418Re: [neoplatonism] Platonism and Atheism
- Apr 10, 2004I'm not entirely certain what you mean by Plato's
conception of the Gods as "virtuous abstractions." I
don't remember the name of the exact writing, but he
used Socrates to ask the question of someone about
what makes something good. THe person replied by
saying, "because the gods love it." Socrates then
asked this person, "is it good because the gods love
it, or do the gods love it because it is good?"
The man then replied, "It is good because the gods
love it." Socrates here replied that the gods fight
among themselves and disagree with each other on
whether or not something is good. THere are plenty of
stories in Greek mythology where the gods fight with
each other and do things that other gods think are
bad. So, the man was forced to retract his arguement
that a thing is good because the gods love it.
Just from this writing alone, I have trouble accepting
your position that Plato said the gods were virtuous
abstrations. Perhaps you could enlighten me on this.
--- ourfreeworld11 <ourfreeworld11@...> wrote:
> I am new to the list and thought I would start a new
> topic since it
> has been quiet.
> I have been reading "The Christians As The Romans
> Saw Them" by Robert
> L. Wilken recently and the subject of "Superstition
> versus Atheism"
> comes up in Ch.3 called The Piety of the
> Persecutors. I think it is
> Plutarch who is quoted when the author asserts that
> when irrational
> and superstitious religious thinking become
> intolerable to a person,
> the tendency is for the person to become an atheist.
> "Atheists do not
> see the gods at all".
> On the other hand, the superstitious person
> "believes in them against
> his will, for he is afraid not to believe". Then he
> goes on to say
> that superstition must be driven out because "it is
> the seed from
> which atheism springs".
> I was interested in this because I went through this
> personally as a
> young adult. From a Platonic perspective though, I
> think it may be
> ridiculous to be an atheist because the Platonic
> conception of a
> species of gods is that of virtuous abstractions
> and/or archetypal
> thought-forms. To deny these types of deity would be
> the same as
> denying that thought exists. The other type of deity
> is that of the
> various parts of the natural cosmos such as the
> earth and sun and
> moon etc. To deny them and their influences on us
> would be equally as
> irrational as the superstitious zealots.
> Does anyone have any comments?
"Needs to find a good quote"
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