Atheism Defined Historically
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07-01-2015, 01:38 PM (This post was last modified: 08-01-2015 11:09 AM by Free.)
Atheism Defined Historically
Atheism Defined Historically
Part 1

Over the many years I have seen many different interpretations of atheism. The point of this post is to demonstrate the history of atheism as it was understood in ancient times.

Wikipedia Offers this bit of history:

Quote:Western atheism has its roots in pre-Socratic Greek philosophy, but did not emerge as a distinct world-view until the late Enlightenment.The 5th-century BCE Greek philosopher Diagoras is known as the "first atheist", and is cited as such by Cicero in his De Natura Deorum. Atomists such as Democritus attempted to explain the world in a purely materialistic way, without reference to the spiritual or mystical. Critias viewed religion as a human invention used to frighten people into following moral order and Prodicus also appears to have made clear atheistic statements in his work. Philodemus reports that Prodicus believed that "the gods of popular belief do not exist nor do they know, but primitive man, [out of admiration, deified] the fruits of the earth and virtually everything that contributed to his existence". Protagoras has sometimes been taken to be an atheist but rather espoused agnostic views, commenting that "Concerning the gods I am unable to discover whether they exist or not, or what they are like in form; for there are many hindrances to knowledge, the obscurity of the subject and the brevity of human life." In the 3rd-century BCE the Greek philosophers Theodorus Cyrenaicus and Strato of Lampsacus[147] did not believe gods exist.

Socrates (c. 470–399 BCE) was associated in the Athenian public mind with the trends in pre-Socratic philosophy towards naturalistic inquiry and the rejection of divine explanations for phenomena. Although such an interpretation misrepresents his thought he was portrayed in such a way in Aristophanes' comic play Clouds and was later to be tried and executed for impiety and corrupting the young. At his trial Socrates is reported as vehemently denying that he was an atheist and contemporary scholarship provides little reason to doubt this claim.

Euhemerus (c. 300 BCE) published his view that the gods were only the deified rulers, conquerors and founders of the past, and that their cults and religions were in essence the continuation of vanished kingdoms and earlier political structures. Although not strictly an atheist, Euhemerus was later criticized for having "spread atheism over the whole inhabited earth by obliterating the gods".

Also important in the history of atheism was Epicurus (c. 300 BCE). Drawing on the ideas of Democritus and the Atomists, he espoused a materialistic philosophy according to which the universe was governed by the laws of chance without the need for divine intervention. Although he stated that deities existed, he believed that they were uninterested in human existence. The aim of the Epicureans was to attain peace of mind and one important way of doing this was by exposing fear of divine wrath as irrational. The Epicureans also denied the existence of an afterlife and the need to fear divine punishment after death.

The Roman philosopher Sextus Empiricus held that one should suspend judgment about virtually all beliefs—a form of skepticism known as Pyrrhonism—that nothing was inherently evil, and that ataraxia ("peace of mind") is attainable by withholding one's judgment. His relatively large volume of surviving works had a lasting influence on later philosophers.

The meaning of "atheist" changed over the course of classical antiquity. The early Christians were labeled atheists by non-Christians because of their disbelief in pagan gods. During the Roman Empire, Christians were executed for their rejection of the Roman gods in general and Emperor-worship in particular. When Christianity became the state religion of Rome under Theodosius I in 381, heresy became a punishable offense.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atheism

The oldest known written text referring to atheism is actually found in Papyrus 46, which is also known as The Epistle to the Ephesians in the New Testament of the Holy Bible. It is located at Eph 2:12:


Eph 2:12 and that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.

The words "without God" written in the ancient Koine Greek are translated into English as "atheos," and then modernized to "atheists."

The earliest definition of "atheist" is "godless," and/or "Without God." As it is used by Paul in Eph 2:12, Paul is telling the Ephesians that before they recieved the Gospel, they were atheists. Here is Eph 2:12 written with atheists in place:

Eph 2:12 and that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and were atheists in the world.

So what does this tell us? It is the earliest use of the word "atheists," and it demonstrates historically that those who had no beliefs in any gods were regarded as atheists. This necessarily implies that they had absolutely no beliefs in any gods, and since Paul is speaking to the Ephesians themselves, and reminding them that they were once atheists, it clearly demonstrates that they were atheists before they became indoctrinated.

They did not become atheists, because they were already atheists before they got indoctrinated.

This tells us that the historical definition of atheism quite clearly demonstrates that it is not merely "one who has no beliefs in any gods," but rather it is "the state of being godless."

Therefore, no one "becomes" an atheist, but rather it is in fact the state of being everyone has before they get indoctrinated with religious beliefs. You do not leave religion and become an atheist, but rather you leave religion and revert back to your original atheistic state of being.

Now you know why my signature here and on other forums says, "I am an atheist because I was born this way."

I really was, and so were you, all of you.

Atheism is our most natural, and original, state of being.

How can anyone become an atheist when we are all born with no beliefs in the first place? We are atheists because we were born this way.
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07-01-2015, 02:31 PM
RE: Atheism Defined Historically
(07-01-2015 01:38 PM)Free Wrote:  
Atheism Defined Historically

Over the many years I have seen many different interpretations of atheism. The point of this post is to demonstrate the history of atheism as it was understood in ancient times.

Wikipedia Offers this bit of history:

Quote:Western atheism has its roots in pre-Socratic Greek philosophy, but did not emerge as a distinct world-view until the late Enlightenment.The 5th-century BCE Greek philosopher Diagoras is known as the "first atheist", and is cited as such by Cicero in his De Natura Deorum. Atomists such as Democritus attempted to explain the world in a purely materialistic way, without reference to the spiritual or mystical. Critias viewed religion as a human invention used to frighten people into following moral order and Prodicus also appears to have made clear atheistic statements in his work. Philodemus reports that Prodicus believed that "the gods of popular belief do not exist nor do they know, but primitive man, [out of admiration, deified] the fruits of the earth and virtually everything that contributed to his existence". Protagoras has sometimes been taken to be an atheist but rather espoused agnostic views, commenting that "Concerning the gods I am unable to discover whether they exist or not, or what they are like in form; for there are many hindrances to knowledge, the obscurity of the subject and the brevity of human life." In the 3rd-century BCE the Greek philosophers Theodorus Cyrenaicus and Strato of Lampsacus[147] did not believe gods exist.

Socrates (c. 470–399 BCE) was associated in the Athenian public mind with the trends in pre-Socratic philosophy towards naturalistic inquiry and the rejection of divine explanations for phenomena. Although such an interpretation misrepresents his thought he was portrayed in such a way in Aristophanes' comic play Clouds and was later to be tried and executed for impiety and corrupting the young. At his trial Socrates is reported as vehemently denying that he was an atheist and contemporary scholarship provides little reason to doubt this claim.

Euhemerus (c. 300 BCE) published his view that the gods were only the deified rulers, conquerors and founders of the past, and that their cults and religions were in essence the continuation of vanished kingdoms and earlier political structures. Although not strictly an atheist, Euhemerus was later criticized for having "spread atheism over the whole inhabited earth by obliterating the gods".

Also important in the history of atheism was Epicurus (c. 300 BCE). Drawing on the ideas of Democritus and the Atomists, he espoused a materialistic philosophy according to which the universe was governed by the laws of chance without the need for divine intervention. Although he stated that deities existed, he believed that they were uninterested in human existence. The aim of the Epicureans was to attain peace of mind and one important way of doing this was by exposing fear of divine wrath as irrational. The Epicureans also denied the existence of an afterlife and the need to fear divine punishment after death.

The Roman philosopher Sextus Empiricus held that one should suspend judgment about virtually all beliefs—a form of skepticism known as Pyrrhonism—that nothing was inherently evil, and that ataraxia ("peace of mind") is attainable by withholding one's judgment. His relatively large volume of surviving works had a lasting influence on later philosophers.

The meaning of "atheist" changed over the course of classical antiquity. The early Christians were labeled atheists by non-Christians because of their disbelief in pagan gods. During the Roman Empire, Christians were executed for their rejection of the Roman gods in general and Emperor-worship in particular. When Christianity became the state religion of Rome under Theodosius I in 381, heresy became a punishable offense.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atheism

The oldest known written text referring to atheism is actually found in Papyrus 46, which is also known as The Epistle to the Ephesians in the New Testament of the Holy Bible. It is located at Eph 2:12:


Eph 2:12 and that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.

The words "without God" written in the ancient Koine Greek are translated into English as "atheos," and then modernized to "atheists."

The earliest definition of "atheist" is "godless," and/or "Without God." As it is used by Paul in Eph 2:12, Paul is telling the Ephesians that before they recieved the Gospel, they were atheists. Here is Eph 2:12 written with atheists in place:

Eph 2:12 and that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and were atheists in the world.

So what does this tell us? It is the earliest use of the word "atheists," and it demonstrates historically that those who had no beliefs in any gods were regarded as atheists. This necessarily implies that they had absolutely no beliefs in any gods, and since Paul is speaking to the Ephesians themselves, and reminding them that they were once atheists, it clearly demonstrates that they were atheists before they became indoctrinated.

They did not become atheists, because they were already atheists before they got indoctrinated.

This tells us that the historical definition of atheism quite clearly demonstrates that it is not merely "one who has no beliefs in any gods," but rather it is "the state of being godless."

Therefore, no one "becomes" an atheist, but rather it is in fact the state of being everyone has before they get indoctrinated with religious beliefs. You do not leave religion and become an atheist, but rather you leave religion and revert back to your original atheistic state of being.

Now you know why my signature here and on other forums says, "I am an atheist because I was born this way."

I really was, and so were you, all of you.

Atheism is our most natural, and original, state of being.

I think your post is pretty interesting. I never saw the word study on atheos before. Thank you. If I may point out something? I think that Paul is defending the Hebrew God as the true God and denying the reality of the pagan gods. Here is the context from Ephesians 2:11:

"Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumsized” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world."

The Jewish author, Paul, is saying the Gentiles without Christ have no covenant to match that of Israel with God but had a pagan culture with false gods in it.

Thanks.

I'm told atheists on forums like TTA are bitter and angry. If you are not, your posts to me will be respectful, insightful and thoughtful. Prove me wrong by your adherence to decent behavior.
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07-01-2015, 02:53 PM (This post was last modified: 07-01-2015 03:11 PM by Free.)
RE: Atheism Defined Historically
(07-01-2015 02:31 PM)The Q Continuum Wrote:  
(07-01-2015 01:38 PM)Free Wrote:  
Atheism Defined Historically

Over the many years I have seen many different interpretations of atheism. The point of this post is to demonstrate the history of atheism as it was understood in ancient times.

Wikipedia Offers this bit of history:


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atheism

The oldest known written text referring to atheism is actually found in Papyrus 46, which is also known as The Epistle to the Ephesians in the New Testament of the Holy Bible. It is located at Eph 2:12:


Eph 2:12 and that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.

The words "without God" written in the ancient Koine Greek are translated into English as "atheos," and then modernized to "atheists."

The earliest definition of "atheist" is "godless," and/or "Without God." As it is used by Paul in Eph 2:12, Paul is telling the Ephesians that before they recieved the Gospel, they were atheists. Here is Eph 2:12 written with atheists in place:

Eph 2:12 and that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and were atheists in the world.

So what does this tell us? It is the earliest use of the word "atheists," and it demonstrates historically that those who had no beliefs in any gods were regarded as atheists. This necessarily implies that they had absolutely no beliefs in any gods, and since Paul is speaking to the Ephesians themselves, and reminding them that they were once atheists, it clearly demonstrates that they were atheists before they became indoctrinated.

They did not become atheists, because they were already atheists before they got indoctrinated.

This tells us that the historical definition of atheism quite clearly demonstrates that it is not merely "one who has no beliefs in any gods," but rather it is "the state of being godless."

Therefore, no one "becomes" an atheist, but rather it is in fact the state of being everyone has before they get indoctrinated with religious beliefs. You do not leave religion and become an atheist, but rather you leave religion and revert back to your original atheistic state of being.

Now you know why my signature here and on other forums says, "I am an atheist because I was born this way."

I really was, and so were you, all of you.

Atheism is our most natural, and original, state of being.

I think your post is pretty interesting. I never saw the word study on atheos before. Thank you. If I may point out something? I think that Paul is defending the Hebrew God as the true God and denying the reality of the pagan gods. Here is the context from Ephesians 2:11:

"Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumsized” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world."

The Jewish author, Paul, is saying the Gentiles without Christ have no covenant to match that of Israel with God but had a pagan culture with false gods in it.

Thanks.

Yes, hence why the original definition of atheos was "godless."

Atheism is defined as the "state of being godless."

"Gentile" means "non Jew" and "non-Israelite" Pagan gods were not regarded as real gods to Jews, which included Paul.

But the word "atheos" is not a Hebrew word, but rather it is of Greek origin. It refers directly to atheists, and means inclusively that anyone without a god are godless.

Paul's use of it was directed towards the supposed "one true God," because it was his belief that there was only one true God, and the concept of pagan gods being "true" simply didn't exist, with him being a Jew and all. Therefore, from Paul's perspective, any pagan, regardless if they had pagan gods or not, were atheists.

The pagans also viewed the Jews and Christians as atheists as well. It was polytheism verse monotheism in all it's glory. It was like, "If you don't believe our god(s) exist, then you are an atheist; godless."

Hence, my point remains ...

I am an atheist because I was born this way.

I really was, and so were you, and so was everybody.

How can anyone become an atheist when we are all born with no beliefs in the first place? We are atheists because we were born this way.
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07-01-2015, 03:09 PM
RE: Atheism Defined Historically
What, are you fucking gay?

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07-01-2015, 03:13 PM
RE: Atheism Defined Historically
(07-01-2015 03:09 PM)houseofcantor Wrote:  What, are you fucking gay?

Me? Or Q?

How can anyone become an atheist when we are all born with no beliefs in the first place? We are atheists because we were born this way.
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07-01-2015, 03:15 PM
RE: Atheism Defined Historically
(07-01-2015 03:13 PM)Free Wrote:  
(07-01-2015 03:09 PM)houseofcantor Wrote:  What, are you fucking gay?

Me? Or Q?

Do you really think I asked a question?

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07-01-2015, 03:17 PM (This post was last modified: 07-01-2015 03:28 PM by Free.)
RE: Atheism Defined Historically
(07-01-2015 03:15 PM)houseofcantor Wrote:  
(07-01-2015 03:13 PM)Free Wrote:  Me? Or Q?

Do you really think I asked a question?

Of course, since there is a question mark at the end of it. So I was wondering if you wanted to bend over and find out?

Big Grin

All kidding aside, if its intent was to reference something, it eludes me.

How can anyone become an atheist when we are all born with no beliefs in the first place? We are atheists because we were born this way.
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07-01-2015, 03:19 PM
RE: Atheism Defined Historically
(07-01-2015 03:15 PM)houseofcantor Wrote:  
(07-01-2015 03:13 PM)Free Wrote:  Me? Or Q?

Do you really think I asked a question?

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Using the supernatural to explain events in your life is a failure of the intellect to comprehend the world around you. -The Inquisition
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07-01-2015, 03:56 PM
RE: Atheism Defined Historically
(07-01-2015 03:17 PM)Free Wrote:  
(07-01-2015 03:15 PM)houseofcantor Wrote:  Do you really think I asked a question?

Of course, since there is a question mark at the end of it. So I was wondering if you wanted to bend over and find out?

Big Grin

I lol'd. Went looking for the Oxford study that posits a different conclusion while I dangled that bait. Nah, it wasn't a question, it was an expression of derision understood in context. Not like we (me versus the rest of you guys) haven't been around and around this Mulberry bush.

But you didn't assume I meant happy. Is there actual value added to the modern context by understanding these historical origins, or is it merely a trivial pursuit?

And in context, what does your claim imply? That the natural state of affairs is to be preferred, that the born born in programming is objectively better? I've read that it is not recommended to test for sociopathy before age eighteen; care to guess why?

So let me point to my favorite thing ever (cause I was just looking over that way) and let us make pretend you don't know me yet wish to uncover this special thing; and I begin by saying "it is not a breadbox."

Nope, not a parakeet.

Not a bowling ball, not a macaroon, not a baboon; and yes, not to be discovered in this manner anytime soon. There's a very simple reason why most accept belief as the beginning of epistemology; because we're never going to begin to communicate what isn't without starting by assuming what is even if those assumptions are wrong.

All we're born with along these lines is that tendency to assume; because we act as actors when action is first witnessed it is natural to assume an actor. Why would it be otherwise?

The worst part of course is that if it were true, it would actually provide a degree of evidence for God. Tongue

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07-01-2015, 05:06 PM
RE: Atheism Defined Historically
(07-01-2015 03:56 PM)houseofcantor Wrote:  
(07-01-2015 03:17 PM)Free Wrote:  Of course, since there is a question mark at the end of it. So I was wondering if you wanted to bend over and find out?

Big Grin

I lol'd. Went looking for the Oxford study that posits a different conclusion while I dangled that bait. Nah, it wasn't a question, it was an expression of derision understood in context. Not like we (me versus the rest of you guys) haven't been around and around this Mulberry bush.

A-ha! Got it.

Quote:But you didn't assume I meant happy. Is there actual value added to the modern context by understanding these historical origins, or is it merely a trivial pursuit?

I think there is indeed some value added here. You see, from my understanding of discussions with many atheists- and theists for that matter- I have come to understand that many of them have different understandings in regards to atheism.

For example, many atheists assume that atheism is something they have adopted after exposure to theism. Many do not know or understand that atheism is in fact the state of being they had before they got introduced to religious ideology. The same is true for theists.

I feel this distinction and clarification has significant relevance because it demonstrates to those who are unaware- particularly theists- that atheism itself predates theology and drives home the point of "Hey, we were here first, before any god was ever thought of."

Quote:And in context, what does your claim imply? That the natural state of affairs is to be preferred, that the born born in programming is objectively better?

Yes, exactly. It is my opinion that being in a state of atheism is the more natural and honest state of existence in contrast to a position of belief. The reasons for this opinion are many and varied, but one such reason is to simply look at the deadly attacks in France today by Islamic militants.

Have we ever seen an atheist organization go out and kill in the name of atheism?


Quote:I've read that it is not recommended to test for sociopathy before age eighteen; care to guess why?

I would posit the reason could be because of the inexperience of youth, as they have not yet been exposed much at all to social elements outside their learning institutions and home environments.

But then again this is not my field of expertise.

Quote:So let me point to my favorite thing ever (cause I was just looking over that way) and let us make pretend you don't know me yet wish to uncover this special thing; and I begin by saying "it is not a breadbox."

Nope, not a parakeet. Not a bowling ball, not a macaroon, not a baboon; and yes, not to be discovered in this manner anytime soon.

There's a very simple reason why most accept belief as the beginning of epistemology; because we're never going to begin to communicate what isn't without starting by assuming what is even if those assumptions are wrong.

By the same token, however, by assuming first what is (atheism), we can then objectively determine what isn't (beliefs). By promoting atheism through such means as what I am doing here, it could mean that if even one theist comes to reason, then one less child (or more) may not be indoctrinated into theology.

Reaching out to the young and enlightening them with reason verses theology cannot be harmful, but rather beneficial to humanity in the long run.

Quote:All we're born with along these lines is that tendency to assume; because we act as actors when action is first witnessed it is natural to assume an actor. Why would it be otherwise?

This must assume that all the world is a stage for theism. Again, bit by bit, what if all the world became a stage for atheism? There can be no harm in educating the theists that their most natural state is more true and honest than their position on beliefs.

Quote:The worst part of course is that if it were true, it would actually provide a degree of evidence for God. Tongue

Perhaps, but being an atheist, I could not be inclined nor persuaded to believe it.

Tongue

How can anyone become an atheist when we are all born with no beliefs in the first place? We are atheists because we were born this way.
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