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May 27, 2006


Is living well the alternative to religious conviction? Here's James Thrower, a historian of early atheism:

"The earliest recorded critical response to a religious interpretation of life is the cry carpe diem."

The following ancient refrain is attributed to a long-lived Indian group of nonbelievers:

While life is yours live joyously,
None can escape Death's searching eye:
When once this frame of ours they burn,
How shall it e'er return?

A poem inscribed on a tomb in Egypt about five thousand years ago puts it this way:

...since it is impossible to tell how the dead fare in the other world,
What is left for us here? Nothing except to snatch at
the sensual pleasures of the day.

Does this qualify as a positive view of atheism? Or would many atheists reject such a hedonistic, ammoral perspective on the world? Does this mean Ivan Karamazov was right about the consequences of the death of God?

Posted by Mitchell Stephens at May 27, 2006 1:37 AM


Hedonism and amorality are both loaded words used to scare us away from the edge of the mystery. Carping the diem includes loving others; the most satisfying pleasure of them all.
"Morality" is a ruse used to justify irrational systems. Constructive shared values arise from love, and not from a set of absolute rules.

Posted by: Jay Saul at May 27, 2006 3:02 PM

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