Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Lucifer's Handbook: A Simplified Critique of Popular Religion

Book Review: Lucifer’s Handbook: A Simplified Critique of Popular Religion by Lee Carter  (Academic Associates 1977)

Here is a review I wrote in the late 80’s when I was perhaps more stifled and annoyed by “popular religion,” especially the sea of Christianity we all seemed to have to swim in. The review has little detail and wanders on to topics independent of the book but that is the way it is. It was originally published by me in a magickal zine I did around 1990:

This was a most delightful treat for those intuitively skeptical toward theism, specifically the ubiquitous Christianity. Mr. Carter has done tediously excellent job of “bringing to light” the numerous contradictions in the xtian bible. He also demonstrates how each sect doctinizes a set of bible teachings while ignoring those that contradict.

Throughout the text there is logical convincing argument rejecting traditional philosophical “proofs” of the existence of God. He confronts the teleological argument; that God exists since the order and patterns of nature must have had a designer, by pointing out that nature is not as orderly as we would like to think and that we do not need God in order to explain nature. He deals with the cosmological argument; that God is the first cause (primum mobile) of all events, by suggesting that one need not assume an ultimate beginning of the universe.

This book contains some of the clearest summaries I have come across of such scientific ideas as the nature of matter, basic time-relativity, and the biology of genetics and evolution. Indeed, Mr. Carter embraces scientific humanism as a highly relevant philosophy, although he does examine the limits of science as well.

For me, scientific humanism would be somewhere betwixt gnosticism/agnosticism and atheism. Gnosticism (used in context meaning the general philosophical idea rather than the religions of the name), where one asserts only what one knows to be true and agnosticism, where one does not assert what is unknowable – should be generally understood to be at odds with theism, where one asserts the existence of something without conclusive proofs, and atheism, where one asserts that something does not or cannot exist, without conclusively proving so, although the scales of logic seem to give more credence to atheism than to theism. These ideas are pointed out emphatically by Z. Cox in Arrow 20 (British occult magazine and editor from the 1980’s).

Atheism can also be used in the context of rejecting a specific theism, such as Christianity, or of all theisms containing inexaminable dogmas. Therefore I would put to re-examination the statement (by Z. Cox in Arrow 20) that atheism and occultism are mutually exclusive. If this means that occultism is necessarily theistic then I would tend to disagree and regard this as a dangerously narrow assumption. For me, modern occultism is best evaluated on a gnostic/agnostic basis. If one likens occultism to science (both are wrought with subtleties and full of mysteries unresolved) then atheism and occultism are not necessarily incompatible. It is my hope that modern occultism will move further away from theistic tradition. Is it not so that Current 93 involves the destruction and reconfiguration of tradition?

One of the primary values of such a treatise as “Lucifer’s Handbook” is in toning one’s blasphemy complex. It entices one to rebel by casting the lantern of reason upon dogma. After all, Lucifer is the bringer of light, of clear vision. Every philosophy and religion is likely to contain points of arguable contradiction, therefore blasphemy can be valid and healthy, even towards one’s own beliefs. Our friend Bob acknowledges this most honestly by the sacred invitation “or kill me!”All in al this book is invaluable in the arsenal against “thou shalt have faith.”

                                                                     Dogma I = I am God

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