The modern-day atheists and I have a similar root in that we reject mainstream Christianity, though the atheists arrive at different conclusions than I.
Make no mistake: I was once a rabid atheist, the sort that would make Dawkins and his ilk blush (or possibly cheer), the sort that hated any and all religion and most especially Christianity.
I understand the experience from the inside-out.
Much, if not the majority, of today’s atheism in the West is aligned with progressivism, humanism, and liberalism in some capacity, and at its heart, atheism is a rejection of theistic personalism. Theistic personalism is defined as the idea that God (here defined as the Christian God) is literally a being not unlike us that’s likely also anthropomorphic and cares about each and every one of us in an individual way; Jesus, in fact, cares about what you ate for dinner.
This kind of theology is damning because any lack of response from God then becomes the lack of evidence needed to invalidate its existence.
To get to my point, it’s difficult for people to escape the more subtle levels of theology that influenced us at any point in time, and so we carry those subtle notions with us as we argue against it or find new paths.
Thus the same argument might be applied on the polytheistic level- why do the gods not respond?
And here is where I must bring the rude awakening to the table- who the fuck do you think you are?
We’re talking about gods, beings that don’t need you and indeed can exist fine without you and existed before you were born and so on. Who do you think you are, going to those gods, knocking on their doors, that they should pay attention to you?
How many rituals have you done to a chosen deity? How often have you dreamed of that deity, had visions of that deity, prayed to that deity, made offerings and sacrifices to that deity?
You say, “I prayed, and this or that deity didn’t answer, so they must not be real.”
Well, have you tried calling a CEO at a company? Did the CEO respond to you immediately and meet your exact demand? What about the President of the United States or even a Senator or Representative?
It can be something of a hit-and-miss process.
It’s incredibly arrogant to think you can petition a deity with whom you have no established working relationship and that they’ll grant you what you ask; don’t assume your role in the universe is so highly important that your offerings and rituals even get the attention of said deity the first time, maybe not even the first twenty times.
Don’t assume a deity will ever want to work with you. That’s not how the gods and spirits role. It is not up to you; it’s up to them.
Persistence is key.
Again, I will point out that my conception of the polytheistic deities are not beings that are omnipotent, omniscient, or omnipresent, and not omnibenevolent, either. There may exist such a reality, and of course in Gnosticism we would call that Reality “God,” but “God” is unlike the typical monotheistic idea of a God, and is far, FAR beyond our ability to understand or reckon with.
This has been your daily Cup of Steve.