Satanists are often told that our religion is “fake.” Many people – especially those from older and more venerable religions – often seem affronted by sincere Satanic religious practice. When I try to get down to the bottom of this, the complaint seems to be (among many things):
“your religion is fake because you made it up. You co-opted Satan from older, wiser, more authentic religions and completely reinvented him.”
I consider myself a mystic, and yet I am an atheist. I don’t believe in God, gods, the afterlife, or the supernatural. How is this not a contradiction in terms? Isn’t supernaturalism and woo central to the experience of mysticism?
I recently had the pleasure of engaging in a public inter-religious dialogue with the Evangelical John Morehead. While the video is primarily geared towards Evangelicals and helping them overcome stereotypes of religious minorities, I also thought the video would be interesting to my fellow Satanists.
I live in a strange, interstitial space between atheism and theism. While I no longer consider myself a Christian, I refuse to cut ties with the Christian world and my progressive Christian community. At the same time, I feel a great deal of kinship with the pagan and witchcraft communities, as well as the atheist and skeptical communities. My own religious home is The Satanic Temple, and I consider myself a practicing Satanist. I call myself a nontheist and reject unverified claims of the supernatural.
To many people, the question of God’s existence is simple: either there is a magical sky daddy or there isn’t. For me, however, this question is getting increasingly complicated. God is about more than just existence or nonexistence: it is also about definitions, worldview, and culture.
I recently had the pleasure of appearing on one of my favorite podcasts: Black Mass Appeal, which is one of the largest (if not the largest) Satanic podcasts on the internet. Rarely do I get the jitters before an interview, but I did with them, because I’m a fan.
I hoped that I was done commenting on David Bentley Hart’s tiresome book The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss, but as I’m nearing the end of the book I think I have one more complaint that I need to put to writing. It’s a complaint that I’m starting to have with a great number of more “progressive” or “sophisticated” theologians. While I do generally think that their vision of God, humanity, and the cosmos is better than most of what’s out there, I find this particular trend aggravating.
A few days ago, I realized that the intense feeling of religious and spiritual homelessness I’d felt for so long was gone. Since the beginning of my deconstruction, I’d begun to feel myself forced out of my Christianity, like a child being forced out of a womb. This left me with a profound feeling of existential homelessness — drifting away from my religious identity and family, and with little to cling onto as a home.
But, a few days ago, I realized that I no longer felt that homelessness — my home is now The Satanic Temple, my spiritual and religious identity is Satanist. (Does this surprise you? I recommend reading my articles on Satanism.)
In The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss, Eastern Orthodox Theologian David Bentley Hart writes that he believes true atheism must be “nurtured by an infantile wish to live in a world proportionate to one’s own hopes or conceptual limitations.”
David Bentley Hart’s ponderous tome The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss has been regularly touted to me as the book every nontheist must read. I’m happy to oblige, and I’m about 30% of the way through (including footnotes.) While I find Hart pompous, bloviating, and even an occasional bully, I’m also enjoying his erudition and mastery of the English language. As he makes clear again and again, he is not so much trying to defend God, but rather to describe the classical view of God, which he feels modern atheists have sorely missed.