Old 06-22-2013, 01:22 AM   #11
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Ecclesiastes ["the Preacher"]. Hebrew prophet (c. 350 B.C.]:
For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them; as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast; for all is vanity. [3.19]

For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun. [Therefore] go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works. [9.4-7]
Note: The influence of Hellenistic philosophy is exemplified by these two passages as well as the repeated carpe diem exhortations to eat, drink, and live well ("seize the day").
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Old 06-22-2013, 01:23 AM   #12
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Carneades. Athenian Academic skeptic who was notorious for his atheism (213-129 B.C.):
In order to form a conception of God one must necessarily . . . suspend [judgment] as to his existence or non-existence. For the existence of God is not pre-evident [a priori]. . . . therefore it is not proved, either, by a pre-evident fact. . . . Nor yet by what is non-evident; for he who asserts this will be driven into circular reasoning when we keep demanding proof every time for the non-evident fact which he produces as proof of the last one propounded. Consequently, the existence of God cannot be proved from any other fact.

If [God] has the power but not the will to have forethought for all, he will be held to be malignant; while if he has neither the will nor the power, he is both malignant and weak--an impious thing to say about God. Therefore God has no forethought for the things in the universe.

If these brothers [Jupiter, Neptune, and Orcus] are included among the gods, can we deny the divinity of their father Saturn, who is held in the highest reverence by the common people in the west? And if he is a god, we must also admit that his father Caelus is a god. And if so, the parents of Caelus, the Aether and the Day . . . [here Carneades goes on to list at least another five dozen ancient gods and goddesses to justify his conclusion]: Either therefore this process will go on indefinitely, or we shall admit none of these; and this unlimited claim of superstition will not be accepted; therefore none of these is to be accepted.

Cicero: There are however other philosophers, and those of eminence and note, who believe that the whole world is ruled and governed by divine intelligence and reason; and not this only, but also that the gods' providence watches over the life of men . . . This view was controverted at great length by Carneades, in such a manner as to arouse in persons of active mind a keen desire to discover the truth.

Cicero: [According to Carneades], that which feels pleasure and pain cannot be everlasting; and every living thing feels them; therefore no living thing is everlasting. . . . Therefore every living thing must of necessity perish.
Note: Carneades also proposed a theory of probability at three levels of sophistication: (1) ordinary truths, (2) ordinary truths confirmed by others like them, and (3) tested truths justified by close empirical study. This permitted the tentative acceptance of truths until they could be demonstrated to be false. Carneades transcribed none of his ideas, but his disciple Clitomachus composed more than 400 treatises, all of which were either lost or destroyed.
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Old 06-22-2013, 01:25 AM   #13
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Polybius. Greek historian (203-120 B.C.):
Since the masses of people are inconstant, full of unruly desires, passionate, and reckless of consequence, they must be filled with fears to keep them in order. The ancients did well, therefore, to invent gods, and the belief in punishment after death.
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Old 06-22-2013, 01:37 AM   #14
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Varro. Roman scholar (115-27 B.C.):

It is for the good of states that men should be deluded by religion.
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Old 06-22-2013, 01:39 AM   #15
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Cicero. Roman rhetorician, politician and scholar (106-43 B.C.):
But the question is not, are there any people who think that the gods exist,--the question is, do the gods exist or do they not?

[Nature's] coherence and persistence is due to nature's forces and not to divine power; she does possess that "concord" . . . of which you spoke, but the greater this is as a spontaneous growth, the less possible is it to suppose that it was created by divine reason.

Either providence does not know its own powers, or it does not regard human affairs, or it lacks power of judgment to discern what is best.

I do not even deem that this world was built on a divine plan; and yet it may be so.

But just as I deem it supremely honourable to hold true views, so it is supremely disgraceful to approve falsehoods as true.

It is better to have no opinions than to have such wrong ones!

With the ignorant you get superstitions like the Syrians' worship of a fish, and the Egyptians' deification of almost every species of animal . . . Well, those are the superstitions of the unlearned; but what of you philosophers? How are your dogmas any better?
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Old 06-22-2013, 01:40 AM   #16
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Lucretius. Roman poet-philosopher (99-55 B.C.):
No thing is ever by divine power produced from nothing.

All religions are equally sublime to the ignorant, useful to the politician, and ridiculous to the philosopher.
Note: The stoic philosopher Seneca (4 B.C.-65 C.E.) used the same argument: "Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful," as did Edward Gibbon in the eighteenth century, "The various modes of worship which prevailed in the Roman world were all considered by the people as equally true; by the philosopher as equally false; and by the magistrate as equally useful."
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Old 06-22-2013, 01:41 AM   #17
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Ovid. Roman poet (43 B.C.-A.D. 17):
It is expedient that gods should exist; since it is expedient, let us believe they do.
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Old 06-22-2013, 01:42 AM   #18
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Petronius Arbiter. Roman satirist (--A.D. 66):
It was fear that first brought gods into the world.
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Old 06-22-2013, 01:43 AM   #19
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Pliny the elder. Roman scholar (A.D. 23-79):
The world and this--whatever other name men have chosen to designate the sky whose vaulted roof encircles the universe, is fitly believed to be a deity, eternal immeasurable, a being that never began to exist and never will perish. What is outside it does not concern men to explore and is not within the grasp of the human mind to guess. It is sacred, eternal, immeasurable, wholly within the whole, nay rather itself the whole, finite and resembling the infinite, certain of all things and resembling the uncertain, holding in its embrace all things that are without and within, at once the work of nature and nature herself.

That [a] supreme being, whate'er it be, pays heed to man's affairs is a ridiculous notion. Can we believe that it would not be defiled by so gloomy and so multifarious a duty?

All men are in the same state from their last day onward as they were before their first day, and neither body nor mind possesses any sensation after death, any more than it did before birth. From the moment of death onward, the body and soul feel as little as they did before birth.
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Old 06-22-2013, 01:44 AM   #20
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Seneca. Roman tragedian and philosopher (4 B.C.-A.D. 65):
After death, nothing is. . . . Let the ambitious zealot lay aside his hope of heaven, whose faith is but his pride. . . . Naught's after death, and death itself is naught.
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