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Author Topic: Deities as a "function"?  (Read 4705 times)

Maps

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Re: Deities as a "function"?
« Reply #15 on: January 09, 2013, 02:17:18 pm »
Quote from: Juniperberry;89925




To me, god is in the details. The variables so small and numerous as to be impossible to quantify, the tiny ripples in manifestations of chaos theory that contribute to outcomes we would have to be gods ourselves in order to ever hope to predict, the whispers between quantum particles talking to each other over immense distances. My gods are, in function, the beauty of the thing as it is doomed to happen in its pre-defined way, as well as the hum of an infinite number of variables that we can never fully know (aside from the fact that things like gazes and intentions do have their place in the realm of physics). Some of my gods are ideas that I call on for inspiration, guild banners that I hold high and proud over my work, others are comforting neuroses.

But inside my head, those near-infinitely small masses and ripples and influences bounce around until they become loud enough to be a voice. And truthfully, my gods have never said anything profound to me (gods, imo, are not profound by nature of being gods), but they have said a few things. I do definitely believe they're there, even if they're bound up as function 99.999% of the time.

Juniperberry

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Re: Deities as a "function"?
« Reply #16 on: January 09, 2013, 06:18:46 pm »
Quote from: Maps;89930
To me, god is in the details. The variables so small and numerous as to be impossible to quantify, the tiny ripples in manifestations of chaos theory that contribute to outcomes we would have to be gods ourselves in order to ever hope to predict, the whispers between quantum particles talking to each other over immense distances. My gods are, in function, the beauty of the thing as it is doomed to happen in its pre-defined way, as well as the hum of an infinite number of variables that we can never fully know (aside from the fact that things like gazes and intentions do have their place in the realm of physics). Some of my gods are ideas that I call on for inspiration, guild banners that I hold high and proud over my work, others are comforting neuroses.

But inside my head, those near-infinitely small masses and ripples and influences bounce around until they become loud enough to be a voice. And truthfully, my gods have never said anything profound to me (gods, imo, are not profound by nature of being gods), but they have said a few things. I do definitely believe they're there, even if they're bound up as function 99.999% of the time.


 I do like that, I'm just not sure how applicable it is to my path. (And thanks for reading my spewed rantings.)

When I think of the Thor myth--mighty warrior of fertility-- I get it: the storm is fierce and destructive but even so, the rains feed the crops. And I love that contrast, I feel a tug in my heart when I think of it. Even just as a function, because it exists, it touches my world. It does something I can see and experience, it isn't an invisible guy in the sky.

What I can't process is the idea of being able to affect it through offering, through worship. To be clear, I don't have a problem worshipping it, its just that in doing so can I really influence it in any way? I don't have a problem standing in a thunderstorm and letting the force of it touch my soul, but does it listen to prayer? Will it do a u-turn and come back when I ask for rain? Or is it just something we grab onto as it passes, holding on as long as we can?

I also think part of my confusion is just common to reconstructing. The lore is such a jumble of Christian and Norse influences that it's hard to unknot it. I feel like there was some deeper reason behind the reciprocal relationship beyond praying/offering. Why did they think that gods could be influenced? Even the most primitive person will soon realize the rain doesn't come every time that you ask. Rituals and traditions originate because their effective, not because its a crapshoot. It has to have some spiritual significance beyond just results of a relationship. How can I discover that by removing expectations of personality?

And I go back to the comment that the purpose was to have a harmonious relationship with the world, not upset the balance and order, not to be destructive. The purpose wasn't salavation, heaven, to be enlightened... Just to have a good relationship with the functioning world. And that world functions differently depending on where you are, so live in harmony with that.
The pace of progress in artificial intelligence (I’m not referring to narrow AI) is incredibly fast. [...] The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five year timeframe. 10 years at most.--Elon Musk

I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence," [Bill] Gates wrote. "First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don\'t understand why some people are not concerned."

Maps

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Re: Deities as a "function"?
« Reply #17 on: January 09, 2013, 06:51:58 pm »
Quote from: Juniperberry;89939
I do like that, I'm just not sure how applicable it is to my path. (And thanks for reading my spewed rantings.)

When I think of the Thor myth--mighty warrior of fertility-- I get it: the storm is fierce and destructive but even so, the rains feed the crops. And I love that contrast, I feel a tug in my heart when I think of it. Even just as a function, because it exists, it touches my world. It does something I can see and experience, it isn't an invisible guy in the sky.

What I can't process is the idea of being able to affect it through offering, through worship. To be clear, I don't have a problem worshipping it, its just that in doing so can I really influence it in any way? I don't have a problem standing in a thunderstorm and letting the force of it touch my soul, but does it listen to prayer? Will it do a u-turn and come back when I ask for rain? Or is it just something we grab onto as it passes, holding on as long as we can?

I also think part of my confusion is just common to reconstructing. The lore is such a jumble of Christian and Norse influences that it's hard to unknot it. I feel like there was some deeper reason behind the reciprocal relationship beyond praying/offering. Why did they think that gods could be influenced? Even the most primitive person will soon realize the rain doesn't come every time that you ask. Rituals and traditions originate because their effective, not because its a crapshoot. It has to have some spiritual significance beyond just results of a relationship. How can I discover that by removing expectations of personality?

And I go back to the comment that the purpose was to have a harmonious relationship with the world, not upset the balance and order, not to be destructive. The purpose wasn't salavation, heaven, to be enlightened... Just to have a good relationship with the functioning world. And that world functions differently depending on where you are, so live in harmony with that.

 
I dunno, I enjoy reading your rantings.

I think my worldview has something going for it also that yours, from what I know, doesn't: god impersonation. If that isn't the epitome of humanity in a deity, I don't know what is. That added layer of conception... it does something for me. Can't put my finger on it, but it does.

The way I think of the whole "influencing them" sort of thing, though, can really be summed up in that quote about why the Native American rain dances always worked (because they kept doing them until it rained). Now I don't know how much of that is factually true, but idea rings true to me even though it blurs the line between faith and knowing.

Juniperberry

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Re: Deities as a "function"?
« Reply #18 on: January 09, 2013, 07:35:39 pm »
Quote from: Maps;89944
I dunno, I enjoy reading your rantings.

:o Thanks, and back at you. (Still waiting on a new blog post *hint hint*.)


Quote
I think my worldview has something going for it also that yours, from what I know, doesn't: god impersonation. If that isn't the epitome of humanity in a deity, I don't know what is. That added layer of conception... it does something for me. Can't put my finger on it, but it does.


Hmm. Yeah, that would be helpful. I can't really think of any instances that that was done...There is a theory that the sacrifice in the grove by the Semnones was done as a ritual marriage to the OG All-Father: man marries priestess then is sacrificed, playing the part of the fertility god. (Plug: That's in my next pbp post. : p) But there isn't much evidence for that.

Another thing that they might have done, though, is imitate the dead (another plug: first 'b' post [I'm ridiculous].) And that's why I keep going back to ancestor worship over god worship. When Idb Fladban (or whatever) witnessed the funeral ritual, the men had intercourse with the sacrificed slave girl so the fertility in her womb would fertilize the afterlife/earth. Landwights were most likely the dead. The Semnone AF was the progenitor. It just seems like the dead were much more godly then the gods. And knowing how I interact with my dead vs gods it just seems more natural.
 

In a rush, sorry.
The pace of progress in artificial intelligence (I’m not referring to narrow AI) is incredibly fast. [...] The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five year timeframe. 10 years at most.--Elon Musk

I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence," [Bill] Gates wrote. "First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don\'t understand why some people are not concerned."

Faemon

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Re: Deities as a "function"?
« Reply #19 on: January 09, 2013, 09:15:15 pm »
Quote from: Juniperberry;89925
It's frustrating in a way in for me personally, because I sense maybe I'm missing some piece of it, but please don't take that frustration personally.

I love reading your views, actually! They are very different from what I would declare to be my own beliefs, yet make absolute perfect sense. :)

It occurred to me that one could say that Makala is present in the neglect of any new "trophy wife" who decides to get out there and change the world anyway, in the clash of curiosity and mischief, and contemplation and illumination. There's another function of the gods, and that would share the function of a story. It doesn't have to be true, but it can be the driving force behind what is made true and becomes true: in the case of Makala, that whatever threats are looming, a person can defeat with a smile on their face.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2013, 09:23:11 pm by Faemon »
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Juniperberry

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Re: Deities as a "function"?
« Reply #20 on: January 09, 2013, 11:02:31 pm »
Quote from: triple_entendre;89968
I love reading your views, actually! They are very different from what I would declare to be my own beliefs, yet make absolute perfect sense. :)


 Then we're kindred spirits. I feel the same!

Quote
There's another function of the gods, and that would share the function of a story. It doesn't have to be true, but it can be the driving force behind what is made true and becomes true: in the case of Makala, that whatever threats are looming, a person can defeat with a smile on their face.

 
I really like this. It would mean not having to change their nature necessarily, but performing their functions in awareness of the expectations.

I'm going to be chewing on that awhile.
The pace of progress in artificial intelligence (I’m not referring to narrow AI) is incredibly fast. [...] The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five year timeframe. 10 years at most.--Elon Musk

I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence," [Bill] Gates wrote. "First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don\'t understand why some people are not concerned."

wadjet

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Re: Deities as a "function"?
« Reply #21 on: January 12, 2013, 07:41:39 am »
Quote from: Megatherium;89726



Want to re-spark this thread by adding my two cents, which is essentially, "I disagree". :D In a nice way, and in a Norse-specific way.

Part of it is absolutely the issue of localization, which polytheists never agree on. Additionally, the farther I move away from Wicca-influenced God-as-aspects and into hard polytheism, the harder my polytheism gets.

Short version: I believe thunder is a scientific physical phenomenon, not a God, or an aspect of a God, or even necessarily caused by a God. As some other (often atheist) folks have said, that doesn't make the physical world any less awe-inspiring. A God can perhaps influence natural phenomenon in a way we can't, but it isn't a "responsibility", nor a "part" of them.

Long-ass version:

To me, Thor-as-thunder is a combo of two things: the simplest is that it is simply a poetic description of his personality, and secondly that he has an "affiliation" with it, in terms of energy/existence/elements/whatever term you use. Many (mmmmost?) folks in the pagan circles share the worldview that there are certain "magical connections" people have, for whatever reason, to the natural world. You know, an affiliation with cats, a sensitivity to certain plaits, a strong association with water, etc., and that these associations extend deeper than simple "interests". Perhaps he can, as an energy-based being, instigate some storms, or influence them.

For clarification, I do think that living things have a Spirit, such as trees. I also think that certain important landforms (mountains, lakes, other areas) have become the "homes" of a Spirit (here I would use the term "wight"). (This is a very similar to the view of Kami in Shinto, from what I understand.) Those would be "local deities" of sacred groves and such.  

Then, I work under the view that there are more powerful/more individualized Gods whose reach is perhaps farther, whom you are born with a connection to due to your ancestral line. Not a racial thing, of course, but simply that, like you may be born with a spiritual association with Thunder due to XYZ, it seems reasonable that there would remain a "link" passed down by your family. (Or, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that one's dead ancestors are keeping the link there for you, which seems way more likely than any foolish "genetic memory" crapola.)

Of course, it all boils down to the fact that I am essentially Atheist, in that I don't believe in creator-type Gods, and that I think the "gods" are simply sentient beings that we don't really understand or can't quite perceive. I think some of these beings are interested in positive, mutual cohabitation with us, those that we call "gods".

So my "worship" of any of these types of spirits, from wights on up, is simply a combination of (a) showing respect, (b) keeping up communication in the only reliable way we know, specifically thanking them for continued assistance in mutual interests. One might ask them to try and give a little "push" to the energies in the world, since they clearly have a very different view of it, but I don't think they "control" the world any more than we do.

Phew, that was long! And I still feel like I left something out....

Oh, right. as for "Thors all over the world", I....would agree that the thunder-causing-being is indeed localized to some extent, and so that when some people say Thor they mean the local thunder-guy, but when other people say Thor they mean the ancestral deity in the Eddas, and that some people think those are the same being...but I personally view them as different beings. Sort of. In that Thor and Perkunas are two different dudes, possibly related (brothers?), and that I would call to Thor because he's more likely to listen to my family, but that he only has influence over storms in the Pacific Northwest because I'm here and not because he controls all storms everywhere. Does that make any sense?

(Unrelated note: I hope it does not come across disrespectful to anyone for me to call the gods "guys" and "dudes". It genuinely is how I think of them.)
« Last Edit: January 12, 2013, 07:42:04 am by wadjet »

Megatherium

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Re: Deities as a "function"?
« Reply #22 on: January 13, 2013, 01:19:51 am »
Quote from: wadjet;90575
Want to re-spark this thread by adding my two cents, which is essentially, "I disagree". :D In a nice way, and in a Norse-specific way.

Part of it is absolutely the issue of localization, which polytheists never agree on. Additionally, the farther I move away from Wicca-influenced God-as-aspects and into hard polytheism, the harder my polytheism gets.

Short version: I believe thunder is a scientific physical phenomenon, not a God, or an aspect of a God, or even necessarily caused by a God. As some other (often atheist) folks have said, that doesn't make the physical world any less awe-inspiring. A God can perhaps influence natural phenomenon in a way we can't, but it isn't a "responsibility", nor a "part" of them.

Long-ass version:

To me, Thor-as-thunder is a combo of two things: the simplest is that it is simply a poetic description of his personality, and secondly that he has an "affiliation" with it, in terms of energy/existence/elements/whatever term you use. Many (mmmmost?) folks in the pagan circles share the worldview that there are certain "magical connections" people have, for whatever reason, to the natural world. You know, an affiliation with cats, a sensitivity to certain plaits, a strong association with water, etc., and that these associations extend deeper than simple "interests". Perhaps he can, as an energy-based being, instigate some storms, or influence them.

For clarification, I do think that living things have a Spirit, such as trees. I also think that certain important landforms (mountains, lakes, other areas) have become the "homes" of a Spirit (here I would use the term "wight"). (This is a very similar to the view of Kami in Shinto, from what I understand.) Those would be "local deities" of sacred groves and such.  

Then, I work under the view that there are more powerful/more individualized Gods whose reach is perhaps farther, whom you are born with a connection to due to your ancestral line. Not a racial thing, of course, but simply that, like you may be born with a spiritual association with Thunder due to XYZ, it seems reasonable that there would remain a "link" passed down by your family. (Or, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that one's dead ancestors are keeping the link there for you, which seems way more likely than any foolish "genetic memory" crapola.)

Of course, it all boils down to the fact that I am essentially Atheist, in that I don't believe in creator-type Gods, and that I think the "gods" are simply sentient beings that we don't really understand or can't quite perceive. I think some of these beings are interested in positive, mutual cohabitation with us, those that we call "gods".

So my "worship" of any of these types of spirits, from wights on up, is simply a combination of (a) showing respect, (b) keeping up communication in the only reliable way we know, specifically thanking them for continued assistance in mutual interests. One might ask them to try and give a little "push" to the energies in the world, since they clearly have a very different view of it, but I don't think they "control" the world any more than we do.

Phew, that was long! And I still feel like I left something out....

Oh, right. as for "Thors all over the world", I....would agree that the thunder-causing-being is indeed localized to some extent, and so that when some people say Thor they mean the local thunder-guy, but when other people say Thor they mean the ancestral deity in the Eddas, and that some people think those are the same being...but I personally view them as different beings. Sort of. In that Thor and Perkunas are two different dudes, possibly related (brothers?), and that I would call to Thor because he's more likely to listen to my family, but that he only has influence over storms in the Pacific Northwest because I'm here and not because he controls all storms everywhere. Does that make any sense?

(Unrelated note: I hope it does not come across disrespectful to anyone for me to call the gods "guys" and "dudes". It genuinely is how I think of them.)

 

Nice post, but I'm sadly to tired to respond properly. I'll try a couple of things...

1. The reason why I became interested in the idea of "God as Function" is that I come from a very atheistic background, and I have trouble wrapping my mind around exactly what a God is. Basically, as interested as I am in "hard" polytheism, I am a person of very little faith. I have a hard time basing my religious life around the belief that Thor is an individual intelligence, because I can't prove it to myself. However,  If I can identify a God with a specific physical or cultural phenomena, I feel like I'm on a lot more solid ground. Once that happens, I can be very open to the possibility of gods as distinct, individual intelligences. For example, to take Thor (again)-if I try to base my practice on the belief in Thor as an intelligent individual, all the little atheistic voices in my head start chirping away. But since I KNOW that thunderstorms are; a) real and b) benefit me, I can use this as a basis. Once I do that, I find it much easier to think of Thor as "the Thunderstorm", but ALSO, perhaps, as an individual intelligence. If that makes sense.

2. You mentioned that you are "basically an atheist", but also that you are becoming more of a hard polytheist. I was a bit confused (news flash! I am always confused!), and i was wondering if perhaps you are atheistic towards big monotheist-type creator Gods, but more comfortable with "hard" polytheism?

Anyway, I really enjoyed reading your post, because the nature of the Gods is probably my biggest philosophical headache in regards to Heathenry. I can easily recognize the importance of my ancestors. To identify the importance of local wights is okay for me, because I can picture them being located in a specific place and time.

But the nature of the Gods is giving me headaches. I appreciate reading about other folks take on em. Gracias para todos!
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Juniperberry

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Re: Deities as a "function"?
« Reply #23 on: January 13, 2013, 01:32:28 am »
Quote from: Megatherium;90725
...

 

After bitching in this thread about something similar to that I had a game changing moment. Maybe it'll spur some thoughts for you?

I don't want to repeat myself so there's this thread and subsequent blog post (both below) if you're interested. I think it also hits on why location is important. I'd be very interested in your thoughts!

 http://www.ecauldron.com/forum/showthread.php?5620-So.-I-feel-like-an-idiot

 http://heretherebegods.wordpress.com/2013/01/12/giants/
The pace of progress in artificial intelligence (I’m not referring to narrow AI) is incredibly fast. [...] The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five year timeframe. 10 years at most.--Elon Musk

I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence," [Bill] Gates wrote. "First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don\'t understand why some people are not concerned."

wadjet

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Re: Deities as a "function"?
« Reply #24 on: January 13, 2013, 11:54:37 am »
Quote from: Megatherium;90725
Nice post, but I'm sadly to tired to respond properly. I'll try a couple of things...

Totally acceptable. :D

Quote
1. The reason why I became interested in the idea of "God as Function" is that I come from a very atheistic background, and I have trouble wrapping my mind around exactly what a God is.

Totally understandable. I definitely wonder sometimes if I'm totally loopy to think of "Spirit-People" - I was a math/physics major, and pretty hard-set in the Logic side of things. So I know where you're coming from.

Totally reasonable to view Thor as the thunderstorm itself as well as an individual, though. It's definitely one of those concepts in polytheism that there is no "right" answer to.

Quote
2. You mentioned that you are "basically an atheist", but also that you are becoming more of a hard polytheist. I was a bit confused (news flash! I am always confused!), and i was wondering if perhaps you are atheistic towards big monotheist-type creator Gods, but more comfortable with "hard" polytheism?

Yes, essentially. Couldn't remember if I clarified this: I still consider myself an atheist, because I don't believe in a Great Creator God or Gods. Even raised Christian, this seems ridiculous to me, a creator god, an omnipotent god. I think of Gods as natural creatures who we haven't quite evolved to perceive yet, the way an underwater fish born without eyesight can't totally perceive the world like we can. This seems logical and supports the evidence of my experience and knowledge.

I might be inclined to view the entirety of existence as aspects of a Sacred Whole, but...I still wouldn't call that God.

Quote
Anyway, I really enjoyed reading your post, because the nature of the Gods is probably my biggest philosophical headache in regards to Heathenry. I can easily recognize the importance of my ancestors. To identify the importance of local wights is okay for me, because I can picture them being located in a specific place and time.
But the nature of the Gods is giving me headaches. I appreciate reading about other folks take on em. Gracias para todos!

 
There's definitely a lot of different takes on them withing the Norse-based community. To be honest, I'm probably in the minority. Sometimes I wonder which Gods I'm really worshiping, since my UPG seems totally in conflict with what is generally said. (Loki and fire, indeed.)

Quote
http://www.ecauldron.com/forum/showthread.php?5620-So.-I-feel-like-an-idiot
http://heretherebegods.wordpress.com/2013/01/12/giants/

I've been viewing the Giants (which I also associate with Titans) as the same types of beings as Gods, perhaps more like primordial forces, but ones that were uninterested in harmonious existence with humans. But what else is a "primordial force" but a natural phenomenon?

This is a really interesting post - will definitely think hard about it. It's totally legit.

Megatherium

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Re: Deities as a "function"?
« Reply #25 on: January 13, 2013, 02:55:59 pm »
Quote from: Juniperberry;90726
After bitching in this thread about something similar to that I had a game changing moment. Maybe it'll spur some thoughts for you?

I don't want to repeat myself so there's this thread and subsequent blog post (both below) if you're interested. I think it also hits on why location is important. I'd be very interested in your thoughts!

 http://www.ecauldron.com/forum/showthread.php?5620-So.-I-feel-like-an-idiot

 http://heretherebegods.wordpress.com/2013/01/12/giants/


Oh, I definitely read that thread. Been chewing it over, rather grumpily for a few days, actually. Why grumpily? Because,

a) I have been worshipping the Gods as forces of nature since I started doing anything that can be termed as “practice”, and...

b) You’re absolutely right in that thread/blog post. Absolutely. It seems, obvious, now, in retrospect, that the Gods would be identified as more protecting humans from nature rather than being representations of it. The raw, unbridled nature would be the giants. This not only makes sense from what I can piece together of ancient Germanic religion, but also  with neighboring cultures like the Greeks, with the whole Titans vs. Olympians, etc.. Hence, I’ve been utterly back-asswards this whole time.


I think I realize now that, in regards to the Gods at least, I’ve been using the Norse pantheon to express my sort of nature-worship, which as I’ve said above is quite backwards from how actual heathens would have viewed things. I can also see that in my “choice” of deities that I honour. Many of the deities that I have chosen to worship-Sunna, Mani, Nott, Skadi, the Norns, and the Earth, as quite simply not beings that were considered “Gods” by the ancient heathens, certainly not in the same way as Odin, Frigga, Thor, Freya, etc. were.

Now my problem is that I can’t just change what I believe to make my views fit into the ancient heathen mindset. For me anyway, belief regarding untestable philosophical issues is almost like falling in love-it is irrational, and does not respond to reason.

I love nature. Coming from an atheistic background, “nature” was the only “god” I could be absolutely, unarguably sure existed. And as much as I am very interested and open to the idea that Thor is more than the thunderstorm, I simply do not at this time possess the requisite faith (OMG did I really just mention faith? holy shit, I did!) to base my beliefs on hard polytheism. Maybe in the future. But not yet.

So, I guess in the way that the term is used by modern heathens, I’m not really a heathen. I may share beliefs regarding the importance of ancestors and honorable conduct in daily life. I may be more attracted to the “world-accepting” attitude of heathenry than the “world-denying” viewpoints of many other religions. But, ultimately, I’m a....what? Would “Germanic Pagan” be more appropriate?

I guess at a certain point, you gotta stop trying to hammer the square pagan peg into the round heathen hole. I is what I is, and that’s all that I is.
My views are one that speaks to freedom.
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Juniperberry

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Re: Deities as a "function"?
« Reply #26 on: January 13, 2013, 03:33:03 pm »
Quote from: Megatherium;90812



I think I realize now that, in regards to the Gods at least, I’ve been using the Norse pantheon to express my sort of nature-worship, which as I’ve said above is quite backwards from how actual heathens would have viewed things. .

 
Well, first off let me say I'm uncomfortable with the assertion that this what they actually, for sure, 100% thought. :)

But...yeah. Shane from AL once told me that all of our nature-loving, lets go back to the woods, stuff is completely modern. Nature was the danger and threat for our ancestors, towns and villages were the safe haven. Today it's the urban jungle that terrifies us and nature is the safe haven. Complete role reversal.

I'm sure there's a middle ground, somewhere. I don't think we, as people, have been able to find the balance between gods and giants that is surely there and has kept the world spinning.

Now you've given me some more to consider.
The pace of progress in artificial intelligence (I’m not referring to narrow AI) is incredibly fast. [...] The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five year timeframe. 10 years at most.--Elon Musk

I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence," [Bill] Gates wrote. "First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don\'t understand why some people are not concerned."

Juniperberry

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Re: Deities as a "function"?
« Reply #27 on: January 13, 2013, 03:39:21 pm »
Quote from: Juniperberry;90821
Well, first off let me say I'm uncomfortable with the assertion that this what they actually, for sure, 100% thought. :)

But...yeah. Shane from AL once told me that all of our nature-loving, lets go back to the woods, stuff is completely modern. Nature was the danger and threat for our ancestors, towns and villages were the safe haven. Today it's the urban jungle that terrifies us and nature is the safe haven. Complete role reversal.

I'm sure there's a middle ground, somewhere. I don't think we, as people, have been able to find the balance between gods and giants that is surely there and has kept the world spinning.

Now you've given me some more to consider.


Er. Actually maybe some have. Its probably a completely individual matter and goes back to the heathen maxim of "the maintenance of personal, social and cosmic harmony."
The pace of progress in artificial intelligence (I’m not referring to narrow AI) is incredibly fast. [...] The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five year timeframe. 10 years at most.--Elon Musk

I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence," [Bill] Gates wrote. "First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don\'t understand why some people are not concerned."

Megatherium

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Re: Deities as a "function"?
« Reply #28 on: January 13, 2013, 03:44:30 pm »
Quote from: wadjet;90783

Yes, essentially. Couldn't remember if I clarified this: I still consider myself an atheist, because I don't believe in a Great Creator God or Gods. Even raised Christian, this seems ridiculous to me, a creator god, an omnipotent god. I think of Gods as natural creatures who we haven't quite evolved to perceive yet, the way an underwater fish born without eyesight can't totally perceive the world like we can. This seems logical and supports the evidence of my experience and knowledge.


Strangely enough, I've found my ability to accept the idea of, at least, local Gods influenced by materialistic ideas of what consciousness is. Let's say that awareness is very tied to the brain, that there is no "soul" in the Christian sense. (I don't personally believe this-this is one of those few religious ideas that I have my own, small personal experience to refute.) However, that means that matter has the potential to be aware of itself. If awareness can be generated by a brain, could it also be generated by other physical structures? Say for example, an ecosystem? So could a "God" be a particular area that is aware of itself?

Again, I am almost certain that there is more to local Gods and wights than described above. But I find it much easier to believe in something if I can rationalize it from a philosophically materialist perspetive.


Quote from: wadjet;90783

I might be inclined to view the entirety of existence as aspects of a Sacred Whole, but...I still wouldn't call that God.


Yeah, I find it very easy to look at being itself as sacred, but I find it very confusing to assign characteristics like jealousy or anger to this. I mean, if I understand correctly, Hindus believe in a sacred whole "Brahman"- but Brahman is "beyond attributes"-it doesn't "get angry". If it can have a personality, then it is "a" God, not Brahman.

To me, monotheistic deities always seem like an awkward combination of Zeus and Brahman.  If "God" is not the universe, or humankind, or Nature, or Satan, then "God" is not the entirety of existence. There must be a level of being above "God". Therefore "God" cannot be the Supreme Being.
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Megatherium

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Re: Deities as a "function"?
« Reply #29 on: January 13, 2013, 04:00:29 pm »
Quote from: Juniperberry;90821
Well, first off let me say I'm uncomfortable with the assertion that this what they actually, for sure, 100% thought. :)

But...yeah. Shane from AL once told me that all of our nature-loving, lets go back to the woods, stuff is completely modern. Nature was the danger and threat for our ancestors, towns and villages were the safe haven. Today it's the urban jungle that terrifies us and nature is the safe haven. Complete role reversal.

I'm sure there's a middle ground, somewhere. I don't think we, as people, have been able to find the balance between gods and giants that is surely there and has kept the world spinning.

Now you've given me some more to consider.


Yeah, the idea that nature is something to be feared seems to be...

a) very rational
b) very consistent with the actual lives of pre-modern farmers.

I think that this is one of the problems with reconstructing heathenry-the economic and technological context has completely changed. More so than discerning a "worldview" from the lore, I think taking a pre-modern, agriculturally based worldview, and transferring it to an urban, globalized, wage-earning environment is the biggest challenge in modern heathenry.

I think ultimately, we have to see nature as both something we are utterly dependent on, AND as something that will wipe us out (perhaps literally) without thinking. We can love and respect nature, but we shouldn't pretend that it loves us back.

For example, when I make (almost comically simple) offerings to Skadi, I am thanking her for the beauty of the winter and the precipitation which will feed the crops. But I am also aware that, were I to be caught outside without proper clothing far from shelter, she (winter) can literally kill me in a few hours. That doesn't make her any less beautiful, or worthy of respect. In a way, it makes me love her more.

And on a final note-some of the Aesir, still seem to behave in a way not so differently than nature (giants). I mean, Odin may be the "Allfather", but in the lore he doesn't seem to have any problem with turning on his worshippers and sending them to an early grave.
My views are one that speaks to freedom.
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