Posts Explaining Metaphorical Paganism

Organization: Penn State University

Date: Fri, 25 Mar 1994 20:01:11 EST

From: John A. Johnson <>

Message-ID: <>

Newsgroups: alt.atheism.moderated

Subject: Paganism,Pantheism,Atheism [Was:Re: Paganism/Atheism]

References: <2mskbh$36j@darkstar.UCSC.EDU>

In article <2mskbh$36j@darkstar.UCSC.EDU>, (Christopher

John Arnold) says:

[paganism and atheism can be compatible]

Yes, indeed. Of course, as Arnold points out, it depends on how one

defines paganism and atheism. It seems to me that the meaning of:

"Everything is god" (pantheistic paganism) cannot be distinguished from

"Nothing is god" (atheism). That's why we occasionally get posts like

we did earlier this month on the relevance of pantheists like Spinoza

for atheists. For your further reading enjoyment, here is a reprint

of an exchange on this subject that occurred back in November 1992.

------------------------repost follows-------------------------------

Organization: Penn State University

Date: Sun, 22 Nov 1992 22:19:17 EST

From: John A. Johnson <>

Message-ID: <>

Newsgroups: alt.atheism

Subject: Re: Paganism & Atheism

References: <1ecr1vINN664@usenet.INS.CWRU.Edu> <>

<> <>

In article <>,

(sven hauptfeld) says:


>In article <> John A. Johnson <>



>>I consider myself an atheistic pagan, so I beg to differ here.

>>As far as I am concerned, gods and goddesses are metaphorical

>>personifications of aspects of nature. What follows is a repost

>>detailing my position.


>>Anyone else out there in paganland consider themselves a "metaphorical

>>pagan?" I don't believe in supernatural deities, but I'm in love with

>>nature and mythology. I've been "worshipping" nature gods through

>>rituals for some 20 years now--not because I believe in the magickal

>>efficacy of the rituals, but rather for the feeling of connectedness

>>to nature and to human prehistory.


>>John A. Johnson (


>You do not worship. You "worship".


>Therefore, you are not a pagan. You are a "pagan".

Precisely!!! Because I am a metaphorical pagan, I am a "pagan."

But by the duck principle, it would be quite difficult to distinguish

me from someone who is a pagan-without-quotation-marks. Furthermore,

Margot Adler describes my brand of paganism as perfectly valid form of

the same.


>I think the Bible is a very interesting and inspiring book. That doesn't make

>me Xian. I think Greek myths are very good ethical reading. Doesn't make me

>worship Greek gods. I look forward to reading Qur'an when I find time. Won't

>convert me to Islam. I am fascinated by Lao-Tzu's writings. I'm not a Taoist.

>I think we can learn a lot from Zen Buddhism. But why accept it religiously?


>There is a difference between (respecting, studying, enjoying) and


Sven, are you always this grouchy, or are you having a bad day?

My word processor's thesaurus brings up the following nine terms for worship:

honor, respect, revere, venerate, adore, adulate, deify, glorify, and idolize.

The first five describe quite well the way I worship nature.


John A. Johnson (

Atheistic, metaphorical, Taoist-pagan.

Penn State is not responsible for my behavior.

"A ruthless, doctrinaire avoidance of degeneracy is a degeneracy of

another sort. Getting drunk and picking up bar-ladies and writing

metaphysics is a part of life." - from _Lila_ by R. Pirsig

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October 22, 1995