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The Modern World of Witchcraft:
Craig S. Hawkins
from Christian Research Journal, Summer 1990, page 22. The Editor-in-Chief of the Christian Research Journal is Elliot Miller.
In Part One of this series we briefly examined modern and contemporary witchcraft, discussing some of the major beliefs of this syncretistic movement. The present article will further expound on witchcraft, and also critique it from a biblical, metaphysical, epistemological, and ethical basis.
It is essential to keep in mind that this movement encompasses a wide range of practices and beliefs. Consequently some of the critiques presented in this article may require some adaptation or modification in order to be applicable to certain variations of belief within the broader system of witchcraft and neopaganism. Nonetheless, the body of critiques presented here apply substantially to most witches and neopagans.
epistemology: The study of the origin and nature of knowledge. Deals with questions like: What can we know? How do we know it? How do we know it is true? To what extent can we know it? And so forth.
ontology: As used here ontology is a branch of metaphysics (which in turn is a branch of philosophy -- see Part One) and, more specifically, is the study of the nature or essence of Being -- the One -- and its relationship to creation and vice versa.
panentheism: The view that the world is contained in and is a manifestation of the divine. Although the divine is immanent in and to the world, it still transcends the universe to some degree. As the human body is to the soul or mind, so the universe is to the divine.
problem of evil: The origin and existence of evil in the world. Traditionally, there are three main categories of evil: metaphysical, moral, and physical or natural. Blindness, deafness, and lameness are examples of metaphysical evil; cruelty and malevolence are examples of moral evil; and earthquakes, droughts, and tornados are examples of physical evil. All moral evil is the direct or indirect result of moral agents' free wills or ability to choose. Physical and metaphysical evil may or may not be the result of moral agents' choices.
syncretism: The combining or merging and synthesizing of religions or religious beliefs, practices, and philosophies. This results in new or hybrid religions that are composed of diverse elements of the religions from which they were derived.
Many witches do not believe in spirits, and most if not all reject belief in a literal Devil or demons. Naturally, therefore, they reject the idea that sorcery and divination are accomplished by the agency of evil spirits. Many offer naturalistic explanations for the working of magic and divination and other "psychic technologies." On the whole, the occult community today has expanded its definition of "the natural" to incorporate elements that were earlier considered supernatural, placing them in the category of the super- or paranormal instead. Yet, they are still involved in the "old ways" -- that is, the occult.
Now You See it, Now You Don't
What has happened in the occult world in the past two or more decades is just what C. S. Lewis described in his classic work, The Screwtape Letters -- which portrays an experienced demon (Screwtape) writing letters of advice to a novice demon (Wormwood):
I have great hopes that we shall learn in due time how to emotionalize and mythologize their science to such an extent that what is, in effect, a belief in us, (though not under that name) will creep in while the human mind remains closed to belief in the Enemy [i.e., God]. The "Life Force," the worship of sex, and some aspects of Psychoanalysis, may here prove useful. If once we can produce our perfect work -- the Materialist Magician, the man, not using, but veritably worshipping, what he vaguely calls "Forces" while denying the existence of "spirits" -- then the end of the war will be in sight.
Lewis's insights on the insidious strategy of Satan -- the archenemy of our souls -- appear to have been right on target in regard to modern occultism.
When observations like Lewis's are made, however, it is not uncommon to hear remarks to the effect that Christians attribute to the supernatural everything they cannot comprehend -- if it cannot be understood, it must be the Devil. However, this charge is unwarranted.
While it is unfortunately true that some Christians tend to hyperspiritualize events and exclaim "the Devil did it," or "the Devil made me do it," this is certainly not the case with all. Many Christians have pointed out alleged demonic (or divine) occurrences which were -- in fact -- instances of fraud, anomalies, psychosomatic phenomena, auto- or heterosuggestion, and so forth. Such Christians have demystified baffling occurrences and accounted for them by their natural causes.
Black, White, or Neutral?
The critical question is, What is the actual source or causal agent(s) of the occult (i.e., of divination, sorcery, and spiritism)? Some witches like to make a distinction between black and white magic/sorcery and divination. They claim that sorcery or divination performed for unselfish and/or "benevolent" purposes (to help others) is good. Thus, magic done with good intentions and desired results is classified as white magic. Conversely, sorcery performed with selfish and/or malevolent motives and means (to harm others) is classified as black magic.
Other witches deny the validity of this distinction or find it useless. Since they regard magic as a natural force they view it as morally neutral (i.e., not intrinsically good or evil). Like electricity, some say, magic can be used for good or evil -- but just as one would not speak of black or white electricity, one should not do so with magic either.
Christians too deny the validity of a distinction between black and white magic or divination, albeit for entirely different reasons. Whether called black, white, negative, or positive -- any such distinction is illegitimate. Where the Christian and all witches disagree is on the ultimate source, the actual identity, the who or what behind the scenes of the occult.
It is the Christian's conviction that despite all their magical theories, witches (and all other occultists) have failed to grasp the true source of the occult. I therefore offer the following biblical perspective on their beliefs and practices.
WHAT SAYS THE WORD?
Since witches do not generally accept the teachings of the Bible, we will not spend much time on a biblical critique. However, even a cursory review of Scripture is enough to demonstrate that the beliefs and practices of witches are utterly incompatible with the Bible. Witches who honestly examine the Scriptural testimony will have no choice but to admit that the Bible condemns their beliefs and practices.
In fact, Scripture gives a blanket condemnation of all forms of the occult -- divination, sorcery, and spiritism -- in diverse passages throughout the Old and New Testaments. For instance, in Deuteronomy 18:10-12 God's view of occultism is expressed in the following warning: "Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD..."
If this were the only biblical passage dealing with this issue, it would be clear that all forms of the occult are denounced by God. Yet, this is only one of many condemnatory references (see, e.g., Lev. 19:26, 31; 20:6; 2 Kings 17:10-17; 21:1-6; 23:4-7, 24-25; 2 Chron. 33:6; Acts 13:6-12; 16:18; Gal. 5:20; Rev. 9:21).
Moreover, numerous forms of god and goddess worship are explicitly condemned in Scripture. There are, for example, a multitude of denunciatory references to worshipping or invoking the various gods and goddesses of the Near Eastern religions: the Assyrian and Babylonian Ishtar, the Ashtoreths of the Canaanites (e.g., the Sidonians and Phoenicians), and so forth (e.g., Deut. 16:21; Judg. 2:10-14; 10:6-16; 1 Sam. 7:3-4; 12:10; 1 Kings 11:33; 2 Kings 23:13-15). Ashtoreth is described in 2 Kings 23:13 as "the vile goddess of the Sidonians" (NIV), or -- as the KJV and NASB translate it -- "the abomination of the Sidonians." The Bible speaks out not only against worshipping, invoking, and consulting pagan gods, but also against the idea that human beings -- individually or collectively -- are divine.
In one sense, witches are right about the antiquity of some of their beliefs and practices. The belief that human beings are or can become divine is a good example. In the first book of the Bible (Gen. 3:5) we find the original proposal -- made by the serpent -- of the idea that we could become "like God." But Scripture emphatically states that there is only one being who is God (Deut. 6:4; 32:39; Isa. 43:10-11; 44:6-8; 45:5-6, 14, 22; 46:9; Jer. 10:10-11; Mark 12:29-31; 1 Tim. 2:5; James 2:19). Though there are many so-called gods or goddesses -- in the sense that people worship entities conceived by their imaginations -- there is only one God by nature (1 Cor. 8:4-5; 10:20; Gal. 4:8). As one astute observer remarked: "There are two foundational facts of human enlightenment: (1) There is a God; and (2) You are not He."
Humankind has not only demonstrated a great proclivity towards self-deification, it has also been strongly inclined to confuse God's creation (or His creative process) for the Creator Himself (Rom. 1:21-25). This is certainly the case with those entangled in the teachings of modern witchcraft.
Some witches have actually tried to reconcile the above passages and others with their own practices. Nonetheless, the Bible -- particularly in the original languages -- renders any such maneuvering futile. We therefore ask that witches at least acknowledge that the Bible in no sense condones their practices, but rather expressly condemns them.
The Source of the Force
Like a drunkard who continually returns to the bottle, so mankind's bent toward self-deification and creation worship has been irrepressible, as has been its blindness towards its own deplorable predicament due to the ravaging effects of sin. To wit, witches are deceived not only about the inherent falsity of their often sincerely held beliefs (see Prov. 14:12), but as well about the source of their misguided belief system. Despite what witches claim, witchcraft originates from Satan -- the "father of lies" and the "god of this world," and from man's corrupt nature. Thus, though witches do not acknowledge the Devil's existence, they are nonetheless (all the more so) trapped in the talons of his tyrannical grip (2 Tim. 2:25-26).
To witches who believe that magic is a natural, neutral force or power, Christians reply that it is rather empowered by "the prince of the power of the air that now works in the children of disobedience" (Eph. 2:2).
As such, whether witches acknowledge it or not, all occultism involves interaction and trafficking with demonic spirits (see Lev. 17:7; 20:6; Deut. 32:17; Ps. 106:36-39; 1 Cor. 10:20-21; Rev. 9:20-21). As W. Foerster comments, "For Paul witchcraft is meddling with demons....But there can also be intercourse with demons in the normal heathen cultus (1 C. 10:20f.)....While idols are nothing...demons stand behind paganism." Or, as Bietenhard informs us, "Since dealing with demons lies behind sorcery...it is rejected (Gal. 5:20)....Heathen worship brings men into contact with demons (1 Cor. 10:20f.), for demons stand behind paganism in general (Rev. 9:20)."
This is why occultism in all its forms is condemned in the Bible. Occultists therefore fall under the judgment of God for participating in such inexcusable activities (Rom. 1:18-25; Eph. 4:18-19; Rev. 21:8; 22:15).
Since witches generally do not accept the Bible, and because there are other inherent weaknesses and failings in their world view -- metaphysical, epistemological, and ethical -- we can and should critique witchcraft in these areas as well. This I shall do in the remainder of this article.
In Part One I discussed the importance of polytheism as understood by witches and the related concept of an "open" metaphysic -- that is, the position that there are multiple levels of and meanings to reality. This is expressed in the belief that there is "no one way or right religion for all," and no "one truth." We are told by witches that all religions lead in the same direction; they simply take different paths to get there.
Witches further believe that everything one experiences is in some sense real and therefore true. Since reality is multiple and diverse, and since the possible levels or planes of meaning are infinite, there is always more to experience. We should therefore remain open-minded and tolerant of differing views.
Witches who think along these lines hold that everyone has a part of the truth, for every person operates from a limited subjective perspective of the world. And since no one has an absolute knowledge or perspective of reality (ultimate reality is inaccessible to us), all views and experiences must be seen as equally valid. One view is as good or true as another (minimally, it is true for that individual). Reality, then, is a matter of perspective -- and everyone has a different one.
Christians certainly grant that witches have the right to believe whatever they choose, as much as we might disagree with their views. However, we reject that logic and reason should be ignored when we encounter two different views that are obviously incompatible.
We also grant that life is complicated and diverse, and that people can and do have an incalculable number of experiences. However, this does not prevent us from knowing many significant truths and facts about ultimate reality. We need to distinguish between knowing all about life or ultimate reality, which no human being is capable of, and knowing some true things about it. These are two different issues. Without this distinction, we could not make any meaningful statements about reality.
Experience and Truth
Many witches fail to recognize a key distinction regarding the validity of experiences. Over and over again, one finds a failure on the witches' part to distinguish between real experiences that people actually have versus experiences that are true. For instance, a man could have an experience or sensation of falling. The feeling might be quite intense. Upon awakening from his sleep, however, he realizes that he was not falling at all but lying on his bed. Did he have the experience of feeling like he was falling? Yes. Was he really falling? No! The latter question is not "Did he have this experience?" but "was he really falling?" These are two entirely different issues. To confuse the two is to commit the fallacy of equivocation.
We do not dispute that witches have many experiences that may appear to support their religion, but we must ask: Do these experiences really prove their assertions or only prove that they had some type of experience? Appealing to experience only establishes that one might have had one, not that one's world view is true.
The idea that each world view is like one more flower in the garden of life is a nice sentiment, but it does not fit the real world. In fact, it is nothing short of metaphysical madness. To paraphrase and adapt a quip by Edgar Sheffield Brightman, "In a world where Christianity and witchcraft are both true, we do not have a universe, but a cosmic nut house!"
As we shall see presently, the metaphysical framework of the witches' world has important implications in the realm of testing truth claims.
With their emphasis on experience and their belief in the intuitive and existential nature of truth, witches fall into diverse epistemological sinkholes on the road to truth. One finds a consistent appeal to "knowing" not by the intellect but by experience and "intuition." One also finds an implicit or explicit depreciation or denial of the principles or laws of thought.
For example, Starhawk -- a popularizer of the witchcraft/neopagan world view -- disdains what she terms "any beliefs which would...deny the authority of experience...," thus reinforcing what she calls "the lie that there is only one truth." In the same way, Margot Adler -- another popular neopagan writer -- argues for the superiority of experience over dogma, and metaphor and myth over theology, doctrine, and creed.
Although one often hears witches downplay or outright deny doctrines, dogma, and beliefs -- still, they too vehemently champion their beliefs. To say that experience and ritual are more important than doctrine is itself a doctrine. Besides, how is it possible to have rituals in the first place if there are no beliefs to give them meaning? In short: no beliefs, then no rituals. Additionally, one must assert doctrines or beliefs and use logic to even refute the idea of doctrine.
Is Logic Necessary?
Many people berate the use of logic and talk as if they could think and do without it. The fact is, however, that it is impossible not to use logic. Should a person attempt to refute logic, he or she must use logic in the very process of refuting it -- thereby refuting his or her own argument. Let us be clear on this: one must use logic to disprove logic. For instance, suppose someone asserts that magic and experience are beyond logic and reason (i.e., logic does not apply to these realms). The person making this assertion has failed to note that this statement is itself predicated upon the use of logic -- that is, logic had to be utilized to even formulate it. Logic therefore does apply.
Due to limited space, we will consider just one of the primary laws of thought -- the law of non-contradiction. This principle affirms that a statement cannot both be true and false (A cannot be non-A) at the same time and in the same sense. For example, it cannot be the case that one both can and cannot (at the same time and in the same manner) safely cross a busy street. It is one or the other, but not both. If one says it is both and attempts to keep his (or her) actions consistent with his words, he will end up being run over. When people fail to yield to logic, they will also end up being run over by their own arguments (i.e., they assert false, self-defeating, and/or meaningless statements).
Some (many?) witches try to avoid the anvil of logic, but to no avail. A case in point is Stewart Farrar, who approvingly quoted C. G. Jung's assertion that "everything human is relative." To which we respond: Is this statement relative too, since it was uttered by a human? If it is not relative, then the statement is not true. But if the statement itself is relative, that would mean there are times when it is not true -- when some things human are not relative, and are hence absolute But this would contradict Jung's original statement. Thus, it is both false and self-defeating. Clearly, the sword of logic cuts both ways.
Witches often attempt to defend their magic castle from the battering rams of logic by erecting supposedly impenetrable walls. Different explanations and rationalizations are offered to protect their views. These include the aforementioned depreciation, denial, or alleged inapplicability of logic and objective standards for discerning truth; postulating diverse planes or levels of reality and meaning; dichotomizing between emotions and the intellect, or between normal versus altered states of consciousness; and a number of other distinctions. To be fair, many of these attempts are simply sincere efforts to understand the mysterious world of the occult. Nonetheless, such attempts appear to be cases of special pleading and of employing double standards -- resulting in an assumed immunity from the normal criteria of truth-testing used to verify or refute a world view.
No matter what explanations and defenses are used, however, experience and intuitive feelings are often an essential element of the witches' world view validation -- "It feels right; I have truly experienced it." Witches "know" via powerful spiritual and emotional experiences that their views are true. Therefore, they can at times affirm apparently contradictory assertions.
Again, regardless of which of the above distinctions are used to advance or protect the witches' world view, the distinctions themselves are based upon the validity of logic. Try as they may, witches simply cannot not use logic.
Our pagan friends are, so to speak, "up the metaphysical creek," without a trustworthy epistemological "paddle" -- and are caught in a whirlpool of subjective circularity that makes one's head spin. Witches cannot appeal to logic when it suits them and ignore it when it refutes them and still expect to be taken seriously.
As we shall now see, the use of logic in the categories of "both/and" as opposed to "either/or" have implications not just for thinking but for ethics as well.
Witches do not believe in the concept of sin as defined by orthodox Christianity. Sin is viewed as an outdated concept that is "only a tool used to shackle the minds and actions of people." The only "sin" or evil is that of being unbalanced and out of harmony or estranged from oneself, others, the varied life forms, and Mother Earth. As there is no sin or divine retribution to be saved from, "salvation" has only to do with attaining and maintaining harmony with the above.
To their credit, many witches consistently appeal to their ethical code -- the Wiccan Rede: "an it harm none, do what ye will." They further claim not to use their occultic abilities for malevolent purposes since they believe (1) that any evil done to another will come back upon the perpetrator threefold or more, and (2) in some form of reincarnation (and the moral law of karma which governs it). Some, such as Donald Frew, incorporate other guidelines to determine the rightness of an action, such as the general consensus of the witchcraft community, common sense, the laws of the state, science, and pragmatic considerations.
While the aforementioned is true, the Wiccan Rede is not consistent with -- nor does it logically or ontologically follow from -- the world views most commonly held by witches: pantheism and panentheism. It must derive, then, from someone or something external to or independent of the universe or Goddess/God or Life Force itself. But how can this be? In both pantheism and panentheism, nothing is outside or independent of the One, and even death and evil are an intrical and necessary part of reality. The witches' ethical code is therefore inconsistent with their metaphysical world view.
This dilemma is reflected in the teachings of Starhawk. For example, though she does not think destruction is necessarily evil, she states: "The nature of the Goddess is never single...She is light and the darkness, the patroness of love and death, who makes all possibilities. She brings both comfort and pain." Elsewhere she says, "As Crone, She is the dark face of life, which demands death and sacrifice...In Witchcraft, the dark, waning aspect of the God is not evil -- it is a vital part of the natural cycle." This aspect of the divine manifesting itself in polarities is echoed by almost all (if not all) witches. Erica Jong tells us that "Satanists...accept the Christian duality between good and evil; pagans do not...Pagans see good and evil as intimately allied, in fact, indivisible. They conceive of deities as having several aspects -- creation, destruction, sustenance -- rather than externalizing all destruction and destructiveness ('evil') in the form of devils."
The Problems of Life
Whether witches realize it or not, these views raise some very problematic ethical issues: (1) Where does the Wiccan Rede derive from? (2) If there is "no one right religion, way, or truth for all," then why is this rule (the Wiccan Rede) universal? How do we know that witches are not just trying to impose their rule on us to "shackle our minds and actions"? (3) How do witches account for the origin and existence of evil and suffering?
Space forbids us from addressing each of these questions, but the third should -- indeed must -- be addressed.
In Dreaming the Dark, Starhawk attempts to grapple with ethical issues and the problem of evil: "Evil is a concept that cannot be separated from the stories of duality. Power-over, violence, coercion...are not evil in the sense of being part of a force in direct opposition to good. Instead, we can see them as mistakes, processes born of chance that spread because they have served their purposes....The problem of evil is really a problem of randomness." Other witches appeal to reincarnation and the law of Karma to explain the existence of some evil and suffering. Raymond Buckland asserts, "For its own evolution, it is necessary that the soul experience all things in life. It seems the most sensible, most logical, [sic] explanation of much that is found in life...Why should one be born crippled, another fit and strong?...if not because we must eventually experience all things" (elipses in original). Sybil Leek offers similar reasons for the existence and necessity of evil in the world.
The above two explanations create more problems than they solve. For instance, if one must experience all in life (as Buckland suggests), does this include being abused, tortured, and so forth?
It logically follows from such a view that whatever is, ought to be. This is known in ethics as the naturalistic fallacy, as it confuses "the way things are" with how they morally should be. Hence, what about the child born with crippling birth defects who dies an agonizing death within two years? Should we respond, "Oh well, whatever is, ought to be" and thus just accept it as the way things are? No, even a witch could not consistently live by this approach. The witches world view logically and ontologically justifies any condition or conduct.
This results in an inability to morally distinguish between good and evil, right and wrong. With such a naturalistic approach one can only describe the way things are (e.g., the drink is hot or cold). One cannot make a moral evaluation. If life and death, comfort and pain, joy and sorrow, are inherent to the very nature of the world, then how can one call any action morally wrong, including burning witches? It can't be done. But witches do say some actions are wrong. Or are they simply saying that they do not prefer certain actions? Hardly! Intuitively, they/we know certain things are wrong -- such as torturing witches, confiscating their property, abusing children, and so forth. They do not say these things are merely unpleasant or inconvenient; they insist that they are wrong.
Christians, then, have every reason to ask how witches answer the problem of the existence of evil. This is a perplexing problem, and merely dismissing it will not solve it.
The Problem of Evil
There are conspicuously few in-depth discussions of the problem of evil in neopagan literature. Many witches seem ignorant of this issue, or -- for a number of reasons -- do not believe it applies to their particular world view. For these, the existence of evil is not a problem, because they do not conceive of the Goddess/God or Life Force as being omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent. These witches explain the problem of evil in one of three ways: (1) they deny that evil exists; (2) they appeal to finite godism (or goddessism); or (3) they appeal to humankind's free will. Let us briefly consider each of these.
Does evil exist? Is evil only an illusion? Or is evil not really evil but just unfortunate circumstances? These views are delusions. To say evil does not exist is to be blind to reality, for evil not only exists -- it is all around us. From cruelty, corruption, calamity, flood and famine, disease and drought, hatred, war, suffering, misery, pain, injustices, rape, murder, and on and on -- evil exists. Evil is a fact of life. And it is not just a case of "unfortunate" circumstances or the "breaks of life." It is unfortunate when one gets a flat tire at night on a country road in a rain storm. It is rank evil to kill six million Jews as Hitler did. The death of human beings is the epitome of evil and is not "natural" but is the greatest nemesis we face. The existence of evil delivers a debilitating blow to the witches' world view.
But, some witches counter, the Goddess/God and/or Life Force is/are finite -- that is, not omnibenevolent, omniscient, or omnipotent. Thus, they/it cannot be held responsible for evil.
The defense of finite godism, however, is wishful thinking. Even finite godism/goddessism must grapple with the existence of evil. If the Goddess and/or God are finite, this does not excuse the evil it/they have birthed. Do we hold a finite inflictor of suffering upon humanity -- like a Hitler, Stalin, or Mao -- any less culpable simply because they were not infinite in their abilities? Clearly, the finite godism appeal will not exonerate the Goddess and God.
At this point, some will answer that evil derives from humanity's failure to live in harmony with nature and/or from exercising free will. But this cannot be the answer either. Since the Goddess/God or Life Force itself contains or causes both life and death, good and evil, how can it be said that one is not in harmony with them/it if one commits or causes suffering or death?
We acknowledge that free will might account for some of the evil in the world. At best, it might explain evil that derives from one human being forcing his or her will upon another. But it certainly cannot account for physical or natural evil.
Where, then, does evil come from? What is its origin? According to the witch's world view, it can derive logically and ontologically only from the Goddess/God or primal Life Force. Are not they (or it) the ultimate source of all? If they (or it) created everything, and everything is a part or manifestation of them, then they are the source and origin of evil. If one says that the Goddess/God are not ultimate, then where did they come from? Who created them or gave them their free will or nature?
Depending on whether a witch is a pantheist, panentheist, and/or polytheist, there are only so many possible explanations for the origin and existence of evil. The problems inherent in a polytheistic, pantheistic, or panentheistic perspective on the problem of evil are too numerous to list. However, we will address some of the more significant ones.
In a pantheistic or panentheistic universe, witches must realize that, ontologically, evil emanates or flows naturally and necessarily from the very nature of the ultimate Life Force. Creation and the existence of evil are synonymous and simultaneous. This entails that suffering, death, evil, and so forth are part of the Goddess/God's very essence or nature. Good and evil are both aspects of the One. All is contained in, arises out of, or is a manifestation of the absolute universal Life Force or principle. Evil is ultimately and necessarily part of the One which is all. Therefore, in one sense or another, the universal Life Force is responsible for all the pain, suffering, and evil that has, does, or ever will exist.
In a polytheistic framework, the Goddess(es) and God(s) are no more praiseworthy. From a brief survey of history and the evidence around us, we would have to conclude that these divine beings are blithering, bungling idiots -- sort of the Inspector Clouseaus of the cosmos. They are either unwilling or unable because of their limitations to eliminate evil. They should be held in contempt inasmuch as they are responsible for much of the evil of our world which they supposedly created.
Whether in a polytheistic, pantheistic, or panentheistic universe, we can have no assurance that the Goddess/God or Life Force can or wants to defeat evil. Nor can we be sure that this is even an appropriate question, since in the latter two worlds evil is part of the One's very nature. Therefore, evil will no more cease to exist than these entities or the Life Force itself. In other words, evil is eternal -- it will always be with us. It is eternal because it is either an aspect of the very nature of the "divinity" which creates and composes all (pantheism, panentheism), or these deities are too limited to permanently accomplish the task (polytheism). Only an infinite and benevolent personal God could and will banish evil from the universe.
This alleged Goddess/God or Life Force is not worthy of reverence but of our rage. It is responsible for all or nearly all the pain, suffering, and sorrow that has existed or ever will exist. Who would want to worship or admire such a Goddess/God? This is an affront to our moral sensibilities. The optimism of witches and neopagans is not justified; despair ought to be their response, and a longing for the death of this alleged Goddess and her tyrannical rule.
The problem of evil is an acute dilemma -- indeed, an Achilles' heel for witches and neopagans. In light of this issue -- and the witches' emphasis on the joyful celebration of life -- we must ask: Do they simply ignore evil because it is not joyous? Remember, the goddess is not only mother and maiden, but crone as well.
POSTSCRIPT FOR PAGANS
The world is full of wonder, beauty, and joy. This same world, however, contains paralyzing heartache, agonizing pain, misery, and the stench of death. Let us experience and appreciate the joys of life. But let us view the whole panorama of life and not just a postcard picture, nor turn a deaf ear or blind eye to the suffering of humanity and creation -- which is bleeding to death from a fatal wound unless a divine physician can administer a healing touch and save us.
The witches' world is fraught with problems, and we have attempted to point out just a few of the pitfalls in the interest of their finding life -- and that more abundantly (John 10:10).
1 C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (New York: Macmillan
Publishing Co., 1975), 33.