Happy Mani’s Day
For this run through the Nine Noble Virtues (NNV), I am adding the theme of how atheism and religion can affect our understanding of them. As I have mentioned before, I am an atheist that still practices the NNV of Asatru because it is a good list of virtues and the conceptualization by the Asatru Community is solid when it comes to virtue. The NNV is a solid list of virtues to meditate and act on. We begin with Honor.
First I want to give credit to Aron Ra, atheist, and YouTuber. It was he who in a comment inspired my meditations on honor, shame, and religion.
Honor is a virtue that I struggle with and that is fairly normal for people who take Honor seriously. The one thing I am going to propose today is that Religion robs one of Honor. There is a debate about religions affects on honor in the Athiest community and perhaps rightly so but to me either you are going to becomes so prideful of your religion that you will have no honor or be humiliated by your religion so you have no shame.
Shame is connected with honor as it is what causes one to try to get back on an honorable path. Without shame, honor is not possible and religious people who have been humiliated (not humbled) by cultic behavior have no shame so they have no honor either. This why I feel atheism actually promotes honor and shame so that a person keeps their life on an honorable path.
To the Wolves and Ravens:
“Feed the Wolves, but Listen to the Ravens first.”
Why do we need honor? Because without it we would justify any action against another without shame. You can see this in cults who humiliate their members as part of the initiation process. Once humiliated, they can be convinced to do absolutely horrible actions with no remorse. There isn’t anything a person who is humiliated by a group will not do for the approval of the group. They will whore, steal and kill just to get a pat on the head having been reduced to the level of a dog. Honor and Shame are needed to feel any self-value, but self-value is the last thing religions want you to have. Atheism is all about self-value by contrast.
As I have been throwing off the shackles of my former faith I realize that this was my struggle as a pastor. “To be greatest among us, you must become the servant of all’ are the paraphrased words of Jesus of Nazareth, but this implied a humbling, not humility. Voluntary slavery is still slavery and there is no honor in slavery. It is why I want Honor to keep from being a slave. No gods, no masters. It is my primary motivation now to free myself from religion and its gods and as a libertarian from the negative powers of the state that also enslave by trying to be my master.
Honor cannot be appealed to unless it is first approached by reason. Actions towards others have to be rationally thought through if possible and one of the considerations is whether any action is honorable or would it bring shame. ‘Is this action reasonable and honorable’ is a noble consideration before doing anything toward another and about yourself. From an atheist standpoint, the evolution of social actions has lead us to create the concept of honor to govern actions toward each other and toward ourselves.
The wisdom of this is seen in that regardless of honor becomes the wise basis of all interaction. No religion required. Survival and prosperity depend on honor. Where it is present both are possible. Where honor is not present, both survival and prosperity are in jeopardy.
Honor is difficult but absolutely worth it. The one thing I would note: it is my atheism provides that I now can say I engage in honor, not to appease any god or please any master. I do for myself and there is nothing wrong with avoiding shame and upholding personal honor. It is the basis for all human dignity – both mine and yours.
The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.