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Posted: 11 August 2007 12:38 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I’ve been a listener to Point of Inquiry for a few months, and an Atheist since I was a wee lad.

I joined this message board primarily to respond to a message posted in regards to the appearance of Peter H. Gilmore, High Priest of the Church of Satan.

As stated at the beginning of my post, I am the publisher of that book, I was also the guy who packed up a review copy and sent it in to PoI, as I thought it would be a great forum (and it is).

I am also a Satanist, and there is no tension with that and being an Atheist. You can wikipedia if you’re confused, or just listen to the podcast!

I don’t consider myself a Humanist, though there is much overlap in my world view.

I am a secularist, for sure, and have referred to myself as a “Conservative Secularist”.

My profile lists a series of quotes I enjoy greatly, the sources say almost as much as the quotes themselves.

[ Edited: 11 August 2007 12:43 PM by KevinISlaughter ]
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Posted: 11 August 2007 02:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I suppose I will reserve judgment until listening to the podcast, but on first blush I can’t make sense of how one can be a literal satanist without believing in satan. And further I can’t see how one can be an atheist and believe in satan. Unless by “atheist” you simply mean that you don’t believe in god, meanwhile believing in a similar supernatural creature who isn’t perfectly good.

Further, since all the nonsense about satan was basically cooked up by varieties of the christian church ... I don’t see the point of it, unless it’s some sort of an ironic joke.

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Posted: 11 August 2007 03:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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As Doug, but welcome anyway.  I’m not satanist or humanist but am both atheist and moderately evil.

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Posted: 11 August 2007 03:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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dougsmith - 11 August 2007 02:55 PM

I suppose I will reserve judgment until listening to the podcast, but on first blush I can’t make sense of how one can be a literal satanist without believing in satan. And further I can’t see how one can be an atheist and believe in satan. Unless by “atheist” you simply mean that you don’t believe in god, meanwhile believing in a similar supernatural creature who isn’t perfectly good.

Further, since all the nonsense about satan was basically cooked up by varieties of the christian church ... I don’t see the point of it, unless it’s some sort of an ironic joke.

Doug,
  Yours is an elementary objection to Satanism, and I don’t mean that in any belittling way, just that it’s one of the basic problems people have in understanding the religion. In brief, I’ll post an extract from the letter I wrote to go along with review copies of “The Satanic Scriptures”.

Before I do that, I just want to make one caveat: Satanist do NOT proselytize! I’m not posting this to try to convert or coerce. The podcast makes the distinction clear, but this is handy, and elaborates a bit more:

An organization that has been in existence for over 40 years, it is often feared but rarely understood. Now it is defined in “The Satanic Scriptures” by High Priest Peter H. Gilmore. Satanism is the world’s first carnal religion, and so it rejects faith and belief as primitive superstitions. However, embracing Satan as a symbol of liberty and individuality, the Church employs ritual as transformative psychodrama, exploring territory beyond the usual grounds held by fellow non-believers. It offers a third side beyond the battling dualities of believers versus skeptics, in a gray area between psychology and religion. The one thing that frightens both Christians and Atheists alike is that the Church of Satan challenges each person to rise to the best of their abilities, advocating a meritocracy rather than the rampant relaxation of standards seen in contemporary society.
  The founder, Anton Szandor LaVey said in his book “The Satanic Bible”:

“The Satanist realizes that man, and the action and reaction of the universe, is responsible for everything, and doesn’t mislead himself into thinking that someone cares.”

  Though Satanism is most frequently critiqued by ignorant (or willful misinformers) as being merely an inversion of Christianity, in fact there is no Devil worship present. Instead, the Satanist’s ego is deified, making each adherent a God in his own subjective universe. The reality of Satanism is opposite in a way that they SHOULD fear, because it rejects spirituality, faith, worship and the intentional ignorance imposed upon the followers of the major world religions. It promotes taxation of all churches (and eschews tax-exempt status for itself).
  In the essay titled “What, the Devil?”, Gilmore outlines the most common line of thought for those who take on the moniker of Satanist to represent their worldview:

•  Nature encompasses all that exists. There is nothing supernatural in Nature.
•  The spiritual is an illusion. I am utterly carnal.
•  Reason is my tool for cognition making faith anathema. I question all things. I am a skeptic.
•  I do not accept false dichotomies, finding instead the “third side” which brings me closest to understanding the mysteries of existence.
•  The universe is neither benevolent nor malevolent; it is indifferent.
•  There are no Gods. I am an atheist.
•  There is no intrinsic purpose to life beyond biological imperatives. I thus determine my own life’s meaning.
•  I decide what is of value. I am my own highest value therefore I am my own God. I am an I-theist.
•  Good is that which benefits me and promotes that which I hold in esteem. Evil is that which harms me and hinders that which I cherish.
•  I live to maximize the Good for myself and those I value. At all times I remain in control of my pursuit of pleasure. I am an Epicurean.
•  Merit determines my criteria for the judgment of myself and others. I judge and am prepared to be judged.
•  I seek a just outcome in my exchanges with those around me. I thus will do unto others as I would prefer they do unto me. However, if they treat me poorly, I shall return that behavior in like degree.
•  I grasp the human need for symbols as a means for distillation of complex thought structures.
•  The symbol that best exemplifies my nature as an aware beast is Satan, the avatar of carnality, justice, and self-determination.
•  I see myself reflected in the philosophy created by Anton Szandor LaVey.
•  I am proud to call myself a Satanist.

Many atheists refuse to examine the philosophy of the Church of Satan, fearing that it is some cult populated by drug addled misfits or brainwashed occultists. And among those who DO know better, they forcibly reject any connection with this organized group of freethinkers since they expect the world’s faithful would say “SEE! SEE! The atheists ARE in league with the devil! We TOLD YOU SO!”
  Peter H. Gilmore reinforces in “Satanism: The Feared Religion” that there is no supernatural devil or deity in the worldview of the Satanist:

“As you can see, there are no elements of devil worship in the Church of Satan. Such practices are looked upon as being Christian heresies. Believing in the Christian world-view of God vs. the Devil and choosing to side with the Prince of Darkness is pointless to the Satanist as neither exists. Additionally, we do not believe in the supernatural. To the Satanist, he is his own God. Satan is a symbol of Man living as his prideful, carnal nature dictates. Some Satanists extend this symbol to encompass the evolutionary ‘force’ of entropy that permeates all of nature and provides the drive for survival and propagation inherent in all living things. To the Satanist, Satan is not a conscious entity to be worshiped, rather it is a name for the reservoir of power inside each human to be tapped at will. Thus, the practice of sacrifice is rejected by Satanists as being a Christian aberration—in Satanism there’s no deity to which one can make a sacrifice.”

As a religion, it does have a list of what it refers to as “sins” - counterproductive behaviors rather than God determined crimes - and the top of that list is “stupidity.” Some of the others are Solipsism, Self-Deceit, Herd Conformity and Counterproductive Pride. These all seem to be obvious to the skeptic and critical thinker – but only few have been brave enough to make such into a pillar of a worldview.
  While Sam Harris argues for recapturing some form of spirituality by looking to Eastern Religions, Satanism has already dealt with the human need for symbolism and ritual, but with a much more occidental spin. By using motifs and metaphors that are familiar to American and European cultures, catharsis is achieved through emotional expenditure in controlled, dramatic rites. Harris suggested that we rid ourselves of our “self”, destroying our ego through meditation and other practices. Satanism rejects this as just as perverse as the flagellation of the physical body or voluntary castration by various orthodox sects. Instead, it celebrates the ego that allows our carnal selves to be gratified.
  Unlike most atheist groups, there ARE ceremonies in Satanism, there is dogma, and it uses the term religion – but it is the first one to reject faith in favor of reason. The Satanists don’t recruit and there is no “conversion” process; they’ve never once gone door to door. They’re frequently misanthropes, so “loving your neighbor” is not their motto.

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“Our world was brutal, immoral, smug and conventional. We had unbounded contempt for all those who did not sin as we sinned.” Jim Tully Circus Parade

“Books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul whose progeny they are; nay they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them.” - John Milton Aeropagitca

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Posted: 11 August 2007 03:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Right, OK, I just listened to the podcast. I will opt for the claim that this variety of satanism is a sort of “ironic joke”. It is satanism in name only; really it’s a version of Ayn Rand Libertarianism.

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Posted: 13 August 2007 11:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Welcome.  I do have one question and I’m at a disadvantage right now since my own comp died and I’m on a public one, but just how is believing in Satan not superstition and how does that fit with Atheism?  I’m rather confused.

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“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 13 August 2007 01:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Mriana - 13 August 2007 11:26 AM

Welcome.  I do have one question and I’m at a disadvantage right now since my own comp died and I’m on a public one, but just how is believing in Satan not superstition and how does that fit with Atheism?  I’m rather confused.

Mriana,
  If you’ve read the text I quoted above and listened to the podcast, then I guess you can review the discussion going on in the Episode forum on the episode in question:

http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewthread/2800/

I will repaste here an excerpt from my post above:

Though Satanism is most frequently critiqued by ignorant (or willful misinformers) as being merely an inversion of Christianity, in fact there is no Devil worship present. Instead, the Satanist’s ego is deified, making each adherent a God in his own subjective universe. The reality of Satanism is opposite in a way that they SHOULD fear, because it rejects spirituality, faith, worship and the intentional ignorance imposed upon the followers of the major world religions. It promotes taxation of all churches (and eschews tax-exempt status for itself).
In the essay titled “What, the Devil?”, Gilmore outlines the most common line of thought for those who take on the moniker of Satanist to represent their worldview:

  • Nature encompasses all that exists. There is nothing supernatural in Nature.
  • The spiritual is an illusion. I am utterly carnal.
  • Reason is my tool for cognition making faith anathema. I question all things. I am a skeptic.
  • I do not accept false dichotomies, finding instead the “third side” which brings me closest to understanding the mysteries of existence.
  • The universe is neither benevolent nor malevolent; it is indifferent.
  • There are no Gods. I am an atheist.
  • There is no intrinsic purpose to life beyond biological imperatives. I thus determine my own life’s meaning.
  • I decide what is of value. I am my own highest value therefore I am my own God. I am an I-theist.
  • Good is that which benefits me and promotes that which I hold in esteem. Evil is that which harms me and hinders that which I cherish.
  • I live to maximize the Good for myself and those I value. At all times I remain in control of my pursuit of pleasure. I am an Epicurean.
  • Merit determines my criteria for the judgment of myself and others. I judge and am prepared to be judged.
  • I seek a just outcome in my exchanges with those around me. I thus will do unto others as I would prefer they do unto me. However, if they treat me poorly, I shall return that behavior in like degree.
  • I grasp the human need for symbols as a means for distillation of complex thought structures.
  • The symbol that best exemplifies my nature as an aware beast is Satan, the avatar of carnality, justice, and self-determination.
  • I see myself reflected in the philosophy created by Anton Szandor LaVey.
  • I am proud to call myself a Satanist.

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“Our world was brutal, immoral, smug and conventional. We had unbounded contempt for all those who did not sin as we sinned.” Jim Tully Circus Parade

“Books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul whose progeny they are; nay they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them.” - John Milton Aeropagitca

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Posted: 13 August 2007 01:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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How is “Satan” an adequate avatar to represent justice?

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Posted: 13 August 2007 01:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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You left out:
• Be prepared
and
• Always carry a notebook, a pocket knife, a box of matches and a torch.

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Posted: 13 August 2007 02:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Satan represents justice, not mercy: meeting evil with evil, and good with good. Eye for an eye is a definition of justice, although I dont subscribe to it personally. I guess we can get thick into it and explore retributive versus distributive justice, but when most people think about justice they normally dont think of it in terms other than fairness.

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Posted: 13 August 2007 02:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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dougsmith - 11 August 2007 03:35 PM

really it’s a version of Ayn Rand Libertarianism.

that witch always scared me. i admit, she was good at making selfishness and exploitation look good, but the obvious consequences for society should be obvious to anyone. listen, alarm bells should go off for anyone who is good friends with and ideologically similar to alan greenspan. maybe thats just my opinion but I think there is a credible basis to see her rhetoric as bullshit masking something terribly wrong.

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Posted: 13 August 2007 02:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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DJ Grothe - 13 August 2007 02:15 PM

Satan represents justice, not mercy: meeting evil with evil, and good with good. Eye for an eye is a definition of justice, although I dont subscribe to it personally. I guess we can get thick into it and explore retributive versus distributive justice, but when most people think about justice they normally dont think of it in terms other than fairness.

This is exactly why I feel puzzled about CFI’s need the explore anything at all alongside the Satanists.

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Posted: 13 August 2007 03:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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George - 13 August 2007 02:52 PM
DJ Grothe - 13 August 2007 02:15 PM

Satan represents justice, not mercy: meeting evil with evil, and good with good. Eye for an eye is a definition of justice, although I dont subscribe to it personally. I guess we can get thick into it and explore retributive versus distributive justice, but when most people think about justice they normally dont think of it in terms other than fairness.

This is exactly why I feel puzzled about CFI’s need the explore anything at all alongside the Satanists.

I’ll quote DJ Grothe’s response in the Episode thread as a response:

Given that secular humanists are often labelled satanic, and that self-described satanists agree with atheists and secular humanists about metaphysics, but disagree about ethics, that disagreement is interesting to me to explore. David Koepsell, executive director of the Council for Secular Humanism, also finds some of these ethical questions worth exploring—what obligations does a person who doesnt believe in god have to his neighbor, etc. Is altruism a no-no as the objectivists (and it seems the satanist) suggest? Is all morality just a matter of taste, and subjective? Are there objective bases for moral judgements?  (These are old debates like altruism versus might makes right, etc., and can even be framed as “secular humanism versus satanism”). Not everyone will find these questions about ethics interesting or worth exploring, just as not everyone will find discussions about god’s existence or the paranormal interesting. Point of Inquiry and these kinds of topics have limited, if growing, appeal.

Regarding Stalin, well, we have had Marxist/humanist dialogues in the past, even as some supporters or readers cried foul for association with the communists, just as we’ve had Mormon/humanist dialogues, and Vatican/humanist dialogues. I wouldnt try to talk you into finding such dialogues important, interesting, or fruitful. Those who find them interesting do, and others tend to ignore such things, or rail against them, which is also fine. POI is a talk show where we talk about things that I find interesting. We’re gratified looking at the growing subscriber base, the attention it gets in the blogosphere, and the emails we receive each week that our listeners also find the conversations interesting.

On your other point, I am not sure who you quoted regarding the two organizations “working together.” We had a guest on our radio show and podcast, some people got up in arms as we imagined they might, we gave our reasons for doing it, and that’s that. I enjoyed the discussion and we’ll likely explore similar kinds of topics in the future.

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Posted: 14 August 2007 05:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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truthaddict - 13 August 2007 02:31 PM
dougsmith - 11 August 2007 03:35 PM

really it’s a version of Ayn Rand Libertarianism.

that witch always scared me. i admit, she was good at making selfishness and exploitation look good, but the obvious consequences for society should be obvious to anyone. listen, alarm bells should go off for anyone who is good friends with and ideologically similar to alan greenspan. maybe thats just my opinion but I think there is a credible basis to see her rhetoric as bullshit masking something terribly wrong.

I too signed up mostly to repond to comments about is particular podcast. I have not read Ayn Rand but it’s on my to do list. That said I always find it puzzling how people seem to confuse self-interest with selfishness. Ultimately is is in my best interests to abide by the public norms, be law abiding and to treat those around me (who deserve it) with respect and kindness. Anyone who denies this has only the short term view of personal self-interest. Were I to act contrary to this I would bring down upon myself repercussions that would reduce pleasure in my life. As such, it was discussed in the podcast that Satanists usually keep their position in the church to them selves and the church in turn keeps membership confidential.

That is how I see self interest, and I also agree with the concept of personal responsibility.

Would my view of things fit with Satanism Kevin?

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Posted: 14 August 2007 10:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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darcy,

I would look at the Lorenz quote in his profile first. Your concept of self-interest is not anything I have a dispute with (I personally have adopted Libertarian Socialism/Anarchism; so Im no stranger to the concept of self-interest), but I think its clear that these guys are refering to selfishness and not some sense of altruistic self-interest.

The idea that “liberals” have seeked to do good but opened the flood gates of genocide is simply not true. What the quote is referring to is state interventions falsely using the banner of liberalism to justify exploitation.

I would like another “liberal” to explain it, since he does so well:

Mystery: How Wealth Creates Poverty In The World by Michael Parenti
http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=12674

There is a “mystery” we must explain: How is it that as corporate investments and foreign aid and international loans to poor countries have increased dramatically throughout the world over the last half century, so has poverty? The number of people living in poverty is growing at a faster rate than the world’s population. What do we make of this?

....

The purpose behind their investments, loans, and aid programs is not to uplift the masses in other countries. That is certainly not the business they are in. The purpose is to serve the interests of global capital accumulation, to take over the lands and local economies of Third World peoples, monopolize their markets, depress their wages, indenture their labor with enormous debts, privatize their public service sector, and prevent these nations from emerging as trade competitors by not allowing them a normal development.

When England was carrying out its barbarism in the 19th century people like John Stuart Mill were praising it; England represented the “Spirit of the Age” and was civilizing India, Ireland, Egypt and elsewhere.

Hell, even Imperial Japan claimed they were bringing an “Earthly paradise” to Asia; Hitler was justifying his aggression under benevolent banners; as was Stalin, Saddam Hussein and every other despot in history.

The point is that alot of crimes are packaged and presented as acts of benevolency; something they are not. The Lorenz quote on Kevins page inaccurately attempts to explain that the “civilizing” missions were liberals with good intentions. That was hardly the case. We dont just have to look at the British Empire or the American Holocaust to see that colonialization was anything about improving the lives of “primitives.” It was sheer exploitation. These so-called “conservative secularists”/Satanists are (intentionally?) misinterpreting reality to fit some perverse agenda of selfishness, not an enlightened sense of self-interest.

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Posted: 14 August 2007 01:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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KevinISlaughter - 13 August 2007 01:19 PM

In the essay titled “What, the Devil?”, Gilmore outlines the most common line of thought for those who take on the moniker of Satanist to represent their worldview:

  • Nature encompasses all that exists. There is nothing supernatural in Nature.
  • The spiritual is an illusion. I am utterly carnal.
  • Reason is my tool for cognition making faith anathema. I question all things. I am a skeptic.
  • I do not accept false dichotomies, finding instead the “third side” which brings me closest to understanding the mysteries of existence.
  • The universe is neither benevolent nor malevolent; it is indifferent.
  • There are no Gods. I am an atheist.
  • There is no intrinsic purpose to life beyond biological imperatives. I thus determine my own life’s meaning.
  • I decide what is of value. I am my own highest value therefore I am my own God. I am an I-theist.
  • Good is that which benefits me and promotes that which I hold in esteem. Evil is that which harms me and hinders that which I cherish.
  • I live to maximize the Good for myself and those I value. At all times I remain in control of my pursuit of pleasure. I am an Epicurean.
  • Merit determines my criteria for the judgment of myself and others. I judge and am prepared to be judged.
  • I seek a just outcome in my exchanges with those around me. I thus will do unto others as I would prefer they do unto me. However, if they treat me poorly, I shall return that behavior in like degree.
  • I grasp the human need for symbols as a means for distillation of complex thought structures.
  • The symbol that best exemplifies my nature as an aware beast is Satan, the avatar of carnality, justice, and self-determination.
  • I see myself reflected in the philosophy created by Anton Szandor LaVey.
  • I am proud to call myself a Satanist.

Very interesting, but I’m not going to jump off the Humanist ship.  smile

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