More Asatru and AI

In the last posting, Google Bard, a Large Language Model (LLM) AI, to compose a blöt to Vidar. It did a fairly good job despite some limitations. This brought up questions about how else Asatru shows up in these models. Along that line, I have asked a couple more questions. The responses surprised me a bit.

Threats

The first question to come to mind involved threats to the religion. We have seen, particularly in the United States, the far right pushing fundamentalist Christian agendas more aggressively lately. Here are the results:

Question

What is the greatest threat to the Asatru religion?

The greatest threat to the Asatru religion is likely its small size and relatively recent revival. Asatru is a relatively new religion, having only been revived in the 20th century. As a result, it has a small number of adherents, estimated to be around 100,000 worldwide. This small size makes it vulnerable to assimilation by larger religions, such as Christianity or Islam.

Another threat to Asatru is its association with white supremacy and neo-Nazism. Some Asatru groups have been accused of promoting these ideologies, which has led to negative publicity and social stigma. This has made it difficult for Asatru to gain mainstream acceptance, and has discouraged some people from exploring the religion.

Despite these challenges, Asatru is a growing religion, and its adherents are working to overcome these threats. They are working to educate the public about Asatru and its true beliefs, and to distance the religion from white supremacy and neo-Nazism. They are also working to build stronger communities and to attract new members.

It is too early to say whether Asatru will be able to overcome these challenges and survive into the future. However, the religion's adherents are committed to its preservation, and they are working hard to make it a viable option for people who are looking for a spiritual path.

Here are some other threats to the Asatru religion:

  • Lack of resources. Asatru is a relatively new religion, and it does not have the same resources as more established religions. This can make it difficult to find accurate information about the religion, and to find places to practice it.
  • Negative stereotypes. Asatru has been associated with negative stereotypes, such as violence and occultism. This can make it difficult for people to learn about the religion, and to consider it as a viable option.
  • Lack of acceptance. Asatru is not widely accepted in society. This can make it difficult for people to practice the religion openly, and to find support from others.

Despite these challenges, the Asatru religion is growing in popularity. This is due in part to the internet, which has made it easier for people to learn about the religion and to connect with other Asatruists. The religion is also appealing to people who are looking for a more personal and spiritual path.

Analysis

The surprise was that it said what we commonly know to be true. The reason I was surprised was because I was giving the AI too much credit. Because it is an LLM, it builds its responses from text that it found elsewhere. Naturally, its response should match what has already been written by the community.

Addressing those issues is a separate matter. The news loves stories of white supremacists who love to wear our symbols, so that's going to be a tough one to fight. Acceptance is also going to be difficult until some very good, but highly successful and powerful Asatru people come out to be examples. About the only one we can easily get a handle on is resources.

One other thing to note is that Bard uses the term "Asatruists" which is not something I've heard commonly. It's as good of a term as any. There is still a lot of division in the community about what to call ourselves (though Heathen seems to be popular). The question about the use is whether the LLM found that term commonly in its source materials or did it construct the term using general patterns it had seen. That's more of a technical question than a religious question.

Improvements

After reading through the list of threats, the next obvious question was to get more details about what we could do better. I've seen Asatru gatherings where everyone felt more relaxed and by being around people of similar faith. If we can spread the religion better, then we can get more of that feeling to more people more of the time.

Question

What would be the best strategy for increasing the standing of the Asatru religion?

There are a number of strategies that could be used to increase the standing of the Asatru religion. Some of these strategies include:

  • Educating the public about Asatru. Many people are unaware of Asatru, or they have misconceptions about the religion. It is important to educate the public about Asatru's true beliefs and practices, and to dispel any negative stereotypes that may exist.
  • Dissociation from white supremacy and neo-Nazism. Asatru has been associated with white supremacy and neo-Nazism in the past. It is important to dissociate the religion from these ideologies, and to make it clear that Asatru is a religion of peace and tolerance.
  • Building stronger communities. Asatru is a religion that is based on community. It is important to build stronger communities within the Asatru faith, and to provide support and fellowship for Asatruists.
  • Attracting new members. It is important to attract new members to the Asatru faith. This can be done by making the religion more accessible, and by providing information and resources to people who are interested in learning more about Asatru.

It is important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to this problem. The best strategy for increasing the standing of Asatru will vary depending on the specific circumstances. However, the strategies outlined above are a good starting point.

Here are some additional strategies that could be used to increase the standing of the Asatru religion:

  • Providing more accurate and accessible information about Asatru. The internet has made it easier for people to learn about Asatru, but there is still a lot of inaccurate information out there. It is important to provide accurate and accessible information about the religion, so that people can learn about it from a reliable source.
  • Promoting Asatru through cultural events and festivals. Cultural events and festivals can be a great way to promote Asatru and to attract new members. These events can provide people with an opportunity to learn about the religion, to meet other Asatruists, and to experience the culture of the religion.
  • Engaging in interfaith dialogue. Interfaith dialogue can help to break down stereotypes about Asatru and to promote understanding between Asatruists and people of other faiths. By engaging in interfaith dialogue, Asatruists can show that their religion is a peaceful and tolerant one.
  • The Asatru religion is a beautiful and rich tradition, and it deserves to be better known. By using the strategies outlined above, it is possible to increase the standing of Asatru and to make it a more viable option for people who are looking for a spiritual path.

Analysis

Much of what is there is about education and communication. Most people only encounter Asatru through the use of our symbols by white supremacists and from encounters with Viking wannabes who aren't always up on all the religious information. As a result, the general perception is not positive.

Asatru people, in general, tend to keep to themselves or their own little groups. The groups do not always interact very well. The Internet helps, but there are limits. At some point, we have to realize that there are forces out there who oppose our existence and that they outnumber us. We will need to organize to some extent, whether we like it or not, and act as a cohesive group in some way. This would not be a governing body, which most would hate, but as a representative body that could stand up and speak out publicly against things that cause us harm.

The idea of attracting new members and building stronger communities comes from that education and communication. Many people want to belong and do not want to be ostracized. If they think your group is a bunch of weirdos outside of cultural norms, they won't risk joining. Parents don't want their kids bullied at school. People don't want to be denied jobs or promotions because they have a weird religion (especially if the employer associates the religion with white supremacy).

In fairness, I've heard people say they don't want more people to be part of the religion. When pressed, it comes down to feeling special, like they get to be friends with the Gods but others don't. Is that really how religion is supposed to work? Humans were made to be the allies of the Gods in this world, and that's all humans. Trying to hog the religion to yourself is like pretending to be friends with a rich person hoping that they will give you things.

The suggestions on cultural events, festivals, and interfaith dialogue can help. I've had some luck with general pagan gatherings. Though there haven't been any converts (to my knowledge) some people did express surprise at the things they learned. In particular, most people do not understand how complex (usually written as "rich") the religion is. A common belief is that the Asatru community are all wanting to die in a fight and go to Valhalla.

Conclusion

In this case, I do not think the AI was able to add anything new by answering the questions. However, it did a good job of summarizing the struggles faced by the religion and the general paths to try to fix things.

Comments

The question about the use is whether the LLM found that term commonly in its source materials or did it construct the term using general patterns it had seen. - hardwood floor installation