Wednesday, December 20, 2006

the road from monotheism to atheism

I read a wide variety of material, both online and in book/magazine form. Lately it seems to me that atheists are getting louder, or maybe there are more of them. I also recently met a very spiritual, enlightened person...who is an atheist. That really got me thinking how that could be. Then I saw the connection, and saw that it's a logical outgrowth of my path. Someday I will be an atheist. Probably not tomorrow, but in 10 years? Maybe.
This is the path I see.
  • Monotheism. Usually forced on you by society/parents. Rigid rules. One god, usually male, jealous, vengeful. Look at the first commandment: thou shalt have no other gods before me. Wow, does that ever open up a can of worms. #1, it surely implies there are other gods. #2 it also says that as long as Vengeful is god #1, you can worship those other gods. Which leads you to:
  • Polytheism. If there are other gods, why not explore them? Check out ancient pantheons. Greek, Roman, Celtic, Norse are all popular. I've gone to the Native American/Meso-American pantheon myself, and some also choose that path. Now might be the time to dabble in Buddhism as well, although there's no god there! Wicca, with its Lord and Lady, fall here too. (I tend to group everything that's not "monotheism" or "atheism" under "Pagan" which isn't a label everyone likes or agrees with.) The more research you do as a polytheist, the more you come to a couple of conclusions: when you get down to it, all religions are very much the same when you get to the essential concepts. (Love people, don't hurt them, be nice) Then you start hearing/reading/figuring out the next step, which is that we are all a part of god:
  • Pantheism: Everything is god and god is everything. My pen is equal to me, and so is my cat, and so is the tree outside, and my cactus plant, and my favorite piece of quartz. My higher self contains all the wisdom I need (a concept from Huna, Hawaiian spirituality) so I don't need to go to any gods, goddesses, ascended beings, etc. I just need to ask my soul. A wise person once told me if you keep re-framing your question, the answer is within it and will come out. So if there are no gods, just your higher self, that leads you unerringly to:
  • Atheism. There is no god needed. Nothing to worship. Be a good person because you WANT to be, not because some bearded old man living on a cloud wrote it on a rock 5,000 years ago. There are different types of atheists.
    • The skeptics, such as you'd run into at the James Randi Educational Foundation, disdain anything they can't measure with science. Some of these call themselves secular humanists. I do visit that site, but they are so close-minded that it's annoying. It seems to me their lives must be devoid of joy and wonder while they have to measure, analyze, poke and prod every little thing to make sure it's "real".
    • Religious humanists, which is what the man I met was, practice spirituality without any defined god or defined religion. Buddhism and Taoism live under this branch but are often visited by those under the polytheism branch.
  • There are also Agnostics, which I was for a long time, but I don't see it as a necessary step along the path. It can really fit in anywhere.
This is not meant to be the definitive guide to any of these religions (or non-religions) just a starting point....actually just a way to put my thoughts down on paper (on screen). Please feel free to comment or look up these concepts for yourself. (c)

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