Greetings, a question posed and prompted by a TV programme due to air this week, exploring whether science and religion are mutually exclusive or whether they can co-exist, can they both be right? I will share some musings of my own, but ultimately only you can decide for yourself!
Do they Gods exist? In a world of science, of learning, of the internet and the fact that most subjects can be researched in a short time from the vast archives of data that is available online, does the existance of semi-mystical higher beings whose existance cannot be proven through observational scientific rationalisation actually still have meaning in the modern world?
I have to say, that for myself, they have as much meaning as do our Ancestors, without the toil and advancement of our predecessors, without their physical and mental evolution, without their sufferring and their joys we would not be the people we are today.
Are the Gods Real? What is the nature of their existance? Are they actual non-corporeal entities that are existant in their own right, either within our physical realm or upon another plane of existance? Are they nothing more than the result of mass delusion of many peoples seeking explanations of physical phenomena that was outside their experience base? Are they entities brought into existance by the energy expended in their worship by those who have followed them? Are they nothing more than a personal psychological construct that we each fabricate into our own reality in order to externalise issues / areas we wish to work with in order to make sense of them for ourselves? Are they now outmoded, the reasons for the belief in them no longer valid with our more scientific understanding of the world around us? Are they nothing more than a means of control of the masses by the powered elite? Are they all of the above?
Before you can truly answer these for yourself you have to understand exactly what is 'reality', we each experience the world generally through our five physical senses, and understand it through the use of our inbuilt supercomputer, our brains. This is perhaps the simplest way to look at reality, but each of us carries around our own 'programming' for our brains, life experiences and lessons, personal feelings and thoughts, personal beliefs and experiences of things beyond the physical all contribute to our own worldview, our own set of filters through which we process our daily experiences and this is what our own 'reality' is truly made up of.
Our Ancestors would have looked at natural phenomena such as Thunder, Lightning, earthquakes, droughts, storms, etc and come to the conclusions that they were the results of actions of supernatural Gods, that is definitely not to say they were any less civilised than ourselves, nor any less intelligent, but that they had a different worldview and way of looking at things that allowed them to explain these phenomena in a way that worked for them. From their initial understanding and the rise of stories about the Gods, through to experiences of interracting with the Gods (both through trance, dream states, etc and through direct interactions whilst fully awake - actual experiences or delusions/halucinations I will leave to yourself to decide) these beliefs became strengthened and a part of their own personal reality for many of our ancestors.
Nowadays we may understand that Thunder and Lightning are the results of charged particles earthing out from charged Cumulo Nimbus clouds and not the results of arguments between Thor/Zeus/Thunnor etc and other Gods, but does that understanding actually have as much beauty as the other older way of looking at things, does it have more impact upon our lives than did the other explanations? For most of us understanding the more scientific explanations doesnt make them more real to us individually than it did to our ancestors who believed that the Gods were behind the phenomena! In fact, with most of us having heard the mythological explanation at some point in our lives (usually when we were smaller), I would say that the older explanation holds more beauty and realism to most of us than does the dryer scientific explanation.
We may understand (or at least have been introduced to even if we dont fully understand) the scienctific explanation for many of the phenomena of the natural world surrounding us, but we also have our own personal experiences of things that we have individually experienced that we have no rational explanation for, times when we have experienced deja vie, times we have felt the touch of something 'other', times we have experienced something beyond the 5 physical senses, you can ascribe these experiences to misfiring of the synapses within our brain, or to our imagination or delusions caused by optical/physical effects beyond our understanding, but whatever their reasons they become a part of our individual worldview, our own reality, and affect the way that we perceive the world(s) around us.
Unlike most of the 'traditional' 'book' religions being a Pagan means we do not generally have any 'priest' who intercedes with the Gods on our behalf, we do not have any religious leader who tells us what to believe, what to think and keeps us inline with the organisational viewpoint, we have to make our own minds up, using our own experience and accumulated knowledge and wisdom, this means that for us there is no real dichotomy between science and religion, we can take scientific knowledge and apply it to our own understanding / worldview and reality and use it to reinforce our own beliefs.
Whether you feel that the Gods exist as separate entities that predate our race, whether they are entities that have been created by the beliefs and energy that has been devoted to them by many people over past millenia, whether they are personal constructs and a part of ourselves truly does not matter in the slightest to anyone but ourselves, as long as it works for yourself!
Personally from many different viewpoints I believe the Old Ones exist, that they have meaning and validity in the modern world, they are inspirational, they provide a connection to the Ancestors and to the Land, they alow us to look at our lives in a different way, they allow us to define ourselves against them and to experience a more magical, mystical and wonderful reality than we are able if we do not aknowledge their existance. They are also much more besides, but that is something that is purely personal, that you have to experience for yourselves, so I shall halt my discourse there for now and allow you to ponder for yourselves.
As I said at the beginning of these musings, only you can truly decide for yourself what the Gods are, whether they exist and whether they have validity in the modern world that we now inhabit!