Atheism and Wicca

Hi there!  I’m Eric Steinhart, helping out here at Camels With Hammers.

I’m always interested in new religious movements, especially the emergence of new types of Western religion.  So I’ve been interested in watching the emergence of neo-paganism in America.  America is supposed to be a Christian nation; yet, as every atheist surely knows, Christianity is declining in America.  And, as Christianity declines, it’s not just atheism that’s filling the void.  The void is also being filled with neo-paganism.  Among neo-pagan movements, Wicca seems to be the largest and most well-defined.

Just to be clear: I’m absolutely not a Wiccan and the fact that I write about some topic doesn’t imply that I sympathize with it.  I write as a philosopher, which means that I’m always highly skeptical and highly critical (I’m critical of and skeptical about atheism, too).  There are lots of aspects of Wicca that are just plain offensive to reason.  But even that offensiveness goes a long way to illuminating the psychological functionality of religion. And, to be clear on some other points, it’s important to distinguish Wicca and other neo-pagan movements from the New Age movements with which they are usually lumped.  New Age spirituality and neo-paganism are ultimately very different types of religiousity.  With all this in mind, there are several reasons why atheists ought to learn more about Wicca.

One reason is that Wicca is a religious challenge to Christianity.  It is a profoundly non-Christian and non-Abrahamic religion (while at the same time being a profoundly Western religion).  Here it’s essential to stress that Wicca is not Satanism (Wiccans regard Satan as a purely Christian invention).  And Wicca isn’t a Christian heresy; it isn’t deviant or perverted Christianity.  On the contary, it isn’t Christian at all.  Fascinating!

Another reason is that Wicca has all sorts of deep conceptual roots in American culture.  The Americanized version of Wicca is a kind of American nature-religion.  That sort of thing has been around since the New England transcendentalists.  It’s a kind of religiousity that’s always been there, lurking strangely in the background despite the best efforts of the puritans and fundamentalists to get rid of it, and now its emerging with great strength.  Maybe America isn’t really a Christian nation after all.

A third reason is that Wicca may become a large-scale religion in the United States.  It may be that, in two or three generations, Wicca will become a serious alternative to Christianity.  I won’t lay odds on this (I’ll be long dead anyway); but it’s entirely reasonable to think that American neo-paganism, especially Wicca, will continue to grow, will become institutionalized, and will gain significant cultural power.   There are Wiccans in the military and neo-pagans in public office.  Wicca may well die out or become absorbed by some other religion.  But even in its degenerate “fluffy bunny” forms, it’s become surprisingly popular very rapidly.  Atheists so far have been fighting Christianity.  Should they fight Wicca (or neo-paganism) too?  If so, it will be a different fight.

But my greatest interest in studying Wicca is that it contains may aspects that are deeply atheistic.  Of course, this can’t be overdone: Wicca obviously has lots of theistic aspects, and lots of just plain ridiculous aspects.  And atheists have to criticize them.  Still, it may be that there are elements of Wicca that will serve as the basis for a radically atheistic Western religion.  There’s nothing contradictory about atheistic religion.  Religion does not require belief in theistic deities (or in any deities at all).  I’d say that Buddhism, Jainism, Taoism, and Confucianism are mainly atheistic Eastern religions.  So far, pretty much all Western religion is theistic in one way or another.   Nevertheless, Wicca has many affinities with the emerging school of religious naturalism (that said, there are serious disaffinities too).  Religious naturalism is often atheistic.  Here it should be noted that my own opposition to theism is primarily religious: theistic deities are personal; they are made in our image; they are idols.  I’m opposed to idolatry.

My goal is to make a series of critical posts on various philosophical aspects of Wicca, especially insofar as they are relevant to atheism.  Stay tuned.

Below are links to all the posts in the series.

The Wiccan Deity

The Wiccan Deity: An Initial Philosophical Analysis

The Wiccan Deity: Related Concepts in Philosophy

On Atheistic Religion

Nine Theses on Wicca and Atheism

Atheistic Holidays

Criticizing Wicca: Energy

Do Atheists Worship Truth?

Some Naturalistic Ontology

Criticizing Wicca: Levels

Atheism and the Sacred: Natural Creative Power

Atheist Ceremonies: De-Baptism and the Cosmic Walk

Atheism and Possibility

The Impossible God of Paul Tillich

Atheism and the Sacred: Being-Itself

Pure Objective Reason

Criticizing Wicca: Rationality

The God and the Goddess

Wicca and the Problem of Evil

The Wiccan God and Goddess: Reality and Mythology

On Participation in Being-Itself

Criticizing Wicca: God and Goddess

The Increasing Prevalence of Woo

Wiccan Theology and Sexual Equality

Revelation versus Manifestation

Creation Stories

The Logic of Creation

Evolution by Rational Selection

Two Arguments for Evolution by Rational Selection

The Wheel of the Year

Criticizing Wicca: The Wheel of the Year

The Atheist Wheel of the Year

Reincarnation

The Soul is the Form of the Body

Buddhist Rebirth

Rational Rebirth

Spiritual Exercises for Atheists

The Illusion of Control

Criticizing Wicca: Magic

Criticizing Wicca: Magic is Unreliable

Criticizing Wicca: Magic is Unethical

Atheistic Wicca

On Atheistic Religion

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • Jeff Sherry

    As a non-supernaturalist, I’m looking foward to your articles Eric.

  • http://www.thealders.net Doug Alder

    Eric – Wicca is far too broad a brush to paint everyone (outside of the fluffy bunny an new age movement)with. modern Wicca was founded by Gerald Gardner and really the only ones truly entitled to call themselves Wiccan are those that are initiated through direct descent (which of course includes the Alexandrians.) I think you would be safer off using the term Neopagan, rather than Wiccan as it seems that’s what you are really discussing.

    To outsiders (and frankly from my experience – 40 years – most in the craft as well) really do not understand the symbolic nature of all that they do. Transformative magic is not exerting an influence on the external world (as most seem to think) it is transforming the human psyche. Ritual is designed to transport the individual into a mental state through which they can grow and overcome “obstacles”. That this is put in a context of “magic” confuses most uninitiated. It’s always been about the development of the self.

    I look forward to reading what you have to say on this subject.

    • http://pharyngula.wikia.com/ ahs ॐ

      modern Wicca was founded by Gerald Gardner

      Rather, the only Wicca that has ever existed was made up by Gerald Gardner. There is no earlier Wicca. Every successful religion needs a blurry claim to earlier tradition, but in this case as in most, it’s just storytelling.

      and really the only ones truly entitled to call themselves Wiccan are those that are initiated through direct descent (which of course includes the Alexandrians.)

      Haw! That’s cute. And the Vatican is the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church; worshippers not in full communion with the Bishop of Rome is not truly entitled to call themselves Christian.

      I think you would be safer off using the term Neopagan, rather than Wiccan as it seems that’s what you are really discussing.

      Too late. Every time an earnest teenager reads a book with “Wicca” in the title, and learns to recite the Wiccan Rede, another Wiccan is made.

    • http://www.thealders.net Doug Alder

      No question – what Gardner put together though was a mish mash of traditions that mostly predated him (Golden Dawn, Rosicrucian, Masonry etc.old time country “magic”, Rom – basically he pulled from everywhere)

      As you say Gardner invented Wicca. He set down the rules for what it is to be Wiccan. Someone, who is not out of Gardner’s lineage, may call themselves a Wiccan, just like Newt Gingrich calls himself a Christian – doesn’t make them what they claim to be though.
      ;) Every time an earnest teenager reads a book with “Wicca” in the title, and learns to recite the Wiccan Rede, another Fluffy Bunny NeoPagan is born :)

    • Robert B.

      Eric distinguishes between Wicca and Neopaganism all through the article. He also, in this introductory post, declines to describe any theology, philosophy, position or definition of either one. So how exactly do you know that he is saying “Wicca” when he should mean “Neopagan?”

      Does the answer relate to your claim that only certain people are “entitled” to call themselves Wiccans? If so, then why should we be convinced by this claim? If someone believes and performs their religion exactly like you do, except for this particular requirement of direct descent, what gives you the right to say whether they’re Wiccans or not?

  • Robert B.

    Eric: When you’re studying religions, how do you fit them into a concept you can talk about coherently?

    What I mean is, human beliefs are incredibly diverse and heterogeneous. Two people who self-identify as Wiccan may have significantly different beliefs or religious practices. They may not even identify each other as Wiccans. Introduce a third self-described Wiccan, and he might not agree with either of the first two. There may be written works that describe what a religion “really is,” but these don’t necessarily agree with each other either, and if several written works do agree, this consensus doesn’t necessarily describe the way people believe and practice “in the field.”

    So what does it mean, exactly, to talk about “Wicca”? (Or Christianity, or Buddhism, or even non-religious belief groups like atheism and feminism?) Do you have to limit “Wicca” to mean to the relatively few beliefs and practices that the majority of self-described Wiccans actually have/perform? How do you tell the difference between a Wiccan and someone who only claims to be a Wiccan?

  • khms

    There’s nothing contradictory about atheistic religion.

    Maybe.

    But an atheistic religion would be another thing I’d prefer to not even touch with a long stick.

    Really, if it weren’t for religion, I would have no reason to even care about gods. It’s religion that creates the actual problems here (and everywhere). Not gods.

    It’s not as if gods are around causing problems – I’ve never met any.

    And without religions, other people would have no reason to try to convince the world of their gods. Well, much less reason.

    Plus, it’s religion that causes these to be coordinated efforts, thus making them that much more dangerous.

    Now, to be honest, I’ve often thought about how to make a non-theistic, pro-science (the latter being the important aspect) religion.

    However, I’ve always concluded that that would be a self-defeating concept. The very concepts that make for a successful religion, and that make for successful science, seem to be in conflict.

    And if it isn’t pro-science, it may be atheistic, but I certainly don’t want it.

    • John Morales

      Yeah.

      Me, I’m not theistic, and I’m not religious.

      (Both are crutches I don’t need)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001262785490 brianwood

    An atheist since 1954, I’ve always liked studying religions, none of which strike me as persuasive. I will say, however, that IF I have a soul, then why wouldn’t yon oak or granite boulder have one as well?

    • John Morales

      Well, that would depend on what it is that you refer to by the term ‘soul’, no?

  • grumpyoldfart

    Wicca obviously has lots of theistic aspects, and lots of just plain ridiculous aspects.

    So not worth a pinch of shit.

    • Nomen Nescio

      eh. like any religion, what it’s “worth” depends on what you want, what you need, and — most importantly — how much shit you’re willing to put up with. me, i’m in the camp of people who really aren’t willing to put up with much talk of the “supernatural” at all, so wicca trips my bullshit detectors pretty early on — like most religions do.

      others have different opinions, though, and when you get right down to it wicca really isn’t any more ridiculous than the currently mainstream religions. it might seem to be because its ridiculous parts aren’t culturally ubiquitous (yet?) and so stand out more, but spells and magic really aren’t any sillier than prayer and sacraments once you start thinking about how it’s all supposed to “work”.

    • Dunc

      “spells and magic really aren’t any sillier than prayer and sacraments”

      Generally less so in fact – everyone I’ve ever spoken to who dabbles with such matters is perfectly clear that they’re simply tools for manipulating your own psychology, rather than any means of directly affecting objective reality.

    • http://www.magpiesmarbles.com The Pint

      That pretty much describes how I view using the Tarot these days. I dabbled with neopaganism back in my college days, which is when I started “reading,” but I’ve kept my decks even though I’ve jettisoned belief in the “magic” of the cards – reading a deck is like telling a story in which whoever is “reading your fortune” using Tarot is using both the “meaning” of the cards and weaving them in with your reactions to spin a plausible story.

      As it turns out, they’re still a useful tool for when I have something I’m trying to figure out, not because they’re “telling me the future” but because looking over the cards and piecing together the various meanings and narratives is something of a meditative process in which I’m able to step back and consider a problem from perspectives I may have overlooked or not considered. I just know now that there’s nothing special about the cards – it’s just me, working on a problem. I’ll still “read” for friends as a party trick, but I’ll always preface it with a statement that it’s not the cards or me doing anything, it’s the person I’m reading for who’s informing the story and working the problem out for themselves.

      That and some of the Tarot decks out there are beautiful art pieces. The Salvador Dali deck, for instance, is quite gorgeous.

    • Dunc

      I’m quite fond of the “Thoth” deck myself… Love the whole Art Deco vibe. Very rarely use it these days though.

      Whenever people ask about the Tarot, I tell them “the Tarot is simply a mirror – it just helps you view things from a different perspective. I can no more read the Tarot for you than I can look in the mirror for you.”

    • Nomen Nescio

      the Tarot always did seem like an obvious tool for introspection, to me. take a bunch of slice-of-life stories with near-universal applicability, symbolize them with a set of flashcard-sized pictures (and, as noted, often gorgeous pictures), lay out a random arrangement of them — how could a human brain, pattern-finding machine par excellence, not go on to find patterns in such randomness? and of course the patterns come from yourself, but that doesn’t make them meaningless.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=153100784 michaelbrew

    Many people I knew in college converted to Wicca while in college. It seemed like mostly a social thing; like they would’ve just been atheistic altogether, but they liked the idea of having rituals and social gatherings where they could have all kinds of crazy sex and just said, “Okay, let’s just be Wiccan.”

  • johnhodges

    I live in a college town, and some people I knew were getting into that sort of religion, so I decided to educate myself about it. (Though I hardly went beyond the basics. Read a half-dozen books, attended a dozen meetings.)

    It was not my purpose to tell them about atheism, but at one point the subject came up, and I explained a bit. When I off-handedly made a criticism of Christianity, they were uncomfortable. It seems that for ethical teaching they have the Rule of Three, which is sort of a supercharged Golden Rule, and the Wiccan Rede, which says that there are no OTHER rules. So they take the Golden Rule VERY seriously. They were not willing to say anything negative about Christianity (or perhaps anything else either); even though they said they probably all agreed with me, thoughts were private and speech was not. If you say negative things out loud, it is out in the world and the negative energy will come back to you.

    I thought “No wonder the Christians wiped them out! These folks are too nice to live!”

  • johnhodges

    Another comment, about “authenticity” and so forth. I think that concern over the “ancient lineage” and “authenticity” of wiccan/pagan teachings is mostly a British preoccupation. The young American pagans I visited freely acknowledged that they borrowed from many sources and invented as they felt the need. Beyond a basic definition as “polytheistic nature-worship”, Paganism is “indigenous” religion. “Indigenous” means home-grown. They are making it up as they go along, and don’t claim otherwise.

    • http://www.thealders.net Doug Alder

      Well maybe that British thing carried over here in Canada because I can assure you that (at least on the West Coast) it’s very much alive (at the snobbery level)- if you’re not from one of those traditions you’ll be accepted but you’re not “really” Wiccan LOL. Well maybe things have changed – it was very much that way when I was doing ceremonial magick (a la Golden Dawn type) in the 70s/80s and neopagan stuff in the late 80s/90sand early00. I’ve been well out of it for about a decade now so who knows.

  • http://ogremk5.wordpress.com OgreMkV

    RE: Wiccan vs. atheism (or should there even be a fight)

    The main issue (IMO) that atheists have with Christians isn’t that they and their religion are delusional, but that they insist on making everyone else on the planet share the same delusion. It’s not the Christian Christmas carols, it’s the ‘War on Christmas” (for example) that are causing the issues. It’s the intolerant nature of Christianity and the violence with which the Christians support it.

    Wiccan/paganism are probably the most tolerant set of religions I’ve ever studied and been a part of. The point is not evangelism, but personal growth and well-being.

    In this way, I don’t think that atheists would ever have to ‘go to war’ with Wicca/paganism. I think that most atheists recognize that what one does is one’s private business and are willing to accept that. Atheists are not willing to accept immoral (with a very different definition of immoral than Christians have) acts supported by religion and the insistence of Christians that ‘our way or death’.

    • daenyx

      That was my reaction, reading the post.

      As a so-called ‘militant’ atheist, I believe it good and admirable to go toe-to-toe with irrationality as a general principle, but that is the extent of my issue with non-evangelistic religions that don’t engage in institutionalized/sanctioned oppression of out-groups. And as someone who deeply resents the intrusion of the Judeo-Christian religions on my personal life and choices, I am uninterested in a ‘war’ on people’s personal irrationality when it does *not* intrude upon my life, except insofar as I battle irrationality by being a scientist and communicating scientific thinking to people I interact with.

    • http://www.thealders.net Doug Alder

      exactly

  • Didaktylos

    @OgreMkV, #10

    Wicca/Paganism is pretty tolerant at the moment, but how much of that is that they’ve never had enough power to be corrupted by it?

    And slightly off-topic, but pertaining partly to tolerance as it affects pagans, spcifically in the Southern Hemisphere. Wiccans in their rituals often move in circular patterns. The directionality of this movement is clockwise or as they term it, deosil. I can vaguely recall that there were some discussions among Australian & New Zealander Wiccans as to whether the polarity of deosil in the Southern Hemisphere should be reversed to bring it into conformity with the polarity of the Coriolis forces.

  • AtheistDruid

    I look forward to hearing more of this discussion. I am an atheist who occasionally practices some Druidry (modern, made-up, ‘reform’ Druidry of course) as a useful way of ‘recharging’ my own mind and feeling closer to nature. I think (I hope) that it is possible to reject the supernatural and anti-science claims of a religion such as Wicca or Druidry and keep the worthwhile practices such as meditation and some forms of ritual (as a lot of atheist Buddhists do). Unlike mainstream religions, Druidry has no creed (apart from ‘nature is good’) and so it is not necessary to believe in any nonsense to take part in it. Its focus is the natural world, which is revealed by science, and any ‘magic’ is just a tool for self-reflection and psychological growth.

  • EnoNomi

    I could happily be an Atheist Wiccan. Granted, I’m not going to be calling on the goddess but from what I’ve read some Wiccans think of their dieties as more a focus for their ideals instead of an actual entity. As my Wiccan friend pointed out, “It’s not a reality based religion.” I would celebrate Samhain with her and her coven – they adopted the local Day of the Dead imagery and had a silent dinner where everyone meditated on a loved-one who passed. I found it very moving and enjoyed the sharing of stories as everyone decorated the altar with skulls, flowers, and momentos of their passed person. Wicca/Paganism has no dogma – so from my perspective it’s not a threat.

  • sunnydale75

    Eric, your post is a primary example of why I need a term that’s broader than atheist to describe myself. I don’t believe in any god or gods. I also don’t believe in anything supernatural. My atheism encompasses all of that.
    I also dislike using the word ‘atheist’ along with religion (as you did with “radically atheistic Western religion”). While I understand where you’re coming from, fundies would quickly latch onto a concept like that and-without giving it two seconds of thought- likely respond “see, atheism IS a religion!”

    Tony

    • Kate from Iowa

      I had been thinking along the same lines as you. Perhaps “adeistic religion” would work better. As atheist has come to be defined as without religion, it could unnecessarily muddy the waters to start referring to certain religions or religious-type practices as being atheistic.

      Of course, adeistic sounds and looks clunky.

  • sunnydale75

    John @ #9:

    -Negative energy? SIGH. I suppose Wiccans have studied this negative energy and are able to empirically test its existence. The minute anyone takes a philosophical idea about the universe and adds anything supernatural or quack like to it, it’s on unsteady ground, and I’m not likely to give it much consideration WRT its truth claims.

    Tony

    • William

      Um, no, they haven’t done any studies on “negative energy” because they are not claiming it as a scientific truth. You realize that saying you “believe” something is not the same as saying you “know” something, right? For example, I “believe” HSV to be the best European Soccer club, but I do not claim to “know” it in any objective or scientific sense. This is one of the problems with much of atheistic criticism today, you ignore the simple fact that not everyone is claiming to “know” their beliefs are true.

  • sunnydale75

    AtheistDruid @ #12:

    -”Nature is good” is so subjective that it doesn’t have much philosophical weight IMHO. Which parts of nature are deemed good? Is there a consensus on this by practicing Druids? Is there an acceptance that some things in nature might not be “good”? Is the phrase only meant in a broad sense, not an all encompassing one?

  • sunnydale75

    EnoNomi @ #13:

    >As my Wiccan friend pointed out, “It’s not a reality based religion.” <

    –The more I blog posts I read by Greta Christina, the more I think that beliefs based upon anything independent of or outside of reality are irrational and/or potentially harmful.

    Tony

    • http://www.thealders.net Doug Alder

      The problem there Tony is defining reality – :) As an example men have fewer color rods in their eyes than women do. We see colors differently (leaving aside colour blindness) – I score very high, for a man, in colour awareness, but I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve said something to my wife (who’s a painter) that something is red and she’ll look at me like I’m out of my mind and say that’s not red that’s xxxx. When it comes to colour that it was red was what was real to me but not her.

    • John Morales

      men have fewer color rods in their eyes than women do

      Upon what source do you base this claim?

      (My skeptic sense is tingling)

    • http://www.thealders.net Doug Alder

      Well that made me go and do some searching on Google as it’s just something I came across years ago – turns out it is not all women but up to as much as 50% – see http://scienceblogs.com/cognitivedaily/2006/07/do_women_perceive_color_differ_1.php – who have an extra receptor. If you are interested in checking your own color acuity you can do so here http://www.xrite.com/custom_page.aspx?PageID=77&Lang=en which appears to be an online version of the test referred to in that article. I scored 7 on it myself (http://www.thealders.net/blogs/2011/10/16/colour-acuity-test/) – my wife scores 0 so I suspect she has that extra receptor.

    • John Morales

      Thanks!

    • http://www.magpiesmarbles.com The Pint

      Oooh, fascinating! I’m going to have to try taking that test – wonder if I’d get different results if I took it with my contacts in, and then tried it again with my glasses (I can’t see shit without either).

    • sunnydale75

      Very true. I imagine at some point in our species’ history we’re going to arrive at a general consensus of what reality entails. Your example is a perfect illustration. Which reality is truthful- yours, your wife’s or the world that exists independent of you and your wife (what would the world look like through non human eyes, I wonder)?Now that I think about it, the problem is compounded in so many other ways, once you involve other people. If men do have fewer color rods than women, it doesn’t mean that every man (all things equal) has the exact same color rod combination. Red to you, and Red to me, might have subtle differences.
      Perhaps instead of trying to come up with a definition of reality that’s agreeable to all, maybe listing essential components of reality would point the way better…
      Off the top of my head, I think that the material world around us that we all share physical space with would be a key ingredient in defining reality.

      Tony

    • http://www.thealders.net Doug Alder

      Then there’s Synesthesia just to complicate things further. Or, we can say red is 650 millimicrons and infrared is 800 millimicrons so what then is 649 millimicrons which I have no doubts everyone would see as “red” etc.

    • KG

      Reality is what doesn’t go away if you stop believing in it. Your colour-perception example doesn’t go any way toward showing there is not an objective reality. Indeed, the objective reality here is that there are differences among people in their ability to distinguish mixtures of light at different wavelengths, and the reflectance properties of surfaces.

    • Dunc

      Well, there’s real and there’s real… For example, are the characters in Hamlet real? Obviously they’re not real people in the sense that you’re never going to shake hands with them, yet we can surely come to some agreement as to what they’re like, what motivates them and so forth. They embody real human characteristics. They’re real ideas.

      Fiction can help us to understand the world and ourselves, without us having to believe that it’s really real in the literal sense. Poetry can show us truths about the world, without actually being literally true.

      If Wordsworth’s specific patch of daffodils didn’t actually exist, would that make the poem worthless? That would depend on whether you’re using it to understand an aspect of the human condition, or to find your way around a particular part of the Cotswolds… The important thing is to be able to recognise the difference, and to know what sort of question your asking.

  • Michael Moon

    What a bunch of idiots. Even the atheists, which makes me sad because I expected more from you. Really? You’re going to devote precious text to debunking stupid claims? Here’s all you need:

    Is your idea supported by evidence? Has it been independently corroborated? How does it conform to current scientific models? Is it falsifiable?

    Stop screwing around (especially the atheists, who should know better). There’s empiricism and then there’s everything else.

  • William

    “Wicca obviously has lots of theistic aspects, and lots of just plain ridiculous aspects.  And atheists have to criticize them.”

    Really? Why? Why do you *have* to criticize someone’s beliefs when those beliefs are being kept to themselves? Last I checked, Wiccans aren’t trying to impose their beliefs on anyone, they aren’t actively trying to proselytize or convert people, nor are they trying to enshrine their beliefs in law. They mind their own business and don’t actively bother people with their beliefs, so why is it your business to butt your nose in and criticize? I’m just confused as to what actions any Wiccans have taken to necessitate criticizing their beliefs?

    “And without religions, other people would have no reason to try to convince the world of their gods. Well, much less reason.
    Plus, it’s religion that causes these to be coordinated efforts, thus making them that much more dangerous.”

    Really? So you’ve had lots of Hindus, Neo-Pagans, and Shintoists trying to convince you that their gods exist? I very highly doubt that. Quit assuming that your criticisms of Christianity apply to each and every religion.

    • John Morales

      Have you considered that ‘criticise’ might here refer to ‘examine critically’ so as to understand the ideas?

    • William

      When the preceding sentence refers to their beliefs as “ridiculous” my first reaction isn’t to put a positive spin on his use of “criticize.” So no, I hadn’t considered. If I’m incorrect, then I apologize for misunderstanding. Try using less judgmental language if your goal is simply to “examine critically in order to understand.”

  • KG

    I can’t see the point of trying to devise an atheistic religion. Getting away from the tedious nonsense of religion is one of the advantages of being an atheist!


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