The Roman Atheist

“Do not pass by my epitaph, traveler.
But having stopped, listen and learn, then go your way.
There is no boat in Hades, no ferryman Charon,
No caretaker Aiakos, no dog Cerberus.
All we who are dead below
Have become bones and ashes, but nothing else.
I have spoken to you honestly, go on, traveler,
Lest even while dead I seem talkative to you.”

– Ancient Roman Tombstone (roughly 2000 years old)

The Roman Gods are no more, we’ve replaced them with other religions. Makes you wonder what kind of religious relics will remain, how modern day atheists will be perceived and the kind of religions that would be around 2000 years from now.

Most religious people fail to see that religion, the God(s) they worship are but man made constructs and are at the whim and mercy of what is considered fashionable or sensible (if only!) during a particular period in human history. What is clear though is that there have been those enlightened enough to reject superstition, pointless ritual and mysticism during every period of the evolution of human civilization, often having to bear the difficult task of swimming against an overwhelming tide. We salute them.

 

Found this in a rather enlightening book on the (historical not biblical) Paul and the early history of the Christian church. It’s on page 109 if anyone is interested. http://www.amazon.com/Corinthian-Body-Professor-Dale-Martin/dp/0300081723

On the broader implications of the Islamic protests…

We have this notion that it is in the application of an idea or concept that the concept itself failed us. Stalinism for example is often quoted as a failed application of the ideas of the time – Communism. The recent Islamic protests against a video on YouTube are also explained away by the “true believers” by claiming that the protesters are not practicing their religion appropriately and that the notions, ideas and concepts of Islam are true etc (“these extremist idiots don’t know the true meaning of Islam…” etc).

Should we not criticize the propensity of an idea or a concept to fail so miserably in practice? I think if we can do that, if we can truly understand that often the idea or concept that may be lauded by many inherently contains enough leeway (or the seeds thereof) to be practiced to a disastrous end then perhaps we can get somewhere and spot the dangerous and disastrous ideas early on.

What are the forms of ritualized behaviour amongst faith systems and why do we hold on to them? asks Pascal Boyer

What are the strange and bizarre forms of ritualized behaviour that humans prescribe to, what are the similarities between the faith systems of the world and why do we hold on to them? Anthropologist Pascal Boyer has extensively researched these questions and presents his findings in this enlightening lecture. A  full treatment of the material discussed can be found in his most recent book – Religion Explained.

Thomas Paine? or was it Havelock Ellis

I’m not sure if it’s Thomas Paine or Havelock Ellis who said this but it is an absolute gem:

 “The whole religious complexion of the modern world is due to the absence from Jerusalem of a lunatic asylum.”

On Epicurus

“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?”

It saddens me that religious humans of the modern age cannot even come close to this type of reasoning even after 2300 years whence the time Epicurus stated thusly. It begs the question, are they less intelligent than a 2300 year old provincial Greek? I myself am inclined to believe so.