Christian existentialism is a theo-philosophical movement which takes an existentialist approach to Christian theology. The school of thought is traced back to the work of the Danish philosopher and theologian Søren Kierkegaard; the existential approach to Christian theology has a long and diverse history including Augustine, Aquinas and Maritain. Christian existentialism relies on Kierkegaard's understanding of Christianity. Kierkegaard argued that the universe is fundamentally paradoxical, that its greatest paradox is the transcendent union of God and humans in the person of Jesus Christ, he posited having a personal relationship with God that supersedes all prescribed moralities, social structures and communal norms, since he asserted that following social conventions is a personal aesthetic choice made by individuals. Kierkegaard proposed that each person must make independent choices, which constitute his existence; each person suffers from the anguish of indecision until he commits to a particular choice about the way to live.
Kierkegaard proposed three rubrics with which to understand the conditions that issue from distinct life choices: the aesthetic, the ethical, the religious. One of the major premises of Kierkegaardian Christian existentialism entails calling the masses back to a more genuine form of Christianity; this form is identified with some notion of Early Christianity, which existed during the first three centuries after Christ's crucifixion. Beginning with the Edict of Milan, issued by Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 313, Christianity enjoyed a level of popularity among Romans and among other Europeans, and yet Kierkegaard asserted that by the 19th century, the ultimate meaning of New Testament Christianity had become perverted, Christianity had deviated from its original threefold message of grace and love. Another major premise of Kierkegaardian Christian existentialism involves Kierkegaard's conception of God and Love. For the most part, Kierkegaard equates God with Love. Thus, when a person engages in the act of loving, he is in effect achieving an aspect of the divine.
Kierkegaard viewed the individual as a necessary synthesis of both finite and infinite elements. Therefore, when an individual does not come to a full realization of his infinite side, he is said to be in despair. For many contemporary Christian theologians, the notion of despair can be viewed as sin. However, to Kierkegaard, a man sinned when he was exposed to this idea of despair and chose a path other than one in accordance with God's will. A final major premise of Kierkegaardian Christian existentialism entails the systematic undoing of evil acts. Kierkegaard asserted that once an action had been completed, it should be evaluated in the face of God, for holding oneself up to divine scrutiny was the only way to judge one's actions; because actions constitute the manner in which something is deemed good or bad, one must be conscious of the potential consequences of his actions. Kierkegaard believed that the choice for goodness came down to each individual, yet Kierkegaard foresaw the potential limiting of choices for individuals who fell into despair.
Christian Existentialism refers to what it calls the indirect style of Christ's teachings, which it considers to be a distinctive and important aspect of his ministry. Christ's point, it says, is left unsaid in any particular parable or saying, to permit each individual to confront the truth on his own; this is evident in his parables. A good example of indirect communication in the Old Testament is the story of David and Nathan in 2 Samuel 12:1-14. An existential reading of the Bible demands that the reader recognize that he is an existing subject, studying the words that God communicates to him personally; this is in contrast to looking at a collection of "truths" which are outside and unrelated to the reader. Such a reader is not obligated to follow the commandments as if an external agent is forcing them upon him, but as though they are inside him and guiding him internally; this is the task Kierkegaard takes up when he asks: "Who has the more difficult task: the teacher who lectures on earnest things a meteor's distance from everyday life, or the learner who should put it to use?"
Existentially speaking, the Bible doesn't become an authority in a person's life until he permits the Bible to be his personal authority. Christian existentialists include German Protestant theologians Paul Tillich and Rudolf Bultmann, American existential psychologist Rollo May, British Anglican theologian John Macquarrie, American theologian Lincoln Swain, American philosopher Clifford Williams, French Catholic philosophers Gabriel Marcel, Emmanuel Mounier, Pierre Boutang, German philosopher Karl Jaspers, Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno, Russian philosophers Nikolai Berdyaev and Lev Shestov. Karl Barth added to Kierkegaard's ideas the notion that existential despair leads an individual to an awareness of God's infinite nature. Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky could be placed within the tradition of Christian existentialism; the roots of existentialism have been traced back as far as St Augustine. Some of the most striking passages in Pascal's Pensées, including the famous section on the Wager, deal with existentialist themes.
Jacques Maritain, in Existence and the Existent: An Essay on Christian Existentialism, finds the core of true existentialism in the thought of Thomas Aquinas. It has been claimed that Radical Existential Christi
Philosophy of religion
Philosophy of religion is "the philosophical examination of the central themes and concepts involved in religious traditions." These sorts of philosophical discussion are ancient, can be found in the earliest known manuscripts concerning philosophy. The field is related to many other branches of philosophy, including metaphysics and ethics; the philosophy of religion differs from religious philosophy in that it seeks to discuss questions regarding the nature of religion as a whole, rather than examining the problems brought forth by a particular belief system. It is designed such that it can be carried out dispassionately by those who identify as believers or non-believers. Philosopher William L. Rowe characterized the philosophy of religion as: "the critical examination of basic religious beliefs and concepts." Philosophy of religion covers alternative beliefs about God, the varieties of religious experience, the interplay between science and religion, the nature and scope of good and evil, religious treatments of birth and death.
The field includes the ethical implications of religious commitments, the relation between faith, reason and tradition, concepts of the miraculous, the sacred revelation, mysticism and salvation. The term "Philosophy of Religion" did not come into general use in the West until the nineteenth century, most pre-modern and early modern philosophical works included a mixture of religious themes and "non-religious" philosophical questions. In Asia, examples include texts such as the Hindu Upanishads, the works of Daoism and Confucianism and Buddhist texts. Greek philosophies like Pythagoreanism and Stoicism included religious elements and theories about deities, Medieval philosophy was influenced by the big three Monotheistic Abrahamic religions. In the Western world, early modern philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, George Berkeley discussed religious topics alongside secular philosophical issues as well; the philosophy of religion has been distinguished from theology by pointing out that, for theology, "its critical reflections are based on religious convictions".
"theology is responsible to an authority that initiates its thinking and witnessing... philosophy bases its arguments on the ground of timeless evidence."Some aspects of philosophy of religion have classically been regarded as a part of metaphysics. In Aristotle's Metaphysics, the prior cause of eternal motion was an unmoved mover, like the object of desire, or of thought, inspires motion without itself being moved. This, according to Aristotle, is the subject of study in theology. Today, philosophers have adopted the term "philosophy of religion" for the subject, it is regarded as a separate field of specialization, although it is still treated by some Catholic philosophers, as a part of metaphysics. Different religions have different ideas about Ultimate Reality, its source or ground and about what is the "Maximal Greatness". Paul Tillich's concept of'Ultimate Concern' and Rudolf Otto's'Idea of the Holy' are concepts which point to concerns about the ultimate or highest truth which most religious philosophies deal with in some way.
One of the main differences among religions is whether the Ultimate Reality is a personal God or an impersonal reality. In Western religions, various forms of Theism are the most common conceptions of the ultimate Good, while in Eastern Religions, there are theistic and various non-theistic conceptions of the Ultimate. Theistic vs non-theistic is a common way of sorting the different types of religions. There are several philosophical positions with regard to the existence of God that one might take including various forms of Theism and different forms of Atheism. Monotheism is the belief in a single deity or God, ontologically independent. There are many forms of monotheism. Keith Yandell outlines three kinds of historical monotheisms: Greek and Hindu. Greek monotheism holds that the world has always existed and does not believe in Creationism or divine providence, while Semitic monotheism believes the world is created by a God at a particular point in time and that this God acts in the world.
Indian monotheism meanwhile teaches that the world is beginningless, but that there is God's act of creation which sustains the world. The attempt to provide proofs or arguments for the existence of God is one aspect of what is known as natural theology or the natural theistic project; this strand of natural theology attempts to justify belief in God by independent grounds. Most of philosophy of religion is predicated on natural theology's assumption that the existence of God can be justified or warranted on rational grounds. There has been considerable philosophical and theological debate about the kinds of proofs and arguments that are appropriate for this discourse. Common types of arguments for the existence of god include: Cosmological Argument Ontological Argument Teleological argument Argument from religious experience Argument from morality Wager arguments like Pascal's Wager attempts to rationally argue that one should believe in God. Skeptics and atheists have put forth various arguments against the existence of God including: The argument from inconsistent revelations The problem of evil, the question of how to reconcile the existence of evil with that of a deity who is, in either absolute or relative terms, omnipotent and omnibenevolent.
Argument from poor design Argument from nonbelief or the argument from divine hiddenness Eastern Religions have included both theistic and other alternative positions about the ultimate nature of reality. One such v
In the Platonic, Middle Platonic, Neoplatonic schools of philosophy, the demiurge is an artisan-like figure responsible for fashioning and maintaining the physical universe. The Gnostics adopted the term "demiurge". Although a fashioner, the demiurge is not the same as the creator figure in the monotheistic sense, because the demiurge itself and the material from which the demiurge fashions the universe are both considered to be consequences of something else. Depending on the system, they may be considered to be either uncreated and eternal or the product of some other entity; the word "demiurge" is an English word derived from demiurgus, a Latinized form of the Greek δημιουργός or dēmiourgos. It was a common noun meaning "craftsman" or "artisan", but came to mean "producer", "creator"; the philosophical usage and the proper noun derive from Plato's Timaeus, written c. 360 BC, where the demiurge is presented as the creator of the universe. The demiurge is described as a creator in the Platonic and Middle Platonic philosophical traditions.
In the various branches of the Neoplatonic school, the demiurge is the fashioner of the real, perceptible world after the model of the Ideas, but is still not itself "the One". In the arch-dualist ideology of the various Gnostic systems, the material universe is evil, while the non-material world is good. According to some strains of Gnosticism, the demiurge is malevolent, as it is linked to the material world. In others, including the teaching of Valentinus, the demiurge is ignorant or misguided. Plato, as the speaker Timaeus, refers to the Demiurge in the Socratic dialogue Timaeus, c. 360 BC. The main character refers to the Demiurge as the entity who "fashioned and shaped" the material world. Timaeus describes the Demiurge as unreservedly benevolent, so it desires a world as good as possible; the world remains imperfect, because the Demiurge created the world out of a chaotic, indeterminate non-being. Plato's work Timaeus is a philosophical reconciliation of Hesiod's cosmology in his Theogony, syncretically reconciling Hesiod to Homer.
In Numenius's Neo-Pythagorean and Middle Platonist cosmogony, the Demiurge is second God as the nous or thought of intelligibles and sensibles. Plotinus and the Platonists worked to clarify the Demiurge. To Plotinus, the second emanation represents an uncreated second cause. Plotinus sought to reconcile Aristotle's energeia with Plato's Demiurge, which, as Demiurge and mind, is a critical component in the ontological construct of human consciousness used to explain and clarify substance theory within Platonic realism. In order to reconcile Aristotelian with Platonian philosophy, Plotinus metaphorically identified the demiurge within the pantheon of the Greek Gods as Zeus; the first and highest aspect of God is described by Plato as the source, or the Monad. This is the God above the Demiurge, manifests through the actions of the Demiurge; the Monad emanated the demiurge or Nous from its "indeterminate" vitality due to the monad being so abundant that it overflowed back onto itself, causing self-reflection.
This self-reflection of the indeterminate vitality was referred to by Plotinus as the "Demiurge" or creator. The second principle is organization in its reflection of the nonsentient force or dynamis called the one or the Monad; the dyad is energeia emanated by the one, the work, process or activity called nous, mind, consciousness that organizes the indeterminate vitality into the experience called the material world, cosmos. Plotinus elucidates the equation of matter with nothing or non-being in The Enneads which more is to express the concept of idealism or that there is not anything or anywhere outside of the "mind" or nous. Plotinus' form of Platonic idealism is to treat the Demiurge, nous as the contemplative faculty within man which orders the force into conscious reality. In this, he claimed to reveal Plato's true meaning: a doctrine he learned from Platonic tradition that did not appear outside the academy or in Plato's text; this tradition of creator God as nous, can be validated in the works of pre-Plotinus philosophers such as Numenius, as well as a connection between Hebrew and Platonic cosmology.
The Demiurge of Neoplatonism is the Nous, is one of the three ordering principles: Arche – the source of all things, Logos – the underlying order, hidden beneath appearances, Harmonia – numerical ratios in mathematics. Before Numenius of Apamea and Plotinus' Enneads, no Platonic works ontologically clarified the Demiurge from the allegory in Plato's Timaeus; the idea of Demiurge was, addressed before Plotinus in the works of Christian writer Justin Martyr who built his understanding of the Demiurge on the works of Numenius. The Neoplatonist Iamblichus changed the role of the "One" altering the role of the Demiurge as second cause or dyad, one of the reasons that Iamblichus and his teacher Porphyry came into conflict; the figure of the Demiurge emerges in the theoretic of Iamblichus, which conjoins the transcendent, incommunicable “One,” or Source. Here, at the summit of this system, the Source and Demiurge coexist via the process of henosis. Iamblichus describes the One as a monad whose first principle or emanation is intellect, while among "the many" that follow it there is a second, super-existent "One", the
Conceptions of God
Conceptions of God in monotheist and panentheist religions – or of the supreme deity in henotheistic religions – can extend to various levels of abstraction: as a powerful, human-like, supernatural being, or as the deification of an esoteric, mystical or philosophical entity or category. The first recordings that survive of monotheistic conceptions of God, borne out of henotheism and monism, are from the Hellenistic period. Of the many objects and entities that religions and other belief systems across the ages have labeled as divine, the one criterion they share is their acknowledgment as divine by a group or groups of human beings. In his Metaphysics, Aristotle discusses meaning of "being as being". Aristotle holds that "being" refers to the Unmoved Movers, assigned one of these to each movement in the heavens; each Unmoved Mover continuously contemplates its own contemplation, everything that fits the second meaning of "being" by having its source of motion in itself, moves because the knowledge of its Mover causes it to emulate this Mover.
Aristotle's definition of God attributes perfection to this being, as a perfect being can only contemplate upon perfection and not on imperfection, otherwise perfection would not be one of his attributes. God, according to Aristotle, is in a state of "stasis" untouched by imperfection; the "unmoved mover" is unlike the conception of God that one sees in most religions. It has been likened to a person, playing dominos and pushes one of them over, so that every other domino in the set is pushed over as well, without the being having to do anything about it. Although, in the 18th century, the French educator Allan Kardec brought a similar conception of God during his work of codifying Spiritism, this differs to the interpretation of God in most religions, where he is seen to be involved in his creation. "The All" is the Hermetic version of God. It has been called "The One", "The Great One", "The Creator", "The Supreme Mind", "The Supreme Good", "The Father" and "The Universal Mother"; the All is seen by some to be a panentheistic conception of God, subsuming everything, or can be experienced.
One Hermetic maxim states that "While All is in THE ALL, it is true that THE ALL is in All." The All can be seen to be hermaphroditic, possessing both masculine and feminine qualities in equal parttext. These qualities are, however, of mental gender. According to The Kybalion, The All is more complicated than being the sum total of the universe. Rather than The All being the physical universe, it is said that everything in the universe is within the mind of The All, since The All can be looked at as Mind itself; the All's mind is thought to be infinitely more powerful and vast than humans can achieve, capable of keeping track of every particle in the Universe. The Kybalion states that nothing can be outside of The All or The All would not be The All; the All may be a metaphor alluding to the godhead potentiality of every individual. "... That invisible power which all know does exist, but understood by many different names, such as God, Supreme Being, Mind, Nature and so forth." In the Hermetic Tradition and every person has the potential to become God, this idea or concept of God is perceived as internal rather than external.
The All is an allusion to the observer created universe. We create our own reality. Another way would to be to say. Freemasonry includes concepts of God as an external entity, esoteric masonic teachings identify God as the individual himself: the perceiver. We are all as such we create our own reality. Although others believe God to be abstract. Meaning he is not seen in reality, but understood through deep contemplation, he is all around us every day, just hiding in the beauty of our Earth. The Abrahamic God in this sense is the conception of God that remains a common attribute of all three traditions. God is conceived of as eternal, omniscient and as the creator of the universe. God is further held to have the properties of holiness, justice and omnipresence. Proponents of Abrahamic faiths believe that God is transcendent, meaning that he is outside space and outside time and therefore not subject to anything within his creation, but at the same time a personal God, listening to prayer and reacting to the actions of his creatures.
In Judaism, God has been conceived in a variety of ways. Traditionally, Judaism holds that YHWH, the God of Abraham and Jacob and the national god of the Israelites, delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, gave them the Law of Moses at biblical Mount Sinai as described in the Torah. According to the rationalist stream of Judaism articulated by Maimonides, which came to dominate much of official traditional Jewish thought, God is understood as the absolute one and incomparable being, the ultimate cause of all existence. Traditional interpretations of Judaism emphasize that God is personal yet transcendent, while some modern interpretations of Judaism emphasize that God is a force or ideal. Jewish monotheism is a continuation of earlier Hebrew henotheism, the exclusive worship of the God of Israel as prescribed in the Torah and practiced at the Temple of Jerusalem. Strict monotheism emerges in Rabbinical Judaism. Pron
Holy Spirit, is a term found in English translations of the Bible, understood differently among the Abrahamic religions. The term is used to describe aspects of other religions and belief structures; the word spirit appears either alone or with other words, in the New Testament. Combinations include expressions such as the "Holy Spirit", "Spirit of God", in Christianity, "Spirit of Christ"; the word spirit is rendered as רוּחַ in Hebrew-language parts of the Old Testament. In its Aramaic parts, the term is rûacḥ; the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, translates the word as πνεῦμα. This is the same word, used throughout the New Testament, written in Greek; the English term spirit comes from its Latin origin, how the Vulgate translates both the Old and New Testament concept. The alternative term, "Holy Ghost", comes from Old English translations of spiritus; the Hebrew Bible contains the term "spirit of God" in the sense of the might of a unitary God. This meaning is different from the Christian concept of "Holy Spirit" as one personality of God in the Trinity.
The Christian concept tends to emphasize the moral aspect of the Holy Spirit more than Judaism, evident in the epithet Holy Spirit that appeared in Jewish religious writings only late but was a common expression in the Christian New Testament. According to theologian Rudolf Bultmann, there are two ways to think about the Holy Spirit: "animistic" and "dynamistic". In animistic thinking, it is "an independent agent, a personal power which like a demon can fall upon a man and take possession of him, enabling him or compelling him to perform manifestations of power" while in dynamistic thought it "appears as an impersonal force which fills a man like a fluid". Both kinds of thought appear in Jewish and Christian scripture, but animistic is more typical of the Old Testament whereas dynamistic is more common in the New Testament; the distinction coincides with the Holy Spirit as either a permanent gift. In the Old Testament and Jewish thought, it is temporary with a specific situation or task in mind, whereas in the Christian concept the gift resides in man permanently.
On the surface, the Holy Spirit appears to have an equivalent in non-Abrahamic Hellenistic mystery religions. These religions included a distinction between the spirit and psyche, seen in the Pauline epistles. According to proponents of the History of religions school, the Christian concept of the Holy Spirit cannot be explained from Jewish ideas alone without reference to the Hellenistic religions. However, according to theologian Erik Konsmo, the views "are so dissimilar that the only legitimate connection one can make is with the Greek term πνεῦμα itself". Another link with ancient Greek thought is the Stoic idea of the spirit as anima mundi—or world soul—that unites all people; some believe that this can be seen in Paul's formulation of the concept of the Holy Spirit that unites Christians in Jesus Christ and love for one another, but Konsmo again thinks that this position is difficult to maintain. In his Introduction to the 1964 book Meditations, the Anglican priest Maxwell Staniforth wrote: Another Stoic concept which offered inspiration to the Church was that of'divine Spirit'.
Cleanthes, wishing to give more explicit meaning to Zeno's'creative fire', had been the first to hit upon the term pneuma, or'spirit', to describe it. Like fire, this intelligent'spirit' was imagined as a tenuous substance akin to a current of air or breath, but possessing the quality of warmth, it is not a long step from this to the'Holy Spirit' of Christian theology, the'Lord and Giver of life', visibly manifested as tongues of fire at Pentecost and since associated – in the Christian as in the Stoic mind – with the ideas of vital fire and beneficient warmth. The Hebrew language phrase ruach ha-kodesh is a term used in the Hebrew Bible and Jewish writings to refer to the spirit of YHWH, it means "spirit of the holiness" or "spirit of the holy place". The Hebrew terms ruacḥ qodshəka, "thy holy spirit", ruacḥ qodshō, "his holy spirit" occur; the "Holy Spirit" in Judaism refers to the divine aspect of prophecy and wisdom. It refers to the divine force and influence of the Most High God, over the universe or over his creatures, in given contexts.
For the large majority of Christians, the Holy Spirit is a member of the Trinity: The "Triune God" manifested as Father and Holy Spirit. Two symbols from the New Testament canon are associated with the Holy Spirit in Christian iconography: a winged dove, tongues of fire; each depiction of the Holy Spirit arose from different historical accounts in the Gospel narratives. Called "the unveiled epiphany of God", the Holy Spirit is the One who empowers the followers of Jesus with spiritual gifts and power that enables the proclamation of Jesus Christ, a
Agnosticism is the view that the existence of God, of the divine or the supernatural is unknown or unknowable. The English biologist Thomas Henry Huxley coined the word agnostic in 1869, said "It means that a man shall not say he knows or believes that which he has no scientific grounds for professing to know or believe." Earlier thinkers, had written works that promoted agnostic points of view, such as Sanjaya Belatthaputta, a 5th-century BCE Indian philosopher who expressed agnosticism about any afterlife. The Nasadiya Sukta in the Rigveda is agnostic about the origin of the universe. According to the philosopher William L. Rowe, "agnosticism is the view that human reason is incapable of providing sufficient rational grounds to justify either the belief that God exists or the belief that God does not exist". Agnosticism is the doctrine or tenet of agnostics with regard to the existence of anything beyond and behind material phenomena or to knowledge of a First Cause or God, is not a religion.
Agnosticism is of the essence of whether ancient or modern. It means that a man shall not say he knows or believes that which he has no scientific grounds for professing to know or believe. Agnosticism puts aside not only the greater part of popular theology, but the greater part of anti-theology. On the whole, the "bosh" of heterodoxy is more offensive to me than that of orthodoxy, because heterodoxy professes to be guided by reason and science, orthodoxy does not; that which Agnostics deny and repudiate, as immoral, is the contrary doctrine, that there are propositions which men ought to believe, without logically satisfactory evidence. Agnosticism, in fact, is not a creed, but a method, the essence of which lies in the rigorous application of a single principle... Positively the principle may be expressed: In matters of the intellect, follow your reason as far as it will take you, without regard to any other consideration, and negatively: In matters of the intellect do not pretend that conclusions are certain which are not demonstrated or demonstrable.
Being a scientist, above all else, Huxley presented agnosticism as a form of demarcation. A hypothesis with no supporting, testable evidence is not an objective, scientific claim; as such, there would be no way to test. His agnosticism was not compatible with forming a belief as to the truth, or falsehood, of the claim at hand. Karl Popper would describe himself as an agnostic. According to philosopher William L. Rowe, in this strict sense, agnosticism is the view that human reason is incapable of providing sufficient rational grounds to justify either the belief that God exists or the belief that God does not exist. George H. Smith, while admitting that the narrow definition of atheist was the common usage definition of that word, admitting that the broad definition of agnostic was the common usage definition of that word, promoted broadening the definition of atheist and narrowing the definition of agnostic. Smith rejects agnosticism as a third alternative to theism and atheism and promotes terms such as agnostic atheism and agnostic theism.
Agnostic was used by Thomas Henry Huxley in a speech at a meeting of the Metaphysical Society in 1869 to describe his philosophy, which rejects all claims of spiritual or mystical knowledge. Early Christian church leaders used the Greek word gnosis to describe "spiritual knowledge". Agnosticism is not to be confused with religious views opposing the ancient religious movement of Gnosticism in particular. Huxley identified agnosticism not as a creed but rather as a method of skeptical, evidence-based inquiry. In recent years, scientific literature dealing with neuroscience and psychology has used the word to mean "not knowable". In technical and marketing literature, "agnostic" can mean independence from some parameters—for example, "platform agnostic" or "hardware agnostic". Scottish Enlightenment philosopher David Hume contended that meaningful statements about the universe are always qualified by some degree of doubt, he asserted that the fallibility of human beings means that they cannot obtain absolute certainty except in trivial cases where a statement is true by definition.
Strong agnosticism The view that the question of the existence or nonexistence of a deity or deities, the nature of ultimate reality is unknowable by reason of our natural inability to verify any experience with anything but another subjective experience. A strong agnostic would say, "I cannot know whether a deity exists or not, neither can you." Weak agnosticism The view that the existence or nonexistence of any deities is unknown but is not unknowable. A weak agnostic would say, "I don't know whether any deities exist or not, but maybe one day, if there is evidence, we can find something out." Apathetic agnosticism The view that no amount of de
Wiccan views of divinity
Wiccan views of divinity are theistic, revolve around a Goddess and a Horned God, thereby being dualistic. In traditional Wicca, as expressed in the writings of Gerald Gardner and Doreen Valiente, the emphasis is on the theme of divine gender polarity, the God and Goddess are regarded as equal and opposite divine cosmic forces. In some newer forms of Wicca, such as feminist or Dianic Wicca, the Goddess is given primacy or exclusivity. In some forms of Traditional Witchcraft that share a similar duotheistic theology, the Horned God is given precedence over the Goddess; some Wiccans are polytheists, believing in many different deities taken from various Pagan pantheons, while others would believe that, in the words of Dion Fortune, "all the Goddesses are one Goddess, all the Gods one God". Some Wiccans are both duotheistic and polytheistic, in that they honor diverse pagan deities while reserving their worship for the Wiccan Goddess and Horned God, whom they regard as the supreme deities; some see divinity as having a external existence.
According to several 20th century witches, most notably Gerald Gardner, the "father of Wicca", the witches' God and Goddess are the ancient gods of the British Isles: a Horned God of hunting and magic who rules over an after-world paradise, a goddess, the Great Mother, who gives regeneration and rebirth to souls of the dead and love to the living. The Goddess is connected to the Moon and stars and the sea, while the Horned God is connected to the Sun and the forests. Gardner explains that these are the tribal gods of the witches, just as the Egyptians had their tribal gods Isis and Osiris and the Jews had Elohim; the Goddess is seen as having a triple aspect. The God is traditionally seen as being the Horned God of the woods. A key belief in Wicca is that the gods are able to manifest in personal form, either through dreams, as physical manifestations, or through the bodies of Priestesses and Priests. Gardnerian Wicca as a denomination is concerned with the priestess or priest's relationship to the Goddess and God.
The Lady and Lord are seen as primal cosmic beings, the source of limitless power, yet they are familiar figures who comfort and nurture their children, challenge or reprimand them. Wiccan theology revolves around ontological dualism. Ontological dualism is traditionally a sacred gender polarity between the complementary polar opposites of male and female, who are regarded as divine lovers; this kind of dualism is common to various religions. Ontological dualism is distinct from moral dualism in that moral dualism posits a supreme force of good and a supreme force of evil. There is no supreme force of evil in Wicca. In Wicca, the God is seen as the masculine form of divinity, the polar opposite, equal, to the Goddess; the God is traditionally seen as the Horned God, an archetypal deity with links to the Celtic Cernunnos, English folkloric Herne the Hunter, Greek Pan, Roman Faunus and Indian Pashupati. This was the God whom Gerald Gardner presented as the old God of the ancient Witches, and, supported by Margaret Murray's theory of the pan-European witch religion, discredited.
Horns are traditionally a sacred symbol of male virility, male gods with horns or antlers were common in pagan religious iconography throughout the ancient world. In Wicca, the Green Man is often associated with the Horned God, though he does not always have horns. At different times of the Wiccan year the God is seen as different personalities, he is sometimes seen as the Holly King, who each rule for half of the year each. Oak and Holly are two European trees. Another view of the God is that of the sun god, revered at the sabbat of Lughnasadh. Many Wiccans see these many facets, such as the sun god, horned god, sacrificial god, as all aspects of the same God, but a minority view them as separate polytheistic deities; the most exhaustive work on Wiccan ideas of the God is the book The Witches' God by Janet and Stewart Farrar. Traditionally in Wicca, the Goddess is seen as the Triple Goddess, meaning that she is the maiden, the mother and the crone; the mother aspect, the Mother Goddess, is the most important of these, it was her that Gerald Gardner and Margaret Murray claimed was the ancient Goddess of the witches.
Certain Wiccan traditions are Goddess-centric. Gardner's explanation aside, individual interpretations of the exact natures of the gods differ since priests and priestesses develop their own relationships with the gods through intense personal work and revelation. Many have a duotheistic conception of deity as a God; this concept is extended into a kind of polytheism by the belief that the gods and goddesses of all cultures are aspects of this pair (or of the Goddess alon