måndag 19 juli 2010

Atheist Zoroastrianism

XoXo assumes we need to react against Abrahamic monotheism.
But as Mazdayasni this is irrelevant to us. In this sense, we are all atheists from the very beginning.
Atheism is namely always a reaction against a specific form of theism (atheism has no substance in itself, it is just the opposite of something already assumed).
So if our starting point is Pantheism rather than Abrahamic monotheism, we really don't need the term atheism anymore (I have never heard of an apantheism).

2010/7/19 Parviz Varjavand

Dear friends,

Sometimes friends send me their ideas and want to share their views with me. I received one such post from a concerned Zoroastrian and would like very much to know your reactions and views on what this person wants to express.


Why I am an Atheist Zoroastrian

1. What is Z to me.
The religion in which can be found the concept that humans must exercise choice, and their Vohu Manah, to judge the world, and also use their Spenta Mainyu, or progressive mind, to improve the world. The natural tendency of man to judge others and the world, the tendency which is usually decried as beneath contempt, is enshrined in this religion. This second duty of trying to fix things ensures that a smart Ashavan will not pick fights or judge rudely but work to maintain his power by building groups that agree with him so that he can exercise power and be a force for good, as he sees it. Finally, the concept of Asha always stands as a reminder to an Ashavan that maybe the way things are is fine just as it is and doesn’t need improvement, if he is looking at a system, like a jungle or a primitive society, which has been able to find some harmonic balance with time.
These concepts are contained in a religion which has a god, but which also has a confusing array of traditions and writings as a result of a confused evolution over time. Zoroastrians will want to repair and simplify and “clean up” this religion on a regular basis, a drive which I am well aware of since I have wanted to do it plenty in my own time. As I will show in part 3 below, the confusing body of myth can actually be one of Zoroastrianism’s greatest assets.

2. Why am I Atheist and what this means to me.
I am not against myth and fabrication in and of itself but rather the human need for it. This need is childish, but that in and of itself is not so bad, as many of our best attributes are childish. The dark side of this need is that it tends to make people commit to things that are fabrication, and in time build their whole lives around improvable superstition. Collecting like-minded friends becomes critical to support the essentially rotten foundation of such a life and when combined with the natural sociability of humans makes our species prone to forming super-families based on myth. The myths become hard-edged and unforgiving in order to weld these super-families into tight groups and because the competitiveness of humans tends to foster rivalry between the super-families. The commitment to the myths in order to preserve identity and competitive strength results in humans putting aside their minds and doing things and believing in ridiculous things they would never agree to otherwise.

The hardening of the myth usually takes the form of the members needing to testify to true-believer statements of various types. Saying that one does not believe in God will usually short-circuit such questions and reveal one to be a person who is not a part of such a super-family. This is what I mean when I say I am atheist -- not so much that I don’t believe in some cosmic conception of a possible God but specifically that I don’t believe in the God that the most successful super-families of humans have made to be the foundation of their identities. It would be better to call me secular rather than atheist.

3. How do the two combine.
Not believing in God leaves one burgeoning super-family open for membership, which is that of the Atheists. Here is where the mumbo-jumbo that is part of Zoroastrianism protects one -- although I am forced to give a positive answer to the ultimate true-believer question of an Atheist super-family, I keep myself from committing to them by saying that I like all of the confused myth which can be found within Zoroastrianism.
Thus I give my ducklings an identity which cannot co-opt them into sacrificing themselves for a real religion. Their commitment to Iran as the repository of Zoroastrian myth will keep them from being swallowed up by America or France and their being Atheist in the ultimate meaning of the world and not being part of the Moslem super-family will keep them from being co-opted by Iran. Thus I give them an identity which cannot be co-opted by a single country. The net effect is one of much more freedom than most people give their children.