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December 30, 2005

Zeus' Troubles

All of us would qualify as atheists by the definition that, as I've been reading, mostly applied in Greece and Rome: not honoring the residents of Mt. Olympus. For Zeus/Jupiter, Athena/Minerva, Hermes/Mercury, the sacrifices, lately, have been few and far between.

Have we been in the process of moving beyond the angry, meddling, jealous god of, say, Exodus? "Thus says the Lord God of Israel: 'Let every man put his sword on his side, and go out from entrance to entrance throughout the camp, and let every man kill his brother, every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.'"

Is Jesus, the worker of miracles, beginning to seem a little distant? "The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up." Is this what they're so nervous about out in the red states? (A friend reports seeing a billboard decorated with flames somewhere in Indiana upon which is written: "Hell Is Real.")

Might societies someday look back even on our more retiring god -- who provides meaning, hope and a beginning but stays out of the way of evolution, planetary motion and football games -- the way we look back on the notion of Apollo chauffeuring the sun?

Posted by Mitchell Stephens at December 30, 2005 4:12 PM


Science is shrinking the gaps, and God is getting squeezed out. Education and knowledge are to religion what sunlight is to a vampire. Which no doubt explains why the extreme right is so anti-intellectual and anti-science.

The founding fathers of the US were almost uniformly deist. They believed a god was needed only to set the initial conditions of the universe, after which it could evolve by itself with absolutely no need for divine interference. I'm pretty certain that if the founding fathers had been in possession of today's scientific knowledge, they would have openly declared themselves atheists. It's sad to think how much the US has regressed since then. However, religion is pretty much a dead letter in Western Europe, and the Far East has the big advantage that religion was never as autocratic and totalitarian is it often was in the west.

The days of the US empire are numbered. The future of humanity lies in the rest of the developed world.

And to answer your question, I think "yes". Future generations will wonder why our system of morality had to be based on a self-evidently false and absurd tissue of myths and superstitions instead of on rationality and empathy for one's fellow beings.

Posted by: No More Mr. Nice Guy! at December 31, 2005 5:48 PM

(A friend reports seeing a billboard decorated with flames somewhere in Indiana upon which is written: "Hell Is Real.")

I pass a bloody hanging Jesus, who just happens to Love Me! (according to the billboard txt) every day on my way to work. I s'pose it's trying to say that I can't forget what I'll get if I forget to pray to the guy. How pleasant... You can actually feel the love from Dude's anquished eyes. {sighhh}

And for the book: an atheist meme that I kinda like.

Posted by: MBains at January 1, 2006 7:44 AM

Science is shrinking the gaps

It's funny NoMo, when I first saw that I misread it as Science is shaping the apes.

The days of the US empire are numbered. The future of humanity lies in the rest of the developed world.

So it seems from many sides. I think the substance of this country's people will still re-enjoy the Reformation, the Age of Reason and whatever is still to come. Our conversations, and those of thousands of others, suggest to me that the US is simply one of many culturalogical* future shapers instead of the primary director of our species' future which it's been since the end of WWII.

It's an adjustment. BushCo's electoral successes are an abberation caused by Reagan's consumeristic redefining of materialism causing a lot of scared and ignorant people to reach back to the past for their morality. It's a pretty bloody thing, our past.

Honest discussion like this will help us learn from it, even from within current condition of repeating it. Capitalism doesn't have to be a Kill or Die proposition, though I'm still not sure the same holds true for religions.

We're immature, but growing wiser, apes. That's kind of exciting.

* does that word describe it? I think so.

Posted by: MBains at January 1, 2006 8:00 AM

Your friend should drive slower. The billboard says:
Hell Is Real.

(Welcome to Indiana)

Posted by: Tom Buckner at January 15, 2006 4:19 AM

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