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6 years ago  ::  Feb 04, 2009 - 7:56PM #1
Bran th' Blessed
Posts: 34
I argue here that if you believe in some kind of deity as opposed to believing there is no god, goddess, or any kind of deity, then you should be able to defend your belief.  This is no less true of a deist or theist who is pagan, no less true of one who believes in many gods and goddesses than of one who believes in a solitary god or goddess.  In fact, we are of course free to believe in God without explanation or logic for our belief, but we cannot expect others to respect our beliefs if we cannot present our reasoning in support of them.  We pagans are non-dogmatic (generally) and that is probably a good trait to continue, but do you not agree that we should be able reasonably to explain the basis and evidence for what we believe?  Do you believe in deity or deities?  If they are not part of the physical realm (the universe) in which we exist as flesh and blood beings, what is the nature of deitific being?  If you do *not* believe in deity, what do you believe in regarding the source and ultimate ends of yourself, humanity, and the universe as a whole?  Was there a beginning, and if so from what initial state of being did the beginning arise?  Was there no beginning, only an endless procession of becoming, and if so from what initial state of being did this endless procession arise?  These are only a few of the questions which a pagan "apologetics" should be able to address.

As for myself?  Hey, budreau, I believe in Santa Claus.  Don't come running to me for help!

Let me hear some good, sound arguments for the existence (or non-existence) of deities.  I will don my alter ego as Elezar the Apostate and try to challenge what weaknesses I think I find, and if others do the same in a kindly manner, you will leave the richer for it.

Bran th' Blessed / a.k.a., Elezar the Apostate
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6 years ago  ::  Feb 05, 2009 - 2:22PM #2
allthegoodnamesweretaken
Posts: 11,634
What you are going to find, is that while pagans do have deity type beliefs, they are based on what is personal experience, and we couldn't care less if you share those beliefs or even respect them, as long as you respect our rights to hold them.  As such the idea of "pagan apologetics" is very unlikely.

all
Yesterday, in America, 100 million gun owners did nothing.
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6 years ago  ::  Feb 05, 2009 - 5:14PM #3
Moonsmith
Posts: 81
I agree. I could gits a rat's bum what you believe. Bit I will defend your right to believe it to the hilt. But, I DO expect people to respect my beliefs as well. No wishy washiness there. I may take umbrage if the beliefs involve harming others (whether human or not), but those are taken on an individual basis.

People do Not have the right to be idiots. They do have the right to believe what they wish, however.  Nature takes care of the idiots, generally speaking; at least in a natural setting...

I can't give you a rational explanation of why I believe in multiple deity other than to cite personal experience. And you don't want that, so why bother?
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6 years ago  ::  Feb 05, 2009 - 5:14PM #4
Moonsmith
Posts: 81
I agree. I could gits a rat's bum what you believe. Bit I will defend your right to believe it to the hilt. But, I DO expect people to respect my beliefs as well. No wishy washiness there. I may take umbrage if the beliefs involve harming others (whether human or not), but those are taken on an individual basis.

People do Not have the right to be idiots. They do have the right to believe what they wish, however.  Nature takes care of the idiots, generally speaking; at least in a natural setting...

I can't give you a rational explanation of why I believe in multiple deity other than to cite personal experience. And you don't want that, so why bother?
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6 years ago  ::  Feb 06, 2009 - 1:30AM #5
Bran th' Blessed
Posts: 34
I would like to hear your personal experience that explains why you believe in "multiple deity."  I would like to hear much more, but I'd settle for that.  My intent is not to put down your beliefs or your explanations, but more than anything to hear a few pagans express their beliefs in a cogent and confident manner instead of doing the "O, I don't need to explain my beliefs because I don't believe anything.  I'm just here for the beer and the babes." type of response.  I'm a pagan.  I'm an old fat fart of a man facing death close enough to smell her sweet breath.  I have holes in my personal theology you could drive a dump truck through (unless your as high as the hearse driver in the movie, "Grand Theft Parsons."), but you explain your ideas to me and I'll explain my ideas to you.

Bran th' Blessed
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6 years ago  ::  Feb 07, 2009 - 9:41PM #6
melonkali
Posts: 17

allthegoodnamesweretaken wrote:

What you are going to find, is that while pagans do have deity type beliefs, they are based on what is personal experience, and we couldn't care less if you share those beliefs or even respect them, as long as you respect our rights to hold them.  As such the idea of "pagan apologetics" is very unlikely.

all


I am forced to disagree with some of what you say, and I hope to be able to explain my point of view without upsetting (or boring) too many on this board.

HOW I LEARNED, THE HARD WAY, THE IMPORTANCE OF APOLOGETICS FOR ANY BELIEF SYSTEM

Let me be honest. I am not a pagan -- although I did spend some time in that community during my spiritual searching days, and I still have friends who are neopagan.  I have no argument with pagan belief systems --  it was just that, in my case, the shoe didn't fit.  I know this is a pagan board and I apologize that the following personal example is based on another faith, but I think its lesson about "apologetics" might give adherents of any belief system some "food for thought".

Personally, I am in agreement with some of what you expressed in your post. I am an extreme universalist; I not only believe that we should respect each others' belief systems (as long as they do no harm), but that we should embrace them and learn as much as we can about them.  Whatever Divinity or Spirit or Deity or Absolute Truth, etc, etc, might be, it is my firm conviction that no one person or group has the knowledge or capacity to embrace the entirety of it. All of us hold some truth, and some error.

I also firmly believe that the "reasons" for one's personal belief system usually begin in the heart. As Pascal said, "the heart has reasons which reason cannot understand".  We often use our intellect  to rationalize and justify what we already believe in our hearts. But . . .

I was soooo idealistic and naive when I first started posting on "mixed" or interfaith message boards, I simply described myself as an extremely liberal universalist Franciscan Christian. 

WOW -- I was shocked by the large number of negative, rude, cruel, insulting, prejudicial  responses I received -- it was like I had put out a "call to arms".  All the attacks seemed to center on the word "Christian".  Most of the attacks came from atheists, and, sadly, a few pagans. The vitriolic content of the responses was not only hurtful to me  (it wounded my soul),  but most of it was uninformed, incorrect, and just plain unfair.

While licking my wounds, I tried to understand that many of the attackers were irrationally hostile to all Christians because of negative past experiences with Christians and the ludicrous erroneous "tenets of Christianity" expounded by our modern "religious right".  I am not blind to the problems of my faith.

I am also in full agreement that from the 4th century AD onward (after Constantine politicized Christianity), the history of the Church was largely shameful and indefensible, and that most modern churches, especially in the U.S., preach some convoluted "fundamentalist" doctrine which is  the antithesis of New Testament principles, as well as in direct conflict with known modern science, humanitarian principles and just plain common sense. But there is also very much which, I believe, is good and true and beautiful about my faith.

So what could I do after the message board attack?
(1) avoid all mixed or interfaith religious/spiritual message boards -- yet because of my sincere interest in understanding other faiths, and my belief in the need for interfaith dialogue, that was not a good option.
(2) respond to the attacks with silence, or with an "I don't care what you think, I can believe whatever I please" attitude, or by just quoting endless paragraphs of Scripture -- all of which would only confirm my attackers' obvious belief that anyone who was a Christian had to be a narrow-minded village idiot.
(3) continue to learn as much as I could about the particulars of my faith, its beginnings and histories, teachings, controversies, evidences (both Biblical and non-canonical, etc, etc, -- much of which I had already studied before settling into Christianity), considering carefully my own reasons for choosing this faith, then answering the message board challenges and questions with civilized, thoughtful responses -- not with the intention of converting anyone, but just to show that there are SOME aspects of my faith and SOME practitioners of my faith that are worthy of consideration and respect,  to point out that it is blatantly unfair to classify all of Christianity's teachings and all Christians as "idiotic".

I chose Option #3 and, thus, inadvertently became an apologist for Christianity (at least the liberal, universalist, Franciscan variety). I hope my efforts have benefitted my faith in some way.

Now I've not been very observant of the kind of treatment pagans receive on mixed spiritual message boards, or in society in general. Perhaps it's not so bad for you guys -- I truly hope it is not.  As the neopagan movement grows, and I believe it will, it may possibly become increasingly open to attack -- or maybe not. Who knows?

If you do become the target of unfair prejudicial attacks, if your most cherished beliefs, your very heart and soul, your entire faith community and what it represents, are as harshly attacked as mine was, what would be your response?

I do not know enough about neopaganism to speculate on what form a "pagan apologetic" might take, but I agree with Bran that some in the pagan community may want to consider these things, and have a ready answer in case you are, as we liberal Christians have been, bombarded by extreme prejudice, unfair attack, and just plain misunderstanding of who you are, what you represent, and what the particulars of your belief system really are.

rebecca

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6 years ago  ::  Feb 08, 2009 - 10:32AM #7
Sacrificialgoddess
Posts: 9,496

Bran th' Blessed wrote:

I would like to hear your personal experience that explains why you believe in "multiple deity."  I would like to hear much more, but I'd settle for that.  My intent is not to put down your beliefs or your explanations, but more than anything to hear a few pagans express their beliefs in a cogent and confident manner instead of doing the "O, I don't need to explain my beliefs because I don't believe anything.  I'm just here for the beer and the babes." type of response.  I'm a pagan.  I'm an old fat fart of a man facing death close enough to smell her sweet breath.  I have holes in my personal theology you could drive a dump truck through (unless your as high as the hearse driver in the movie, "Grand Theft Parsons."), but you explain your ideas to me and I'll explain my ideas to you.

Bran th' Blessed


If we are talking deities, then I think I am going to have to claim UPG and ask you to drop it.  If we are talking ethics, then that is a whole different ball of wax, and I can understand the need for apologetics there.

Dark Energy. It can be found in the observable Universe. Found in ratios of 75% more than any other substance. Dark Energy. It can be found in religious extremists, in cheerleaders. To come to the conclusion that Dark signifies mean and malevolent would define 75% of the Universe as an evil force. Alternatively, to think that some cheerleaders don't have razors in their snatch is to be foolishly unarmed.

-- Tori Amos
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6 years ago  ::  Feb 08, 2009 - 10:32AM #8
Sacrificialgoddess
Posts: 9,496

Bran th' Blessed wrote:

I would like to hear your personal experience that explains why you believe in "multiple deity."  I would like to hear much more, but I'd settle for that.  My intent is not to put down your beliefs or your explanations, but more than anything to hear a few pagans express their beliefs in a cogent and confident manner instead of doing the "O, I don't need to explain my beliefs because I don't believe anything.  I'm just here for the beer and the babes." type of response.  I'm a pagan.  I'm an old fat fart of a man facing death close enough to smell her sweet breath.  I have holes in my personal theology you could drive a dump truck through (unless your as high as the hearse driver in the movie, "Grand Theft Parsons."), but you explain your ideas to me and I'll explain my ideas to you.

Bran th' Blessed


If we are talking deities, then I think I am going to have to claim UPG and ask you to drop it.  If we are talking ethics, then that is a whole different ball of wax, and I can understand the need for apologetics there.

Dark Energy. It can be found in the observable Universe. Found in ratios of 75% more than any other substance. Dark Energy. It can be found in religious extremists, in cheerleaders. To come to the conclusion that Dark signifies mean and malevolent would define 75% of the Universe as an evil force. Alternatively, to think that some cheerleaders don't have razors in their snatch is to be foolishly unarmed.

-- Tori Amos
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6 years ago  ::  Feb 08, 2009 - 3:22PM #9
seventhcrow
Posts: 316

melonkali wrote:

I do not know enough about neopaganism to speculate on what form a "pagan apologetic" might take, but I agree with Bran that some in the pagan community may want to consider these things, and have a ready answer in case you are, as we liberal Christians have been, bombarded by extreme prejudice, unfair attack, and just plain misunderstanding of who you are, what you represent, and what the particulars of your belief system really are.


Apologetics arose in response to criticisms of the Church and its beliefs. For modern Pagans, the criticisms leveled at monotheism don't apply, so there's little need for apologetics of that sort.

The criticisms that seem to be universally leveled at us seem to all boil down to "You're not Christian (or Muslim)." The proper response to that sort of thing is simple: "Well, duh!" I've yet to see criticisms of any modern Pagan religion that move much beyond that.

The recently published "A World Full of Gods" shows how criticisms of monotheism don't apply to polytheism. I suppose that could be classified as Pagan apologetics. I just find it a bit odd to find an apologetics that consists of pointing out that none of the arguments that lead to the rise of apologetics as an intellectual exercise apply to Pagans, so there's little need for apologetics on our part.

Perhaps some time actual criticisms that don't boil down to "you're not Christian" might arise. At that time, formulating responses might be important. Until then, I doubt many of us will worry about it.

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6 years ago  ::  Feb 08, 2009 - 3:38PM #10
John_T_Mainer
Posts: 1,658
You know I really don't feel compelled to bother.  If you would know of my gods, read the Hamaval, read all of the Edda and you will know enough of my gods to come to me and seek the knowledge of my personal interactions with Odin, Thor, Frey, Frigga, Freya, Hela, and my sacred ancestors, the local wights and whatnot.  Until you have done the required readings you would have no capacity to understand what else I might share.  If you are unwilling to to that work, there is really no point in my expending effort.

FYI, most of our personal experiences have already been shared on the Discuss Paganism board or the Paganism board before.  If you were simply looking for words you probably won't understand, you could seek them there.
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