Author Topic: Atheist History  (Read 563 times)

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Offline LoriPinkAngel

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Atheist History
« on: July 27, 2012, 08:03:50 PM »
Is there any record or knowledge of "ancient" atheists? (Ancient as in before or around the times of the Roman Empire) Have any known civilizations or societies been founded by atheists? What about art, literature or music?
It doesn't make sense to let go of something you've had for so long.  But it also doesn't make sense to hold on when there's actually nothing there.

Online Nam

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Re: Atheist History
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2012, 08:32:20 PM »
This thread is about lab-grown dicks, not some mincy, old, British poof of an actor. 

Let's get back on topic, please.


Offline Quesi

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Re: Atheist History
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2012, 08:51:08 PM »
Great questions. 

I think that there have always been individuals or groups of individuals within (almost?) all societies who doubted the existence or power of the various deities.  The ancient Greeks seemed to have the members who questioned their deities the most.

But most societies strove to answer the big questions, and the questions that impacted most on their lives.  Who are we, and how did we come to be here?  Why is the rain/drought ruining our crops?  Why do we get sick?  What are those lights in the night sky?  And all societies came up with answers to those questions, in the absence of an understanding of evolution or weather patterns or bacteria or stars and solar systems and galaxies.  And those answers generally involved some supernatural beings.  So although I cannot say for sure, I think it is a fair bet that no societies were formed based on the concept of atheism. 

In terms of literature and art and music, of course!  One of my favorite authors, Isaac Asimov, was an atheist and a secular humanist. Alice Walker.  Langston Hughes.  Zora Neil Hurston.  Virginia Woolf.  Ursula LeGuin.  Douglas Adams.  I could go on and on.  And of course gazillions of philosophers and scientists ranging from Bertrand Russell and Carl Sagan and Neil Degrasse Tyson and Stephan Hawking and the famous writers who focus on atheism as a topic, such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens and probably a lot of names that others on this forum know better than I do.   

In terms of the visual arts, there is of course, Diego Rivera and his wife Frida Kahlo.  I am sure there are many others, and perhaps our resident art aficionados can add to the list.  I can tell some great “Diego the atheist” stories if you’d like. 

Music?  Well, in addition to our young but accomplished resident violist, there are quite a few atheist musicians. 

Lori, I think I’ve read enough of your posts to be pretty sure you will like this song, even though you are a Christian. 



One of my favorite musicians in the world, Manu Chao, is an outspoken atheist.  If you don’t know him, he spent his childhood in France as a Galician refugee from the Franco regime.  He sings in many languages, mostly Spanish and French, and to a lesser degree English and Portuguese and sometimes Arabic and Wolof.  (edited to add) Social and economic justice are common themes in his work. 

Here is one of his English songs.



And here is one that you might be familiar with.  I don’t think it is his best work, but it seems to be one of the few songs that really got play in the English speaking world. 



« Last Edit: July 27, 2012, 08:57:45 PM by Quesi »

Offline LoriPinkAngel

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Re: Atheist History
« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2012, 08:58:41 PM »
Thanks, Nam, I guess I could have done that.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2012, 09:00:31 PM by LoriPinkAngel »
It doesn't make sense to let go of something you've had for so long.  But it also doesn't make sense to hold on when there's actually nothing there.

Offline Quesi

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Re: Atheist History
« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2012, 09:00:50 PM »
Ooops.  I apologize.  You were asking about ancient literature, music and art?  I answered the history question and then moved onto culture, and I cited contemporary culture rather than pointing to historical artists and writers and musicians. 

Perhaps others are better equipped than I to answer this, but I'm pretty sure that we don't know a lot about ancient atheists and their impact on the arts. 

Offline bertatberts

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Re: Atheist History
« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2012, 10:04:16 AM »
Is there any record or knowledge of "ancient" atheists? (Ancient as in before or around the times of the Roman Empire) Have any known civilizations or societies been founded by atheists? What about art, literature or music?
Answer all of them, how could we possibly know who were atheist, and who were not.
Atheist tended to keep their mouths shut about themselves for fear of death.

You could just as easily ask " Have any known civilizations or societies been founded by theists?" the rulers knew how to control the masses. And again as you say  "What about art, literature or music?". Was Michelangelo theist or atheist? Was Shakespeare theist or atheist?  Was Mozart theist or atheist? they all may have acted as though they were believers, for the simple reason I gave above.

You don't seriously think do you, that every alleged believer in America is an actual believer, some may be living a lie just to toe the line.

Edit: Spelling
« Last Edit: July 28, 2012, 11:20:17 AM by bertatberts »
We theists have no evidence for our beliefs. So no amount of rational evidence will dissuade us from those beliefs. - JCisall

It would be pretty piss poor brainwashing, if the victims knew they were brainwashed, wouldn't it? - Screwtape. 04/12/12

Online Nam

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Re: Atheist History
« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2012, 10:13:06 AM »
Ooops.  I apologize.  You were asking about ancient literature, music and art?  I answered the history question and then moved onto culture, and I cited contemporary culture rather than pointing to historical artists and writers and musicians. 

Perhaps others are better equipped than I to answer this, but I'm pretty sure that we don't know a lot about ancient atheists and their impact on the arts. 

We can only speculate based on little information as to who we may believe was an atheist in the past. But the one thing people need to understand: the definition, or the word itself, has changed considerably over the years.

Example: to a Christian, an atheist is anyone who is not a Christian.

-Nam
This thread is about lab-grown dicks, not some mincy, old, British poof of an actor. 

Let's get back on topic, please.


Offline LoriPinkAngel

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Re: Atheist History
« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2012, 01:56:31 PM »
Answer all of them, how could we possibly know who were atheist, and who were not.
Atheist tended to keep their mouths shut about themselves for fear of death.
I wondered if some may have been discovered to be atheists by biographers or whatnot as some composers, artists, etc were eventually found to be homosexual.

Quote
You don't seriously think do you, that every alleged believer in America is an actual believer, some may be living a lie just to toe the line
Sad, but true.  We live in a world where people hide their beliefs to appease closed minds, bigots and extremists.  I wonder if people will ever accept each other in spite of their differences -- belief in god or lack of it, method of expression, sexual orientation.
It doesn't make sense to let go of something you've had for so long.  But it also doesn't make sense to hold on when there's actually nothing there.

Online Nam

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Re: Atheist History
« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2012, 02:17:43 PM »
LoriPinkAngel,

The problem with that, even today, is that even in some of the most sercular societies where ruling religion state they are accepting of all walks of people is that's not always entirely true. Such as in the U.S. where the government of the people (and by the people) hold up high their idealism of "Freedom of Religion" but at the core of that, it's actually freedom of their particular religion.

You know how many Christian americans say this is a "Christian" nation? If it is, which one?

A handful of Catholic sect, mainly Roman Catholic which dominate quite a few areas of the U.S., and 38,000 protestant sects, where Mormonism dominates a few states, and Southern Baptist is the dominate Christian sect inthe whole United States.

You see the problem? It's more a problem for Christians, than anyone else.

-Nam
This thread is about lab-grown dicks, not some mincy, old, British poof of an actor. 

Let's get back on topic, please.


Offline LoriPinkAngel

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Re: Atheist History
« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2012, 02:26:16 PM »
@ Nam- I'm going off my own topic but I was horrified to read in Huff Post today that a Baptist Church congregation refused to allow a black couple to get married in their church.  Can you believe that shit happened in 2012???
It doesn't make sense to let go of something you've had for so long.  But it also doesn't make sense to hold on when there's actually nothing there.

Online Nam

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Re: Atheist History
« Reply #10 on: July 28, 2012, 02:38:14 PM »
@ Nam- I'm going off my own topic but I was horrified to read in Huff Post today that a Baptist Church congregation refused to allow a black couple to get married in their church.  Can you believe that shit happened in 2012???

Yes.

Though, as a society we have grown a lot toward acceptance we still live in a highly prejudiced, and in some parts, racist areas.  I mean you have a Christian pastor, or what not (forget who/where), saying that homosexuals should be rounded up and placed in concentration camps where they will eventually "die off". As if all homosexuals are born from only other homosexuals.

There are plenty of other examples, all one has to do is peruse this website or others to find them.

-Nam
This thread is about lab-grown dicks, not some mincy, old, British poof of an actor. 

Let's get back on topic, please.


Offline bertatberts

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Re: Atheist History
« Reply #11 on: July 28, 2012, 05:24:45 PM »
Answer all of them, how could we possibly know who were atheist, and who were not.
Atheist tended to keep their mouths shut about themselves for fear of death.
I wondered if some may have been discovered to be atheists by biographers or whatnot as some composers, artists, etc were eventually found to be homosexual.
I dare say that's true.
There are many people throughout history that we know now to be free thinkers/atheist in there outlook

There was a Greek historian called Thucydides who's histories never invoked the supernatural or mentioned deities.

Several famous greeks were accused of atheism such has Pericles, Anaxagoras, Diogenes, and Hippo.

We can say with some authority that Theodorus of Cyrene was an atheist due to his stories on the gods.

The Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius was of the opinion that men should neither believe or disbelieve in gods.

Leonardo de Vinci and Niccolo Machiavelli were critical of the church and used experimentation to acquire knowledge.
Bonaventure Des Perriers ridiculed Christianity in his work "Cymbalum Mundi."

The plays of Marlowe and Shakespeare are noted for there lack of religous Bs.

And later writers like Clemans, Wilde, Shaw, and Wells, Ingersoll too,  are all noted for their lack of religious bs.
We theists have no evidence for our beliefs. So no amount of rational evidence will dissuade us from those beliefs. - JCisall

It would be pretty piss poor brainwashing, if the victims knew they were brainwashed, wouldn't it? - Screwtape. 04/12/12

Online Nam

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Re: Atheist History
« Reply #12 on: July 28, 2012, 05:32:35 PM »
bertaberts.

The word they used back then, to the one we know now should not be confused as being the same. They are not. Just because a person during that time may not have believed in the gods, doesn't mean that they may not have believed in a single god, or other spiritual or religious icons. Whether they wroie about it, or not is irrelevant. It doesn't mean they can be considered an atheist based on such little information. That's what time does, sadly.

One's with enough sources and scholars to agree makes it more clear if they were, or not. However, even that isn't definitive.

-Nam
This thread is about lab-grown dicks, not some mincy, old, British poof of an actor. 

Let's get back on topic, please.


Offline bertatberts

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Re: Atheist History
« Reply #13 on: July 29, 2012, 04:48:21 AM »
bertaberts.

The word they used back then, to the one we know now should not be confused as being the same. They are not. Just because a person during that time may not have believed in the gods, doesn't mean that they may not have believed in a single god, or other spiritual or religious icons. Whether they wroie about it, or not is irrelevant. It doesn't mean they can be considered an atheist based on such little information. That's what time does, sadly.

One's with enough sources and scholars to agree makes it more clear if they were, or not. However, even that isn't definitive.

-Nam
Agreed but the reverse also works as you know. It is what I said originally.
However we can infer from there writings that it was likely, that is all I'm saying.
As that is so, and we know what critical thought brings with it, then the inference is justified.
We theists have no evidence for our beliefs. So no amount of rational evidence will dissuade us from those beliefs. - JCisall

It would be pretty piss poor brainwashing, if the victims knew they were brainwashed, wouldn't it? - Screwtape. 04/12/12

Offline Quesi

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Re: Atheist History
« Reply #14 on: July 29, 2012, 08:34:18 AM »
I do keep thinking about your question concerning ancient atheists, and the various responses that have come in.

I agree that in most monotheist – dominated cultures there was significant persecution of non-believers.  Certainly Christianity had the Spanish inquisition and papal penalties at various points in time for those who were not pious enough, so non-believers were hidden and marginalized.  Islam did also, but I think to a lesser degree. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about Judaism, and I think my view is sort of distorted by my contemporary perceptions of Judaism, in which there are lots of secular Jews.  I don’t think Judaism ever made significant efforts to convert.  Other than the requirement of converting someone who was marrying a Jew.  But mostly they saw themselves as a minority in a big world of folks who believed in other stuff, and I think that the traditions and cultural identification were more important than that actual belief in a deity.  But again, I could be superimposing more contemporary values. 

In terms of how atheists were received in other societies, I really don’t know.  Did the ancient Mayans ostracize those who didn’t believe that the celestial bodies were the embodiment of the Hero Twins?  I have no idea.  I’m guessing that their greatest scientists doubted that silliness.  But I don’t know.

I don’t pretend to know much about ancient Egypt, but I seem to be aware of the fact that different leaders picked certain gods out of the poly mix, and I assume, rejected other gods that were previously in fashion.  In the absence of developed scientific theories, they needed SOME explanations for all of the things that ancient societies developed gods to explain.  So it seems that certain leaders rejected certain explanations and adopted others.  Whether any of them truly believed that there were no gods, and that the reasons for weather patterns and illness and whatnot were completely unrelated to their various deities, I cannot speculate. 

The Greeks of course come to mind, and I think at various different points in history individual scientists and philosophers rejected their pantheon.  And at different points in history, this rejection of the gods was received differently. 

So no real answers.  Just random thoughts on ancient civilizations about which we really know so little. 

Offline Frank

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Re: Atheist History
« Reply #15 on: July 29, 2012, 09:36:07 AM »
Just look what happened to non christians during the last 2000 years. The pogroms against jews, the torturing and burning of people suspected of being witches. They even burned each other if they were the wrong denomination. So if you didn't believe in any god at all it probably wasn't good for your health to advertise it.
"Atheism is not a mission to convert the world. It only seems that way because when other religions fall away, atheism is what is left behind".

Offline JeffPT

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Re: Atheist History
« Reply #16 on: July 29, 2012, 09:50:19 AM »
@ Nam- I'm going off my own topic but I was horrified to read in Huff Post today that a Baptist Church congregation refused to allow a black couple to get married in their church.  Can you believe that shit happened in 2012???

Lori,

The more you study the actual effects of religion in this world, the more you're going to dislike it.  Things like this are not surprising at all once you open your eyes and see organized religion for what it is. 

Six or so months ago, I started specifically looking for things that religion was doing around the world.  I started copying links for myself and saving them until I came across this picture.   Click on it and scroll. 

http://i.imgur.com/FUDKZ.jpg

While there are some good things about religion, as a whole, it's disastrous for the world. 
Whenever events that are purported to occur in our best interest are as numerous as the events that will just as soon kill us, then intent is hard, if not impossible to assert. NDT

Offline bertatberts

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Re: Atheist History
« Reply #17 on: July 29, 2012, 11:38:51 AM »
These might help Lori.



We theists have no evidence for our beliefs. So no amount of rational evidence will dissuade us from those beliefs. - JCisall

It would be pretty piss poor brainwashing, if the victims knew they were brainwashed, wouldn't it? - Screwtape. 04/12/12