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Author Topic: Humanism and Paganism  (Read 481 times)

Donal2018

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Humanism and Paganism
« on: July 14, 2020, 03:31:19 pm »
I have found some naturalistic pagans on Facebook who identify variously as atheist pagans or humanist pagans. I wonder what role humanism can have in the various paganisms?  Do people here mix the two? Or are they separate for most people?

Sefiru

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Re: Humanism and Paganism
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2020, 06:39:40 pm »
I have found some naturalistic pagans on Facebook who identify variously as atheist pagans or humanist pagans. I wonder what role humanism can have in the various paganisms?  Do people here mix the two? Or are they separate for most people?

Depends on what sense you mean 'Humanism'? Going by the broad definition of 'belief in the value and agency of human beings', I think many Pagan paths include elements of humanism.

SirPalomides

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Re: Humanism and Paganism
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2020, 10:08:56 am »
I have found some naturalistic pagans on Facebook who identify variously as atheist pagans or humanist pagans. I wonder what role humanism can have in the various paganisms?  Do people here mix the two? Or are they separate for most people?

Humanism gets defined in a lot of different ways; historically I believe it was first applied to late medieval Christian scholars who saw value in Greek and Roman pagan literature, such as the priest-magician Marsilio Ficino. The point being that they saw value in human culture, human creations, as reflecting true wisdom even if it did not align consciously or historically with explicitly Christian revelation. Generally religions feel a tug of war between, on the one side, ascetic otherworldliness and, on the other, finding the sacred in this world, in the human realm- so the latter approach could be termed "humanist."

So humanism and any kind of religious faith are not contradictory and it would be hard for a religion to survive long without a touch of a humanism. Generally religions that are full-on otherworldly restrict themselves to an elite circle capable of maintaining rigorous ascetic discipline.

Naturalism is another tricky one. Some (perhaps most?) religious people believe, implicitly or explicitly, that all of existence is made up of the same stuff. Spiritual beings are just made up of finer stuff than other things. So a philosopher like the Confucian Zhu Xi readily accepted the existence of gods and spirits, but posited that they were formed of a particularly refined qi which is what enables consciousness. Thus his view is sometimes labeled "naturalistic." Epicurus was a thoroughgoing materialist- he taught that even gods were made up of atoms (also that they were far too happy and distant to concern themselves with human affairs). This led some to declare him an atheist. Was he? Generally when I have seen religions attempt to explain "supernatural" events, the explanations just seem to be extensions of what is "natural", even if they are not demonstrable in terms of modern science.

EclecticWheel

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Re: Humanism and Paganism
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2020, 11:01:53 am »
Do people here mix the two? Or are they separate for most people?

Over the years the most consistent aspect of my personality has been that I do not think of morality as a Divine mandate, not even when I've been a Christian.

I did identify for a while as a cultural Christian and also a Secular Humanist.

I embrace morality as a feature of my humanity, of my belonging to the human species.  I do not need cosmic justification for my morals.

I do like my morality to be a consistent one, at least, as consistent as any of us can be given conflicting interests in our world.

My morals are basically the same today as when I was a Secular Humanist, and I have worked spiritually in a few beliefs and approaches along the way without changing morals.

I don't know if that helps, but that has been my experience.

Adopting devotional practices hasn't changed my morality -- it just adds to the relationships I endeavor to honor and build.
My personal moral code:

Love wisely, and do what thou wilt.

EclecticWheel

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Re: Humanism and Paganism
« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2020, 11:12:30 am »
Naturalism is another tricky one. Some (perhaps most?) religious people believe, implicitly or explicitly, that all of existence is made up of the same stuff. Spiritual beings are just made up of finer stuff than other things. So a philosopher like the Confucian Zhu Xi readily accepted the existence of gods and spirits, but posited that they were formed of a particularly refined qi which is what enables consciousness. Thus his view is sometimes labeled "naturalistic." Epicurus was a thoroughgoing materialist- he taught that even gods were made up of atoms (also that they were far too happy and distant to concern themselves with human affairs).

Naturalism is a tricky term, as I discovered after adopting it for myself at one point.  If I explain them enough, of course all "supernatural" explanations begin to look "natural."

What would something outside of nature even look like?  If there are gods, and if they are immanent and interactive, aren't they natural?

I no longer call myself a naturalist.
My personal moral code:

Love wisely, and do what thou wilt.

SirPalomides

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Re: Humanism and Paganism
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2020, 04:01:03 pm »
What would something outside of nature even look like?  If there are gods, and if they are immanent and interactive, aren't they natural?

I think it has something to do with Platonism and the ideal realm which utterly transcends the realm of particulars, yet still influences it. In Christianity and other Platonic influenced religions the ideal realm dovetails with God who is utterly distinct from His creatures (including angels) yet somehow fully immanent in them. In this view the nature of created things, which all have a beginning, is completely different from the unknowable nature of the beginningless God. And yet there is also some mysterious, intimate connection. The modern theologian Sergius Bulgakov's theory about Sophia is one attempt to explain this. It's been a while since I read all that- I don't remember if it settles the question but it was beautifully presented.

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