left biblioblography: The First Atheist In Western Literature – And The Intimations Thereof…

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The First Atheist In Western Literature – And The Intimations Thereof…

Cross posted @ The Atheist Oasis (formerly known as God Is 4 Suckers!)


LUCIUS: “Who should I swear by? thou believest no god:that granted, how canst thou believe an oath?

AARON: What if I do not? as, indeed, I do not; yet, for I know thou art religious And hast a thing within thee called conscience, With twenty popish tricks and ceremonies, which I have seen thee careful to observe, therefore I urge thy oath; for that I know an idiot holds his bauble for a god and keeps the oath which by that god he swears, to that I'll urge him: therefore thou shalt vow by that same god, what god soe'er it be, that thou adorest and hast in reverence, to save my boy, to nourish and bring him up; or else I will discover nought to thee.

LUCIUS: “Even by my god I swear to thee I will.

This is a bit of literature most folks aren’t familiar with: this dialogue harks from Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, truly one of his bloodiest works. Aaron is a godless Moor, and a villain to put Richard The Third to shame. However, there are no recurring ‘godless’ characters in any of old Billy’s later works – it seems this is the only fellow.

It seems this is a recurring theme, up until lately. The word ‘atheism’ used to mean ‘godless and amoral’, now it just means ‘godless’, because of course we can be (and are) moral beings. But there are those (many of them) who contend we cannot have any such moral compass, because we require a belief in some sort of ‘divine’ creature who’ll eventually mete out justice somewhere down the road. The short version is that most people are just plain lazy, and would rather avoid confrontation of any sort, so they leave it to the sky daddy of choice.

The other issue is…fear. A large majority equate respect with fear. This stems directly from our pack mentality – it was always the head of the pack that would bully or battle others into submission. This may not be true of many families in the animal kingdom, but it’s a common enough occurrence just looking at our species history, it stands out like a ptarmigan in full mating plumage. It is only recently that we are able to re-condition ourselves to show respect to those that we are unafraid of.

And – well I’ll be dashed! – there is of course, consciousness, and the byproduct of compassion that stems from it, that mysterious empathy circuit that releases us from our narcissism long enough to sympathize and evaluate another’s pain, grief, suffering.

The fact is, that morality isn’t an imaginary syringe administered via some supernatural entity as a vaccination against ‘sin’ (the non-results are staggering, actually). Morality is based on biology not ideology.

Those are the sum of my thoughts for this week.

Till the next post then.

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