Atheism: Religious Belief Is Never A “Default Setting” For Humans

Posted: Feb 19 2016, 8:13pm CST | by , in News | Latest Science News


The chariot of Zeus
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

A new book titled “Battling The Gods” and written by Tim Whitmarsh, AG Leventis Professor of Greek Culture and a Fellow of St. John’s College, University of Cambridge, reveals that humans are not naturally wired for religion as supposed by modern thinkers.

The book was published by Faber and Faber and launched in Cambridge on Tuesday, February 16.

The book claims that people in ancient Greek cultures and pre-Christian Rome did not always believe in the gods or inclined to religiosity in any manner, and that atheism religion is not a “default setting” for humans as many would like to believe.

“Rather than making judgments based on scientific reason, these early atheists were making what seem to be universal objections about the paradoxical nature of religion – the fact that it asks you to accept things that aren’t intuitively there in your world,” Whitmarsh wrote. “The fact that this was happening thousands of years ago suggests that forms of disbelief can exist in all cultures, and probably always have.”

The book further states that atheistic writings thrived in early civilizations and the writings of Xenophanes of Colophone in 570-475 BCE predate Christianity and Islam; a work written by Plato in the 4th Century BCE showed that people did not always believe in the gods as assumed today.

While the belief in a god seemed alien to many people of old, they still struggled to deal with the social problems of evil and how to apply morality without a religious tint. Anaximander and Anaximenes went further to explain to people around them that thunder and earthquakes had nothing to do with the gods, and the Epicureans rejected the idea of predestination, saying the gods had no control over human life.

It should however be pointed out that atheism thrived side by side with polytheism or the believe in multiple gods in ancient Greece, although monotheism later overtook polytheism until Christianity drove the idea of a only one, true God. Rome’s adoption of Christianity in the 4th Century CE was, “seismic”, because it used religious absolutism to hold the Empire together, Whitmarsh claimed.

The author however submits on the first page of the book that “I do, however, have a strong conviction – that has hardened in the course of researching and writing this book – that cultural and religious pluralism, and free debate, are indispensable to the good life.”

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/52" rel="author">Charles I. Omedo</a>
Charles is covering the latest discoveries in science and health as well as new developments in technology. He is the Chief Editor or Intel-News.




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