Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Imagine

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This video is a list of famous people who are atheists, put together for a school project and using John Lennon’s song “Imagine” as the background music.

Comments

  1. #1 Bob O'H
    October 11, 2009

    Galileo an atheist? Wiki (which is Always True) calls him “a genuinely pious Roman Catholic”, and cites pp.17 and 213 of Sharratt, Michael (1994). Galileo: Decisive Innovator. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  2. #2 Copernicus
    October 11, 2009

    I wonder if having his work declated an “anathema” by Pope Urban, being put on trial by the Inquisition, and subsequently subjected to house arrest for the rest of his life had something to do with it?

  3. #3 A little voice in the congregation
    October 11, 2009

    Why all the atheism posts on a Sunday? Do our unholy scriptures (the letters from St Richard to St Paul?) instruct us that yea, on the seventh day shalt thou gather to celebrate all forms of non-existence and set aside time for quiet non-worship of non-deities?

    And do Jewish Atheists have a different unholy day from Christian Atheists?

  4. #4 Copernicus
    October 11, 2009

    ummm, Little Voice, if one was “Jewish” or “Christian”, by definition they couldn’t be atheist, right?

    But also please bear in mind, that atheists do not describe scripture as “unholy”, that is your own descriptor (one might even say you have been “hoisted by your own petard” in that regard), simply that they are a book like any other historical document, events and stories almost entirely written some 30-40,000 years before the Old Testament, before “Ancient” Hebrew was a language, and certainly before Judaism and Christianity (although not monotheism, a practice that some erroneously project as their own religion’s invention- oh wait, why is it that Moses was so good at that- could it be that he spent his childhood and young adulthood studying ancient Egyptian religion- you know, monotheism before it was rumored that there were other gods!)… ancient literature often mingles myth, legend, and “tales of our fathers” in such as way as to be a vehicle for some other commentary… there are zillions of possible examples but by way of one example, you do realise that the Psalms were not written by King David- those approximate 2/3 that can be attributed to his reign (about one third have other authors) were in fact written by his court reporter (in science that would definitely be a “confounding variable”) and so open to interpretation, error, and, as I am committing by being distracted on a sunny seventh day [or is it first?... one of those ordinal numbers dictated by the Romans- were they around those 13.7 billion years ago?], homework that he (and I) hurried to catch up on after a quick break taking in the sunny climes of Palestine…

    celebrating “non-existence”

  5. #5 Keith Harwood
    October 11, 2009

    Ancient Egyptian religion was not, by any stretch of the imagination monotheistic. They had a plethora of gods, going back to predynastic times before the unification of Egypt. Many of these local gods were converted into aspects of the major gods, Ra (aka Amun-Ra), Horus, Isis, Sekmet, Hathor, Bastet, mostly.

    Even Akhenaten, who is popularly supposed to be a monotheist, wasn’t. For him there were many gods but only one worth worshipping, Aten-Re, the sun disk. But for the people of his court, even the priests of Aten, when they went home, they continued to worship their own selection of gods.

    Once, some years ago, late on a Friday afternoon, I was contempating the sun through the gunk we breathe instead of air and wondering, “How could anyone not worship the sun”. Then not long afterwards I came across a letter from the Babylonian ambassador to the court of Akhenaten. It said, “If he wants to worship the bloody sun he can try standing out in his own bloody courtyard all bloody morning in the middle of bloody summer”. Oh, that’s how. (That is not a literal translation.)

  6. #6 Copernicus
    October 11, 2009

    Keith, I am afraid you are mistaken as were the locals who were purposely kept ignorant by unscrupulous priests and as were foreigners (let’s consider not the Hamites but the Shemites [read: Arabs and those considered 'semitic"] et al) who mistook, as you seem to have as well as the sources you have “researched”, that the various “personifications” of the One God (guess that really means monotheistic) were considered separate deities- before Ra (your “Aten-Re” is an example of the mono-polytheistic confusion under Akhenaten) was considered the “top God” it was the representation of the One God’s all-seeing eye and the demonstration of God’s divine power being able to move the Sun across the sky… unfortunately you will have to research more obscure texts than anything supposedly “predynastic” because the main body of that work only goes as far back as about 3100 BC…

    The work of Jan Assmann and James P. Allen also supports the disparity between ancient Egyptian theologians and the ordinary Egyptian/outsider, arguing for a process of syncretism which Allen says, “unites the view of god as simultaneously Many and One”… then of course one could also argue for a “henotheistic” approach (oh dear Keith, εἷς θεός heis theos also means “one god”!)…

    Jan Assman, Re und Amun: Die Krise des polytheistischen Weltbilds im Ägypten der 18.-20. Dynastie (Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis 51). Fribourg and Göttingen 1983.

    Jan Assman, Moses the Egyptian: The Memory of Egypt in Western Monotheism. (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1997)

    James P. Allen, Genesis in Egypt: The Philosophy of Ancient Egyptian Creation Accounts (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988)

  7. #7 Copernicus
    October 11, 2009

    Anyway Keith, one morning while I was taking a walk along the banks of the Vistula River, almost 500 years ago now (I’m trying to think back but memory is a funny thing at my age), I’m pretty sure that that was when I dismissed the notion of Ra as a moving force in some of my notes which I laughingly described as a Little Commentary.

    I did show it to some of my friends while I was in Bologna- ah, I remember the wonderful smell of curing Mortadella, but I can’t quite remember their names (again, the years have taken their toll I’m afraid- funny how smells trigger memories more astutely than language)…

    suffice it to say, it took me a while to finally get published- actually I awoke one day with a terrible headache to find a copy in my hands whereupon I seem to have drifted off… can’t quite remember…

    Nicolaus

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