Romans erased history of atheism

Vastet
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Romans erased history of atheism

The belief that there were no gods was common in the ancient world, research by Prof. Tim Whitmarsh, professor of Greek culture at Cambridge, concludes. 

But “ancient atheism” was effectively written out of history when Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire after the reign of Constantine in the early fourth century, heralding a new era of state-imposed belief, says Whitmarsh in a new book, Battling the Gods, which collates evidence of atheism in the Greek city states.

http://news.nationalpost.com/news/religion/atheism-older-than-christianity

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iwbiek
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they did a pretty shitty job

they did a pretty shitty job of wiping it out. most of the major schools of greek philosophy were, for all intents and purposes, atheistic, particularly the cynics, epicureans, and stoics. i've read historians who argue that throughout the roman empire, and especially in the major cities, literal belief in the gods was practically nil.

"I have never felt comfortable around people who talk about their feelings for Jesus, or any other deity for that matter, because they are usually none too bright. . . . Or maybe 'stupid' is a better way of saying it; but I have never seen much point in getting heavy with either stupid people or Jesus freaks, just as long as they don't bother me. In a world as weird and cruel as this one we have made for ourselves, I figure anybody who can find peace and personal happiness without ripping off somebody else deserves to be left alone. They will not inherit the earth, but then neither will I. . . . And I have learned to live, as it were, with the idea that I will never find peace and happiness, either. But as long as I know there's a pretty good chance I can get my hands on either one of them every once in a while, I do the best I can between high spots."
--Hunter S. Thompson


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They did a good job of

They did a good job of convincing their followers.

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iwbiek
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meh. considering most

meh. considering most ancient people's propensity for henotheism, and the enormous popularity of mystery cults in the centuries before constantine, it wasn't a big step, especially when the empire threw in so many civic privileges for converts. many people at that time were gravitating towards transcendent, impersonal deities anyway, and let's not forget this whole thing was a two-way street: christianity borrowed as much as it imposed. constantine controlled the first council of nicea very closely, and one of the reasons the doctrine of the trinity--which is completely unjustifiable without the terminology of greek philosophy--became the norm was because constantine threw his weight behind it. for one reason or another, it appealed to his pagan mind.


my opinion, fwiw, is that the adoption of christianity by the empire was more a consolidation than anything else: the mystery cults, the popularity of the magna mater, neoplatonism, greek methods of philosophical argument, manicheism, the cult of the emperor, all thrown together in one package that could be easily taxed and regulated. even the classical atheistic systems of philosophy had no problem with a watered-down, amorphous deity: christianity even borrowed a lot from stoicism. the atheism of the cynics, for example, would have had little in common with our empirically based atheism today: an atheism that is born from a rejection of speculation in general. it was more like the atheism of the jains or buddhists in india: an atheism based on rationalism rather than empiricism, with plenty of metaphysical speculation still in the mix.

"I have never felt comfortable around people who talk about their feelings for Jesus, or any other deity for that matter, because they are usually none too bright. . . . Or maybe 'stupid' is a better way of saying it; but I have never seen much point in getting heavy with either stupid people or Jesus freaks, just as long as they don't bother me. In a world as weird and cruel as this one we have made for ourselves, I figure anybody who can find peace and personal happiness without ripping off somebody else deserves to be left alone. They will not inherit the earth, but then neither will I. . . . And I have learned to live, as it were, with the idea that I will never find peace and happiness, either. But as long as I know there's a pretty good chance I can get my hands on either one of them every once in a while, I do the best I can between high spots."
--Hunter S. Thompson