Describing what Hellenismos is and why I advocate it.
I have been atheistic most of my life. I have been a skeptic all my life. I find it difficult to matter-of-factly take what another proclaims to be true and believe it without evidence. On the other hand, there can be truths that cannot, and possibly will never be proven. So I have come to the conclusion that to have a well rounded belief system, I must adhere to science (what we know with fairly high confidence) and what I perceive through my life's experiences.
I have always had a problem with Christianity for a variety of reasons. For one thing, they're too pushy. They act as though they are positive they are correct, when they are speculating like the rest of us. We don't have enough information to realistically come to a conclusion, so we use our intuition to fill in the gaps. The problem is, if theism is true (i.e. there is a God or Gods), it is a concept that we are incapable of fully understanding or perceiving of. Therefore, we must be open to other possibilities, that is, if one is truly after the truth. Many simply believe something for the sole reason that the belief is appealing to them; it elevates their status, makes them money, or otherwise benefits them somehow. They seem to have a selective adherence to the Bible, adhering to some principles and ignoring others. Another reason to believe is to fit into a group. We are, after all, a tribal species. We have an instinctive urge to be an accepted member of the tribe, just as a dog/wolf gets separation anxiety when separated from the pack, so too, do we know that survival would be very difficult, or worse, without others.
A second reason I have a problem with Christianity is it's based on one book, with thousands of contradictions and discrepancies. It is clearly, so scholars tell us, written by multiple people, hundreds of years after the fact. It's simply too obscure to take as gospel (pun intended).
A third reason I have a problem with Christianity is that it is a negative religion. It assumes we are inherently bad, and many of our pleasures are taboo. I don't see why you cannot have a religion that allows the pleasures of life, as long as those pleasures are not taken to excess. Incidentally, "nothing to excess" is a primary philosophy of Hellenismos, but more on that later. Christianity seems to give an "I'm right, you're wrong" attitude which gives rise to war and adversity, either in the name of, or supported by their religion. A Greek (I can’t remember which one) said “Myth is what people of one faith call other people's religion”.
The fourth reason Christianity doesn't quite fit is the very idea of one God controlling all. If He does control all, He isn't too skilled at it yet. When a tsunami hits they either say the people that died deserved it, or they say "God works in mysterious ways", both of which are not adequate explanations to explain the events. To me, if one God controls all: nature, the universe, all physical phenomena, then everything would work in unison and harmony. But, as we all know, nature seems to have an abundance of opposing forces, constantly working against each other until one wins out. Weather is a good example. Therefore, multiple Gods seem to explain better the way things work. The Christian God seems to make mistakes even in the bible. He wants the Israelites to wipe out some people for him, men, women , and children, presumably because He didn’t like his own creation, and wants the amusement of watching mortals wipe them out when He could do it instantly. The flood is a good example of Him deciding He messed up and wanting to start over again.
These reasons I've gathered through my life's experiences. I decided that theism could have a part in my philosophy when I looked at the unanswered and mysterious questions of the universe. Science can explain the mechanics quite well, but not fully, and as long as there are major unanswered questions, such as: Why does the universe assume this particular form (physics) and not another? What existed before the present form of the universe? What is this consciousness/self-awareness I and, apparently, most animals experience? I could go on, but you get the idea. There is room for deities in our lives, the essence of which, we cannot even conceive of. Now we get to the ancient Greek Gods of old, who seem to be experiencing a present day comeback of sorts. This modern day version of that religion is called Hellenismos, among other names.
The ancient Greeks were extremely perceptive of reality, of our world. They even speculated that there must be smaller particles that all matter is made up of. Thousands of years later we “discovered” the atom. The Greeks knew there was something there, but they couldn’t describe it in any detail. Just as we sense there is something in the universe more than we conceive of, and call them God(s). Greek mythology is the Greek’s attempt, through stories and symbolism to humanize, make understandable, their speculation of the nature of the universe. Socrates said, when speaking of afterlife, “Of course, one can't expect any one with any sense or education to believe that what I have just said is exactly or even remotely like what happens literally in reality. But what I have just said is more or less how it is, and we can think of it in that way.” Socrates also said that we can never know the fundamental nature of the Gods, the divine, but we can describe some of the attributes, or aspects of the Gods to try to understand what They are a little better.
There are certain principles that many of those devoted to Hellenismos adheres to. The Delphic Maxims were posted at Delphi , Apollo’s temple. There are many, but some of the ones most often repeated are “nothing to excess”, “know thyself”, “aid friends”, “control anger”, “shun unjust acts”, among others. Just adhering to a couple of these would change one’s life for the better. There were some that don’t really apply to today’s world, but did in their culture. After all, theirs was a very different culture from ours. But most of them are as profound and meaningful today as they were then. The ancient Greeks also valued their home and community. Hestia, Goddess of the Hearth and Home, was always given the first and the last of offerings, for the home was most sacred to the Greeks.
It is my belief that this religion has roots going back thousands of years, possibly to the Paleolithic, when we first started showing signs of culture, such as art, religion, music, etc. There was probably something on the order of a mother goddess in the beginning, which, through the millennia evolved to become the Greek Goddess Artemis. A mother goddess was a common thread in many ancient cultures. I think the Greek pantheon directly evolved from our original religion. Other ancient cultures had similar Gods and Goddesses that, I speculate, were at one time the same Gods until people emigrated, or that were borrowed between peoples in prehistoric times.
My words here are my attempt to explain what I believe and why, using both facts and my life’s experiences. I hope they might inspire you. If they do not, you must explore your own senses to come to a philosophy of life. For we all need one for life to have meaning.