Showing posts with label theism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label theism. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Atheism: Demand Evidence, Accept None


The point of this post is philosophical discussion, not hate, prejudice, bigotry or intolerance. There are atheists who have been friends with me for years, and I've always believed that everyone has the inherent human right to their own worldviews. But I'm also a philosopher, and I think that sometimes civil discussion and debate is good for everyone. Besides, I'm a devoted Hellenist, and thus it would be completely out of such character for me to resent another person simply because they don't have the same beliefs as myself. My philosophy is that as long as you are not hurting anyone, it's your own business how you live.

Atheists generally demand that we show them evidence of Gods, if we want them to accept their existence. Of course, for a Hellenist, we don't care who believes in the Gods or not. They're unaffected by humans, and we don't feel a need to validate our belief system with imposition. We're very liberal people in those regards. But recently, I got into an online discussion with some atheists and was again asked for this evidence. The thing is, though, I realized it would be a moot point. So I simply stated my views on the subject at hand and moved on. In fact, I haven't made it even a remote habit of arguing with atheists, or anyone else who doesn't share my beliefs, for the simple reason that atheists know they're not going to accept the evidence they ask for.

For example, if I bought a lottery ticket and prayed to a God that I win but lost, the atheist would count that as evidence that the God either doesn't exist or doesn't care. But if I prayed and won, the atheist would say it's just coincidence, there must be another explanation, it doesn't prove anything. They may ask for evidence for the sake of remaining under the title of open mindedness, but it's really just a routine when we think about it. Atheism can hold just as much confirmation bias as any other system or individual may be able to. Because in the lottery ticket example, the atheist absolutely counts evidence that backs up their already held views, but not any to the contrary. It has never mattered how many times in my life I was able to show that I received life-saving help when I asked the Gods, atheists have never accepted any of it, no matter how compelling or how ridiculous it would be to call it all a continuous coincidence.

The bigger picture is that no one, atheist or not, changes their beliefs simply because someone else tells them to do so, or presents evidence that challenges said beliefs. I think of people who refuse to accept any evidence of evolution no matter how much it can be proven, or people who think the Earth is flat no matter how many pictures they see of its sphere, or even voters who still believe in trickle down economics regardless of the fact that it's been a complete failure. Determination, confirmation bias, and even negative suspicion of others, keeps many people secure in their ideas, and no one thinks they are such a person. 

There may be some exceptions like there are to every rule, but generally speaking, the only time people change their beliefs is through personal choice, experience and revelation. The worst fear a person has is thinking that something they have been dedicated to for so long, or that they were so sure was right, might be incorrect.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Thinking You're A God: Disappointment and Destruction

I've always been a person to never care what others believe, or how they see themselves, as long as they don't bother me. In other words, if they're impacting no life but their own, I couldn't care less; it's their own business and their right. However, that doesn't mean I can't still have an opinion about one belief or another. For example, I have talked about how bankrupt Christianity is quite often, but I still think Christians have the right to practice their religion. Just because I disagree with it, doesn't mean I hold malice or negativity toward the person(s).

One thing I have grown very weary of is people who think they are Gods, or that they are Gods in their own right, and they exist in many communities, but largely, they can be found in Paganism. Now I'm not talking about the belief in Divine favor. There is a difference between saying, "I am blessed by the Gods, or, I am part of the blessed creation of the Gods," and, "I am a God." The former simply acknowledges you as a worthy individual who is part of the cosmos that the Gods create and govern. The latter, however, implies that you are the God themselves, or a God individually, and therefore have the same Divine power and authority.

Not only is this just foolish and arrogant for a mortal to think, it's also dangerous. I think that once humans convince themselves that they are Gods of any sort, they end up also deciding that they are subject to no authority but their own, and can therefore do whatever they want, even to other human beings. I think it lays groundwork for great harm. Think of the story of Phaethon. He was even allegedly born of a God, but was too mortal to control the Sun chariot that he so desired to ride. In short, Phaethon wanted to take the place of the Sun God, and ended up not only dying, but nearly killing every other human around. Humans are not given Divine power for good reason. 

And even if such a person who fancies themselves a God doesn't end up doing harm to others, I gather that eventually, the Gods will give them a good lesson in humility, which is their own choice, but I would still advise against it. Consider the story of Arachne. She was a mortal weaver of amazing talent who considered herself to be even greater than the Gods, namely Athena, who taught her a grave lesson in who a God is, and who a God isn't. Literally, Athena tells us to know who is God and who is not. We must acknowledge this for our own sake. Even if the Gods do not teach us a lesson, we will end up destroying our own selves. Now yes, some of the ancient Heroes eventually became Gods, but that was after their death and their rise to that stage by the favor of the Gods themselves. In short, after their rise to a higher state of enlightenment, and some of those Heroes were already considered to be half-God in the first place due to their Divine parentage.

The biggest thing to understand, I think, is that you don't have to be a God. You are a blessed human being, and as such, you have your own distinct abilities and even mortal powers. Each being in and of the Universe has their place, and within that place, they can wield great influence in their own respect. Simply because you're not a God, doesn't mean you're weak.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?

It's the age old question, still asked by those who believe in the Gods today. Why is my life so hard? Why do these things happen to me? How come a politician who makes a living hurting people gets to live in a mansion while I live in an apartment and have never hurt anyone? I myself have asked these questions many times, but only today have I arrived at a revelation, if you will, about it all.

My wife and I have been together for 10 years this year, and not without more than our share of problems, or at least I think so. We've had things to worry us to death, scare us to death, throw our family for loops, and keep us up at night. There were even times when we thought our family was going to be over. You would not believe some of the immense hardships we have had to face in this life. But what I realized today is that we have prevailed over it all in the end. No matter how hard or hopeless it has been, no matter how much we have cried and wanted to punch the world, we have defeated every enemy against us and triumphed over every injustice thrown against us, civilian or governmental. We have nearly faced it all and won. Every. Single. Time.

I have no answer to the age old question, and I don't know if I ever will. Sometimes, the wisest response is I don't know. But there is one thing that I do know with all certainty. The Gods will bring you through it all. I am telling you with the most sincerity that a human heart and mind can muster, let the Gods lead you into battle and you will never succumb. Even when in the midst of the conflict all may seem lost, wait until the end is said and done.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Religion Is A Rescue, Not A Downfall

Most people in the world are religious, or are at least theists, in one form or another. In any case, spirituality itself is certainly a dominant, and natural human trait. We are born with schema, the natural mental construct of looking for patterns and meanings, and therefore Higher Powers. We are born looking for Gods and Goddesses, born with an inherent desire to find Deity. Religion is simply a system established around any one of those given pursuits. Like all good things, religions can be perverted, but in its correct self, being religious, spiritual, and knowing Deity is one of the greatest blessings ever given to humanity.

Those who hate religion will often paint any wrongdoing by religious people on the biggest billboard they can find. However, they never talk about all the people who turned from suicide or crime because they found religion. They refuse to bring to light those religious people who created the greatest civilizations in history, and those people who were among the greatest humanitarians and peace-loving individuals in the world. They don't talk about the fact that the founders of the sciences that we still practice today were theists. Sometimes, they won't even mention that the vast majority of religious people are in fact good and upstanding. There's a reason they don't bring up any of it, because this hate, like any form of hatred, is about promoting an agenda of prejudice and bias.

I'll tell anyone truly, if the Gods and their religious and spiritual principles hadn't been in my life all these years, I don't know if I'd still be alive or living in any form of stability. Hellenism has instilled an immense sense of piety, honor, and morality that I didn't have beforehand, no matter how many other positive influences were around me. There was a time in the past when I didn't see anything wrong with lying to people or cheating them. I didn't feel any reason to have an inherent respect for other people or even their properties and rights. Like some, I thought, It's only wrong if you get caught or It doesn't matter as long as it's not happening to me, or if I benefit from it.

I came to realize through the Gods and their guidance that it does matter if you live your life without honor and dignity, that it does make a difference how you treat others and if bad things become of those around you, not only because they are humans too, but because the same might happen to you if its allowed to continue. It matters because attitudes like mine were not only those that destroy the person holding them, but also are the ones that allow all injustices to flourish in the world. How we live as human beings will determined ourselves and our planet. There are some universal rights and wrongs, whether we like it or not, and connecting with Higher Powers or higher purpose helps bring it all into perspective and understanding, because the Highers are the ultimate orders, as in the stable structure and balance. That's why being religious has brought so many people back from chaos.

Even the simple peace that being Hellenic has given me has allowed me to keep up successful battles against things that commonly destroy humans, like depression and fear. Without my Gods and my religion, I'd have nothing to turn to for supreme trust and power. Where would I be? I don't want to wonder.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Monday, November 19, 2018

How To Build Private Prayer Space For All Purposes

Polytheists and Pagans like being private people. The number of solitary practitioners is one of the highest denominations, if you will, in the community. In some Pagan Paths, like Wicca, it's even drawn controversy as to whether or not it's even legitimate for a Wiccan to be without a Coven. So those of us who enjoy our alone time with the Gods and our spirituality are massive. When I built my own entirely private altar just a few days ago, I wasn't even in the market for it when I stumbled upon the marvelous items for it at a local Goodwill store, but I'm always on the lookout for new stuff I can use and design for my pursuits in life. Originally, I went to Goodwill that day because I always try to buy a little something I like each time I get paid, so I was looking for nice decorations for my home.

As you can see from the first picture on the right, I assembled a private altar very nicely, facing the direction of the rising Sun each morning. Of course, the lower wooden stand is the altar for prayer, sacrifice and even festival celebrations for a particular God when necessary. In the center is the incense burner which is the common offering at this altar, on the left a relief of Eos (Goddess of the dawn) and on the right Hemera (Goddess of the day), over shadowed by a golden, metal reef of flowers. At the very top is a central wall niche to finish. The total price for all of it was about $16. That's the reason I always tell Pagans to search for religious items at thrift stores and antique shops. You can find absolutely wonderful things that cost virtually nothing.

Now the altar is for universal purpose. In other words, prayers, worship and rituals regarding any God(s), Spirit(s) or Hero(es) I want at any given time. But there may also be times to focus on one particular Divinity, such as for a festival or personal need, and that's what the wall niche at the top is for. As you can see from the picture on the left, if time comes for this direct focus, I just place a statue, picture or symbol of the God, Spirit or Hero on there. For example, Hephaistos in this picture, and for the purpose of, let's say, celebrating His festival on October 30th called Khalkeia. In this instance, my private prayer space can transform into a temporary altar or small temple or sanctuary of Hephaistos. When the celebrations are finished, I simply take the statue back to the original place I took it from, and the altar then returns to universal purpose. One of the best things about this space besides how cheap it was to make it, is that it does not take up much room at all. It's barely one yard across, and about two yards high.  The lower wooden section also has a lower shelf that can be used for things like prayer and ritual books, solid offerings, libation bowls, and/or to house relics of Gods or Heroes. With this small and very affordable establishment I have built in my own private living space, I can do all things religious that I need to in terms of worship and ritual. 

Don't be afraid to go out and try this for yourself if you need something like I have built, or perhaps more importantly, if you think something like this would be the most practical for you at this time. There is always more than one way to be Pagan.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Plato's Cave Is Not An Atheist Revelation, It's A Longing For The Gods

The Analogy of Plato's Cave has fascinated many different kinds of people and groups, and continues to influence our imaginations and philosophies to this day. Everyone seems to draw their own interpretation based on whatever area of interest they want to insert into the opening. Atheists in particular enjoy using it as an argument against theism, suggesting that the shadows on the walls are illusions of Gods made by men for the sake of holding people in control, and that to break out into the light of the day is to become atheistic. This has grown to be a dominant interpretation, or at least one used among the most often. However, this is not the case at all. 

In our examination, we must first begin with the clear fact that Plato was no atheist, and neither was Socrates. And secondly, that they also clearly believed in the Greek Gods. Not only were they theists, but polytheists. This makes Plato's Cave a little more revealing because caves were sometimes considered precincts of Gods themselves; starting points of holy and sacred places of worship and wisdom. People who went into these caves did not go there to be chained or shown illusions, but rather, to connect with the Gods.

When Plato talks about the shadows and illusions of the cave being all that men are shown, what he's saying is that there is only so much that the human mind can perceive about life and this world, that it's not possible for humans to know everything. Our capacity is limited in many respects. However, to come out into the light, or into the Sun which was considered a God that touched all things and descends from the realm of the Divine, is to be able to see more through the wisdom and guidance of the Higher Powers of the world, aka the Gods. Plato's Cave is actually something which suggests that, without the Gods, without the guidance of the Higher Powers above, man is bound to nothing more than what his own eyes can see, which is sometimes shadows at best. Humans are extremely bound to a limited perception, and it is by the light of the Gods that we see more. 

Plato and Socrates were men who not only understood man's lack of knowledge when relying entirely on himself, but also, as Socrates put it, I know that I know nothing. The Cave is a reflection of this unknowing that man still possesses in many ways to this very day. We come out of the darkness and into the light through the Gods who know all things, and it is this natural light from above that allows us to not only be free of our chains, but to actually see where we are going. It gives direction to our lives, and therefore meaning and purpose. The biggest problem, which is also elaborated on in the Cave, is that there are some in the Cave who are content with the ignorance and don't want to move, even becoming hostile toward those who try to set them free. The reason for this is because, even today, in many subjects, men are content with what they want to believe and how they want to see the world. This is especially revealed in things like politics, where millions of people will support their candidate no matter what they do, or what surrounds them. The facts are irrelevant, and therefore, they are content with the images they are shown. They simply don't want their worldview to be upset, as is the case with some of the Cave inhabitants. This isn't a slap at spirituality, it's simply an acknowledgement of the sloth and confirmation bias of the human mind. We would often rather be comfortable in our beliefs, than working for the truth.

To come out of the darkness and into the light of the Gods, is to gain the capacity for philosophy, personal examination, free thought, and a liberated life. The Gods wish for no one to be chained. They gave us a mind so we could think and live. To be a philosopher is to love wisdom, and as Plato said, "Love is the joy of the good, the wonder of the wise, the amazement of the Gods." To love wisdom is to seek truth, and as Plato also said, "Truth is the beginning of every good to the Gods, and of every good to man."

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Friday, May 18, 2018

When The Gods Hear You, You Know It

Moving is highly stressful, not to mention all of the financial dealings you have to go through. But, here I am again, about to move an hour and a half away from my present home to the region of Rockton and South Beloit, Illinois. Since my wife and I have been together, we have moved every year since 2009 up until 2015, when we settled in Elizabeth, IL up to this present date. Why are we moving again, you might ask? Well, human migration really hasn't changed that much since the old days. We used to move where the herds went. Now, we move where the jobs are, such as in my case. I have really enjoyed Elizabeth and the surrounding region, but when it comes down to it, there are just no prosperous jobs here. So my wife landed one out to the east of the state. There's also far more opportunity in our new area for the temple that I run. The hardest part, however, is that you know that moving a house is Tartaros on Earth; no one in the right mind wants to, or enjoys it. The last time, I moved the entire apartment alone, with nothing more than a hand truck and a moving van. Perhaps after I die, I will be the Hero of Movers, or the Patron of Toilsome Endeavors, or something like that.

Some time ago, I was lounging in my car at the park in Stockton, Illinois, thinking about all my stresses, worries and fears. Sometimes, life becomes too hard to deal with on our own, and that's when the Gods are there. My wife told me in the past, "Sometimes, you have to just give it up to the Gods." I tilted my head back, closed my eyes, and began to pray to Athene for strength, and Hermes for success in the move. When the Gods hear you, you know it, because a smothering blanket of peace and love came over me, complete calmness and delight. My troubles troubled me no more. I knew things were going to be ok one way or another, there was nothing to fear. There is nothing that can hold rule over me so long as the Gods are by my side.

The peace simply came in knowing that they heard me. Absolutely nothing had happened yet in regards to the move. We had not even found a new home. But I knew the Gods heard my words, a simple common man, and that alone was enough. Their power and presence is beyond amazing. There are no words which a human mouth or hand can use to describe it. The best I can say is that, when you're in the presence of the Gods, goodness is all that exists there.

In the Goodness of the Gods.
Chris Aldridge.

Friday, July 14, 2017

If The Gods Care, Why Is My Life So Hard?

Why do bad things happen to me if there are Gods who care?

It's one of the oldest questions in the book, even asked by some Hellenists today who are having a difficult time with life. I by no means pretend to have the answers to life and the universe. Sometimes, the wisest thing you can say is, "I don't know." But in my own life, I have had no shortage of bad or seemingly bad experiences and tough times throughout all of my years on this Earth.

I was born into poverty, physically and mentally abused growing up, bullied in school, failed grades, lost several close relationships, lost jobs, worked ones I despised, lost my vehicles, had a son born severely premature, and ended up losing everything I had ever known living in North Carolina all together when my home was taken from my family and I left the state to pursue a better life. For years, I also suffered from severe depression and anxiety disorder. Only recently have I found medication and therapy that have quelled the issues. So do not take me for someone who has had a good life and is trying to tell others in bad situations that life's not so bad. I'm not the born-billionaire telling the trailer park that they can make it if they try. Believe me, I have had no easy life. Quite likely, I understand what you're going through. 

But I also still sincerely believe in and love the Gods. No matter how hard things have gotten, I have never cursed or turned on them. Ever. And what I've noticed is that things progressively improved for me because I am always inviting in the blessed presence of the Gods. We don't worship the Gods because they need or demand it. We don't do it to satisfy them. They can get along perfectly fine without us. We connect with the Gods to bring bliss into our lives. The more we do things to take ourselves out of the presence of the Gods, the worse things get. I know this also from personal experience. As I have said before, I used to be an extremely negative and angry person, and bad things kept happening to me left and right, because that negativity and hate was keeping me out of the presence of the Gods who are always positive and joyous.

When looking at our lives, I think the first question we have to ask ourselves is, What is bad? Often, what we may perceive as bad or a struggle is actually working out for a greater good. It can be impossible to see at times, but it may indeed be the case. When I left North Carolina, for years I thought I had made the worst mistake of my life. And indeed, I asked the Gods, Why did you let this happen to me? But now, the reality of my family's situation has been made clear. If we had remained where we were, my son and our family would have greatly suffered financially and in the educational system. North Carolina jobs don't pay as well, there's basically no protection for workers and minorities, and healthcare access can be a stand-up comedy. The educational system also wouldn't have worked as well with my son's special needs. Living in Illinois has brought us a great deal of help and opportunity that we would have otherwise probably not had. So while my situation for many years seemed like a terrible disaster, it was actually for the best that we went through that journey.

Speaking of journeys brings me to my next discussion on the matter, purpose. Aristotle said that nature does nothing without need, and the Gods control nature. Therefore, we can also say that the Gods do nothing without need. In giving us life, they gave it for a reason. In our struggles as well as our triumphs, we find meaning, purpose and wisdom in life. If the Gods just gave us every single thing and didn't allow us to actually strive and experience, there would be no purpose to human life, and thus, we ourselves would have no purpose. The things we experience in life are part of that journey and that purpose. It's like when we go through schooling. Some classes are easy, others are very hard, but they all teach us what we need to know, and we are the better for it. My experiences in life have helped me understand what it means to be poor, to feel empathy for people who are abused and mistreated, to seize opportunity, and to be grateful for the things I have instead of squandering them. Had I grown up rich and privileged, there's no way I could have possibly understood those struggles or the people who go through them. It has actually made me wiser and more humane.

As humans, we are very reactive creatures, and we're so quick to categorize things into joy and sorrow, success and failure, or good and bad. Because it's so easy for us to seek the extremes of something. And we are so quick to assume that the Gods don't care about us even at the slightest sign of trouble. I don't believe any evil comes from the Gods. Democritus said that the Gods give all good things. They are the ultimate good in the universe, the order against the chaos, and in some cases, that battle still rages today. That's why we invoke the Gods in our times of need, because we understand that any evil or harm that is happening to us, isn't coming from them. Deep down, we know that, and we know we have seen them answer us in the past. I certainly have. My son is alive today because the Gods cared. Otherwise, we wouldn't pray to them for rescue, and the more we bring that ultimate goodness into our lives, I can say from experience, the better chance we have of life getting better. 

Pray to them every day, and delight in all the beautiful things around you that they have given. When you learn to look, you will see the love of the Gods. You will see it in the bright sunshine on your face, the fresh breeze in the air, the soft grass beneath your feet, the beautiful smell of the flowers, the shimmering fields and towering forests, the peaceful flow of the passing streams and rivers, the children playing happily, and the friends and family who dearly love you. This part of life can be hard, but the Gods are not against you. If they were, you wouldn't be here. And if you choose to live a life where you hate the Gods, or where you serve them one day and spit on their statues the second something doesn't go your way, you're never going to experience their full goodness in your life. And if you choose to always look at the bad side of things instead of finding good and the inherent purpose of all that comes to you, you'll never be happy or successful.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris.

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