Nine Theses on Wicca and Atheism

This is a guest post by Eric Steinhart, Professor of Philosophy at William Paterson University.

I’m planning a pretty long series of posts here.  Mainly, I’m going to be arguing for several theses.  I won’t do posts that present them one by one; each post will typically deal with many theses.  Here they are:

The first thesis is that as Christianity declines in America, two communities will be growing: an atheistic community and a neo-pagan community.

The second thesis: Since Wicca is the largest and most coherent neo-pagan community, the neo-paganism will mainly be Wiccan.

The third thesis: As the atheistic community grows larger, social and practical pressures will compel it to begin to develop rituals and ceremonies.

The fourth thesis: The rituals and ceremonies collectively practiced by atheists will become socially recognized as an atheistic religion.

The fifth thesis: As the Wiccan community grows larger, cognitive pressures will compel it to get rid of the woo and to seek greater scientific legitimacy.

The sixth thesis: Underneath all the woo, which is indeed offensive to reason, there are core structures in Wicca which are highly rational.

The seventh thesis: Wicca is neither Christian nor Abrahamic.  Wicca is immune to the strategies atheists have developed for attacking Abrahamic religions.

The eighth thesis: As the result of all the pressures, the two main post-Christian communities, that is, the atheists and the Wiccans, are going to be increasingly blended together.   This blending will be messy.

The ninth thesis: The common meeting ground of these two communities will be a kind of religious naturalism.

Many of these theses are sociological.  And since I’m a philosopher, I’m going to focus on the sixth thesis (I’ll also deal lots with the seventh and ninth theses).  My focus on the sixth thesis has two parts: Part one involves stripping away the irrationality of Wicca; part two involves revealing the rational structures underneath.

You might object: but doesn’t this amount to endorsement of Wicca?  On the contrary, I reply that it amounts to nothing more than the endorsement of reason.  As a philosopher, I am committed to rationality.  If something is irrational, I will attack it as such; if something is rational, I will support that rationality.  I try my hardest to avoid partisan loyalties: if I find irrationality in atheism, I will condemn that unreason; if I find rationality in Wicca, I will support that rationality.  My only loyalty is to the sovereignty of reason.

You might wonder: why should atheists care about this?  I reply that atheists should care about the forces operating to shape the future religious landscape of America.  Failure to think about those forces entails the risk of being overcome by them.

Other posts in this series:

Atheism and Wicca

The Wiccan Deity

The Theistic Deity and Atheism Defined

The Wiccan Deity: An Initial Philosophical Analysis

The Wiccan Deity: Related Concepts in Philosophy

On Atheistic Religion

Atheistic Holidays

Criticizing Wicca: Energy

Atheism and Beauty

Do Atheists Worship Truth?

Some Naturalistic Ontology

Criticizing Wicca: Levels

Atheism and Beauty

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

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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.