I don’t believe in god or gods. I have no belief in an afterlife or supernatural beings. I’m not saying that they don’t exist. I’m open to being wrong. I just have an absence of belief in them. I’m what could be described as a “soft atheist”.
And yet, I also have a lifelong fascination with altered states of consciousness and the experience and practice of mystical self-transcendence. This fascination started when I was a child growing up in a charismatic family.
I recently listened to a fascinating conversation between the Catholic writer Arthur Brooks and the atheist Sam Harris about the role of spirituality and religion in a healthy life. You will need to get a subscription to either the Waking Up app or to Harris’s private feed to listen to the section in question. I leave your support of Harris up to your own discretion.
For the time being, let’s set aside the political and ideological differences I have with both these men. I’d like to focus on a fascinating difference between Brooks and Harris.
I’ve been a Satanist long enough now to notice some patterns in how people react to the news that I’m a Satanist.
What I find most fascinating about these reactions is how inflexible they are. They seem to be manifestations of buried beliefs that are incredibly resistant to change. With very rare exceptions, I haven’t seen any of these attitudes shift in response to new information or perspectives.
Without further ado, here is my field guide to reactions to Satanism.
In this episode of Sacred Tension, I speak with famed atheist activist and youtuber Aron Ra. We discuss the battle against encroaching theocracy in his home state of Texas, his coming out as a Satanist, whether Satanism qualifies as a religion, and much more.
Theists often struggle to understand how I can maintain a deep sense of sacred awe without believing in the supernatural. They seem to assume that a life without God is a dry, artless, wonderless existence. As I discussed with Matt Langston in a recent episode of Sacred Tension, my personal experience is much the opposite. I feel like nontheism has ripped away the veil between me and the fundamental mysteries of reality. The utter inexplicability of being, without a God to rely on as an answer, is the most sacred and mysterious thing I have ever experienced.
In this episode of Sacred Tension, I speak with Mandisa Thomas, founder and president of Black Nonbelievers. We discuss the experience of being a black atheist, the black church in America, racism in the atheist community, and much more.
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 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.