Sunday, November 20, 2005

Freethinker Sunday Sermonette: Greek salad

Sunday dinner will be of the diet variety: salad. Greek salad, courtesy our caterer, Famous Dead Nontheists:
Anaxagoras, Greek philosopher (500?-428? BCE). ". . . probably the first freethinker we know of to be condemned for his beliefs." "He regarded the conventional gods as mythic abstractions endowed with anthropomorphic attributes. His writings led him to a dungeon, charged with impiety, probably about the year 450 B.C.E." Only the intervention of the great statesman and orator Pericles saved Anaxagoras from a death sentence. He had to pay a fine and, according to some accounts, was banished. He lived his final years in exile.

Diagoras "the Atheist" of Melos, Greek poet, (5th cent. BCE). Threw a wooden image of a god into a fire, remarking that the deity should perform another miracle and save itself. The uproar this caused in Athens prompted Diagoras to flee for his life. "Athens outlawed him and offered a reward for his capture dead or alive. He lived out his life in Spartan territory."

Protagoras, Greek philosopher (481?-411 BCE). "As to the gods, I am unable to say whether they exist or do not exist."

Democritus, Greek philosopher (460?-357 BCE). The father of Materialism. Argued that mechanical relationships or arrangements of the atoms account for various characteristics of nature, the intimation here being that the natural order of the world resulted from chance. Even morality, the soul, and all mental life are reducible to mechanistic terms with physical imperceptible atoms as their basic structure. Spiritual reality does not exist; what appears to be spiritual is attributed simply to subperceptible atomic structure or else to mere superstition. Hence, the Democritan philosophy of mechanistic Materialism is complete, self-sufficient, and self-contained.

Epicurus, Greek philosopher (341-270 BCE). As a Materialist, Epicurus accepted the idea that the soul consists of atomic material which disintegrates at death, at which time all sensation ceases. Consequently, he said, death need not be a matter of anxious concern, inasmuch as it is merely the state in which all sensation ceases.
Just so no one gets the idea Freethought is new, the result of children brought up on Dr. Spock or just about right wing Christian Fundamentalists (or Christianity at all).