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Comparative Religion

Just an observation and comment. I notice that atheists refer to themselves as "heathens" or "godless heathens" at times; christians refer to atheists as heathen as well. I understand the reasoning behind this, and I don't necessarily object to it. I just find it a bit amusing cause I'm a heathen but not in the atheist sense.

Here's how I(and others of my faith) use heathenry(or heathenism). It's basically the label we use for those who follow a germanic pagan tradition, usually polytheistic. An oversimplification would be to say it's the religion of the ancient vikings reconstructed. We use "heathen" rather than "pagan" because it has a germanic etymology, and there's an aversion to associating ourselves with the pagans(neo-pagans), despite the fact that we are pagans as well. Probably because pagans tend to be seen as flaky, new age types.

For more info on heathenry the wikipedia portal isn't too shabby:

The definition for heathen: a person who does not believe in an orthodox religion. That does not mean - does not worship a deity - or have a religion.

I think its the Christians that are confused about the meaning of heathen - not most atheists. Non-belief in the "Christian God" does not mean that person is an atheist as the Christians seem to think because their Christian websites definition for irreligious (Synonyms) agnostic, atheistic, heathen, idolatrous, impious, infidel, polytheistic, profane (Antonyms) believing, religious. The only one of those terms that clearly means irreligious is atheistic. Agnostic (means no knowledge) but they can be theist. An infidel can be anyone who is not Muslim. The rest of those terms could be used to describe religions other than Christian but they do not have to be irreligious.

The meaning of heathen has varied over time, but it has never designated people with a complete absence of supernatural belief or a religion. Heathens are not atheists and the term does not mean atheist. Heathen is a different word entirely with a different etymology; Old English via Norse. The original Heathens were the pre-Christian North European peoples who lived a thousand and more years ago in the lands around what is now called the North Sea. These included the peoples of Anglo-Saxon England, Scandinavia, Germany and Frisia (Friesland). Heathen gods come from Norse Mythology.

Many scholars have found through extensive research that miracle-working sons of God, born of a mortal woman were common elements of Pagan religion that preceded Christianity. Heaven, hell, prophecy, sacrifice, baptism, communion, monotheism, the Holy Spirit and immortality can be found in earlier Pagan faiths. This came from ancient Mediterranean culture. Constantine worshipped the sun god Sol Invitus, the Romanized version of Mithra, until he died.

Read Ezekiel the eighth chapter, verse fourteen, and you'll see that Ezekiel referred to the women who were standing before the gate of the house of Jehovah, weeping over Tammuz. Tammuz was born of a virgin, Sumerian-Babylonian, savior-god, who died and was resurrected, and each spring, in this ceremony, the women wept and wailed over his death, and then a few days later, they celebrated his resurrection. It's a pagan custom. Christianity is based on pagan dates and calendar. Why is December 25 important in pagan lore (in the Northern Hemisphere at least). The answer is simple, the sun descends to its lowest point on the horizon on December 22 where it remains until December 25. That is, the sun reaches its lowest point for 3 days and then is "resurrected". The whole Christian story is based on this and other astrological events.

A belief in the supernatural is not atheistic. Atheists are not heathens and heathens are not atheists.

Tell that to the atheists that refer to themselves as heathens.

Anyone can flaunt their ignorance. Christians do it all the time. People can say anything - it doesn't mean that it's true.


Most atheists do not believe in an orthodox religion. That makes them heathens by the definition you supplied.

"The meaning of heathen has varied over time, but it has never designated people with a complete absence of supernatural belief or a religion." Neither does "atheist".

"A belief in the supernatural is not atheistic." As long as it's not a divine supernatural entity, it is.

Perhaps you should consider the term "naturalist". Wiki defines "naturalism" like so: "Naturalism is the belief that only natural laws and forces (as opposed to supernatural ones) operate in the world and that nothing exists beyond the natural world."

Oh! If first you don't succeed -- try, try again! A heathen is a person who worships a god other than yours. An atheist worships no god. A heathen can be a member of a religion that worships a god. A heathen could worship more than one god. The term atheist cannot define all heathens. The term atheist is properly used only to define no belief in any gods not just the accepted god or religion.

People who worshiped the Norse Gods of Europe before Christianity were called heathens. Atheists don't worship anything or any gods. Maybe you should consider the reason there is no belief in supernatural miracles; like creation, the resurrection or beings like gods, angels or demons. It's the fact that there is no proof of the existence of anything supernatural. Unless every controlled test ever done was supervised by a delusional scientist that didn't know what reality was. We have an atheist group and nobody here wants to be around people who subscribe to supernatural B.S. and that is our own prerogative -- other people can do whatever they want -- it's there problem. We don't go to church either.

And, yet again, you can believe in ghosts, leprechauns, big foot, the Loch Ness monster, unicorns, and/or any number of supernatural creatures and still be an atheist. They could also worship spirits or Buddha and still be atheists, as long as they don't consider them gods. Regarding heathens, I used the definition Linda supplied to point out that the definition she supplied included atheists. By THIS definition, "A heathen is a person who worships a god other than yours," atheists aren't heathens. And then you run off on a tangent; just like a certain "other" member. It's so odd that there's so "many" of you that can't seem to keep to the topic.

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