Saturday, March 25, 2006

Classical Greek Atheism

"Yet atheism failed to have the impact on the late classical world that some feared and others secretly longed for. Roman writers such as Lucretius (c. 94-c. 50 B.C.) argued that religion merely evoked terror---as, for example, in the case of Agamemnon, whose fear of the goddess Artemis led him needlessly to sacrifice his only daughter. Atheism, Lucretius declared, eliminates such terror and allows us to focus on the natural forces and processes at work around us.

These ideas had relatively little impact on their own era. They would, however, find a new and highly receptive audience centuries later. Perhaps the world was not yet ready for the announcement of the death of the gods.

That day would come---with a vengeance."

Alister McGrath
The Twilight of Atheism

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