On Atheistic Religion

by Eric Steinhart Once upon a time, Carl Sagan predicted the appearance of an atheistic nature-religion: “A religion old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science, might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. Sooner or later, such a [Read More...]

Atheistic Wicca

[This is Eric Steinhart's next to last post in my long series on atheism and Wicca.] My approach to Wicca has been critical.  For philosophers at least, and hopefully for any rational person, criticism is based on careful analysis; it points to both the good and to the bad, to the true and to the [Read More...]

Criticizing Wicca: Magic is Unethical

[This is part of a series looking at atheism and Wicca.] Many Wiccans practice magic.  Skeptics, rationalists, and naturalists may all be tempted to try to use science to refute the effectiveness of magic.  Although such refutations do persuade some people, they often fail to accomplish anything: despite the best efforts of scientific debunkers, magical [Read More...]

Criticizing Wicca: Magic is Unreliable

[This is part of a long series looking at atheism and Wicca.] Any procedure for changing an initial situation (the start) into a desired situation (the goal) can be tested for its effectiveness.   As used here, effectiveness is a matter of degree, so that procedures can be more or less effective.  The simplest way to measure [Read More...]

Criticizing Wicca: Magic

[Magic is a pseudo-technology based on the pseudo-science of mysterious energy.  It’s purpose is to provide the illusion of control.  This post briefly describes how some Wiccans conceive of magic.  Many Wiccans reject the use of magic altogether, or consider it entirely independent of Wicca.  Thus the two should not be confused.  After this brief [Read More...]

The Illusion of Control

[Much of the content and practice of religion is based on regulating (arousing, maintaining, and inhibiting) the illusion of control.  This illusion is briefly described here.  The neural basis of this illusion is clearly exposed in Wiccan texts.  The illusion of control is said to be an adaptive illusion with personal and prosocial benefits.  The [Read More...]

The Atheism and Wicca Series So Far

by Eric Steinhart Some folks have jumped into this series just recently, and others have had some trouble following due to the server problems in the last two days.  The point of this series is to critically examine Wicca (and other neo-paganisms) through the lens of atheistic analytic philosophy of religion. So here’s the list [Read More...]

Spiritual Exercises for Atheists

Spiritual exercises (askesis) are practical activities for mental self-empowerment.  They are intended to facilitate successful achievement by increasing the degree to which the self is mentally or emotionally prepared to perform.  Spiritual exercises are not magic.  Spiritual exercises are distinct from magic because they focus on causing changes in the self while magic focuses on [Read More...]

Rational Rebirth

Kurt Gödel (1906-1978) was an Austrian-American logician and mathematician.  He is best known for his incompleteness theorems and his work in axiomatic set theory.  However,  he also produced some deeply interesting philosophical arguments.  Some of these are found in his unpublished papers and letters.  One of these is an argument for life after death (for [Read More...]