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Bad boy?

Post  apseudos on Tue Apr 01, 2014 8:48 am

I want to check something - and I do not mean to cause anyone any offense by asking this question.

Over the course of my life - I am now 65 - I have come to regard the gods (of all religions) not as actual "beings" but as expressions of various components of the human existence. Obviously, as indicated, this is also my approach to the Olympians.

My question is - is there anyone else on this forum that shares my perspective (to any extent) or am I going to be as welcome as a rattlesnake at a wedding?

ALL comments and opinions on this matter will be welcomed.

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Re: Bad boy?

Post  Thrasyvoulos on Tue Apr 01, 2014 9:02 am

apseudos wrote:I want to check something - and I do not mean to cause anyone any offense by asking this question.

Over the course of my life - I am now 65 - I have come to regard the gods (of all religions) not as actual "beings" but as expressions of various components of the human existence. Obviously, as indicated, this is also my approach to the Olympians.

My question is - is there anyone else on this forum that shares my perspective (to any extent) or am I going to be as welcome as a rattlesnake at a wedding?

ALL comments and opinions on this matter will be welcomed.

No offense taken, however I must politely disagree with your stance, on the grounds that it is nothing more than a dressed up form of atheism. The gods, according to this view, are relegated to nothing more than a symbol imposed upon the world by the human mind. This is depriving them of all agency and subjugating them to the whims of human thought, which is the direct antithesis of what the term "god" means. Anything which can be affected by humans cannot be a god. But we are from radically different strains of thought and our disagreement is a natural result.

No, the Gods are personal beings, beings which are capable of thought and reason, and wield power over the phenomenal world. That is the only way to satisfy the conditions of the term "God."

What you are describing are mere symbols, archetypes, /maybe/, but not even in the Jungian sense, as his Archetypes still had a considerable amount of influence upon human thought that humans could not change, they still exited independently of any individual person.

If one is going to strip the Gods of their power and wisdom, one needs to go all the way and simply adopt atheism, instead of latching onto words deprived of their proper meanings for the desire of some semblance of theistic practice.

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Re: Bad boy?

Post  Thrasyvoulos on Tue Apr 01, 2014 10:45 am

However (and I really do apologize for not posting this in my first reply, my boyfriend is very ill and I've been rather preoccupied because of it), you may have something in common with Achrelus, the administrator of the board; he is also an atheist, if I'm not mistaken, and very intelligent, to boot.

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Re: Bad boy?

Post  Erodius on Tue Apr 01, 2014 10:55 am

I have to agree with Icarus — and I think him to have phrased it well.

What you are describing is atheism. To be specific, it is a sort of uncommon type of atheism (common atheism usually considers that even psychological 'gods' are, ultimately, delusions — whether neutral or harmful delusions).

The radical atheism is what we see more commonly in contemporary times — what you've described is more the sort of atheism that was common in previous centuries, from Antiquity up through the Renaissance. This was largely because it was so socially unacceptable to openly reject god/s, because society, the state and public well being were so interconnected with the established religion, whatever it was. Thus, for centuries, pure atheism was so strongly condemned because it was, essentially, considered to be not only blasphemy, but also treason against the state and society.

It was somewhat more acceptable to deny the existence of god/s as actual beings, but still consider them real in the psychological sense. Deism was also a popular sort of quasi-atheism for many centuries, in which the existence of god was accepted, but it was denied that god had any actual interaction with the world. The Classical Epicureans, for instance, might be called deists in some sense.

you may have something in common with Achrelus, the administrator of the board; he is also an atheist, if I'm not mistaken, and very intelligent, to boot.

Agreed — Achrelus is very well learned, and espouses, I believe, a kind of non-theism more along the Antique model than the contemporary, radical one.

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"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Bad Boy?

Post  apseudos on Tue Apr 01, 2014 12:03 pm

Thank you all for your perspectives. It has certainly established a clear answer to my question.

While I accept - and, indeed, anticipated - that my perspective is rather different from the norm on this forum, I must beg to differ with your broad sweep of assumptions about what I do and don't believe derived from just a couple of sentences. I do not accept that my beliefs are "atheist". Why otherwise would I be interested in gods? I also categorically reject your assumption that I relegate gods to entities or ideas unable to influence the course of human (or other) events. Again, why otherwise would I take an interest in gods?

I am certainly not an "evangelical atheist" (a term I've seen much bandied about on this forum) - or any other kind of evangelist for that matter.

I have been on a spiritual journey/quest since my early teens (over 50 years). I have "been", at times, devoutly atheist, devoutly Christian, devoutly Olympian (Athena and Apollo, especially), uncertain about everything, partially convinced about Theosophy - similarly about Kabbalism - and largely always convinced that the teachings of Buddha contain the clearest (modern) statement of how to live the "correct" life.

This has not been a willy-nilly, random, aimless drift from one "fad" to another. Rather it has been the result of much study and thought, seeking connections rather than divergences.

I have joined this forum as a kind of return to my roots - the point at which I diverted from my Christian upbringing. At that point, in my early teens, I found "answers" to my questions in Olympianism. I have never lost this, yet it has not remained the same. All that I have studied brings me to my present view. My authority is my experience.

In light of the above, if my "stance" remains unacceptable then I will disengage from the forum and leave you to your own devices. I shall be sad to have to do so - there is so little opportunity to discuss Olympianism.





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Re: Bad boy?

Post  Erodius on Tue Apr 01, 2014 12:23 pm

While I accept - and, indeed, anticipated - that my perspective is rather different from the norm on this forum, I must beg to differ with your broad sweep of assumptions about what I do and don't believe derived from just a couple of sentences. I do not accept that my beliefs are "atheist". Why otherwise would I be interested in gods? I also categorically reject your assumption that I relegate gods to entities or ideas unable to influence the course of human (or other) events. Again, why otherwise would I take an interest in gods?

Nobody has made any assumptions about what you yourself believe, but only explained what the idea that deities are simply impressions of the mind (regardless of whether or not those impressions can be psychologically influential, which, certain, even false impressions can) implies from a contrary position wherein deities exist as literal and material powers, independently existent, over whom the individual psyche has absolutely no influence whatsoever.

I also categorically reject your assumption that I relegate gods to entities or ideas unable to influence the course of human (or other) events. Again, why otherwise would I take an interest in gods?

Well, yes and no. While, impressions of the mind certainly are able to influence human behavior and actions, do you see how this would imply that, if a deity is this kind of mental impression, it is ultimately subservient to the individual mind, and has no power beyond what the subconscious gives it? Of course, this then gets into the equally complex issue of whether or not one's mental impressions are under one's direct control, which is a psychological debate that has been going on for centuries.

In light of the above, if my "stance" remains unacceptable then I will disengage from the forum and leave you to your own devices. I shall be sad to have to do so - there is so little opportunity to discuss Olympianism.

It is not 'unacceptable', psychological non-theism was, furthermore, certainly known in Antiquity. However, as you've mentioned, such a position will inevitably be rather unpopular here (being as this is a primarily religiously-focused forum) and, as such, you should be prepared to have your position investigated and disputed, and, likewise, to be ready to explain, because you will likely run into misunderstanding.

_________________
"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: Bad Boy?

Post  apseudos on Tue Apr 01, 2014 4:39 pm

Erodius, thankyou for those words. I am completely comfortable with "challenge". I can guarantee that no-one can challenge my thoughts and ideas harder than I can myself.

Forgive me if I rectify one thing you said. I never described my view of the gods as "impressions" of the psyche/mind. Rather I described them as "expression" of elements of human existence. The two ideas are not incompatible but neither are they necessarily identical.

I think I would agree with what you say about "impressions". However, "expressions" are not necessarily devoid of "power", although neither does any such power necessitate either omniciesnce or omnipotence. Indeed, everything we know from antiquity about the gods demonstrates that they come up short on those two points - unless, of course, they merely play games with mortals to give themselves an excuse to be "vengeful" or to extract "adulation" (both very human elements of existence).

If I might use a somewhat Kabbalistic way to express the god-human relationship, it would be to say that the "purpose" of humankind is to manifest the divine spark of deity in the physical world - for gods to behold their own faces. This means that human free-will (in the physical world) is indeed "free". Were this not true then there would have been no Odysseus, no Jason, no Theseus, no Heracles, no Achilles, and so on.

Make no mistake, I am not a disciple of the Richard Dawkins camp - very far from it. I regard gods as very "real" - just not in the same way as you expressed,


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Re: Bad boy?

Post  Erodius on Tue Apr 01, 2014 7:19 pm

Could you clarify what you mean by 'expression of human existence' — if you say a god is not a being, but a mentally-resident 'thoughtform', how would you differentiate that from a mental impression. Do you mean it in the way of Jung's mental archetypes?

However, "expressions" are not necessarily devoid of "power", although neither does any such power necessitate either omniciesnce or omnipotence. Indeed, everything we know from antiquity about the gods demonstrates that they come up short on those two points - unless, of course, they merely play games with mortals to give themselves an excuse to be "vengeful" or to extract "adulation" (both very human elements of existence).

That is a complicated subject. First off, certain Classical religious movements have indeed ascribed certain kinds of omniscience and omnipotence to gods — the theology of many movements hardly matches that which one would glean from a cursory scan through Homer. Indeed, if much of 'common' Classical mythology is taken at literal face value, the Classical deities come across as horrifyingly immoral, petty, greedy, vengeful, cruel, careless and adulterous — hardly worthy of any reverence. Even by the 4th century BCE, Plato has Socrates speaking against poetic mythology being disseminated amongst the common people, because it gives them misguided and impious thoughts about god. The Orphics have, for centuries, used an established set of symbola, part of the teaching we believe was brought to humanity by revelation to Orpheus of Rhodope, to reveal to us the 'truth hidden in plain sight'. Learning to 'read' these symbola is part of one's learning of the Holy Mysteria of the Orphic faith.

But I am getting sidetracked . . . the other point I wanted to get to here was how difficult it is to define omniscience and omnipotence. The questions have long been debated as to whether an omniscient deity precludes the possibility of free-will and/or necessitates universal predestination, and how/why an omnipotent deity would allow evil to happen. Christianity has its own answers to these questions, as do the Classical movements that also considered god to be omnipotent/omniscient in whatever sense. These answers, on both sides, often reference, for the first question, that god knows all possible futures and outcomes, but which one specifically occurs depends on individuals' actions, and, for the second question, that god either deliberately chooses to allow evil to exist, usually as a kind of test for humanity (à la Book of Job), or, as in Orphism, that the various divine emanations exist in a sort of hierarchy, and can only exert a kind of circumstantial omnipotence over what is beneath them.

A common Classical aphorism regarding divine omniscience/omnipotence is that "Fate and the mind of Jove hold all things for all time" — which, in Orphism, for instance, are considered as the two, primordial, fundamental forces of the universe, over which, in this cosmos, there is no superior — thus, all is hierarchically beneath Fate and the Jovian Mind (NB- this is not quite the same as the character of the 'Ouster of Saturn/Κρόνος', although they are related concepts).

If I might use a somewhat Kabbalistic way to express the god-human relationship, it would be to say that the "purpose" of humankind is to manifest the divine spark of deity in the physical world - for gods to behold their own faces. This means that human free-will (in the physical world) is indeed "free".

That is very much similar to the Orphic idea of the purpose of human life, that every soul is a 'shard of god', broken in an ancient heavenly struggle, that has shunned heaven, and ultimately fallen into ignorance and amnesia of its own heritage, to which a vehicle for reconciliation was given, and for whom it is the soul's own responsibility to take the opportunity. Because it was the individual will that revolted against heaven, the individual will must, consequently, choose to accept its redemption.

On a side note, I thought it might be of benefit to you to read Sallustius' catechism 'On the Gods and the World' http://hermetic.com/texts/on_the_gods-1.html, which explains in greater detail some of the concepts I've mentioned.

_________________
"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: Bad Boy?

Post  apseudos on Wed Apr 02, 2014 5:24 am

Erodius, thank you again. I shall certainly follow up your suggestions. Especially, I shall follow up the Orphic tradition. I confess to only a slight depth of knowledge on that front (derived from my study of the Kabbala).

What I meant by expressions of human existence is an idea as complex as defining god-hood. However, what you said about the common man's view of mythology - pettiness, etc. - is pertinent. There is another side to each of those characteristics - what we general consider the admirable side. This, to me, is where the "power" of the gods lies. The struggle is always between the animalistic baser tendencies and the god-driven admirable tendencies. Humankind is the field on which this great battle is fought.

I think you came very close to my view when you talked about emanations (not a word I much like to use in this connection - too new-agey) and the limitations of omnipotence.

I don't feel there is great distance - mostly linguistic - between us. This initial discussion has been very valuable, for which I once again thank you.

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