Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Skeptical Heathen Deism





As I recover from stupid, pain-in-the-butt leukemia, which sucks, I think constantly about my religious, spiritual, and philosophical influences and how I am to reconcile them.

Here is my latest thinking about my particular form of deism and how it works out with my other influences.

My influences have been so profound that each one has left a permanent mark on me.  In order to make them orderly and consistent, I have taken the broad topic of metaphysics and divided it into three parts, each one representing one of the influences that has shaped my thinking.  I also believe that they can be made consistent with each other, although I don’t think that they can be made entirely consistent with any particular extant religious or spiritual system that has an official name.

The three divisions of metaphysics into which I systematize my views are Philosophical, Cultural, and Popular. 

Philosophical Metaphysics:  This aspect of my religious worldview is most influenced by my stint with Hinduism and dedication to pure philosophical argument.  As far as pure argumentation goes, I believe that the best case I can make, among all the alternatives, is that there is a Supreme Intelligence at work behind the material manifestation.  Most people call this God, and that’s fine.  I prefer the title “Supreme Being,” who I see as a being of pure actuality (in Aristotle’s sense), who is responsible for the initial conditions of Ginnungagap (which I see as the Heathen understanding of the Big Bang), who is personal (has a Will), and created the universe with intentions and purposes.  The Supreme Being is eternal, was never born, and cannot die.  The philosophical reasons that I think this is true are very involved and would take forever to spell out here, so I will not get into it right now.  This is the part of my worldview that I call “deism.”

Cultural Metaphysics:  This aspect of my worldview is most influenced by Asatru.  When I discovered Asatru, I recognized my deep obligation to respect my ancestors and their Gods and Goddesses; as a result, I am convinced that I owe my loyalty to those divine beings, and that I have an obligation to reverence their stories, to meditate upon them for inspiration, and to connect to them and to my ancestors.   

My experiences with Asatru have enriched my life and given me a sense of self-actualization so profound that I treat the Gods and Goddesses as very real and as an essential part of my being.  Here, however, I cannot give persuasive philosophical arguments for their existence, so I have adopted the “als ob” or “as if” stance with regard to them, which means that I treat them as if they are real.  The influence they had on our ancestors, the love our ancestors had for them, and the strength the ancestors showed as a result of their loyalty to the Gods—all of these are sufficient for me to be obligated to honor the Gods, whatever the nature of their reality actually is.  Thus, an important part of my spiritual life is to keep them in mind and to honor them.  I believe, unlike the Abrahamic religions, that the Supreme Being is not at all offended by this.  This is the part of my worldview that is Heathen.

Popular Metaphysics:  This aspect of my worldview is influenced by my extensive experience with atheism and secular humanism.  I have long been, and continue to be, skeptical about both supernatural and paranormal phenomena (these are the kinds of things that I associate with metaphysics at the popular level).  So, for example, I don’t believe in divine interventions in the natural order (miracles), or psychic phenomena, or any kind of magic that cannot be explained in purely naturalistic ways.  I am not necessarily hostile to these ideas, I just find myself unable to believe in them.  This is the part of my worldview that I might call “skepticism.”

This is a synthesis that admittedly leaves no purist fully satisfied.  Heathenry denies the existence of a Supreme Being, and also affirms a great variety of popular metaphysics.  The Abrahamics affirm a Supreme Being, but deny the reality and validity of the Gods and Goddesses of our ancestors, and also believe that honoring those deities is a ticket to Hell.  The atheists deny the existence and usefulness of all of these beings.  This is why I have frequently used the phrase “heathen deist” to describe myself.  Perhaps the most informative phrase would be “skeptical heathen deist.”  Whatever.

So that is where my mind seems to be settling.  A bit strange, but I hope you found it entertaining!