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Discussion Starter #1
OK- continued from the other thread... :) First let's start by defining possible definitions of what Deity IS. I believe there are two definitions of Deity- first being what most people think of- that being a personified uber-powerful force that is clearly external. This definition would include the Christian God, as well as Gods such as the Greek/Roman Deities, Ancient Egyptian Neter, etc.

The second definition is a more psychological model. It views Deity as facets of the subconscious- a very internal, but equally powerful, force. This can include the frameworks of the Deity names mentioned above- only their make-up is viewed as internal rather than external. It can also include personal Deity forms and internal guides/constructs.

If one accepts that the second view is possible- and I certainly do- although I don't necessarily agree that it is the ONLY "correct" or functional model- then one can see how it can be used to explain very powerful results in line with 'miracles' and other life changing experiences in answer to the "what have your Gods done for you" question. Amazing personal transformations are just as miraculous as anything claimed by those who believe the source is external, IMO.

We should also touch on the difference between how one *views* Deity overall.... Christians view God as a supreme being that requires worship. Many occultists/metaphysical folk view the Gods as entities to be worked with- in some cases as peers, in other cases as clearly superior/more powerful beings, but perhaps not as some supreme being requiring their worship. Reverence and respect- yes. Unquestioning/unwavering worship? No.

Now- you (AJ) had asked "I would enjoy seeing you begin a thread naming all of your gods and explaining their individual purpose and perhaps some examples of their accomplishments."

First, I do not claim the Gods as "mine". I take the view that they are entities to be worked with- I am not tied to any specific Deity- although there are those I work with more than others. I take a combination of the internal and external Deity models- depending on my mood and how skeptical I am that day. I don't always go in for a mystical view- there are times when I think it's all bull---- and think that only the psychological model is "real"/"correct". This is what I like about chaos magic- I don't have a crisis of faith when I'm just not feeling it. ;) I am both very logical/analytical and very mystical/faith oriented... I try to balance the two views.

ANYway- here are a few specifics to answer your question... Those I've listed here I've had great success with.

Thoth/Djehuti- (Egyptian)- Thoth/Djehuti is an Egyptian God associated with balance and wisdom. I've worked with Thoth on various occasions when I've wanted to work out areas of my life where I was becoming unbalanced- particularly in regard to a balance between the physical and the mental/metaphysical. I've also dealt with Thoth in dealing with matters of wisdom and knowledge- particularly in regard to education- and have experienced a significant ease in the learning and understanding process through this interaction.

The Morrigan- (Celtic)- The Morrigan is a Celtic Goddess that is associated with war and death. I've worked with the Morrigan to remove influences and issues from my life that I've no longer needed, or that I've needed to cull because they were not of benefit to me.

Ganesha- (Hindu)- Ganesh is a remover of obstacles. I've worked with Ganesh to remove the obstacles in my life that were keeping me from where I wanted to be.

Those are just a few of many- and it can be debated as to the internal/external issue- but what cannot be debated are the successful results I've had with them. :)
 

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Many thanks Mamma Bear. Very clear and straightforward.

I do not share your point of view but I appreciate that you express yours with sincerity and without gimmicks such as false "neutrality", pseudo-consensual views etc.
 

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Now, MB, I would like to submit a few reactions regarding your religious position.

You are an overt polytheist and again, I appreciate your sincerity in disclosing it. I often say I am a monotheist but in fact I am more an "anti-polytheist" than anything else and this is why.

People do not only have a relationship to god(s) for the purpose of help through prayer or for psychological reassurance. They also use gods as witnesses to their oaths or at least they used to.

In the oldest parts of Genesis, there are several instances where Abraham makes "covenants" with other local petty chiefs and each time he calls on YHWH to be a witness and a guarantee to the pact. The idea is that God will destroy any of the two parties to the agreement who fails to keep their word.

This is kind of practice is very old. We have tablets or papyrus rolls from the earliest times where agreements of this kind are recorded and gods mentioned as witnesses and guarantees. I am sure we have examples of this kind of thing for each of the ancient deities you mentioned except maybe for Morrigan which comes from a culture that did not use writing. More recently, the practice of taking God as a witness to an oath remains in the ritual of the law courts and that very practice is a remnant of a time not so far back when "I swear to God that ..." was a normal way to formulate a commitment, in business or otherwise.

Now, the problem I find with paganism in that context is that if you multiply the gods, you also multiply the opportunities to wriggle out of your commitments: If you took god X as witness, you are always at liberty later to say that god Y overruled god X and that you are therefore released of your oath. This is often what happened in ancient times and this is one reason we have so many stories about god X fighting god Y. It is noteworthy, for example that we know of several versions of a number of Greek myths depending on where you were from. Each city had its patron god and it is only natural that the local god should come out on top in the version told in that city.

Now this is not very honest, is it ? I believe this must have been one of the reasons which drove the Hebrews to worship an unique God. They seem to have been very preoccupied with covenants (the word is used 283 times in the OT according to the translation I use) and it must have appeared as a logical and simple "cut the gordian knot" step to decide that all oaths would henceforth be witnessed by YHWH alone.

Of course, in order to achieve the same result, it seems that it would be enough to assume a higher "King of Gods" type of figure and retain lesser gods besides him. But this situation is never as clear as it seems. There is still the possibility of infighting and rebellion between gods, like the stories told around the Trojan War, for example. Also, there is also the possibility of a "coup" among the gods. There are several recorded instances of this, such as Chronos being overthrown by his son Zeus or the older vedic Indian gods being replaced in the top slot by erstwhile subalterns like Vishnu or Shiva (both minor gods in the Vedas).

The Hebrew monotheistic solution seems therefore to be the only foolproof one if you want to secure the "god as a witness to an oath" function.

Now, do we still need this sort of thing ? I believe we do. Keeping one's part of a bargain is not easy and, even more importantly, it is even harder to build enough credibility between two parties to make them even accept to enter any kind of agreement. In a post SHTF environment, this is something to think about. Again, the fate of the hero in Cormack McCarthy's "The Road" lets us get a glimpse of what it might cost us to be unable to enter into agreements with fellow survivors. How are we going to do it ? Will each little band have its own god and will we fight among us to know who's god is stronger ?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Yes- the issue of oaths is a good point. I would submit, however, that the keeping or the breaking of an oath is a measure of a person's character and regardless of whether there is a Divine Enforcer called forth to hold one to said vow/oath- one should take ones oaths seriously and keep to them regardless. One is only as good as their word, and IMO one who keeps their word because it is the right thing to do is a better person than the person who keeps it only because they're afraid that the Deity who oversaw the oath might thwap them. :upsidedown: I agree with the idea of witnesses to an oath- but I don't believe that Divine witnesses are necessary, or even beneficial apart from the fear factor for those who can't just keep to their oaths on their own will/choice alone. MHO.
 

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When 2 persons know each other previously, I agree that each party's judgment of the other's character is enough basis for an agreement usually.

But what if the parties have no prior knowledge of each other ? In today's world, it is usually corporations reputations which bridge the credibility gap. An employee of company X will do business with an employee of company Y because, though they do not know each other, they so to speak "inherit" the credibility of their respective corp in the eyes of their counterpart.

But what if there are no corporations anymore? If two groups of survivors meet in the wilderness for the first time and one of them says "We want to trade peaceably. We will not kill you in order to steal your supplies". I believe it would help if they added "I swear to God, let Him be my witness". Assuming of course it is credible that this statement is sincere ...

Any other ideas ?
 

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What if the person who says "I swear to God..." is met by someone who says "I don't believe in the Christian God..." What then?

And isn't the Christian God supposed to be omnipotent and be able to see all? Isn't God supposed to *ALWAYS* be watching? Therefore saying "Let Him be my witness" seems a little over the top. He's always your witness.
 

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As to the OP, I agree that one can separate views of deity by an external view of a supernatural being, and an internal view of deity being different facets of self. However there is the all-encompassing view of the pantheist, who believes that God is everything. This is a much more abstract view, that relates God to all animate and inanimate things, and says "God is all, and all is God."
 

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What if the person who says "I swear to God..." is met by someone who says "I don't believe in the Christian God..." What then?

And isn't the Christian God supposed to be omnipotent and be able to see all? Isn't God supposed to *ALWAYS* be watching? Therefore saying "Let Him be my witness" seems a little over the top. He's always your witness.
My answer......

Yes, God is omnipotent (all powerful) and He is also omnipresent (able to be present anywhere).

I believe that this is why Jesus mentions in Matthew 5:37:
but let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

Breaking an oath to God is never a good thing. I do not agree with using the Bible in courtrooms simply because people are breaking an oath to God when they lie. Instead of just breaking one commandment, they are breaking two. Both the 9th and the 3rd.

9th Commandment:
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

3rd Commandment:
Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.


Swearing by God (or His word), if you do not tell the truth, then you have taken God's name vainly. In other words, you have used His name with a lack of respect.


I admit, I am not the perfect Christian and I do at times say "I swear that {insert phrase here}" but I do not swear by God as I feel it is disrespectful to Him. I try not to swear by anything at all.
 
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4giv3n1 -

With my statement I wasn't trying to convey that the person "swearing to God" was somehow being malicious or untruthful. fi11222 stated that those looking for allegiance with others in a post-SHTF world might find use in "swearing to God" in order to PROVE themselves truthful. The thing that came to my mind, as I am not a Christian, was to ask what he/she would do if they offered "I swear to God" and the person responded that they don't believe in the Christian God.

I like your thoughts on not swearing to God when being untruthful, especially on the stand. I hadn't thought about the breaking of TWO commandments there. However, I wonder if you might explain why you feel swearing to God is "disrespectful," assuming you are telling the truth when you swear? (Honest question, nothing more.)
 

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Discussion Starter #11
The problem with that is that everyone has a different idea of 'God', and many don't believe in Deity at all. This idea only works in a culture who acknowledge the same Deity across the board. It also doesn't consider the point that there are various Trickster Deities out there for whom such oaths would be irrelevant and non-binding ;) If society had more regard for oaths and took their word seriously- then swearing by the name of a Deity would be irrelevant because the oath *itself* and the value of ones word would be *just as powerful* as if a Deity were backing it.

When 2 persons know each other previously, I agree that each party's judgment of the other's character is enough basis for an agreement usually.

But what if the parties have no prior knowledge of each other ? In today's world, it is usually corporations reputations which bridge the credibility gap. An employee of company X will do business with an employee of company Y because, though they do not know each other, they so to speak "inherit" the credibility of their respective corp in the eyes of their counterpart.

But what if there are no corporations anymore? If two groups of survivors meet in the wilderness for the first time and one of them says "We want to trade peaceably. We will not kill you in order to steal your supplies". I believe it would help if they added "I swear to God, let Him be my witness". Assuming of course it is credible that this statement is sincere ...

Any other ideas ?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
As to the OP, I agree that one can separate views of deity by an external view of a supernatural being, and an internal view of deity being different facets of self. However there is the all-encompassing view of the pantheist, who believes that God is everything. This is a much more abstract view, that relates God to all animate and inanimate things, and says "God is all, and all is God."
Very true. I was speaking there of my own personal views- in response to AJ's question in another thread. But yes- absolutely those are certainly included in any definitions of what Deity is :) :thumb:
 

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It seems your hands are full Mama Bear. I appreciate the thread and will monitor it. I will respond when things slow down some. The thread isn't going anywhere soon and I'm here every day.
 

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4giv3n1 -

With my statement I wasn't trying to convey that the person "swearing to God" was somehow being malicious or untruthful. fi11222 stated that those looking for allegiance with others in a post-SHTF world might find use in "swearing to God" in order to PROVE themselves truthful. The thing that came to my mind, as I am not a Christian, was to ask what he/she would do if they offered "I swear to God" and the person responded that they don't believe in the Christian God.

I like your thoughts on not swearing to God when being untruthful, especially on the stand. I hadn't thought about the breaking of TWO commandments there. However, I wonder if you might explain why you feel swearing to God is "disrespectful," assuming you are telling the truth when you swear? (Honest question, nothing more.)
Because Jesus said not to swear by anything. Let your yes be yes and your no be no.

Matthew 5:33-37 (NIV)
33"Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.' 34But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; 35or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
 
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MamaBear - Ah, okay. Now that I've read through your post again, I see that you were just speaking in reference to the other thread. I haven't read that one, but I think you expressed your views rather well on the subject of working closely with gods in meaningful ways other than strict worship.

Personally, though I'm not a big fan of his work, I like how Steve Blamires states his view of deity in his book Glamoury: "[...] each god and goddess has a different personality, psyche, purpose, and function [...] The gods and goddesses are archetypes, non-human beings who are symbols of macrocosmic and microcosmic principles which apply to and affect us all. Their functions rarely alter, and the experiences you will have with them [...] will give you an understanding of cosmic principles and laws which explain the workings of the universe [...]"

4giv3n1 - Now that you quote the whole passage, I remember it quite well. Thanks for the refresher! I appreciate you taking the time to answer the question.. again. lol.
 

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MB, it seems to me that it is not necessary that everybody be a monotheist in order to benefit from this advantage in striking deals.

What I am trying to say is that the earliest recorded users of the concept of an unique God were small groups of tribesmen wandering in the wilderness and having problems with sharing wells, stolen cattle, the occasional barter between them and so on. They were a small subgroup of a vast number of semitic tribes in the same area, most of which held different theological views. This is pretty much what the earliest part of the story of Abraham in Genesis tells us about.

Now it seems that although they were surrounded by peoples who did not have this view of God, the fact that these few small tribes worshiped an unique YHWH proved to be an advantage and helped them first survive and then become a successful settled people.

Now, in a post SHTF world, the situation will be pretty much the same as that faced by Abrahamic tribesmen in the early first millenium BC. Small groups of people wandering around; some of them holding monotheist views of the Deity and others having various other spiritual views including none at all. What I am asking is: will not history repeat itself ? Will not the monotheists be at an advantage and eventually be more successful at first surviving and then rebuilding civilization ?

I am not saying that monotheism is the be-all and end-all of survival. I am just saying that it seems likely to give you a slight advantage when it comes to striking deals (slightly less time haggling maybe, or slightly higher probability of deal not breaking or whatever). Maybe this slight advantage is enough to tip the balance in favor of those groups holding monotheist views. What I am saying is that when you put monotheist human bacteria together with non monotheist bacteria in a petri dish that looks like a post SHTF world, it seems that the monotheist bacteria have a slightly higher rate of survival than the others; the reason being that they are slightly better at striking deals.

When you look at the western half of Eurasia (including the Middle East and North Africa) in 1000 BC, what you see is a myriad of very varied polytheist groups with just a tiny proportion of would be monotheists lost in the middle of it. When you look at the same area in 1000 AD, you only see monotheists (Christians in the NW section and Muslims in the SE with a smattering of Jews in both). 2000 years is a short timespan in human history. When it comes to scientific experiments, this one seems to have a very clear cut result.

What do you think ?
 

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Because Jesus said not to swear by anything. Let your yes be yes and your no be no.
I think you are right but you are arguing on a different level and from within the monotheist perspective. I will answer you at length but later because I would like first to know what Penny, Mamma Bear and others think of what I just said in the above post.
 

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Great conversation guys.

To go back to the original question MB posted from AJ to start the thread....."I would enjoy seeing you begin a thread naming all of your gods and explaining their individual purpose and perhaps some examples of their accomplishments."

My personal example of a form of god and an "accomplishment" would be when I was in recovery from a broken neck at the age of 25. I did not primarily pray to an individual god at this time. I notice that THROUGHOUT my spiritual exploration I always tend to have a pantheist view. A naturalistic pantheist view really. I felt this way even as a kid raised in the Catholic church. God was everywhere right! Even a monotheistic god. So my brain took that literally. I am sure that it helped being raised in a very rural setting.
Long story short, centering myself around this pantheist belief brought me immediate psychological and physical relief and comfort.

As far as AJ's request for an "individual purpose" for this form of God. I can not say. (maybe on a very abstract level- to keep balance in the universe...but I don't really like that...) I can only say that MY purpose was to bring comfort and healing to myself.

Also,

fi11222-

Could you please explain what you mean by "false "neutrality". I don't know if it was you, but I saw this in another thread just recently. I am interested to here your thoughts on this as I wonder if I would fall into this category according to you. Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter #19
In ancient times- most people believed in Deity. Nowadays it's split- and, at least here in the States, you would have many who, if you swore your oath "to God" would have LESS confidence than had you just made your oath based on the power of your word. So I disagree that oaths supported by a monotheistic deity would carry any benefit- apart to *possibly* those who followed said deity.

Remember- if TSHTF, we're not going to suddenly (or even necessarily slowly) return to those ancient mindsets. :) And people nowadays simply do not view Deity *or* oaths in the same manner. Reputation would IMO become the new "God" to swear an oath by if need be.



MB, it seems to me that it is not necessary that everybody be a monotheist in order to benefit from this advantage in striking deals.

What I am trying to say is that the earliest recorded users of the concept of an unique God were small groups of tribesmen wandering in the wilderness and having problems with sharing wells, stolen cattle, the occasional barter between them and so on. They were a small subgroup of a vast number of semitic tribes in the same area, most of which held different theological views. This is pretty much what the earliest part of the story of Abraham in Genesis tells us about.

Now it seems that although they were surrounded by peoples who did not have this view of God, the fact that these few small tribes worshiped an unique YHWH proved to be an advantage and helped them first survive and then become a successful settled people.

Now, in a post SHTF world, the situation will be pretty much the same as that faced by Abrahamic tribesmen in the early first millenium BC. Small groups of people wandering around; some of them holding monotheist views of the Deity and others having various other spiritual views including none at all. What I am asking is: will not history repeat itself ? Will not the monotheists be at an advantage and eventually be more successful at first surviving and then rebuilding civilization ?

I am not saying that monotheism is the be-all and end-all of survival. I am just saying that it seems likely to give you a slight advantage when it comes to striking deals (slightly less time haggling maybe, or slightly higher probability of deal not breaking or whatever). Maybe this slight advantage is enough to tip the balance in favor of those groups holding monotheist views. What I am saying is that when you put monotheist human bacteria together with non monotheist bacteria in a petri dish that looks like a post SHTF world, it seems that the monotheist bacteria have a slightly higher rate of survival than the others; the reason being that they are slightly better at striking deals.

When you look at the western half of Eurasia (including the Middle East and North Africa) in 1000 BC, what you see is a myriad of very varied polytheist groups with just a tiny proportion of would be monotheists lost in the middle of it. When you look at the same area in 1000 AD, you only see monotheists (Christians in the NW section and Muslims in the SE with a smattering of Jews in both). 2000 years is a short timespan in human history. When it comes to scientific experiments, this one seems to have a very clear cut result.

What do you think ?
 

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fi11222-

I too agree that being monotheistic in your beliefs does not necessarily give one a better advantage.

Someone swearing to God that they aren't going to kill me is a nice sentiment and nothing more. It's the same as swearing on their dead grandmother's grave. What was that movie where the guy did that and then killed the guy anyway and said "I don't have a dead grandmother." Swearing oaths whether it's to God, a dead grandmother, or just swearing you're honest in general does not mean that others are going to trust you.

Are you saying that monotheistic people will only work with other monotheists? In the example that I gave when someone swears to God and is answered by I don't believe in your God, does this mean that you would not trade with those people, offer help to them, or take help in return, because they did not swear to your God? If this is the case, then I think monotheists would be at a DIS-advantage.

I believe that people in a post-SHTF situation will be more cautious regardless of faith. I think your oath to your God will mean a lot less to them than it does to you. Plenty of people proclaiming themselves as God-fearing Christians have committed atrocities. So have many people who belong to other religions. I don't think by making a statement of faith in an oath will get you any breaks, and like MamaBear said, might even make them less trustworthy of you.

I agree that it will be reputation that wins in the end. If you are well known as an honest, decent, stand-up guy, then people will tend to trust you more. I don't think you should expect people just to trust you 100% immediately simply because you swear to God.
 
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