As I’ve developed my personal Satanic Philosophy over the past few years, I’ve received a number of questions from the non-infernal. Questions like: how can you be religious if you don’t believe in God? How do you reconcile Satanic individualism with our human need for community? What’s the point of ritual if you don’t believe in the supernatural? I’ve used these perceived contradictions and questions as a way of establishing a sort of meta-structure for my Satanic practice.
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.
In this episode of Sacred Tension I’m joined by Lucien Greaves, co-founder and spokesperson for the Satanic Temple. We discuss the challenge of maintaining a religious community during the COVID-19 pandemic, common misunderstandings about the Satanic Temple, and why nontheistic religion is essential.
Unsurprisingly, Wallace can’t let go of his fantasy about how important he is and that an omnipotent being agrees with him. It doesn’t take much, just making up his god and his religion in his own image and ignoring the inconvenient parts.
Alright atheists, let’s talk. It’s time for a huddle. If the following rant doesn’t apply to you, then congrats. But if this rant does apply to you, then I hope it inspires some reflection.
In this episode of Sacred Tension, I speak with pastor, author, and astrophysicist Paul Wallace about his journey as an astrophysicist who can’t shake his faith in God. We discuss Galileo, quantum physics, the interactions between faith and science, why I personally don’t believe in God, and much more.
I recently wrote an article titled On Forfeiting the Word Atheist in which I explored how using the word “atheist” predisposes people to having the least charitable view of me. I’ve gotten so exasperated explaining again and again what the word “atheist” means that I’ve opted for the word “nontheist,” just because it has a different connotation and isn’t as poisoned by anti-atheist propaganda.
To be clear, I like the word atheist, and I see it as identical to the word nontheist. I don’t care if other people use the word atheist, I just find the word a stumbling block when I try to have productive conversations with theists. I have limited patience, and I personally find it more expedient to not use the word.
Along these lines, a reader sent me this question:
“Why then would you self-identify as a satanist when it seems (from your writings at least) that THAT label is also widely misunderstood?”
Since my Christian deconstruction I’ve started to try on various labels for size. Among these labels have been: post-Christian, nontheistic Christian, esoteric Christian, nontheist, Satanist, and, of course, atheist.
(Some annoying hippie in the back will, at this point, ask “why do you have to have a label, man? Why can’t you just be yourself?” Suffice it to say, I like identities, and I am pro-label. That other people are less comfortable with that is fine.)
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.