Taken from the Merriam-Webster’s Encyclopedia of World Religions
Here is a dose of daily religion from A to Z.
Today’s religious topic is as follows:
“Atheism”, the critique and denial of belief in God. As such, it is the opposite of THEISM, which affirms the reality of God and seeks to demonstrate His existence. Atheism is to be distinguished from AGNOSTICISM, which leaves open the question whether there is a God or not; for the atheist, the nonexistence of God is a certainty.
Atheism has emerged recurrently in Western thought. Plato argued against in the Laws, while Democritus and Epicurus argued for it in the context of their materialism. Niccolo Machiavelli in the 16th century contributed to atheism in the political sphere by affirming the independence of politics from morals and religion. The 18th century witnessed the emergence of atheism among the French Encyclopedists, who combined British EMPIRICISM with Rene Descartes’s mechanistic conception of the universe. David Hume, in his Concerning Natural Religion 91779), argued against the traditional proofs for the existence of God, as did Immanuel Kant. Neither Hume nor Kant were atheists, but their restriction of human reason to sense experience undercut NATURAL THEOLOGY and left the existence of God a matter of pure faith. In the 19th century, atheism was couched in the materialism of Karl Marx and other and pitted against the metaphysical position of SPIRITUALISM. Modern atheism takes many different forms other than that of materialism. In short, atheism has been rooted in a vast array of philosophical systems.
One of the most important 19th-century atheists was LUDWIG FEUERBACH (1804-72), who put forward the argument that God is a projection of man’s ideals. Feuerbach associated his denial of God with the affirmation of man’s freedom: the disclosure that God is mere projection liberates man for self-realization. Marx drew on Feuerbach’s thesis that the religious can be resolved into the human, though he also held that religion reflects socioeconomic order and alienates man from his labor product and, hence, from his true self. Charles Darwin (1809-82), developed a scientific theory of natural history that challenged the Judeo-Christian concept of God. Later, SIGMUND FREUD (1856-1939) drew on Darwinian themes when he discussed the historical development of the religious mindset. According to Freud, belief in God represents a childlike psychological state in which the image of a father–figure is projected upon the forces of nature.
A third strain in modern atheism is the existentialist. Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) proclaimed the “death of God” and the consequent loss of all traditional values. The only tenable human response, he argued, is that of nihilism—without God, there is no answer to the question of purpose and meaning in life. In Nietzsche’s view, the death of God freed humanity to fulfill itself and find its own essence. In the 20th century Jean Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, and others continued the theme. Human freedom, according to Sartre, entails the denial of God, for God’s existence would threaten our freedom to create our own values through free ethical choice.
(Comeback on 3/04/15 and continue to learn about religion. Tomorrow you’ll read and learn more about “Athena”.
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Cullion means “wretch, rascal, rogue“. Cullion is cited in (3) of William Shakespeare’s plays including (Henry V, III.ii.21), (Henry VI, 6, P2, I.iii.38), My favorite being Taming of the Shrew (TS IV.ii.20) [Hortensio as Licio to Tranio as Lucentio, of Bianca courting Lucentio as Cambio]: “Such a one as muses a god of such Cullion.”
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