I was playing Assassin's Creed 2 recently and there was a point in the game, where the protagonist makes a brief speech that really resonated with me. He said the famous line of the assassins: "Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted", but then went on to tell the people that it was more important to find your own truth than to follow someone else and that too many people allowed themselves to the follow the truth of someone else, instead of choosing to discover their own truths. He noted that you could learn from other people, but that ultimately in the end you had to discover your own truth and walk your own path. And that...that really resonates with me. And it always has. I remember when I was a teenager and for a brief time, a born again Christian, that the pastor of the church I attended saw I read fantasy books and told me that those books were sinful and that the content was only about sinful things. And I remember thinking how limited that perspective was, and how I couldn't endorse believing in a god that was so narrow and limited, and I realized that at some point I wouldn't be a Christian, because being one was antithetical to who I am: A person who is full of curiosity and who wants to walk his own path, instead of following someone else. I realized I could not follow the path of the Christian God, because it wasn't my path or truth, and it never would be.
Little wonder then when I discovered magic was real that I also found, for myself, the beginning of the path I walk to this day, one where I ask the question and find the answers, where ultimately it is up to me to save myself, as opposed to having someone else die for my supposed sins.
And my encounters with Pagans who have, in their own way, expressed a similar fanaticism, a belief that there is a one true way (tm) and that the god(s) are the purveyors of that truth only convinces me further that following the path of another ultimately, for me, leads to a place that isn't my truth. It may be the truth of those other people, but I find that when you hand over your authority to another being and let that being dictate your choices, at that point you also give away your truth and allow it to be subsumed to the truth of another being.
I can work with a god. I can respect it, but I just can't worship it. Some will call that pride. It is a fundamental recognition that nothing is true and everything is permitted and if that is the case, then it is permitted for me to walk my own path and find my own truth and be responsible for it. And there are consequences for making that choice, but there is also freedom and knowing in the end that I am walking my path, pursuing my truth and that when I encounter the gods or other beings they are guides with information that represents a perspective to help me appreciate the journey I am on, but that is all they need to be for me, and I can give them respect for that.
And to be fair, I do recognize that for many people having a relationship where they worship a god or gods is the truth that works for them and is meaningful to them...and so long as they can do that in a way where it doesn't negatively impact others, I wish them the best on their journey to their respective truths, but I see so much harm committed in the name of deities, in the choice to follow what someone else says. I see it, and I cannot help but think that if these people chose to be fully responsible for themselves, to stop following the words written in a book, or told to them by some person or entity, but instead to question everything and to choose their actions carefully because they could recognize that they and they alone were responsible for their actions, that perhaps they wouldn't be so inclined to harm others just to prove how much they worship a god or how well they follow the path another provides them.