You know you’ve been thinking this. I have, too.
These are times that make hopeful optimism a serious challenge. The effects of global warming and climate change are accelerating, and it is becoming less and less credible to believe that we are going to policy-and-technology our way out of them. Meanwhile, fascism and authoritarianism are on the rise even in the places that have historically been most resistant to them.
Atheopaganism is, more than anything else, a religion of reality. We don’t tell ourselves reassuring stories about gods bailing us out of our problems or having a plan for us. We don’t pretend that we have magical powers which will enable us to navigate the hardships of a world in upheaval.
That said, Atheopaganism is about creating a better world: a more tolerant, more just world, populated with kinder, better connected and more reasonable people who revere the Sacred Earth and seek to build a society that respects the tolerances of the biosphere. And there are reasons to believe that, despite recent setbacks, those values are on the rise.
But this post isn’t an argument that things will get better. This post is about the worst case scenario: what if it really is true that we are entering a period of global collapse, wherein biodiversity and liberty both crash, sea levels soar, hundreds of millions are rendered climate refugees, and the wheels just generally come off human civilization?
Why should we bother being Atheopagans if that turns out to be true?
Well, let me tell you.
First of all, humans aren’t going to go extinct (yet). I mean, we will, but not in the foreseeable future. Many of us may die, and our life expectancy may plummet, but we are ridiculously adaptable creatures. Between the tools we have created and the knowledge we have amassed, the livable areas of the Earth will continue to be colonized by homo sapiens…and even those which don’t seem livable are likely to continue to have sparse, tough populations of our kind. Short of a massive meteor strike and years of ensuing blacked-out skies, we’re going to be here.
However, many things we take for granted may very well go away. The Internet. Global trade–including of food. Telecommunications. To name a few.
And what is going to help us to survive in this scary New World?
Community. And a clear-eyed willingness to look at reality without the distortions of wishful thinking. Both of which are facilitated by Atheopaganism.
The Earth is still Sacred, even when it is undergoing radical change. The biosphere has been disrupted before. The result? The magnificent paradise that was Earth before human technology. Such a time will come again…whether or not we are there to witness it. It is worth holding in our hearts the love we have for the Earth, even in times when it is growing increasingly hostile to our kind.
Atheopaganism is the kind of practice that can draw like-minded people together in communities of love and mutual support. With our embrace of science, knowledge and life-affirming values can be preserved in these communities, passed on to children. And we can stand together for those in our communities who are targeted by racists, homophobes, misogynists and fascist authoritarians.
If all we are to have is each other, a shared value set, vision, and set of practices are the glue that can create true communities. That can sustain those values through times that discount them.
So I encourage you to reach out to like-minded friends and relations now. Invite them to a Harvest feast. Think about starting some kind of community project: perhaps a vegetable garden.
It’s still going to matter what kind of people we are if everything goes to hell. It’s still going to matter what kind of values we embrace, and what vision of the future of humanity we carry.
I don’t believe it’s going to get as bad as the scenario I have described. Not for quite awhile, anyway.
But even in the worst case scenario, Atheopaganism is still a way to a better life.
Whatever happens, we have only this one, miraculous life to live. Let’s do it the best way we know how.