mercredi 19 octobre 2016

What did Early Christians Believe About Greek and Roman Gods?


On CMI, the article "Atheism", I found this assessment:

Early Christians were referred to as “atheists” because they did not believe in the Greek or Roman gods. Yet, while they positively affirmed the non-existence of those gods they likely believed that those gods were deceptive demons whom they did believe existed (1 Corinthians 8:4–6).


Actually, the major Greek and Roman god they were required to and refused to believe in was the Emperor's Genius.

And as far as I know, they did not deny that Tiberius or Nero were men of flesh and blood.

First Epistle Of Saint Paul To The Corinthians, Chapter 8: [4] But as for the meats that are sacrificed to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no God but one. [5] For although there be that are called gods, either in heaven or on earth (for there be gods many, and lords many). [6] Yet to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we unto him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

That was Douay Rheims, now to KJV:

4 As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. 5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) 6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

Here is The Complete Jewish Bible:

4 So, as for eating food sacrificed to idols, we “know” that, as you say, “An idol has no real existence in the world, and there is only one God.” 5 For even if there are so-called “gods,” either in heaven or on earth — as in fact there are “gods” and “lords” galore — 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom all things come and for whom we exist; and one Lord, Yeshua the Messiah, through whom were created all things and through whom we have our being.

Now to the commentary thereon:

Ver. 4.
An idol is nothing. The apostle seems to allude in this place to the Greek signification of this word, eidolon, signifying a false representation; as for instance in ghosts, which are said to appear sometimes at night. Umbrœ tenues, simulacra luce carentium. (Calmet)

Ver. 5.
Many gods, &c. Reputed for such among the heathens. (Challoner)

Ver. 6.
To us there is but one God, the Father; of whom all things, and we unto him. Of or from the Father are all things, even the eternal Son and the Holy Ghost, though they are one and the same God with the Father.

And one Lord Jesus Christ: by whom are all things, and we by him. All things were created by the Son of God, the eternal and uncreated wisdom of the Father, from whom he proceeds from eternity, and also by the Holy Ghost, all creatures being equally the work of the three divine persons. The Arians and Socinians pretend from this place, that only the Father is truly and properly God. The Catholics answer, that he is called the God, of whom all, because from him always proceeded, do proceed, and shall always proceed the Son and the Holy Ghost, though one and the same God in nature, substance, &c. And that when he is called the one God, by these words are excluded the false gods of the heathens, not the Son, and the Holy Ghost, who are but one God with the Father. St. Chrysostom also here observes, (hom. xx.) that if the two other persons are excluded, because the Father is called one God, by the same way of reasoning it would follow, that because Jesus Christ is called the one Lord, neither the Holy Ghost, nor even the Father, are the one Lord, whereas the Scriptures many times express the divine majesty, as well by the word Lord as by the word God. (Witham)


Now, none of the versions and none of the Catholic commentaries actually say in so many words "Yet, while they positively affirmed the non-existence of those gods they likely believed that those gods were deceptive demons whom they did believe existed".

For some of the pagan gods this is very straightforward.

Apollo gave prophecies which drove Laios and Oedipus to attempted killing of son and real unbeknownst killing of father. Which drove the grandfather of Perseus to try to prevent his being conceived and born. Which drove Orestes first to killing of mother and thereby to what could have been either madness or real persecution by real demons (what is called "demonic obsession," as opposed to "demonic possession" when demons take control of the victim's body), after which Apollo seems to have appeared as one of the parties in a court, other party being the Furies (the demons persecuting Orestes), judge being Athena, goddess of the city and outcome being Furies getting a CULT of worship in Athens in return for accepting to have been defeated by Apollo. And Apollo also agreed to this.

Humans :
Orestes among others.
Demons :
Apollo, Furies, Athena. All of which worshipped as gods.


Note that other stories featuring Athena may signifiy other things. When Athena gives council (not magic aid, but council) to Ulysses, it could have been a demon, but could also have been a guardian angel, working through a shape from which Ulysses was ready to take advise. And when Athena was spinning along her friend Arachne, originally this was about two maidens in Athens who were very good at spinning.

Humans :
Ulysses, Athena (1), Arachne
Demon OR guardian angel :
Athena (2)
Worshipped as same goddess :
Athena (1+2+3, see above the Orestes case).


And what happens when a Pagan is sacrificing to Apollo or Athena and then gives away the meat to the poor?

At worst, a demon is there, but at best, nothing at all. This is the case St Paul was talking about. The verses do not give a general theory about all there is in Paganism, and do not even mention the case of mythological stories or how we stand to these. They are about the general concept of other things than God being called gods and about the practical consequence thereof, idol worship. They do not specify what exactly these things are instead, unless you take "whether in heaven or in earth" as referring to Christian explanations (some divine interventions, some demonic ones) rather than the Pagan division between celestial and chthonic divinities.

Why is this important?

Because the New Atheism, among others basing itself on the charge of "atheism" against Christians, has declared "Christians are atheists about all gods except one, we just take it one step further". That may be very true for Enlightenment and Post-Enlightenment Christians who think that for instance not just it is wrong to worship at the altar of Helios, not just is Helios not a god, but he is not even a person taking the visible solar object on a ride. But this was not the attitude of the first Christians. Nor were they saying that "Tiberius" was a pure myth, or that "Nero" was such. And similarily, they were not denying that Hercules and Romulus existed. Though especially of the former, or of his ancestor Perseus, when it is said he and Andromeda were taken up to the stars, they did say that the devil added lies about them.

This is not a matter of pure speculation on my part, it is a matter of looking up the Church Fathers. References will be added later, in comments.

This truth is of course highly unwelcome to two kinds of people : Atheists who claim to be "atheists about just one more god" than we, and Christians who want Christians to be fideists.

By the way, another kind of Anti-Christian argument also would not find it welcome if my position here were widely known. Those who (like Richard Carrier) argue that supernatural legends are likely to come about without any reference to fact. Those who argue "if Greeks could invent Hercules out of nothing and connect him to later Spartan Kings, if Romans could invent Romulus and Remus from the mere name of their city and consider the first as the first of seven kings, why should not Christians have invented Jesus out of nothing?"

And my answer is Greeks and Romans were - as far as historical narrative is concerned, as opposed to theology - just marginally wrong about very real and very historic persons called for real Herakles (or however that was pronounced 500 years before Homer) and Romulus (presumably Romlos or Romelos?). Only in theology, in worshipping Hercules and Romulus, were the Greeks and Romans versy wrong, but in history there were just marginal traits which would need weeding out before Hercules and Romulus are reduced to human types of "very strong man" and "very surprising avenger". Nothing like what an Atheist would need to weed out of the Gospels.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Cergy, L'Astrolabe
St Peter of Alcantara
19.X.2016

mercredi 12 octobre 2016

A Case for Considering Western Atheism as Protestantism Losing Christianity


I just had a look on the preview of Hemant Mehta's I sold my soul on e-bay. (He prefers his first name to be pronounced HEH-mint).

I didn't see all that many pages in the preview, but noticed this one. Study guides for the chapters and the one for chapter 1 had a first question:

"Hemant Mehta after becoming an atheist continued to practise core teachings of his childhood religion, Jainism."

OK. I am not surprised.

"Would you expect this of someone becoming an atheist?"

I would.

I would expect anyone losing his religion (which a certain Oasis song isn't really about, it's also a way of describing curse words - expression obviously from in a religious surrounding where cursing is not done by religious people) to keep rather much of it, except the items he wanted to lose.

And since, historically, much of the historic atheist community surrounding for instance non-compromising acceptance of atheistic versions of Big Bang, Abiogenesis, Biological Evolution starts with Protestants about a 100 or even 150 years ago losing their religion (and not in the Oasis sense!) en masse, this historic, though loose, atheistic community actually does bear traces of its Protestant background.

Richard Dawkins and George Bernard Shaw both came from Protestant families. Unlike what G. K. Chesterton had led me to expect, and what Shaw's reply to him had seemed to confirm, both families were Anglican. I was going to say Dawkins was more Anglican and Shaw more Puritan. But the root of that difference is not between religious traditions of their families.

Shaw was born at 3 Upper Synge Street[n 1] in Portobello, a lower-middle-class part of Dublin.[2] He was the youngest child and only son of George Carr Shaw (1814–1885) and Lucinda Elizabeth (Bessie) Shaw (née Gurly; 1830–1913); his elder siblings were Lucinda (Lucy) Frances (1853–1920) and Elinor Agnes (1855–1876). The Shaw family was of English descent and belonged to the dominant Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland;[n 2] George Carr Shaw, an ineffectual alcoholic, was among the family's less successful members.[3] His relatives secured him a sinecure in the civil service, from which he was pensioned off in the early 1850s; thereafter he worked irregularly as a corn merchant.[2] In 1852 he married Bessie Gurly; in the view of Shaw's biographer Michael Holroyd she married to escape a tyrannical great-aunt.[4] If, as Holroyd and others surmise, George's motives were mercenary, then he was disappointed, as Bessie brought him little of her family's money.[5] She came to despise her ineffectual and often drunken husband, with whom she shared what their son later described as a life of "shabby-genteel poverty".[4]


I suppose, what is more Puritan in Shaw, is that having seen and probably despised his father as an alcoholic, he took after some Puritan attitudes to alcohol, incompatible with the Anglicanism. On the other hand, when Dawkins insists that the human mind is very fragile, he is also closer to Puritanism than to, for example, Classic Puseyism.

Nevertheless, precisely because ATHEISM as such is a one question position and not a religion (Hemant likes to remind of "bald a hair colour"), this means that exchanging ALL of their previous religion for Atheism* would in its turn have meant embracing sheer nothingness, a sheer void of the mind. Even if either of them had desired it, they would not have got it.

Apostasy may lose you all Sanctifying Grace you had. It does NOT lose you every religious habit you had.** This means Dawkins retained any Anglican habit he didn't go about losing, Shaw retained a few less, since in joining Fabians, he intended losing some, and so on. Precisely as Hemant Mehta is an atheistic version of Jainism, or is Jainism minus theism and minus the other aspects of Jainism he rejected. However, a little like Shaw had Fabians, Hemant has had more recently Western Atheists as at least partly models for at least his thought.

When C. S. Lewis left his childhood Puritanism*** he retained some of its habits. Like, I presume, relishing secret and non-obvious pleasures, which had been part of the system of "culpability" (Puritan Trademark, not just the general phenomenon) he had been early on part of. He later took a model for his atheism which was based on Frazer's analysis of Mythology (an approach revived recently by Mythers), the tutor he had, who was an atheist ex-Calvinist and Ulster Scot, nicknamed "The Great Knock".

Ex Catholic atheists also exist. Like Tim O'Neill°, after whom the url of this blog is named.

But these are a newer and less formative part of the Western Atheist Community. Earlier on, Catholics tended to go either Deist (like Voltaire) or Positivist (like Comte, like Fustel de Coulanges, like Maurras) or for that matter Diabolist, when apostasising. Not specifically strong atheism. Since they are newer and when becoming atheist in some sense°° let themselves be formatted into the Atheist community - the Western Atheist one, not philosophical Atheism in general - they are also less formative for it.

Jews are perhaps not newer than Anglicans, but earlier on fewer, in the nascent mid 19th C. atheist community. Not sure if they have by now outnumbered them, very possible. But I still think Atheism (the Western brand, not the "hair colour bald") owes more to Anglicanism than to Judaism.

Since Russian revolution, Russian Communism (and some Russian Jewish influence too) has helped to remold Western Atheism considerably. But let's not forget, Karl Marx and Engels were both from Protestant families, though in Marx' case a previously Jewish one:

Karl Marx was born on 5 May 1818 to Heinrich Marx and Henrietta Pressburg (1788–1863). He was born at 664 Brückergasse in Trier, a town then part of the Kingdom of Prussia's Province of the Lower Rhine.[18] Marx was ancestrally Jewish; his maternal grandfather was a Dutch rabbi, while his paternal line had supplied Trier's rabbis since 1723, a role taken by his grandfather Meier Halevi Marx.[19] Karl's father, as a child known as Herschel, was the first in the line to receive a secular education; he became a lawyer and lived a relatively wealthy and middle-class existence, with his family owning a number of Moselle vineyards. Prior to his son's birth, and to escape the constraints of anti-semitic legislation, Herschel converted from Judaism to Lutheranism, the main Protestant denomination in Germany and Prussia at the time, taking on the German forename of Heinrich over the Yiddish Herschel. [20] Largely non-religious, Heinrich was a man of the Enlightenment, interested in the ideas of the philosophers Immanuel Kant and Voltaire. A classical liberal, he took part in agitation for a constitution and reforms in Prussia, then governed by an absolute monarchy.[22] In 1815 Heinrich Marx began work as an attorney, in 1819 moving his family to a ten-room property near the Porta Nigra.[23] His wife, a Dutch Jewish woman, Henrietta Pressburg, was semi-literate and was said to suffer from "excessive mother love", devoting much time to her family and insisting on cleanliness within her home.[24] She was from a prosperous business family that later founded the company Philips Electronics: she was great-aunt to Anton and Gerard Philips, and great-great-aunt to Frits Philips. Her sister Sophie Presburg (1797–1854), was Marx's aunt and was married to Lion Philips (1794–1866) Marx's uncle through this marriage, and was the grandmother of both Gerard and Anton Philips. Lion Philips was a wealthy Dutch tobacco manufacturer and industrialist, upon whom Karl and Jenny Marx would later often come to rely for loans while they were exiled in London.[25] In contrast to her husband, Henrietta retained her Jewish faith.[26]

  • These informations from wiki is not common knowledge and I had simply thought of Marx as a childhood Lutheran, so here goes for references:

  • 18) Nicolaievsky & Maenchen-Helfen 1976, p. 7; Wheen 2001, pp. 8, 12; McLellan 2006, p. 1.
  • 19) Nicolaievsky & Maenchen-Helfen 1976, pp. 4–5; Wheen 2001, pp. 7–9, 12; McLellan 2006, pp. 2–3.
  • 20) Nicolaievsky & Maenchen-Helfen 1976, pp. 4–6; McLellan 2006, pp. 2–4.
  • 21) Wheen 2001. pp. 12–13.
  • 22) Nicolaievsky & Maenchen-Helfen 1976, pp. 5, 8–12; Wheen 2001, p. 11; McLellan 2006, pp. 5–6.
  • 23) Nicolaievsky & Maenchen-Helfen 1976, p. 7; Wheen 2001, p. 10; McLellan 2006, p. 7.
  • 24) Nicolaievsky & Maenchen-Helfen 1976, pp. 6–7; Wheen 2001, p. 12; McLellan 2006, p. 4.
  • 25) Francis Wheen, Karl Marx: A Life, (Fourth Estate, 1999), ISBN 1-85702-637-3
  • 26) McLellan 2006, p. 4

  • And refernces are useless without bibliography, only citing the books relevant for above here:

  • McLellan, David (2006). Karl Marx: A Biography (fourth edition). Hampshire: Palgrave MacMillan. ISBN 978-1403997302.
  • Nicolaievsky, Boris; Maenchen-Helfen, Otto (1976) [1936]. Karl Marx: Man and Fighter. trans. Gwenda David and Eric Mosbacher. Harmondsworth and New York: Pelican. ISBN 978-1-4067-2703-6.
  • Wheen, Francis (2001). Karl Marx. London: Fourth Estate. ISBN 978-1-85702-637-5.


And Engels:

Friedrich Engels was born on 28 November 1820 in Barmen, Province of Jülich-Cleves-Berg, Prussia (now Wuppertal, Germany).[6] Barmen was an expanding industrial metropolis, and Friedrich was the eldest son of a wealthy German cotton textile manufacturer. His father, Friedrich, Sr., was a Pietistic Protestant,[7] and Engels was raised accordingly. As he grew up, however, he developed atheistic beliefs and his relationship with his parents became strained.[8] His mother wrote to him of her concerns:[9] She said that he had "really gone too far" and "begged" him "to proceed no further".[9] She continued:

"You have paid more heed to other people, to strangers, and have taken no account of your mother's pleas. God alone knows what I have felt and suffered of late. I was trembling when I picked up the newspaper and saw therein that a warrant was out for my son's arrest."[9]


When his mother wrote, Engels was in hiding in Brussels, Belgium, soon to make his way to Switzerland. In 1849, he returned to the Kingdom of Bavaria for the Baden and Palatinate revolutionary uprising.

  • On these references we learn that references are not always to scientific works and that copyright laws can suck, these days:

  • 6) A copy of Friedrich Engels' birth certificate is on page 577 of the Collected Works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels: Volume 2 (New York: International Publishers, 1975).
  • 7) de = die deutsche Wikipädie, Friedrich Engels (Fabrikant)
  • 8) Friedrich Engels. "Letters of Marx and Engels, 1845". Marxists.org. Retrieved 2010-02-13.

    But link alas leads to:

    “File No Longer Available!”

    The file you have tried to access originated from the Marx Engels Collected Works. Lawrence & Wishart, who hold the copyright for the Marx Engels Collected Works, have directed Marxists Internet Archive to delete all texts originating from MECW. Accordingly, from 30th April 2014, no material from MECW is available from marxists.org. English translations of Marx and Engels from other sources will continue to be available.

  • 9) Elisabeth Engels' letter contained at No. 6 of the Appendix, Collected Works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels: Volume 38 (International Publishers: New York, 1982) pp. 540–541.


What about Sanger, Galton, Huxley?

Sanger was born Margaret Louise Higgins in 1879 in Corning, New York,[5] to Michael Hennessey Higgins, an Irish-born stonemason and free-thinker, and Anne Purcell Higgins, a Catholic Irish-American. Michael Hennessey Higgins had emigrated to the USA at age 14 and joined the U.S. Army as a drummer at age 15, during the Civil War. After leaving the army, Michael studied medicine and phrenology, but ultimately became a stonecutter, making stone angels, saints, and tombstones.[6] Michael H. Higgins was a Catholic who became an atheist and an activist for women's suffrage and free public education.[7] Anne was born in Ireland. Her parents brought the family to Canada during the Potato Famine. She married Michael in 1869.[8] Anne Higgins went through 18 pregnancies (with 11 live births) in 22 years before dying at the age of 49. Sanger was the sixth of eleven surviving children,[9] and spent much of her youth assisting with household chores and caring for her younger siblings. Supported by her two older sisters, Margaret Higgins attended Claverack College and Hudson River Institute, before enrolling in 1900 at White Plains Hospital as a nurse probationer. In 1902, she married the architect William Sanger and gave up her education.[10] Though she was plagued by a recurring active tubercular condition, Margaret Sanger bore three children, and the couple settled down to a quiet life in Westchester, New York.


Her father is the kind of apostate who leaves Catholicism for Protestant culture.°°° Phrenology was was founded by Johann Kaspar Lavater [In 1769 Lavater took Holy Orders in Zurich's Zwinglian Church, and officiated until his death as deacon or pastor in churches in his native city. His oratorical fervor and genuine depth of conviction gave him great personal influence; he was extensively consulted as a casuist, and was welcomed with enthusiasm on his journeys throughout Germany. His writings on mysticism were widely popular as well.], Franz Joseph Gall was of a Catholic family, but a merchant one and a student of medicine and of inmates in lunatic asylums. Also by the next: Johann Spurzheim's childhood religion is not mentioned by English wiki, but it is by the German one. [Er war Sohn des protestantischen Bauern Johann Spurzheim, von dem er seinen Vornamen bekam. Nachdem Johann G. Spurzheim in der Schule seines Heimatdorfes Latein und Griechisch gelernt hatte, begann er an der Universität von Trier Theologie, Philosophie und Hebräisch zu studieren, weil sein Vater ihn in einem geistlichen Amt sehen wollte. Doch als die französische Armee 1799 in seiner Heimat ankam, floh er nach Wien, um dort Medizin zu studieren.] George Combe would become the chief promoter of phrenology throughout the English-speaking world after he viewed a brain dissection by Spurzheim, convincing him of phrenology's merits. And he was from Edinburgh. A largely Calvinist to Enlightenment city when he was born.

Galton was born at "The Larches", a large house in the Sparkbrook area of Birmingham, England, built on the site of "Fair Hill", the former home of Joseph Priestley, which the botanist William Withering had renamed. He was Charles Darwin's half-cousin, sharing the common grandparent Erasmus Darwin. His father was Samuel Tertius Galton, son of Samuel "John" Galton. The Galtons were famous and highly successful Quaker gun-manufacturers and bankers, while the Darwins were distinguished in medicine and science.


Quakers? That is like Alumbrados, except Alumbrados were a totally Spanish movement and thence as Catholic as Western Atheism (in general, not in Hemant's case) is Protestant, namely by habit. Quakers are the Protestant and more successful version of Alumbrados, and Galton is an example of what the Spanish Inquisition (which repressed Alumbrados) was ultimately trying to prevent. Symbolically, he was born 2 years after Spanish Inquisition had ended.

Thomas Henry Huxley (an agnostic, not a hard atheist) has an article giving us no indication as to his possible childhood religion. But Anglican is possible. However, I click on his "family tree" and guess John Collier was as close to him, as Ali to Mohammed. Son in law, it is called. Citing from that second article:

Collier's views on religion and ethics are interesting for their comparison with the views of THH and Julian Huxley, both of whom gave Romanes lectures on that subject. In The religion of an artist (1926) Collier explains "It [the book] is mostly concerned with ethics apart from religion... I am looking forward to a time when ethics will have taken the place of religion... My religion is really negative. [The benefits of religion] can be attained by other means which are less conducive to strife and which put less strain on upon the reasoning faculties". On secular morality: "My standard is frankly utilitarian. As far as morality is intuitive, I think it may be reduced to an inherent impulse of kindliness towards our fellow citizens". On the idea of God: "People may claim without much exaggeration that the belief in God is universal. They omit to add that superstition, often of the most degraded kind, is just as universal". And "An omnipotent Deity who sentences even the vilest of his creatures to eternal torture is infinitely more cruel than the cruellest man". And on the Church: "To me, as to most Englishmen, the triumph of Roman Catholicism would mean an unspeakable disaster to the cause of civilization". His views, then, were very close to the agnosticism of THH and the humanism of Julian Huxley.


My emphasis.

If not Protestant in the sense of Protestant positive pieties, it's retaining as a residual Protestant piety the Newton like hysteria about Roman Catholicism.

Bertrand Russell was born in a family already atheist, or partly so.

Bertrand Russell was born on 18 May 1872 at Ravenscroft, Trellech, Monmouthshire, into an influential and liberal family of the British aristocracy.[71] His parents, Viscount and Viscountess Amberley, were radical for their times. Lord Amberley consented to his wife's affair with their children's tutor, the biologist Douglas Spalding. Both were early advocates of birth control at a time when this was considered scandalous.[72] Lord Amberley was an atheist and his atheism was evident when he asked the philosopher John Stuart Mill to act as Russell's secular godfather.[73] Mill died the year after Russell's birth, but his writings had a great effect on Russell's life.


His father had been an Aristocrat becoming Deist at age 21, presumably Anglican first. John Russell, Viscount Amberley And since his father (Bertrand's grandfather) also has an article, this can be checked. John Russell, 1st Earl Russell

Russell was born small and premature into the highest echelons of the British aristocracy. The Russell family had been one of the principal Whig dynasties in England since the 17th century, and were among the richest handful of aristocratic landowning families in the country, but as a younger son of the 6th Duke of Bedford, he was not expected to inherit the family estates. As a younger son of a Duke, he bore the courtesy title "Lord John Russell," but he was not a peer in his own right. He was, therefore, able to sit in the House of Commons until he was made an earl in 1861, and transitioned into the House of Lords.


Whig, that means much more likely to be Puritan than to be Anglo-Catholic - even when Anglican. As he was, religion is stated as Church of England.

Bertrand's mother, Katharine Russell, Viscountess Amberley, née Stanley. And again, her own religious views are not indicated, but we can check with her family. Church of England? Whiggish?

Edward Stanley, 2nd Baron Stanley of Alderley was presumably Church of England. He was CERTAINLY a Whig. Political party : Whig ; Liberal. And what about the mother? Henrietta Stanley, Baroness Stanley of Alderley, the grandmother, the mother's mother of Bertrand Russell, we do get some info. "Henrietta Maria Stanley, Baroness Stanley of Alderley (née Dillon-Lee; 21 December 1807 – 16 February 1895), was a Canadian-born political hostess and campaigner for the education of women in England." In Canada, Anglicans are not usually Anglo-Catholic.

She was a descendant of both Charles II (by his mistress Barbara Villiers) and James II of England (by his mistress Catherine Sedley). Her ancestors were Roman Catholic and had had pronounced Jacobite leanings; one of them was Maréchal de camp Arthur Dillon, a supporter of the Old Pretender. The family, exiled to France, eventually converted to Anglicanism but preferred to remain living abroad. In 1814, Henrietta and her family moved to Florence, Tuscany,[1] where she attended the receptions of Princess Louise of Stolberg-Gedern, the widow of the Young Pretender.[2] Her non-English upbringing was prominent and her grandson, the philosopher Bertrand Russell, commented:

My grandmother's outlook, throughout her life, was in some ways more Continental than English. She was always downright, free from prudery, and eighteenth-century rather than Victorian in her conversation. Her French and Italian were faultless, and she was passionately interested in Italian unity.[1]


So ex-Catholic Anglicans, anti-Papal, presumably, since supporting the Sardinian take over of Rome.

What about John Stuart Mill?

John Stuart Mill was born on Rodney Street in the Pentonville area of London, the eldest son of the Scottish philosopher, historian and economist James Mill, and Harriet Burrow. John Stuart was educated by his father, with the advice and assistance of Jeremy Bentham and Francis Place. He was given an extremely rigorous upbringing, and was deliberately shielded from association with children his own age other than his siblings. His father, a follower of Bentham and an adherent of associationism, had as his explicit aim to create a genius intellect that would carry on the cause of utilitarianism and its implementation after he and Bentham had died.


He was not an Anglican:

As a nonconformist who refused to subscribe to the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England, Mill was not eligible to study at the University of Oxford or the University of Cambridge.[12] Instead he followed his father to work for the East India Company, and attended University College, London, to hear the lectures of John Austin, the first Professor of Jurisprudence.[13] He was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1856.[14]


Let's look up some ... James Mill, John Austin, Jeremy Bentham and Francis Place.

James Mill ... James Milne, later known as James Mill, was born at Northwater Bridge, in the parish of Logie Pert, Angus, Scotland, the son of James Milne, a shoemaker and small farmer. His mother, Isabel Fenton, of a family that had suffered from connection with the Stuart rising, resolved that he should receive a first-rate education, and sent him first to the parish school and then to the Montrose Academy, where he remained until the unusual age of seventeen and a half. He then entered the University of Edinburgh, where he distinguished himself as a Greek scholar. In October 1798, he was ordained as a minister of the Church of Scotland, but met with little success.


Kirk of Scotland was indeed not Anglican, but Calvinist. Explains why a bit further south his son was a non-Conformist.

John Austin (legal philosopher) - In opposition to traditional natural-law approaches to law, Austin argued that there are no necessary connections between law and morality. Human legal systems, he claimed, can and should be studied in an empirical, value-free way.


Whatever previous Protestantism there might be, we don't know. We do know that this is completely anti-Catholic.

In 1819, Austin married Sarah Taylor and became neighbors and close friends with Jeremy Bentham and James and John Stuart Mill. Largely through Bentham’s influence, Austin was appointed professor of jurisprudence at the newly founded University of London in 1826. Austin’s lectures were not well-attended, and he resigned his university post in 1834. Thereafter, aside from two stints on government commissions, Austin lived largely on his wife’s earnings as a writer and translator. Plagued by ill health, depression, and self-doubt, Austin wrote little after the publication of his major work, The Province of Jurisprudence Determined (1832). This work was largely ignored during Austin’s lifetime. It became influential only after his death when his wife, Sarah Austin, published a second edition in 1861.


And that means we can look up her ...

Sarah Austin (translator) : Born Sarah Taylor in Norwich, England in 1793, she was the youngest child of John Taylor, a yarn maker and hymn writer from a locally well-known Unitarian family.[1] Her education was overseen by her mother, Susannah Taylor. She became conversant in Latin, French, German and Italian. Her six brothers and sisters included Edward Taylor (1784–1863), a singer and music professor, John Taylor (1779–1863), a mining engineer, Richard Taylor (1781–1858), a printer and editor and publisher of scientific works. Family friends included Dr James Alderson and his daughter Amelia Opie, Henry Crabb Robinson, the banking Gurneys and Sir James Mackintosh.


Unitarian, also indebted to Protestant Reformation, since the uncle and nephew Sozzini were one of the four parallel reformations going on or starting in 1517. Note, not the more brutal ones.

Jeremy Bentham's article looks as if he had been without religion from the start. Perhaps not quite surprising, since he was born in 18th C. and Francis Place also had no childhood religion, if however a childhood trauma.

Or not. He was born in a debtors' prison, but not because his mother was in prison for debts, but because his father oversaw it.

Born in the debtors' prison which his father oversaw near Drury Lane, Place was schooled for ten years before being apprenticed to a leather-breeches maker. At eighteen he was an independent journeyman, and in 1790 was married and moved to a house near the Strand. In 1793 he became involved in and eventually the leader of a strike of leather-breeches makers, and was refused work for several years by London's master tailors; he exploited this time by reading avidly and widely. In 1794, Place joined the London Corresponding Society, a reform club, and for three years was prominent in its work, before resigning his post as chairman of the general committee in 1797 in protest at the violent tactics and rhetoric of some group members. In 1799 he became the partner in a tailor's shop, and a year later set up his own highly successful business at 16 Charing Cross. ... It was around this time that he became involved in the movement for organised, public education, believing it to be a means of eradicating the ills of the working class. In the early 1820s he also became a Malthusian, believing that as the population increased it would outstrip the food supply. Despite himself having fathered fifteen children, he advocated the use of contraception, although was not specific about in what forms. It was on this topic that he wrote his only published book, the influential and controversial Illustrations and Proofs of the Principles of Population, in 1822.


Here some wikipedians are driving "show your sources" to absurdity. There is a note 1 to a Spartacus Educational. And there is a note beside it saying [better source needed]. Perhaps this educational would be a not too good source for claim Illustrations and Proofs of the Principles of Population was his only book, but it would hardly have gotten away lying or even dreaming up the title and the year of publication. Here is what I find about the site:

In September, 1997, Spartacus Educational founder and managing director John Simkin became the first educational publisher in Britain to establish a website that was willing to provide teachers and students with free educational materials. According to a survey carried out by the Fischer Trust, Spartacus Educational is one of the top three websites used by history teachers and students in Britain (the other two are BBC History and the Public Record Office’s Learning Curve). The Spartacus Educational website currently gets up to 7 million page impressions a month and 3 million unique visitors.


That COULD explain why British history students can believe average life span of Middle Ages was extremely short (will have to look first before deciding on this) while John Simkin has insufficient evidence for that. But John Simkin would (as little as I) dream of giving an apparent title with a wrong year or wrong author. Actually, it seems the site has withdrawn a page called Life in the Middle Ages:

Page Not Found

Sorry, but the page you were trying to view does not exist.


On the other hand, they now have Yalding: Medieval Village Project KS3 Am looking at it. For the burial records of 1329 to 1336, the child deaths are numerous and even teen deaths will have to be regarded as a separate category to those of men and women over 20 to get median of the latter as high as between 41 and 43. The medium is 46.6.

Well, John Simkin seems to have had a good argument for 1329 - January 1336, at least! Based on those years, that village, life expectancy at birth was 22.44 years, medium. True, I lowered it by counting all deaths below 1 year as 0, instead of fractions, but still. Also, the death balance between women and men over 20 were 3 to 22. Perhaps these years were not quite typical. But what they do show is some very clear child mortality and also rather low life expectancy above the age of 20. Wonder if the same holds for the Clares of that time, the proprietors of Yalding.

Back to Protestant roots of most Western Atheism. Influences of Bentham in his turn are listed as: Protagoras · Epicurus · John Locke · David Hume · Montesquieu · Helvétius · Hobbes · Beccaria · Adam Smith.

The first two are obviously Ancient Greeks, who owe nothing to Protestantism, any more than the family background of Hemant.

John Locke  "Father of the Fundies"
David Hume  starting w. Kirk of Scotland?
Montesquieu  Catholic w. Protestant wife
Helvétius  Freemason
Hobbes  Anglican?
Beccaria  Catholic?
Adam Smith.  starting w. Kirk of Scotland


Three certain Protestants (including Montesquieu's wife), two probable ones, makes five on balance. One certain Catholic (Montesquieu), one probable such, makes two on balance. One freemason. If we take certains only, 3P+1C+1F. If we takes probables too, 5P+2C+1F. So, Protestants get 3/5 or 5/8 of his post-Classic influences. Note that not all of these were atheists. Hobbes, I read somewhere, believed God was a bodily being ... as I think do Watchtower Society and Old Russellians.

Wittgenstein who lost faith was a Catholic at start - of a family which had been previously Protestant and Jewish. He was influenced by an Otto Weininger

Otto Weininger was born on April 3, 1880, in Vienna as a son of the Jewish goldsmith Leopold Weininger and his wife Adelheid. After attending primary school and graduating from secondary school in July 1898, Weininger registered at the University of Vienna in October of the same year. He studied philosophy and psychology but took courses in natural sciences and medicine as well. Weininger learned Greek, Latin, French and English very early, later also Spanish and Italian, and acquired passive knowledge of the languages of August Strindberg and Henrik Ibsen (i.e., Swedish and Danish/Norwegian).

In the autumn of 1901 Weininger tried to find a publisher for his work Eros and the Psyche – which he submitted to his professors Friedrich Jodl and Laurenz Müllner as his thesis in 1902. He met Sigmund Freud, who, however, did not recommend the text to a publisher. His professors accepted the thesis and Weininger received his Ph.D. degree in July 1902.[4] Shortly thereafter he became proudly and enthusiastically a Protestant.


And Strindberg was a lapsed Lutheran who went Arian and Alchemist, among other things. And Ibsen was of a family which would have formally been Lutheran and which may have lapsed even a generation or two before. Though probably rather into freemasonry than rank atheism. His greatgrandfather was obviously a Lutheran, since his widow married a Lutheran "priest":

Henrik Ibsen (1726–1765), merchant in Skien, who married Wenche Dishington (1738–1780). After Ibsen's death, Wenche married parish priest Jacob von der Lippe (1732–1804)


Camus? On the one hand, his adhesion to Algerian Communist Party was not really doctrinally Marxist. Then again, his "Atheism" was rather Agnosticism - as is more typical of lapsed Catholics, perhaps, than strong Atheism. This - his being Agnostic - I learned from la biquipedia, along with fact his influences include Nietzsche and Schopenhauer. Also, though his mother was Spanish, his father was Alsatian. Now, let's look at N and S.

Schopenhauer was born on 22 February 1788, in the city of Danzig (then part of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth; present day Gdańsk, Poland) on Heiligegeistgasse (known in the present day as Św. Ducha 47), the son of Johanna Schopenhauer (née Trosiener) and Heinrich Floris Schopenhauer,[19] both descendants of wealthy German patrician families. When Danzig became part of Prussia in 1793, Heinrich moved to Hamburg, although his firm continued trading in Danzig.


In other words rather certainly a Protestant, Lutheran, possibly looking down on Polish Catholics.

Born on 15 October 1844, Nietzsche grew up in the small town of Röcken, near Leipzig, in the Prussian Province of Saxony. He was named after King Frederick William IV of Prussia, who turned forty-nine on the day of Nietzsche's birth.


Rather probable he was a Protestant. Yes, indeed:

In 1854, he began to attend Domgymnasium in Naumburg. Because his father had worked for the state (as a pastor) the now-fatherless Nietzsche was offered a scholarship to study at the internationally recognized Schulpforta (the claim that Nietzsche was admitted on the strength of his academic competence has been debunked: his grades were nowhere near the top of the class).


In other words, like Astrid Lindgren, a famous Swedish Atheist and a storyteller, Nietzsche was "God's grand child" as certain Evangelicals have termed a "syndrome" of turning away from God after too much family saturation. A phenomenon which seems to be more apparent among Protestants having "priest"/pastors as fathers, or having "born again Christian" parents (with great involvement of emotional type), than among Catholics having priests and monks as uncles or nuns as aunts.

Have I made my point?

If Hemant Mehta had been the first atheist we knew of ever, atheism could have been a branch of Jainism, and so be a clearly Eastern Atheism. Since he is not, atheism is really Western Atheism°°** a branch of Protestantism.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
Sts Evagrius, Priscian
and Companions, Martyrs
12.X.2016

* Capital letter : it is certainly the name of a school, philosophically speaking! If not more than one ... ** This means if certain people think I'd change habits about how openly or rather not I speak of sex, just because I apostasised, should I do so, and think they would be helping me to get laid by getting me off God, they are wrong. I would most probably not even then want to just get laid or to have a large and "safe" sexual experience before settling for marriage. I might be a walking encyclopedia, but I am not trying to become a walking Kama Sutra. My on and off but mostly atheist grandmother was even more prudish than I, my mother not much less. *** Ascendancy, but if his preacher grandfather was perhaps not Calvinist and not Ulster Scots, he was at least very Puritan in outlook. ° Not sure if apostasy was his own or happened earlier in family. °° Different for different persons, obviously. °°° Like some of the National Socialists who were later hanged in Nüremberg : Alois Brunner was of a Catholic small town family, but at 11 went to a big town for continued school, where Protestants dominated. *° Locke's religious trajectory began in Calvinist trinitarianism, but by the time of the Reflections (1695) Locke was advocating not just Socinian views on tolerance but also Socinian Christology. However Wainwright (1987) notes that in the posthumously published Paraphrase (1707) Locke's interpretation of one verse, Ephesians 1:10, is markedly different from that of Socinians like Biddle, and may indicate that near the end of his life Locke returned nearer to an Arian position, thereby accepting Christ's pre-existence. In fact, historian John Marshall suggests that Locke's view of Christ ended, "somewhere between Socianism and Arianism." - a nice fit for Watchtower Society, then. But his defense of "Christianity in general" is such as Fundies including Trinitarians are citing to this day. °°** With Theravada Buddhism as the real Eastern Atheism.

mercredi 5 octobre 2016

Douglas Adams Sentient Puddle Answered


Here is an argument by Douglas Adams, on his wiki page.

Adams described himself as a "radical atheist", adding radical for emphasis so he would not be asked if he meant agnostic. He told American Atheists that this made things easier, but most importantly it conveyed the fact that he really meant it. "I am convinced that there is not a god," he said. He imagined a sentient puddle who wakes up one morning and thinks, "This is an interesting world I find myself in – an interesting hole I find myself in – fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!" to demonstrate his view that the fine-tuned Universe argument for God was a fallacy.


Well - God fine tuned the universe for puddles too!/HGL

lundi 3 octobre 2016

Answering Barry Hampe on his 8 evidences against God


I saw this list on Quora, where he was giving a link to it. From another answer to a question. Here is the list:

So, on the atheist side, I [Barry Hampe] would list:

  • The similarity of ancient folk tales about gods that have been adopted into various religions. This suggests that gods are a human invention.
  • How some religions have fallen out of favor -- Greek, Roman, Norse, for example -- and are now called "myths," suggesting that current-day religions will likely experience the same fate. Why? Because they are stories with no basis in fact. They, too, are myths.
  • The absolute lack of any convincing evidence that any gods exist now or ever have existed, suggesting (but not absolutely proving) that gods are fictional characters in human folklore, not supernatural agents.
  • Absence of evidence that something exists, while not rising to the level of conclusive proof, is evidence of the absence of that thing. It's the standard we use for dragons, leprechauns, the Loch Ness monster, the yeti, and the monster under the bed. Therefore it is the standard we should use for gods.
  • The inability of people of faith to produce any evidence for the existence of their gods that would be admissible in a court of law, when challenged to do so. They offer arguments and hypothetical analogies instead. One must assume that if they had convincing evidence they would gladly produce it when challenged to do so, rather than offering trivial ideas such as, "there very well could be a God who simply chose not to provide evidence that He exists."(One wants to ask how anyone would have a chance to know about such a god, and why they would bother to believe in it.)
  • The negative results of prayer experiments.
  • The variety of real world explanations -- not involving contact with some god -- for the personal experiences that some theists claim prove to them that some god exists.
  • All the bad stuff that happens on the watch of a supposedly kind, benevolent, and loving god. Childhood leukemia, for example.


And here are my responses:

I
The similarity of ancient folk tales about gods that have been adopted into various religions. This suggests that gods are a human invention.

Answer
Why that rather than variation of common memories, specifically of Flood, Fall, Tower of Babel and a few more?

II
How some religions have fallen out of favor -- Greek, Roman, Norse, for example -- and are now called "myths," suggesting that current-day religions will likely experience the same fate. Why? Because they are stories with no basis in fact. They, too, are myths.

Answer
I do not think Greek, Roman, Norse or Indic myths about how pre-human world of gods began has sufficient basis in fact, that is not to say I consider all stories considered as part of their mythologies as non-factual.

Abiogenesis has as little basis in fact as Chaos producing Gaia, Erebos, Nyx and Eros - or ice and fire in Ginnungagap producing Audhumbla and Ymer.

III
The absolute lack of any convincing evidence that any gods exist now or ever have existed, suggesting (but not absolutely proving) that gods are fictional characters in human folklore, not supernatural agents.

Answer
As for "absolute" lack of "convincing" evidence, you are admitting there is some evidence at least purported as such, even if not convincing you.

This makes the lack relative, namely to your standard of what is convincing.

And it may be a biassed rather than a high one.

IV
Absence of evidence that something exists, while not rising to the level of conclusive proof, is evidence of the absence of that thing. It's the standard we use for dragons, leprechauns, the Loch Ness monster, the yeti, and the monster under the bed. Therefore it is the standard we should use for gods.

Answer
The Monster under the bed is usually a scare of childhood, if as much.

For the rest, there is at least some evidence. Your evidence on leprechauns depends on what you think of reliability of the Irish peasants claiming to have seen them. And so on.

V
The inability of people of faith to produce any evidence for the existence of their gods that would be admissible in a court of law, when challenged to do so. They offer arguments and hypothetical analogies instead. One must assume that if they had convincing evidence they would gladly produce it when challenged to do so, rather than offering trivial ideas such as, "there very well could be a God who simply chose not to provide evidence that He exists." (One wants to ask how anyone would have a chance to know about such a god, and why they would bother to believe in it.)

Answer
Whoever said "there very well could be a God who simply chose not to provide evidence that He exists," was not a Thomist and insufficiently familiar with Romans 1:18-20.

In a court of law, when not weighing "beyond reasonable doubt", but about "in the balance of probabilities", I am not sure that Prima Via would fare worse than Newtonian explanation of night and day - once the court had decided to try that case.

When weighing "beyond reasonable doubt" the court would certainly tend to answer according to previous biasses on what is reasonable.

VI
The negative results of prayer experiments.

Answer
Namely?

VII
The variety of real world explanations -- not involving contact with some god -- for the personal experiences that some theists claim prove to them that some god exists.

Answer
I am not using personal experiences as apologetic proof.

VIII
All the bad stuff that happens on the watch of a supposedly kind, benevolent, and loving god. Childhood leukemia, for example.

Answer
God knowing everything, God knows who is better off dead (and apart from cases of guilt for crimes meriting death penalty or acts in self defense and war, when just, God is the only one who knows that). A child who is baptised and dies of leucemia at 5 is pretty certain of being eternally in Heaven.

Some such would have apostasised and gone to Hell, if given the years to grow up and do the reflections you did.


Above will be forwarded to him next time I log into quora, so he can answer and so he can tell me if quora or his blog is best for attribution link.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus
3.X.2016