip!>

 

Marcus

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I am sure I have experiences that others would define as being spiritual or being contacted by divinity. I am not, at present, willing to consider it as anything significantly more than my own consciousness or perception 'shifting', though.

 

If I am 'right' in being an atheist, what harm in exploring other alternatives. If I am 'wrong' in being an atheist, then I really ought to check out some other options. Therefore, in a horribly logical way, I persue other options in the form of playing with the idea of gods, wights and such. First as aspects or projections of my own consciousness and then later..... ...who knows? :)

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Going off the subject a little, my partner and I have been discussing what Pagan's we are. My partner has been brought up as a strict christian, but dosent agree with the bible, so feels more at home in paganism. I have never been a christian and have always been in to paganism since I can remember so its esier for me now. My partner feels that this is right to follow but is nervous about the "what if"s! What if there is a god and the christian way is correct? (her thoughts not mine). I of course have decided that the path for me is the Norse/heathen one and was just wondering if any of you had similar feelings as she has at some stage and how you explained them away/overcome them? I know its a bit heavy but just thought that I would aks the question. Thanks guys! :ph34r:

 

 

I note the word "currently" and it gives me hope :)

 

I was an "atheist" when I was young. At the time, it seemed like a rational position to hold, since I can't see the sense in believing in things for which I have no evidence - personal or otherwise. Ockham's razor seems reasonable here.

 

<snippety snip!>

 

Marcus

397724[/snapback]

 

I am sure I have experiences that others would define as being spiritual or being contacted by divinity. I am not, at present, willing to consider it as anything significantly more than my own consciousness or perception 'shifting', though.

 

If I am 'right' in being an atheist, what harm in exploring other alternatives. If I am 'wrong' in being an atheist, then I really ought to check out some other options. Therefore, in a horribly logical way, I persue other options in the form of playing with the idea of gods, wights and such. First as aspects or projections of my own consciousness and then later..... ...who knows? :)

397753[/snapback]

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Going off the subject a little, my partner and I have been discussing what Pagan's we are.  My partner has been brought up as a strict christian, but dosent agree with the bible, so feels more at home in paganism. I have never been a christian and have always been in to paganism since I can remember so its esier for me now.  My partner feels that this is right to follow but is nervous about the "what if"s!  What if there is a god and the christian way is correct?  (her thoughts not mine).  I of course have decided that the path for me is the Norse/heathen one and was just wondering if any of you had similar feelings as she has at some stage and how you explained them away/overcome them?  I know its a bit heavy but just thought that I would aks the question.  Thanks guys!  :ph34r:

 

This is a bit like Pascal's wager - which went as follows: if you are an atheist, then you either die or go to hell. If you're a Christian, then you either die or go to heaven. Therefore it's rational to be a Christian. (no it doesn't convince me either).

 

The problem is that Pascal's wager doesn't account for other Gods - what if you're a Christian and actually when you die you find Huitzilopochtli running the show. Presumably he won't be best impressed that you never made any human sacrifices ...

 

If Yahweh does exist and he's exactly like that represented in the Old and New Testement, then you're pretty much doomed regardless. You've already doubted his word, worshipped craven images, thought sinful thoughts, worn cloth of two different fabrics etc. etc.

 

However if the modern Christian god exists then -- probably -- he values good works over literal faith. At least that seems to be the message coming from the current Church of England.

 

Myself however if I was a God, I wouldn't be impressed by any belief/moral/spiritual framework which requires the carrot of heaven and the stick of hell. I believe what I believe because I think it's the truth and I do what I think is good because I am (hopefully) a good person - not because of some cosmic bargaining over my soul.

 

MArcus

Edited by Marcus
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You know what, that makes so much sense! Thanks Marcus

Going off the subject a little, my partner and I have been discussing what Pagan's we are.  My partner has been brought up as a strict christian, but dosent agree with the bible, so feels more at home in paganism. I have never been a christian and have always been in to paganism since I can remember so its esier for me now.  My partner feels that this is right to follow but is nervous about the "what if"s!  What if there is a god and the christian way is correct?  (her thoughts not mine).  I of course have decided that the path for me is the Norse/heathen one and was just wondering if any of you had similar feelings as she has at some stage and how you explained them away/overcome them?  I know its a bit heavy but just thought that I would aks the question.  Thanks guys!  :rolleyes:

 

This is a bit like Pascal's wager - which went as follows: if you are an atheist, then you either die or go to hell. If you're a Christian, then you either die or go to heaven. Therefore it's rational to be a Christian. (no it doesn't convince me either).

 

The problem is that Pascal's wager doesn't account for other Gods - what if you're a Christian and actually when you die you find Huitzilopochtli running the show. Presumably he won't be best impressed that you never made any human sacrifices ...

 

If Yahweh does exist and he's exactly like that represented in the Old and New Testement, then you're pretty much doomed regardless. You've already doubted his word, worshipped craven images, thought sinful thoughts, worn cloth of two different fabrics etc. etc.

 

However if the modern Christian god exists then -- probably -- he values good works over literal faith. At least that seems to be the message coming from the current Church of England.

 

Myself however if I was a God, I wouldn't be impressed by any belief/moral/spiritual framework which requires the carrot of heaven and the stick of hell. I believe what I believe because I think it's the truth and I do what I think is good because I am (hopefully) a good person - not because of some cosmic bargaining over my soul.

 

MArcus

399554[/snapback]

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  • 4 weeks later...
Yes, of course you can be an Atheist Heathen. I know quite a few of them actually, especially in the reconstructionist movement.

 

They still honour ancestors, land spirits and have the same views about community, luck and all the other good stuff but just no gods.

396388[/snapback]

 

Hi Birka!

But isn't this an Animist heathen rather than an atheist heathen, who wouldn't acknowledge any form of external spirit even land spirits or ancestors?

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Yes, of course you can be an Atheist Heathen. I know quite a few of them actually, especially in the reconstructionist movement.

 

They still honour ancestors, land spirits and have the same views about community, luck and all the other good stuff but just no gods.

396388[/snapback]

 

Hi Birka!

But isn't this an Animist heathen rather than an atheist heathen, who wouldn't acknowledge any form of external spirit even land spirits or ancestors?

406312[/snapback]

 

Hey Linda,

 

No, atheist means 'no gods', which pretty much means that anything else is game. So yes, an atheist Heathen may also be animist but not always.

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