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  • Smoky
    • Jun 2013
    • 1849

    #16
    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."

    Comment

    • Smoky
      • Jun 2013
      • 1849

      #17
      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.

      Comment

      • Smoky
        • Jun 2013
        • 1849

        #18
        Petronius Arbiter. Roman satirist (--A.D. 66):
        It was fear that first brought gods into the world.

        Comment

        • Smoky
          • Jun 2013
          • 1849

          #19
          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.

          Comment

          • Smoky
            • Jun 2013
            • 1849

            #20
            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.

            Comment

            • Smoky
              • Jun 2013
              • 1849

              #21
              Diodorus Siculus. Greek historian (c. 1st century A.D.):
              The myths about Hades and the gods, although they are pure invention, help to make men virtuous.

              It is to the interest of states to be deceived in religion.

              Comment

              • Smoky
                • Jun 2013
                • 1849

                #22
                Statius. Roman poet (c. 45-96 A.D.):
                It was fear in the world that created the gods.

                Comment

                • Smoky
                  • Jun 2013
                  • 1849

                  #23
                  Epictetus. Greek stoic philosopher (A.D. 50-135):
                  Where are you going? It cannot be a place of suffering; there is no hell.

                  Comment

                  • Smoky
                    • Jun 2013
                    • 1849

                    #24
                    Tacitus. Roman historian (55-120 A.D.):
                    Christianity is a pestilent superstition.

                    Comment

                    • Smoky
                      • Jun 2013
                      • 1849

                      #25
                      Lucian. Roman poet (c. 120-180 A.D.):
                      National observances show better than anything else how vague religious theory is. Confusion is endless, and beliefs as many as believers. Scythia makes offerings to a scimeter, Thrace to the Samian runaway Zamolxis, Phrygia to a Month-God, Ethiopia to a Day-Goddess, Cyllene to Phales, Assyria to a dove, Persia to fire, Egypt to water. In Egypt, though, besides the universal worship of water, Memphis has a private cult of the ox, Pelusium of the onion, other cities of the ibis or the crocodile, others again of baboon, cat, or monkey. Nay, the very villages have their specialties; one deifies the right shoulder, and another across the river the left; one a half skull, another an earthenware bowl or platter. Come, my fine fellow, is it not all ridiculous?

                      The earthly navigator makes his plans, takes his measures, gives his orders, with a single eye to efficiency; there is nothing useless or purposeless on board; everything is to make navigation easy or possible; but as for the navigator [God] for whom you claim the management of this vast ship [the universe], he and his crew show no reason or appropriateness in any of their arrangements; the forestays, as likely as not, are made fast to the stern, and both sheets to the bows; the anchor will be gold, the beak lead, decoration below the water-line and unsightliness above. As for the men, you will find some lazy awkward coward in second or third command, or a fine swimmer active as a cat aloft, and a handy man generally, chosen out of all the rest to--pump. It is just the same with the passengers: here is a gaolbird accommodated with a seat next the captain and treated with reverence, there a debauchee or parricide or temple-robber in honourable possession of the best place, while crowds of respectable people are packed together in a corner and hustled by their real inferiors. . . . If there had been a captain supervising and directing, in the first place he would have known the difference between good and bad passengers, and in the second he would have given them their deserts . . . So too for the crew: the keen sailor would have been made look-out man or captain of the watch, or given some sort of precedence and the lazy shirker have tasted the rope's end half a dozen times a day. The metaphorical ship [of the universe] is likely to be capsized by its captain's incompetence.

                      Comment

                      • Smoky
                        • Jun 2013
                        • 1849

                        #26
                        Celsus. Roman philosopher (c. 2nd century, A.D.)--the first ancient author of a whole book attacking Christianity.
                        Just as the charlatans of the cults [of Cybele, Mithras, etc.] take advantage of a simpleton's lack of education to lead him around by the nose, so too with the Christian teachers: they do not want to give or to receive reasons for what they believe. Their favorite expressions are "Do not ask questions, just believe!" and: "Your faith will save you!" "The wisdom of the world," they say, "is evil"; "to be simple is to be good."

                        And how can one overlook the fact that Christian teachers are only happy with stupid pupils--indeed scout about for the slow-witted. . . . And to the scum that constitutes their assemblies, they say "Make sure none of you ever obtains knowledge, for too much learning is a dangerous thing; knowledge is a disease for the soul, and the soul that acquires knowledge will perish."

                        Let's assume for the present that he [Christ] foretold his resurrection. Are you ignorant of the multitudes who have invented similar tales to lead simple-minded hearers astray? It is said that Zamolxis, Pythagoras' servant, convinced the Scythians that he had risen from the dead, having hidden himself away in a cave for several years; and what about Pythagoras himself in Italy! ---or Rhampsinitus in Egypt. . . . What about Orpheus among the Odrysians, Protesilaus in Thessaly, and above all Herakles and Theseus?

                        It is equally silly of these Christians to suppose that when their God applies the fire (like a common cook!) all the rest of mankind will be thoroughly roasted, and that they alone will escape unscorched--not just those alive at the time, mind you, but (they say) those long since dead will rise up from the earth possessing the same bodies as they did before. I ask you: Is this not the hope of worms?

                        It is clear to me that the writings of the Christians are a lie, and that your fables have not been well enough constructed to conceal this monstrous fiction. I have even heard that some of your interpreters, as if they had just come out of a tavern, are onto the inconsistencies and, pen in hand, alter the original writings three, four, and several more times over in order to be able to deny the contradictions in the face of criticism.

                        Comment

                        • Smoky
                          • Jun 2013
                          • 1849

                          #27
                          Tertullian. Church Father (c. 180-230):
                          Tertullian's paradox: certum est quia impossibile est. It [the story of Christ] is certain, because it is impossible.

                          Note: This is the likely origin of the modern phrase, "I believe because it is impossible."

                          Comment

                          • Smoky
                            • Jun 2013
                            • 1849

                            #28
                            Porphyry. Scholar of Tyre (c. 232-305):
                            A famous saying of the Teacher [Christ] is this one: "Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you will have no life in yourselves." [John 6.54] This saying is not only beastly and absurd; it is more absurd than absurdity itself and more beastly than any beast; that a man should savor human flesh or drink the blood of a member of his own family or people--and that by doing this he should obtain eternal life! Tell us: in recommending this sort of practice, do you not reduce human existence to savagery of the most unimaginable sort?

                            Comment

                            • Smoky
                              • Jun 2013
                              • 1849

                              #29
                              Abu al-Ala al-Ma'arri. Syrian poet (973-1057):
                              The world holds two classes of men--intelligent men without religion, and religious men without intelligence.

                              Comment

                              • Smoky
                                • Jun 2013
                                • 1849

                                #30
                                Frederick II. Holy Roman Emperor (1194-1250):

                                Accused by Pope Gregory IX of having said the world had been deceived by three impostors--Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed.

                                Comment

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