|A representation of a Deva Apsara (water spirit)|
I have an ambivalent attitude to faith. When, for a number of years, I was more or less a follower of Buddhism the subject of divine beings would occasionally surface and the Buddhist view seemed to be that there are divine beings (Devas – note that this word is cognate with the Latin word Deus), who live in something like what we would call heaven but that they are not immortal (though many devas live much longer lives than humans), they did not create the world, they are not omniscient and they are not omnipotent, however some devas are of "great moral authority and prestige and thus deserving of a high degree of respect". According to the Pali canon, the Buddha stated that making offerings to the devas is "noble" and an example of "wealth gone to good use". Ancient Greeks and Romans were also more or less familiar with this perspective as it is not so very different from the Epicurean perspective on the Gods – though I would not go so far, as Epicurus did, as to say that the Gods do not concern themselves at all with human beings, as this is something we cannot know.
It follows, from this quasi-Buddhist approach to which I am heir, that divine beings are not in need of our private or collective faith in them, although they are not therefore averse or indifferent to reverential treatment. For me there is a difference between respectful reverence and faith. I cannot believe that any divine being worth worshipping could be so appallingly narcissistic as to require my unwavering faith and trust in his or her existence. I confess that I do not unwaveringly believe in Paganism. I do have doubts - I sometimes think that, like so many religious beliefs, Paganism is a fantasy made up by humans who cannot cope with life being no more than sound and fury, signifying nothing. As Camus wrote in The Myth of Sisyphus: