I've considered myself an animist (in the Daniel Quinn tradition) for the past 8 or 9 years and have only recently decided that I'm actually an atheist. Thank you, Non Profits! I'm pretty sure I've been an atheist for the past 25 years and just didn't want to accept it and therefore kept searching for something that made more sense.

I've been giving a lot of thought to animism and atheism and whether they're compatible. Is there anything about animism that defies atheism?

This is Daniel Quinn's "animist prayer":

"To each is given its moment in the blaze, its spark to be surrendered to another when it is sent so that the blaze may go on.
None can deny its spark to the general blaze and live forever. Each is sent to another some day. You are sent. You are on your way.
I am sent. To the grasses or the lions or the vultures I am sent. My death is the life of another and I will stand again in the wind swept grasses, see through the eyes of the fox, take to the air with the eagle and run in the track of the deer."

This is the heart of animism as I understand it. I think it's a beautiful thing and I don't see a conflict with atheism. But I would really like to hear from anyone who thinks of it differently. I'd like to avoid being an ignorant hypocrite. So....

What do you think?

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If, like me, you include physicalism within your atheism then there is certainly a conflict.

I'm not familiar with Daniel Quinn, and I'm afraid I wasn't able to take much away from that bit of verse, but I understand animism to be something like very broad polytheism without the hierarchy. That is to say, a dualist position assigning 'spirits' to everything but refraining from declaring any particular spirits supreme.

A great many of the arguments against theism are also effective arguments against any dualistic viewpoints. There does not appear to be any more evidence for souls or spirits than there is for any deity. I also seem unable to think of any phenomenon that can only, or even adequately, be explained in terms of spirits and souls.

I will gladly refrain from calling you an ignorant hypocrite (the title hardly fits anyone asking interesting questions) but I don't find animism any more cogent that theism.


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