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Religious Atheisms
contemporary pagan atheisms in the USA ...

from Margot Adler'sDrawing down the moon: witches, druids, goddess-worshippers,
and other pagans in America today, revised and expanded

(Beacon: Boston 1986) atheism 258, 259, 288, 336

[re. the Sabaean Religious Order, Temple of the Moon, Chicago]
The Am'n [deity/ies] are also used to represent five aspects of philosophy -- logic, aesthetics, ethics, politics, and metaphysics -- and five aspects of theology -- atheism, pantheism, polytheism, monotheism, and henotheism. The Sabaean Religious Order adheres to henotheism as the most inclusive. A henotheist is [a] person who worships one god without excluding the existence of others." ... "Atheism seems to relate to logic (the idea that this is this and that is that). At the point when a person realizes that there is a form and a movement to things, this brings about a sense of aesthetics and leads a person to pantheism (the feeling of a tree, of a flower, of the wind). ...
"Odun [aka Frederic de Arechaga] said that one could be an atheist and still be a Sabaean, although, later, an atheist woman told me that she had left the order because she felt that her views were too far removed from the general conceptions of the priesthood. 258-9

[re. the Church of All Worlds (CAW)] The novels of [Ayn] Rand were seeds that sprouted and bore many strange fruits, most of which must have horrified her. CAW is certainly such an example. It is a religion, and Rand has consistently been intensely atheist. ... CAW began in 1961 [in Missouri] when a young group of high-school friends, including Lance Christie, later a priest of CAW, began discussing the novels of Ayn Rand. 288

Another CAW priest, John McClimans, of the Chicago nest, also talked to me about the church's growth and evolution. He said, "When CAW was started, we used the word Pagan to mean non-Christian, even anti-Christian." But as the group spread out and came into contact with other groups, that changed. "The next thing I knew, i was a real Pagan instead of an anti-Christian type of Pagan. ... There was a change of attitude, a change of value. ..." 297

As McClimans observed, "Most of the people in Atl [a waterbrotherhood of CAW] were confirmed agnostics. They had no use for anyone who could even conceive of a theistic universe."
one function of primitive religions had been to provide refuge and relief; to lift temporarily the taboos of the society -- paraphrase of B.Z. Goldberg, the Sacred Fire, in M.A., DDtM, p 293-4 ... 298

[re. the Erisians, a "Non-prophet Irreligious Disorganization" that is "dedicated to an advanced understanding of the paraphysical manifestations of Everyday Chaos", founded by the Discordian Society, or POEE: the Paratheoanametamystikhood of Eris Esoteric] 331 Robert Anton Wilson, a leading Discordian (sometimes known as Mordecai the Foul), ... 328

Discordianism is an anarchist's paradise. ... Greg Hill [aka Malaclypse the Younger, a 1957 co-founder] has described himself as a "Transcendental Atheist" who has always been interested in absurdist religion and, discovering that the ancient Greeks had a goddess of confusion, decided it was the funniest thing he had ever heard. ...Wilson (Mordecai) has described himself as a "Transcendental Agnostic," although, he added whimsically, "There are many me's." He recently told an interviewer from a science fiction magazine: "I'm an initiated witch, an ordained minister in four churches (or cults) and have various other "credentials" to impress the gullible. My philosophy remains Transcendental Agnosticism. There are realities and intelligences greater than conditioned normal consciousness recognizes, but it is premature to dogmatize about them at this primitive stage of our evolution. We've hardly begun to crawl off the surface of the cradle-planet." 332

... an Erisian notice printed in Green Egg said that the Erisian path generally appealed to those who have "an affinity toward taoism, anarchy and clowning; who can feel comfortable in a Neo-pagan context; and who probably have a tendency toward iconoclasm."
And yet Erisianism should not be treated frivolously. Greg Hill told me his experiences with Eris had been quite profound. Although it started as an atheistic joke, his perceptions began to change.
"Eris is an authentic goddess. Furthermore, she is an old one. In the beginning I saw myself as a cosmic clown. I characterized myself as Malaclypse the Younger. But if you do this type of thing well enough, it starts to work. In due time the polarities between atheism and theism become absurd. The engagement was transcendent. And when you transcend one, you have to transcend the other. I started out with the idea that all gods are an illusion. By the end I had learned that it's up to you to decide whether gods exist ... Eris is a valid goddess is no far as gods are valid; and gods are valid when we choose them to be. The Christian tradition has become so totally alienated from reality in the Western world that people have had to start inventing their own damn gods. Some people [p 336] are doing it seriously and it is validly working. The Neo-Pagan phenomenon is an example. Another path would be transcendental atheism: using atheism as a spiritual path. The phenomenon of Eris is a hybrid between the two. ..." 333

classical atheistic paganism in Rome ...

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