Satan and Scotsmen

A lot of Satanists put out media on various platforms, and many of those Satanists have decided to pay no attention to or at least make no mention of pseudo groups, particularly The Satanic Temple. I absolutely understand that desire, but I want to deal with a few things head on. This post is partially motivated my a recent social media post on the subject.

The Satanic Temple is not Satanic, and that is not a “no true Scotsman” fallacy. On the surface it definitely looks like one, as the basic structure of the argument when trying to establish it as a fallacious one is:

A: “Satanists are those who find themselves reflected in the Satanic cannon, primarily The Satanic Bible by Anton LaVey”

B: “The Satanic Temple does not adhere to The Satanic Bible, they are still Satanists.”

A: “They aren’t real Satanists.”

The counter argument is generally something relating them to protestants and The Church of Satan to Catholics. Therein lies the flaw in the claim that calling the Satanic Temple un-Satanic is a fallacy. While it is true that Catholics and protestants have significant theological differences, they still fit under the umbrella of Christian because that word is outlined best in the theological (read not organizational) aspects of the Nicene Creed. That creed was created by an examination of Christian literature as a summation  of that literature and thus a good definition of what it means to be Christian. That literature, though, was all created in line with the first texts and schools of thought that self defined as Christian. Whether they were originally labeled as such by others or not is irrelevant, as they were the group of people that adopted the label on themselves.

While there is no “Satanic Nicene Creed” that paints a simple picture of this complex religion, we are the first to codify Satanism and self identify as Satanists. Just as the literature that was  condensed into the Nicene Creed collectively defines Christianity, so too does the literature that codified and later expanded Satanism define Satanism collectively. Just as one would not be a Christian if they did not match with the Nicene Creed and thus the cannon it sprung from, one is not a Satanist if they do not match the literature that it defines Satanism. The Satanic Temple does not fit that definition. This can be illustrated with a variety of stances, and I will list but a two.

The first and most prevalent example for me is the differences in moral ideals. Where Satanism as defined states “Satan represents kindness to those who deserve it instead of love wasted on ingrates!” in The Nine Satanic Statements,  The Satanic Temple states in their “Seven Tenets” that “One should strive to act with compassion and empathy towards all creatures in accordance with reason.” While the case could be made that within reason establishes that kindness should not be wasted on ingrates, it can also be pointed out that the words within reason can mean anything at all, and the effort to be compassionate toward everyone rather than everyone that deserves it is un-Satanic enough. Indeed, compassion is an underlying theme in their website and is the only real philosophy they seem to have. This stems more from a Christian understanding than a Satanic one.

Another, more commonly cited example is their political involvement. While individual Satanists are often political (I myself sent my senator an email just yesterday), the Satanic philosophy is not about exacting political or any other change in the world at large. Satanism does condone changing your individual world so as to create your total environment. If the act of being politically involved is not in itself un-Satanic, but the act of doing so because “that is what Satanism is” is false. The closest I feel Satanism comes to being political is in Pentagonal Revisionism. A glance at The Satanic Temple’s “campaigns” page shows few if any of their efforts fall within Pentagonal Revisionism, and some can even be considered in direct contrast to it. Therefore doing those things because “Satanism advocates for it” doesn’t follow. Some efforts TST makes are actually toward causes I agree with and would be willing to support, but that is a personal preference and it would be solipsistic of me to think all Satanists would do the same. That of course, is another issue with advocating for or making judgements on various political issues in the name of Satanism. Doing so ventures into dangerously solipsistic territory.

Now I am sure I am missing a lot, and I hope to get lots of good discussion from this particular piece. Whether I agree with their politics or not, I am glad I am a Church of Satan Snob rather than a TST member. I have found in personal experience that it is a bit more fun in the cabal than the crowd.

 

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2 thoughts on “Satan and Scotsmen

  1. The first half your essay is, “We did it first, therefore nobody gets to do it second.”

    The second half of your essay is, “We’re right because we say so.”

    If you’re looking for an idea on your next essay, would be exciting to read about how it’s not stupid to ignore the vast swath of history; a lack of perspective to be unable to see outside of yourself; forgetting the past orthodoxies of the witch-wars among the Wiccans (which is literally exactly the same thing playing out here); the solipsism of insisting that everybody else must think the same as you do; the counter-productive pride of insisting upon these claims to authority when scholars, academics, and pretty much everybody else in the entire world thinks you’re wrong; rejecting critical analysis of ones religious organization for the sake of herd conformity; the pretentiousness of claiming absolute authority over the interpretation of a mythical personage of multiple other religion’s 2,000 year-old bogeyman; and deceiving yourself into thinking that you’re making a rational argument that would carry weight in a professional debate.

    If Satanism is going to be a religion of logical and intelligent elitists, then these kinds of arguments aren’t worth making. Satanists complain that the Satanic Temple is making us look bad, but these kind of childish arguments wouldn’t pass muster in a middle-school debate class. The Satanic Temple doesn’t make the Church of Satan look bad – Satanists who make these embarrassing arguments do that all by themselves.

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    1. First, in response to herd conformity, I find that as I have shown I have my reasons for finding The Satanic Temple unsatanic. Whether these reasons are popular or not is not really an influencing factor here. The compassion point in particular is a real sticking point for me, much more so than the politics point. Carrying on with my Nicene Creed example, this move away from one of the most core concepts in Satanism would be the equivalent of replacing their Golden Rule with the one in the Satanic Bible in my eyes. Just as this action goes against what it means to be Christian, so too does The Satanic Temple go against what it means to be a Satanist. In response to the Witch Wars remark, the difference here is that to my knowledge there is not any record of anyone getting there first and self defining what it is to be a Witch first the way we have with what it is to be a Satanist. For me that does give LaVey’s religion a monopoly on the word. If I codified a religion that exclusively worshipped cardinals (the bird), therein defining Cardinalism and what it is to be a Cardinalist, that is what it means to be a Cardinalist. When someone else comes in some time later and calls themselves a Cardinalist but worships the cardinal directions, they are not a Cardinalist because they do not fit the existing and functional definition of Cardinalist. As far as saying everyone must think as I do, I never claimed that. I posted about the issue as I see it. Nobody HAS to agree with me. I have nothing in the post that urges people to speak out against TST, leave TST, or denounce TST. I simply put down what I see as obvious. When I assert my reasons for why The Satanic Bible is correct, I do not expect or desire that everyone conform to this view as well. In fact, I commented to an acquaintance just recently that TST DOES serve the purpose of pulling those who are just labeling themselves as Satanists for the shock factor. This isn’t due to the nature of TST’s tenets so much as their much more affordable membership and more prominent media presence. I quite like that about TST. On counterproductive pride, I really do not see how I am acting in a way that is counterproductive to my goal. My goal here was to highlight the issue as I saw it, and I did just that. Another less important goal was to facilitate discussion on the matter. It seems you commenting has shown that I accomplished that as well. As far as the comment about such a multitude of people thinking I am wrong, is that not just an argument ad populum and accepting your view just because of that herd conformity at its finest? Food for thought. As for pretentiousness, I do not see any examples of Satanists claiming some monopoly on interpreting Satan as a character, just Satanism as a religion. The two are not the same thing. On self deceit, if I were of the mindset that I would enter this as is into a professional debate, I do not think that really follows from what I said. This is a blog post and as stated it was meant to reflect my views on the issue. I am truly unable to see what brought that on. Lack of perspective there may be an issue, but it still stands that I don’t see how you believed to know how I think (sounds familiar) and how you came to the wrong conclusion. On “passing muster,” if that’s how you feel, okay. I don’t really have anything to say to that, because I still think I did a pretty damn good job for the time I spent writing it and it served the purposes I already mentioned that I wanted it to.

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