(RNS) Oh, the kids.

They don’t know the history. They don’t know how hard it was in the old days. And many ditch their spiritual upbringing for the next new thing.

Lammas, or Lughnasa, is a festival of the wheat harvest and is one of the eight sabbats in the neo-pagan Wheel of the Year.

Lammas, or Lughnasa, is a festival of the wheat harvest and is one of the eight sabbats in the neo-pagan Wheel of the Year. Creative Commons image by Graham Huntley

It happens to Catholics, evangelicals, Jews, and yes, pagans, too.

Second-generation pagans — those whose parents were converts to pagan spirituality — are a lot like their peers in other faiths. They often do spirituality their own way. Or not at all.

“Born-to-it pagans just are who we are,” said Angela Roberts Reeder, 43, whose parents were involved in ceremonial magic when she was young.

This week, Reeder said she might continue the tradition by joining a public celebration for the first harvest festival of Lughnasa, also called Lammas, at a Washington, D.C., temple.

“Today, it’s so much easier to be openly pagan than 20 or 30 years ago” when converts often faced strong disapproval by family and society when they came out of the “broom closet,” so to speak, Reeder said.

Where the first generation had to struggle to find teachers, books and like-minded pagans, the Internet now offers a wide knowledge stream and infinite meet-up possibilities.

Still, the tendency of youth to rebel against their upbringing and to hunt for something new is ageless.

A 2007 study by LifeWay Research found that among the 65 percent of millennials who call themselves Christians many are no longer observant. More than two in three said they rarely or never pray with others, attend worship services or read the Bible or sacred texts.

It may be even more challenging to hand down paganism’s free-form spirituality from one generation to the next.

An author and a scholar teamed up last year to survey more than 160 second-generation pagans to see how they identify as adults. Laura Wildman-Hanlon, a Wiccan priestess in Amherst, Mass., and author of “Celebrating the Pagan Soul,” and Julie Fennell, an assistant professor of sociology at Gallaudet University in Washington D.C., presented their research at a sociology conference last fall.

They found that 49 percent of second-generation pagans had shifted to identifying as “nones” — people who say they have no particular religious identity — a group that now represents 20 percent of Americans overall and more than a third of millennials.

Observers of Lughnasadh, the wheat harvest festival, erected this straw-filled representation of a deity while it was still light outside, before setting it on fire once the sun had set. For use with RNS-PAGAN-LAMMAS transmitted Aug. 1, 2014. Creative Commons image by Bruce McAdam

Observers of Lughnasa, the wheat harvest festival, erected this straw-filled representation of a deity while it was still light outside, before setting it on fire once the sun had set. Creative Commons image by Bruce McAdam

Wildman-Hanlon described a rise in “cultural paganism — Wiccan wannabes who have read a book and been to a ritual or two.”

However, Fennell said, they also found that those who grew up with “seriously involved” pagan parents were more likely to stay with some form of a pagan spirituality.

Fennell, 33, found her own pagan identity in her college years — to her non-pagan parents’ dismay.

Now a “devout Wiccan,” she expects to celebrate Lammas this weekend munching on an anatomically correct gingerbread man. The cookie fits with the grain harvest theme of the holiday and the pagan view that is “actively positive about sexuality. Most of the world’s religions are not so cool with that,” Fennell said.

“I can’t think of anything in all of paganism where everyone would agree on what you are supposed to do for a celebration,” Fennell said. “There’s no one ‘handbook’ and even if there were, you might choose to ignore it. I love my disorganized religion.”

Mark Brown, 44, of St. Louis, whose father would speak of the “Old Ones” when Brown was young, said people grow up to discover paganism “either fits them or it doesn’t and they move on.”

“Our traditions make you responsible for your own path, your own learning. That’s a lot of hard work and some people decide it’s not for them,” said Brown. He’s a high priest in a Reconstructionist Celt tradition — an earth-centered spirituality that celebrates Celtic divinities.

Diana Rice once led a vibrant pagan group called The Fringe during Paganism's boom in the U.S. in the 1990s. Photo  Bonnie Jean Starr courtesy of Diana Rice.

Diana Rice once led a vibrant pagan group called The Fringe during paganism’s boom in the U.S. in the 1990s. Photo Bonnie Jean Starr courtesy of Diana Rice.

Diana Rice, 58, grew up loving anything with magic but never met a pagan until she was in her 20s. In the late 1980s, she enrolled in a class in Chapel Hill, N.C., on “moon mysteries.” She and some fellow students organized a group just as American interest in paganism began to boom in the late 1990s.

Nearly 3 million people now identify with those new religious movements under the overall umbrella of paganism or neo-paganism. They may self-identify as witches, Wiccan, Druid, heathen or follow any polytheistic or pantheistic tradition that holds the earth as sacred and sees masculine and feminine forms of divinity.

Rice’s group, The Fringe, or The Lunatic Fringe, lasted 16 years, peaking when there would be 50 to 60 people at rituals, before fading out in 2005.

“We would do cutting-edge stuff, like interacting with people embodying divine beings, to provoke thought and improve yourself. We didn’t just come to a spot and wave our arms around. It wasn’t just church in a circle, “ Rice recalled.

Today’s pagans are more passive, said Rice, who now celebrates privately.

Katrina Messenger, 58, a high priestess in a pagan group she named the Order of the Elemental Mysteries, blamed the ‘90s New Age boom for the generation gap in knowledge and participation.

Katrina Messenger, a high priestess in the Order of the Elemental Mysteries, will celebrate the August harvest festival of Lammas this weekend at the order's Washington, D.C., temple.

Katrina Messenger, a high priestess in the Order of the Elemental Mysteries, will celebrate the August harvest festival of Lammas this weekend at the order’s Washington, D.C., temple. Photo courtesy Katrina Messenger

Paganism has “gotten so big so fast, it outstrips our ability to pass on lore,” said Messenger. “Younger pagans are less familiar with even basic fairy tales like ‘Hansel and Gretel.’ If they know a fairy tale or myth, they know the Disney version unless maybe there’s a graphic novel about it,” said Messenger.

So, to educate pagans of any age, Messenger established her Reflections Mystery School and she organizes public rituals with Connect DC. She formed the group in 1999 to bring “magic, mystery and celebration” to the nation’s capital. Some rituals are done in public parks. Others are held in a room adjacent to her home, where there’s an altar that is redecorated each season, and a labyrinth path is cut into the front lawn.

Messenger believes first generation pagans should welcome newcomers, however rambunctious. “You can’t be like, ‘Hey kids, get off my lawn!’”

YS/AMB END GROSSMAN

67 Comments

  1. Very interesting. So their success and growth have given them challenges with respect to establishing a bedrock doctrine. This is fascinating. Traditional religions lament the same.

    Also interesting is that youth rejects those efforts simply because they are new and doctrine is not. No other reason except that. Sort of like the youth, each generation, has to re-learn by experience each time.

    • Lies,

      You wrote: “challenges with respect to establishing a bedrock doctrine.”

      So explain to me why anyone would want to establish a bedrock doctrine?
      I suspect that what you really mean is dogma.

    • “Traditional religions lament the same.” Really? As a Catholic I know that my church is going through a crisis that began with Vatican Council II. But bedrock dogma hasn’t changed. Moreover, the return to traditional worship-praxis in Catholicism is increasing especially among the young who are beginning to discover how much of real Catholicism was stolen from them by the Masons in the church. So, tell us then Nats, which “traditional religions” are lamenting the lack of bedrock dogma? The watered down, paganized protestant sects that allow the “ordination” of women, active homosexuals and other depraved individuals, that’s who. This also accounts for the rise in paganism. But many devout protestants are “going over” to the Catholic church. I’m afraid your entire comment sounds like an old fashioned 33 rpm record played backwards.

      • “Masons! women! Active homosexuals! Other depraved individuals!”

        Dude, I don’t think you’ve covered enough people to blame for the suckiness of your religion. Might I suggest reptilians from Nibiru, Jews from Qumran, Red China, the British monarchy, the Federal Reserve and – wait for it – the eeeeeevil Jesuits?

        Keep at it, I’ll get the popcorn.

  2. Howdy, Cathy!

    Enjoyed your story today on multi-generational Paganism. You have,
    indeed, put your finger on a “hot spot” for the modern Pagan movement. I
    think we are in the same “who are we?” and “how can we pass along our
    culture?” place that any new religious movement hits within a half-century of
    its founding. (cf CE 80 Christianity, for example).

    I’ve been a Pagan magazine publisher for over 25 years and we are seeing
    a modest upsurge after a severe downturn during the Great Recession. If
    you’d like to follow our subculture, you might want to check out the
    Witches&Pagans Facebook feed (212,000 “likes” and growing about 3000
    “likes” a week) or our blogosphere at www.witchesandpagans.com, or our
    just-launched newsfeed the PaganNewsBeagle (which will be featuring your
    story in about an hour)
    http://www.witchesandpagans.com/pagan-news-beagle.html.

    In any case, thanks for the thoughtful coverage of our community.

    Most sincerely yours,

    Anne Newkirk Niven
    Editor & Publisher
    SageWoman
    Witches&Pagans
    Crone: Women Coming of Age
    PaganSquare blogosphere

  3. Both Christmas and Easter are based on pagan traditions; yet many religious persons don’t have a problem observing them; and there does not appear to be a separation of church and state among many religious persons as well.

    • Giuesseppe Rocca

      The origin of Christmas is the birth of Jesus Christ. The origin of Easter is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. What pagan ever died and rose for anyone? What pagan ever guaranteed eternal life and a personal faith relationship with the living and loving God? Jesus Christ did these for everyone, including the pagans. See Matthew 11:28-30.

      • The Christian celebrations were made to link with Celtic celebrations in an attempt to please the ones who refused to convert. Easter was Ostara, the celebration of fertility and new life and Christmas was Yule, the celebration of birth.

        • Absolute nonsense. Typical of an unbelieving pagan. You people worship the earth, which is a trick of the devil. So, unbeknownst to many (but not all) of you fools, you worship the father of lies. In the Catholic church tradition is important because , for ex., the true dates of Christmas and especially Easter are accurately linked to the two most important days in human history: The birth and resurrection of the God-man, Jesus Christ! Easter is the first Sunday after the full moon of spring. That is because it happened during the Jewish Passover which occurs each year during the same astronomical link.

          • “First Sunday after the full moon of spring”. Nothing pagan in that statement. And… if you know anything about Biblical history (the actual history) the recorded Roman census, which is mentioned in the New Testament, puts Jesus’ birth in the springtime, which is why he was able to be born in a “stable” which was most likely a small cave, and placed in a manger without freezing. But please, by all means, continue making yourself look uneducated about your own religion. I personally love watching a bunch of little Christian children running around collecting colored eggs and waiting for the Easter bunny, as both eggs and rabbits are strongly sexual symbols (fertility festival!) As far as Christmas, it was not only linked with Yule, but also with the Roman holiday of Saturnalia, which was also a fertility festival. The Christmas Tree, the shepherd’s crook (candy cane), “Yule” Log, and many other supposedly Christian symbols were simply borrowed from early paganism. Many modern religions, including Catholicism, borrow from other sources. To claim otherwise, or condemn one religion for borrowing from another is just silly.

        • Actually, no. Easter coincides with Jewish Pascha, as Our Lord Jesus was crucified and died just before the Passover (therefore his body was to be take from the cross in haste before the Passover started).

          As to His birth: God, the Creator of the Universe, is the Lord of that Universe and uses the Creation to underline His work. St. John the Baptist was born six months before Him, when the Sun is in the highest point in the Northern Hemisphere. In John 3:30 he says: He must increase so He could increase. It is a very powerful statement.

          This is one of the reasons that Our Lord Jesus Christ’s birth occurred most likely on the 25 December. Another one, is beautifully explained in this article:
          http://www.agapebiblestudy.com/documents/dating%20the%20birth%20of%20jesus%20of%20nazareth.htm

          • @Anna,

            Why did John the Baptist decide to not follow Jesus as a disciple or apostle?

            Why do Mithras and dozens of other gods who predated Christianity share the same birthday as Jesus which happens to fall on the Winter Solstice just as the sun is beginning to rise to a higher place in the sky? Seems like a rather convenient man-made plan wouldn’t you say?

      • samuel Johnston

        Hi Giuesseppe,
        “The origin of Christmas is the birth of Jesus Christ”. The celebration of the Winter Solstice (the promise of Spring) is thousands of years older than any religion. Furthermore, no one knows the actual birthdate or birthplace “(no it is not Bethlehem nor Nazareth) of the person that the Greeks called Jesus (the new Testament was written in Greek).
        “The origin of Easter is the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” The celebration of the Spring Equinox is also thousands of years older than any religion.
        Try an encyclopedia. Your Bible is not a History book, but a book of testaments to “faith”. Many faithful folk are enthusiastic, but mistaken as to history.

        • Samuel you are not of the same intellectual quality as the famed Doctor Johnson. As I said above, Easter occurs on the first Sunday after the first full moon of Spring. When that full moon takes place, Spring has already come. The Equinox may have only taken place a few days before that full moon but Easter DOES NOT take place on the exact date of the Equinox on most years. The history of Easter as passed down in the New Testament -AND – in Catholic tradition, is real. Paganism is linked to the seasons, not Christianity. Pagan rituals– celebrations are delightful to the devil, the real source of all pagan nonsense.

          • Thank you, John. Of course the Christian holiday of Easter, the celebration of the resurrection, follows the Jewish Passover, which according to all the gospels is when the crucifixion and resurrection took place.

          • Sure, all that nonsense was coopted later from the popular culture, but that is different from the question of origin.

          • Animal fertility imagery from the “popular culture” as you call it being the polytheist Germanic and Latin cultures. That “nonsense” was part of pre-existing cultures essentially destroyed by Christians. Christians play it so coy when it comes to syncreatism.

        • Have you heard of a Jewish Passover? Christ was crucified a day before the Passover started and rose from the dead day after. Therefore, you are wrong by assuming that Eastern has anything to do with celebration of Spring Equinox. It has everything to do with the Jewish Passover. Christians celebrate Easter at the time the Jews celebrate Passover. Your encyclopedia was put together by ignorant and anti-Christian bias bunch of people.

          • You are obviously ignorant of the passover holiday.

            Passover, as called for in Leviticus IS SPECIFICALLY a Spring Equinox celebration. It serves a practical end to have it near the longest day of the year, especially when it is celebrated at sundown. By having Easter after Passover, it automatically relates to a holiday surrounding spring. Anna, you really have no idea what you are talking about.

            Eastern Orthodox Easter’s date is explicitly related to Passover. Catholic and Protestants just dance around it due to different calendar systems and basic refusal to reference Judaism directly.

            Easter imagery as popularized in Northern Europe is polytheistic in origin from the Romans and Germanic tribes.

      • Giusseppe,

        Is Jesus’ birthday or that of any servants of God specified in the Bible? No; as a matter of fact, the only birthdays celebrated that are mentioned in the Bible were of those who were NOT servants of God (Pharoah at Genesis 40:20-22 and Herod at Matthew 14:6-10, when John was beheaded).

        The early Christians viewed birthday celebrations in this way:

        “The notion of a birthday festival was far from the ideas of the Christians of this period in general.” (The History of the Christian Religion and Church, During the First Three Centuries (New York, 1848), Augustus Neander (translated by Henry John Rose), p. 190.

        “The later Hebrews looked on the celebration of birthdays as part of idolatrous worship, a view which would be abundantly confirmed by what they saw of the common observances with these days.” (The Imperial Bible-Dictionary ( London, 1874), edited by Patrick Fairbairn, Vol. I, p. 225.

        Even Ecclesiastes 7:1 says: “A name is greater than oil, and the day of death than the day of one’s being born.” Thus, it is how we lived our lives that is more important than when we were born!

        As to the origin of birthdays, please note:

        “The various customs with which people today celebrate birthdays have a long history. Their origins lie in the realm of magic and religion. The customs of offering congratulations, presenting gifts and celebrating –complete with lighted candles — in ancient times were meant to protect the birthday celebrant from the demons and to ensure his security for the coming year. … Down to the fourth century, Christianity rejected the birthday celebration as a pagan custom.” (Schwabische Zeitung (magazine supplement Zeit und Welt), April 3/4, 1981, p. 4.

        It should also be be noted that when shepherds were told by angels about the birth of Jesus, they went to Jerusalem to see him in the manger, and they did NOT bear him gifts (Luke 2:8-20). The astrologers bore Jesus gifts when he was a “young child in a home”, not a baby in the manger (Matthew 2:1-12) because they had heard he was to be King of the Jews.

        If you Google “origins of Christmas”, you will see the pagan origins of this holiday have been “adopted” by Christianity which has proven false to its power.

        As to the resurrection of Jesus, there is no instruction from Jesus to celebrate it. The only religious day we should memorialize every year is the memorial of his death, the Lord’s evening meal (Matthew 26:17-30), on behalf of a new covenant regarding the Kingdom of God. The day for this is Nisan 14 every year according to the Jewish calendar, as it was celebrated by Jesus and his disciples.

        As to Easter, the first definition in Webster’s Dictionary is: Name of pagan vernal festival almost coincidental in date with paschal festival of the Church. Then it is referred to as an annual Christian festival celebrating the resurrection of Jesus.

        The Encyclopedia Britannica comments: “There is no indication of the observance of the Easter festival in the New Testament, or in the writings of the apostolic Fathers. The sanctity of special times was an idea absent from the minds of first Christians.” — (1910), Vol. VIII, p. 828.

        The Catholic Encyclopedia tells us: “A great many pagan customs, celebrating the return of spring, gravitated to Easter. The egg is the emblem of the germinating life of early spring… The rabbit is a pagan symbol and has always been an emblem of fertility.” — (1913), Vol. 5, p. 227. And what, exactly, does this all have to do with the resurrection of Jesus, which he did not instruct us to memorialize?

        It is evident that birthdays, Christmas and Easter (along with other pagan holidays) were not celebrated by Jesus and his followers. We should follow their example.

    • They are not “based on pagan superstitutions.” Easter is timed to Passover, so it is based on Jewish tradition. In fact, Easter is called “Pascha” or some version of it in most languages – in English, the older non-Passover word became the name.

      Christmas is nine months after the Annunciation, when the angel of the Lord told Mary “surprise!” And the time of the Annunciation is timed off when she went to visit Elizabeth, whose husband’s priestly service can be settled pretty exactly based on Jewish law, history and calendar.

      Whether eggs and evergreens had pagan roots, I would say instead that all people can recognize a metaphor, a symbol, when they see one, and they have been used freely by more than religious group. Since they are not sacraments, nor is their use necessary for salvation, who cares where they came from? We can all share a pine tree – druids can worship it and Christians can decorate it.

      (If you are thinking of Samhain, which lines up with Halloween, then you are closer to being correct. The church co-opted the pagan holiday to remember the blessed dead, the holy souls, the martyrs.)

  4. samuel Johnston

    Historically speaking, there was simply no such thing as a “Pagan” religion. The term originated as an insult made by urban Roman Christians, directed at the country folk, who continued in their old ways. An excellent book on the subject is: “The Death of Classical Paganism” by John Holland Smith. (ISBN 0-684-1449-2)
    “The gods did not die of old age. The Christians assassinated them.” (page 6)

    • The “old gods” were demons and the angels defeated them as long as people, in general, lived as Christ layed out. Since we have not, those demons are coming back in the disguise of beauty and words that” tickle the ear”. All they do is use people who think the spirits work for them or that they have a former life, the ability to see things too far away or astral travel, etc. These are illusions. There are different paganisms, though, which fortunately don’t inspire sorcery or spiritualism. I think people have vulnerabilities they want to overcome with magic or sexual liberation–none of which brings libwety.

      BTW, which Christian calendar lands on a pagan celebration: the Julian or the Gregorian? They say that about the 25th, but we once went by the Julian and some still do. Why are pagans talking about a “Master Jesus” abd “Christ consciousness”, which have nothing to do with Jesus? Maybe we should say todat’s pagans are ripping off our faith? Also, pagans killed early Christians just talking about their faith and it was equally wrong when our later armed fellow Christians attacked weaker non-Christians, so cut the martyrdom act. People are as people are, but our lord preaches and acted out unto death a love others never will have been taught..

    • What baloney. That statement tells me all I need to know about John Holland Smith! An obvious Catholic hater and probable pagan or Unitarian. You pagans refuse to listen to reality and any scholarship not written by nonentities like this unknown, Smith character. You’re risking your souls! Eternity is a “LONG-LONG-TIME!” Why not throw off your pride, sit back in a quiet room and think about what you disbelieve. A little humility and sincere prayer to God and you’ll be surprised. But this pagan stuff is so foolish. Catholicism abolished the murderous Aztec cult in Mexico. I’ve been there and seen the carved images of their devil-God in their surviving temples. The pyramid of the sun was “dedicated” by the murder of 80,000 men who had their hearts removed while still beating by the “priests” of this demon worshipping horror. And you site Smith, who says “the gods of old did not die, they were assassinated!?” What cynical lunacy written by a soul dead liberal!

  5. Marcus Childers

    My mom practiced. Even once told me that mother nature is Gods wife. I was also taught chrisianity. Mom never forced a single thing. The other side said be like me. I grew up realized what my mom told me, broke from the chaos in me, and began the wise one path. I am not wise thou only a fool will say themselves wise. Do not think it is cause we loose belief! We (all who have the mind to.) can go our own way on our own decisions. Just be yourself choose your own path. He and Her are still with you.

  6. This article has given me some insite. Though I have not been traditionally raised pagan my step-mom introduced me to the old ones path when i was 13 although she also practises native american turtle magic, it gave my mind food for thought as i have grown older being born in the 90s and feeling it was a fad in high school i did not really out myself on my belief of wicca but I see now that I am 21 and still learning I’ve opened myself up to go down the path with a little more acceptance.

  7. Perhaps I’m mistaken (a possibility no atheist I’ve ever met would admit to in their own case), but it seems atheists reserve a special disdain for Christianity as measured against other religious beliefs. Could it be because atheism is primarily a western and enlightenment construct? And Christianity until lately has largely been accepted and propagated in the west. Or rather that, on the subconscious level atheists do not disbelieve at all, but are shielding themselves from what they do not wish to believe, but can’t help.

    • Its not Christianity, its Fundamentalist Christianity. The small vocal subset which believes it speaks for the entire faith, but doesn’t. Show me another group in the US which has used political clout to force others to live according their dogma?

      Fundamentalist Christians pose a threat to American society in a way no other faith does. They try to force their way into the apparatus of government (despite clear prohibitions on doing so), engage in sectarian discrimination, try to attack the civil liberties of others and even pose a threat to sane education and healthcare. If Christians like that were more willing to lead by example and live sterling lives rather than coerce others to do so, they would be far more respected.

        • Not as much as they used to be. Their heyday for really being taken seriously ended with WWII.

          Its amazing what a few scandals do to an organization’s public credibility. Plus at least we can count on them to be supportive of real science education, even when they try to undermine sane medicine and healthcare.

    • @diogenes,

      I do not believe in god. I do not claim gods are impossible, only that YOU have failed to convince me of YOUR god claim.

      Until such time as you care to convince me of your god or why I should consider it important – which you have never done – don’t claim additional nonsense; such as YOU think you know why Atheists cannot believe in your claims!

      If you know why I cannot believe in your god why are you wasting time by not addressing the matter??
      You failed to explain your god, and you are not even trying to demonstrate that he exists. Where is your Yahweh?

      Instead of beating up people for not believing, why not stop smashing the atheist china and fess up about how you know Yahweh exists?! Where is it?

      Where is this god you keep yammering about?

      The biggest most amazing thing in the history of all the universe and yet you can’t find a single shred to prove to me that he exists?

      Either show me this god or stop badgering us atheists – repeatedly telling me that I have to wear green pants
      because your leprechaun God says he will be offended if I wear something else is getting a little tiring.

      You love to tell people what they need to do because your God ‘commands it’ But you can’t seem to manage to explain who is this God you keep referring to or how you know it exists or why it is good and HOW you would even know that!

      Exasperating nonsense!

  8. Gotta love that oversized Blair Witch Project stick-figure. People, why are you messing with that mess? Do you even know what socket you’re plugging into?

    You are trying to make contact with a bunch of Brand X “divinities” with no ID card, a bunch of dog-pounders who are just looking for a free bone to chew on — namely, YOU!!

      • I hope neither of you ever feel the need to ask for respect or expect your religious views to be taken seriously. You guys certainly don’t do the same for others.

        • When lives are at stake, you don’t show respect by pretending that everything’s A-okay, Larry. Occult involvement is NOT okay for people’s spiritual and emotional well-being…and neither is getting involved with atheism, for that matter.

          • You don’t care about anyone’s life but your own. As posters go, you are one of the most malicious here.

            Unless you think those pagans can turn you into a newt, their beliefs are no less ridiculous than your own. You have some fairly ridiculous ideas. Then again, they aren’t demanding that you share their belief or trying to coerce you into it. Being the more courteous group, I would cut them a lot more slack than you.

    • Why not apply the same standard to your God
      that you apply to other gods?

      Has it ever occur to you that just as these pagans run around making claims they cannot answer you do the same exact thing ?!

      where is your God ? who are you to say that your one God is the right one when you have no better argument than the ‘pagans’ you criticize?

      The only healthy approach to these delusions
      is to be clear that these gods do not exist
      unless proven otherwise.

      No gods of any kind appear to exist.
      It is immoral to say otherwise until you have the evidence.

      • Larry and Max are not the sole audience on this forum, as to ‘proving’ God, there is an equal burden on both sides if one cares to pick it up, which is not a requirement of either side. Such proofs as could be offered would be unilaterally rejected regardless of substance by convoluted, irrational, falllacious (sic) logic. Max, I find it difficult to believe you ever were a genuine Christian. Larry, I would think an atheist would resent any religious expression regardless of origin, and an atheist is the last person to judge between doctrines and practices of any religious faith, but here’s a scripture even you can interpret; ‘The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.”

        • “as to ‘proving’ God, there is an equal burden on both sides ”

          No there isn’t.

          That is what people say when they know they can’t prove a thing but still want to be taken seriously. The burden of proof is always on the person making the claim. If you claim God exists, you have to prove it.

          “Larry, I would think an atheist would resent any religious expression regardless of origin…”

          Not at all. To each their own. I am a firm believer in religious freedom. Part of that belief is that I don’t have to care what you believe in. You don’t have to care what I believe in.

          I don’t concern myself with the beliefs of others unless they make it my concern: ie try to give their religious views color of law or use religious belief as an excuse to act badly to others or use religious belief to promote intentional falsehood.

          • And make no mistake Larry: your atheism is one of those intentional falsehoods. It cannot even account for your own existence, it is counter-intuitive all by itself, and it is rationally unsupportable (which is why you necessarily insist on shifting the burden of proof).

          • There you go Doc, proving my point. You draw my ire because you use your religious belief as an excuse to act badly to others.

            Hurling insults at the beliefs of others yet expecting me to take your seriously because….Jesus.

            “It cannot even account for your own existence, ”

            I think, therefore I am.

            I have proven my existence and I didn’t invoke supernatural hoodoo to do it. :)

        • @Diogenes,

          You said, “there is an equal burden on both sides”

          That is nonsense.

          1. I MADE NO CLAIM.
          You are the one making a claim – not me.
          Where is this god of yours? I’m open to seeing it… SHOW ME!

          2. SHOULDN’T YOU DISPROVE ZEUS, THOR, OSIRIS AND ISIS BEFORE YOU CLAIM YAHWEH EXISTS? NEVERMIND – SHOW YOUR GOD – AND IT BETTER BE YAHWEH!

          3. How do you know it intercedes in humanity (as you claim)?
          What are you basing this on?

          4. Where is your evidence that this god is only one god (as you claim)?

          5. How do you KNOW (as you claim) that only one God exists?

          God IS YOUR PROBLEM. Not mine.
          Things that are claimed without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

        • I was a Jesus-loving Catholic for 44 years. Raised my children in the church and even taught some sunday school!

          Former believers are the ANGRIEST ATHEISTS you will ever find.

          The profound sense of being duped
          is easy to get over
          compared to the discovery that Christianity is breathtakingly selfish, solipsistic, self-centered, cruel, fundamentally dishonest and profoundly evil.

          Yes, you are a sucker (AS I WAS).

          Too bad for you that you don’t take the advice of someone like me and actually question this insipid, hollow garbage.

          Jesus is one of the most evil things ever invented.

        • samuel Johnston

          Re:
          ‘The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.”
          Wasn’t this a song by that murdering adulterer, David?
          “Anything too stupid to be said, is sung.” Voltaire

  9. “I think, therefore I am.”

    Oh, that’s a good one, Larry. You don’t even realize that the famous philosophical statement of fact you quoted there, directly originated from a CHRISTIAN argument of God’s existence (Descartes), NOT any atheism-beliefs at all.

    But here you are, borrowing that same statement for yourself, without even acknowledging its Christian theistic point of origin.

    Look. For all you know of me, I could indeed be Snively Whiplash or Dick Dastardly. Just a plain ole no-good-nik, sure sure.

    But here’s the stark reality for you Larry: Even if I was indeed such a villain, it would NOT change the fact that your current belief system of Atheism, is RATIONALLY UNSUPPORTABLE and TOTALLY UNABLE to even account for your existence, let alone your innate ability to THINK, to make moral or aesthetic or rational free-will choices at all.

    You atheism cannot account for any of those realities. Care to disprove that fact, dude? You cannot. We both know it.

    Atheism and paganism are FALSEHOODS. Period. How about plugging into Jesus Christ instead?

    • @doc,

      So here is your argument:

      “I don’t know how the cosmos began
      I don’t know how life began
      And I don’t know where humans came from
      Therefore I KNOW!
      A GOD DID IT!”

      Which god?
      How many gods?
      How did they do it?

    • I co-opted Descartes and boy you did not see that one coming. ;)

      Descartes had little use for the religious dogma you love so much. His concept of God is a lot more theoretical and idealized than your version. Not much Christianity as you know it in there. Some even call him a proto-atheist. Belief in God yes, but your brand of ignorant irrational hoodoo, nope.

      The stark reality is that you never had a clue what you were talking about whenever you reference atheism. It doesn’t take a rational mind to throw up your hands, and say “God did it”. Just a supremely lazy one. In many cases with you, a dishonest and malicious one.

  10. You are indeed correct that Descartes wasn’t really into Christianity. He loved rationalism stuff. But here’s where YOU are pinned down: In order to get to his philosophical goals, Descartes felt compelled to offer a CHRISTIAN theistic argument for God’s existence.

    “Given Descartes’ hyperbolic deference to skeptical doubt, it is understandable why he devotes the third Meditation to proving God’s existence. Descartes needs to prove that the
    traditional Christian God exists in order to be able to meaningfully implement his clearness and distinctness criteria (his certainty criterion) of knowledge.”

    “That is to say, until he has established the existence of not only a non-deceptive God, but one that is also omnibenevolent, any thing that he can clearly and distinctly perceive, and which he wishes to claim as knowledge, will necessarily be defeated by the Evil Genius hypothesis introduced at the end of the first Meditation.”
    – Torrey Wang, “Descartes’ Three Proofs of God’s Existence”, 2012.

    • Lack of viable alternatives which would not get one executed. Government established churches were never known to be the tolerant types. They put out death warrants for people of differing Christian sects, let alone compete abandonment of religion altogether. Descartes simply assumed God as a given, but made no effort to explain or prove his existence.

      It took at least a century before David Hume coud safely call Descartes out on his unfounded assumptions of the existence of God. Few were willing to really delve into how lazy, self reflexive and empty Descartes argument for the existence of God really was.

  11. As some one who is a 4th Generation Ozark Witch, my wife and i are raising our child to be of the old faith, since the time of being in womb i have read the stories and lore to our child, like wise once born had done so as well. Even my step-daughter who wasn’t initially of the faith, had come into it as being natural. as such since the old faith really does in compass all of your life in every waking moment of your day as apposed to being something only done on high days. it is a living fluid faith with deep rich and wonderful stories legends myths and the like. for me and mine it is a natural thing to teach our children these things as it is apart of us and want to share. My step-daughter after her own informed decision had become dedicated to and Blessed in the faith. having even gone back to the old country to be Blessed upon the holy isle. Yes we do inform on the other world faiths, i my self do believe in keeping the stories myths and legends and oral lore alive and passed on, in that way it is always there. in one way or another if it is done and properly passed deeply ingrained the next generation shall return to the faith if they do try on another faith. for our old ways are deep within and never go away as they are in the blood.

  12. samuel Johnston

    YOU ARE ALL GOING TO HELL!!!!

    (Sorry, that just slipped out.)

    Proof? We don’t need no stinkin’ proof!

    My preacher said it- God told him-and I believe it.

    (I live in fear – the end is near, so we won’t be here -much longer.
    Praise Jesus! I am saved, so I can rave, this nonsense.

  13. Some people own God, and command him to do as they will. Others don’t. And some even dare to question why there are a multitude of religions, and a multitude of Christianities, all hurling “You lie” at each other. Ho hum. Religionistas, I suspect, are the people my parents warned me against when they trued to raise me to do the right thing.

    • Morality is doing what is right no matter what you are told.
      Religion is doing what you are told no matter what is right.

      “bring to me those enemies of mine who would not have me as their King and execute them in front of me.” – Jesus.

      Religion is garbage.

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