A (LaVeyan) Satanist and an atheist walk into a bar. No, wait, it was a conversation on Facebook. And… This isn’t the start of a joke, even though, for all intents and purposes, these two people are both atheists.
The other day, someone posted a hyperbolically ridiculous news article about Satanist theists — the kind of people who perform a sort of mental gymnastics by claiming to worship a deity, which is actually the polar opposite construct of the God of Abraham. Being a LaVeyan Satanist, I followed my very limited compulsion to enter the conversation just to say “These guys aren’t Satanists. They are theists.”
You see, LaVeyan Satanism is a form of atheism. It’s a rejection of all forms of theism, on the principle that God is a human construct, and therefore worship of God is, by extension, worship of the human(s) responsible for the very concept of this deity. In other words, religion is a fool’s preoccupation. I know, for many people who believe in a higher power, what I just wrote there is insulting. Bear with me for a moment longer: what I personally believe in my (relatively) private thoughts has no bearing on what other people believe — even those people who believe in a higher power.
What I personally believe was not determined for the express purpose of being a patronizing asshole to people who believe in and worship a deity, and in fact have a lot of respect for theists of all kinds — as long as they extend respect to me. And many do. In other words, I don’t have to be an asshole or in any way patronizing to people who believe something different. It serves no purpose whatsoever, and actually stands in violation to another principle of LaVeyan Satanism: reciprocating equal respect. When a person treats me with respect as their equal, I extend the same to them. When a person treats me as though they are superior to me, I give them a taste of what it feels like on my end.
So when some atheist philosophy dudebro comes back to a conversation that sensationalizes Satanism in the very manner that inspired the often antagonistic and sarcastic text of The Satanic Bible in the first place, as well as the deliberately chosen name of this philosophy—Satanism—and starts trying to ‘splain to me how I allegedly worship a Thing that would be impossible without the Abrahamic faith that defined it, I’m going to lose my patience with him very quickly. Only I don’t have to. He did first, by declaring that every Satanist (except me, because I guess I’m special) is a moron, childish, fundamentally ignorant, and wrong in every conceivable way. What’s the fucking point of being in a conversation like this?
I mean really. What is even the point of this “conversation”? So I disengage.
It’s now been two days of receiving essays about how “There’s nothing wrong about being wrong”, direct to my inbox, from this same atheist philosophy dudebro — someone who apparently has no reading comprehension at all, or if he did, we wouldn’t be in this lecture of his about his fundamental misunderstanding of an atheist philosophy. One that says that man is a carnal animal, distinguished from all others by little more than his capacity to think far beyond his carnal needs. One who is creative. One who can be inspired. One who can seek knowledge. But most importantly, one who can understand and apply the principle of doubt. For doubt is what distinguishes knowing Things from the wisdom to know how to use that knowledge, and what distinguishes mere knowledge from enlightenment.
There’s nothing childish or fundamentally ignorant about it.
There’s also nothing fundamentally selfish about Satanism, despite the fact that LaVey wrote that if one feels compelled to worship something or someone, it should be oneself. It also promotes moral humanism and a strong sense of social justice. You know. Things that dudebro’s approach to the subject matter flies in the face of. The very approach LaVey anticipated when he chose to name it Satanism, for someone who knows the Satanist within himself would find these uninformed and sensationalist critiques hilarious, for they are doing the work of the very religious institutions the person offering this critique takes such strong exception to.
In the end, whether I choose to engage any further or not, I won this argument when dudebro posted the article that sensationalizes a bunch of alleged fools who claim worship an uncritical inversion of Christianity—people who themselves are probably deliberately and falsely promoting a sensationalist conception of Satanism, simply to throw “prayer in schools” back in the faces of the religious communities making demands for it.
I guess atheist philosophy dudebro just didn’t think of that.