right of reply

In this article, Adipo says of atheists

The atheist traveller on the hand contrary argues he knows there exists no such bridge and challenges the theist traveller to prove otherwise.

and while i don’t claim to speak for all atheists, I can say without fear of contradiction that most atheists would argue they have no belief in the existence of god(s) but would generally revise their belief should evidence be made available. The above does not equate to saying no gods exists, which is  the point Adipo is making in his argument. It can actually be argued that agnostics live their life with the belief that sufficient evidence for gods have not been proven, that is, like atheists.

And while he seems to avoid discussing the gods, he seems to me, in his final comment to make a species of the gods, creator gods, irrelevant. He says

Space and time are both metaphysical and infinite – beyond anyone’s cause.

and I don’t disagree. This position puts paid the argument of a god living out of space and time.

And I think there are good reasons to mock religion.

Advertisements

On the gods, by Cicero

In my earlier postings, I wrote about what Cicero says in the Tusculian disputations about death, wisdom, grief and virtue as being sufficient for a happy life.

In this post, we look at the discussion on the gods, whether they exist, what their nature is and whether the government of the universe is in their hands, so to speak.

It has been said by others, wiser than yours truly, that there is nothing new under the sun. And the disputations on the gods is a good example. I think the discoveroids have failed to cite their sources in their arguments for complexity and teleological arguments. These two propositions are expounded so clearly and eloquently in this work than by Behe or William Paley.

In this disputation,Cotta, a priest responds to the arguments of Velleius who argued for the being of gods, claiming the government of the universe is in their hands, that we cannot see a beautiful house and assume it wasn’t designed and finally that the gods are eternal and happy. He begins his response thus

In the question concerning the nature of the Gods, his first inquiry is, whether there are Gods or not. It would be dangerous, I believe, to take the negative side before a public auditory; but it is very safe in a discourse of this kind, and in this company. I, who am a priest, and who think that religions and ceremonies ought sacredly to be maintained, am certainly desirous to have the existence of the Gods, which is the principal point in debate, not only fixed in opinion, but proved to a demonstration; for many notions flow into and disturb the mind which sometimes seem to convince us that there are none. (emphasis mine).

Believers are wont to argue that it is the general assent of all men that there is a god. Platinga even went further to argue there is a god shaped hole in our hearts that only god can fill. To this Cotta says

You have said that the general assent of men of all nations and all degrees is an argument strong enough to induce us to acknowledge the being of the Gods. This is not only a weak, but a false, argument; for, first of all, how do you know the opinions of all nations?

Regarding those who deified birds and other animals, Cotta says

I could speak of the advantage of the ichneumon, the crocodile, and the cat; but I am unwilling to be tedious; yet I will conclude by observing that the barbarians paid divine honors to beasts because of benefits they received from them; whereas your gods not only confer no benefit, but are idle, and do no single act of any description whatever.

Cotta continues to ask

Where is the habitation of the deity? What motive is it that stirs him from his place, supposing he ever  moves? Since it is peculiar for animated beings to have an inclination to something that is agreeable to their natures, what is it that the deity affects, and to what purpose does he exert the motion of his mind and reason?

He tells Velleius, that if he attempts to answer any of the above points, he will come off lamely. This he says is because

For there is never a proper end to reasoning which proceeds on a false foundation; for you asserted likewise that the form of the Deity is perceptible by the mind, but not by sense; that it is neither solid, nor invariable in number; that it is to be discerned by similitude and transition, and that a constant supply of images is perpetually flowing on from innumerable atoms, on which our minds are intent; so that we from that conclude that divine nature to be happy and everlasting.(emphasis mine)

At this point, I am hoping believers reading this can answer us

What, in the name of those Deities concerning whom we are now disputing, is the meaning of all this? For if they exist only in thought, and have no solidity nor substance, what difference can there be between thinking of a Hippocentaur and thinking of a Deity?

And Cotta concludes his disputation by saying

Therefore our friend Posidonius has well observed, in his fifth book of the Nature of the Gods, that Epicurus believed there were no Gods, and that what he had said about the immortal Gods was only said from a desire to avoid unpopularity. He could not be so weak as to imagine that the Deity has only the outward features of a simple mortal, without any real solidity; that he has all the members of a man, without the least power to use them—a certain unsubstantial pellucid being, neither favorable nor beneficial to any one, neither regarding nor doing anything. There can be no such being in nature; and as Epicurus said this plainly, he allows the Gods in words, and destroys them in fact; and if the Deity is truly such a being that he shows no favor, no benevolence to mankind, away with him! For why should I entreat him to be propitious? He can be propitious to none, since, as you say, all his favor and benevolence are the effects of imbecility.

And yours truly agrees.

on gods

In the beginning man created god. No. Diop didn’t write that. But he alludes to it in this passage

Because of the requirements of agricultural life, concepts such as matriarchy and totemism, the most perfect social organization and monotheistic religion were born. These engendered others; thus, circumcision resulted from monotheism; in fact, it was really the notion of a god, Amon, uncreated creator of all that exists, that led to the androgynous concept. Since Amon was not created and since he is the origin of all creation, there was a time when he was alone. To the archaic mentality, he must have contained within himself all the male and female principles necessary for procreation. That is why Aomn, the Negro god par excellence of the “Anglo-Egyptian” Sudan (Nubia) and all the rest of Black Africa, was to appear in Sudanese mythology as androgynous. Belief in this hermaphroditic ontology would produce circumcision and excision in the Black world.

[..]By contrast, the ferocity of nature in the Eurasian steppes, the barrenness of those regions, the overall circumstances of material conditions, were to create instincts necessary for survival in such an environment. Here, Nature left no illusion of kindliness; it was implacable and permitted no negligence; man must obtain his bread by the sweat of his brow. Above all, in the course of a long painful existence, he must learn to rely on himself alone, on his own possibilities. He could not indulge in the luxury of believing in a beneficent God who would shower down abundant means of gaining livelihood; instead he would conjure up deities maleficent and cruel, jealous and spiteful; Zeus, Yahweh, among others.[emphasis mine]

And elsewhere he writes about the human origins, he says

Although scientifically attractive, the hypothesis that man existed everywhere at the same time will remain inadmissible so long as we fail to find fossilized man in America, a continent not submerged during the fourth quaternary when man appeared and on which we have all the climatic zones from the South Pole to the North Pole

what did the ancients think god was

Thales, who first inquired into this sort of matter, believed God to be a Spirit that made all things of water;

Anaximander, that the gods were always dying and entering into life again; and that there were an infinite number of worlds;

Anaximines, that the air was God, that he was procreate and immense, always moving

Anaxagoras the first, was of opinion that the description and manner of all things were conducted by the power and reason of an infinite spirit.

Alcmon gave divinity to the sun, moon, and stars, and to the soul.

Pythagoras made God a spirit, spread over the nature of all things, whence our souls are extracted

Parmenides, a circle surrounding the heaven, and supporting the world by the ardour of light.

Empedocles pronounced the four elements, of which all things are composed, to be gods;

Protagoras had nothing to say, whether they were or were not, or what they were

Democritus was one while of opinion that the images and their circuitions were gods; another while, the nature that darts out those images; and then, our science and intelligence.

Speusippus, the nephew of Plato, makes God a certain power governing all things, and that he has a soul.

Zeno says ’tis the law of nature, commanding good and prohibiting evil; which law is an animal; and takes away the accustomed gods, Jupiter, Juno, and Vesta

Diogenes Apolloniates, that ’tis air. Zenophanes makes God round, seeing and hearing, not breathing, and having nothing in common with human nature.

Aristo thinks the form of God to be incomprehensible, deprives him of sense, and knows not whether he be an animal or something else

Diagoras and Theodoras flatly denied that there were any gods at all

Sir Isaac Newton He is called the Lord God, the Universal Emperor–that the word God is relative, and relates itself with slaves–and that the Deity is the dominion or the sovereignty of God, not over his own body, as those think who look upon God as the soul of the world, but over slaves

Hart makes god the ground of being

And you still a find a believer calling an igtheist arrogant for saying god is a word that hasn’t been coherently defined and thus talk of its or their existence, is really a chasing after the wind!

Note: The above are taken from the Apology for Raymond Sebond except Isaac Newton and Hart’s conception of god[s]

The lament of a non believer

O humankind unhappy!- when it ascribed

Unto divinities such awesome deeds

And coupled thereto rigours of fierce wrath!

What groans did men on that sad day beget

Even for themselves, and O what wounds for us,

What tears for our children’s children!

from the Nature of things by Lucretius

thinking out loud

 If God does not exist, what is the purpose of educating yourself?  You will die, and if your works live on after your death, eventually nobody will be around to see those either.  If you simply want to educate yourself for the benefit of yourself, what do you objectively gain by the endeavor? 

My colleagues at atheistenquiry.org have answered this question here, here and here and I will add my two cents to this silly question.

My first response is because if god, as they don’t, do not exist, then all depends on us. We have no one else to wait on to give us this answers. That we must wrestle the knowledge from nature by diligently studying it, and coming back to it to arbitrate our claims. I would assume if a god existed, whichever god, and they were concerned about us and wanted us to have the right kind of belief, they would occasionally send notes.

My parents told me, to be competitive in the 21st century, I needed education and have a trade. Now that am old, I educate myself for the sake of knowing. I find immeasurable pleasure in learning something new. It opens my vistas. Expands my understanding of the world and so it is what I would call knowledge for its own sake.

I hate this questions of purpose. Must something have some preordained purpose to be enjoyed. It is silly to ask such a question. It is no different from asking why listen to music if god doesn’t exist.

I know I will die and will not be on the stage anymore. But while I live, I would love to be part of the conversation. It depends on what you write. Celsus, Cicero, Marcus Aurelius, Plutarch, Homer, Nietzsche among others wrote their volumes many eons ago. They have since died but we still read them. They have contributed to the improvement the human race, knowledge wise.  And anyway, why should I worry about what will happen to my books, if I eventually get to write a few, when am dead, I shall be dead. Those who are lucky will find them useful in dismissing beliefs in superstition. They will learn, if they don’t already know, that it is important to be kind, not to discriminate and to treat each other with dignity.

Lastly, as I have said, what I again by educating myself is knowledge of the world around me, some of it practical and most of it, knowledge for the sake of knowledge. I could, for example, tell you that during the reign of Marcus Aurelius, Rome was governed by one of its best men. Here is an ideal to aspire to.

In conclusion, while we can disagree on whether a question is silly or not, this one assumes too much. The person asking assumes, that the god he believes in exists, that this god somehow is the reason they are educating themselves and maybe even after their death, this god may in someway be concerned with what they have left.