Church of Azazel > Beliefs & principles > Post-Copernican natural theology

Post-Copernican natural theology

by Diane Vera

Copyright © 2004, 2011 by the Church of Azazel. All rights reserved.

Before the astronomer Copernicus (1473 to 1543) discovered that the Earth revolves around the sun, most people assumed that the Earth was the center of the universe. Therefore, many people assumed that both the Earth itself and the humans living on it would be the central focus of the attention of all gods, including even the ultimate God of the cosmos.

Not everyone assumed this. Even back then, there were many who realized that humans are insignificant on an ultimate cosmic level, and that a cosmic (let alone beyond-cosmic) God is highly unlikely to take much direct personal interest in us humans as individuals. In many ancient and traditional polytheisms, the highest gods are thought to be remote and impersonal. Only the lesser gods are thought to have a personal interest in humans. For example, in the Yoruba pantheon, Obatala is the highest of the gods concerned with human affaris, but is not the highest god.

But Christians and verious other people did assume that the entire universe was created with humans in mind, either for our benefit or to our detriment.

Christians believe that their alleged cosmic-creator God is "all-Good" in some sense meaningful to humans, and that their alleged cosmic-creator God is interested in micromanaging human morality.

On the other hand, the ancient Gnostics, observing Nature's many nasty features, concluded that the physical universe must have been created by an evil god, the Demiurge, for the purpose of trapping human souls in matter.

We now know that the Earth is not the center of the universe. Many later scientific discoveries, too, further drive home the insignificance of humans in the cosmic scheme of things. The Earth is but a speck of dust in the physical universe. We humans have lived on this Earth for only a very short time, compared to the total age of the Earth. And we have discovered the role of randomness and chaos in many, many of Nature's mechanisms.

Even before Copernicus, there was plenty of reason not to believe that a cosmic (or beyond-cosmic) God had much direct personal interest in the affairs of humans as individuals. The whole way that life on Earth operates, with nearly all living things feeding on other living things, does not suggest a "moral" God, or a God who cares personally about individual creatures. Nothing in Nature suggests a personal Creator God who desires a personal relationship with humans as individuals.

If indeed there is an ultimate cosmic (or beyond-cosmic) God, then said God probably does not desire a personal parental-like relationship with humans. Both deism and pantheism make a lot more sense than Abrahamic-style theism.

On the other hand, any god who does desire a personal relationship with humans is probably not the ultimate cosmic God. If the entity whom Christians pray to is at all real, in any sense, then he is, most likely, not the true cosmic creator God, but only a much lesser deity, existing only on a much, much smaller-than-cosmic scale.

We of the Church of Azazel believe in the likely existence of many local, non-cosmic-level spirits, some of whom who have formed symbiotic relationships with people, both as individuals and as groups. All the gods that people interact with in a personal way are, most likely, locally-based non-cosmic-level entities, if indeed they exist at all.

Perhaps these gods are part of some much larger, cosmic-level or beyond-cosmic-level deity, like cells of a much larger body. And many people's experiences of the gods do involve "energies" that feel "cosmic." But the focus of the Church of Azazel paradigm is not on a cosmic-level (or beyond-cosmic) understanding of the gods that interact with humans in a personal or quasi-personal way. Rather, we focus on the relevance of these gods to the here-and-now.

Some of us in the Church of Azazel may also believe in an impersonal cosmic or beyond-cosmic God, who may be viewed in either pantheistic or deistic terms, although such a God is not the focus of the Church of Azazel paradigm. In any case, there's no reason to believe that our lives are all being micro-managed according to some coherent centralized cosmic or beyond-cosmic plan.

Our lack of focus on all things cosmic or beyond-cosmic does not mean that we regard our lives as "meaningless." We humans are quite capable of giving "meaning" to our own lives, without any need for a cosmic-creator God to dictate that "meaning." Additionally, some of us may feel "chosen" by one or more gods for some particular purpose -- a purpose we can discover as individuals, but which need not imply anything about the nature of the cosmos as a whole, or any ultimate purpose thereof.

The rituals of the Church of Azazel will be designed to accommodate a range of metaphysical understandings of Satan/Azazel. Satan is addressed as (among other things) "God of this World," where "this world" can have a variety of meanings on a variety of different scales, ranging from local to cosmic, depending on the individual participant's theological beliefs. In terms of the Church of Azazel's paradigm, "this world" is understood to mean at least "the world of us humans here on Earth" -- and possibly more, but any scope beyond that is not directly relevant to the Church of Azazel's paradigm.

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