Faça um comentário | Işıkları Kapat | MacPaw CleanMyPC 1 8 6 893 + Patch [CracksNow]
  • Title : Battling the Gods

  • Author:

  • Ranting:

  • ISBN: 0307958337

  • Number of Pages: 304 pages


Battling the Gods Description

How new is atheism Although adherents and opponents alike today present it as an invention of the European Enlightenment, when the forces of science and secularism broadly challenged those of faith, disbelief in the gods, in fact, originated in a far remote past In Battling the Gods, Tim Whitmarsh journeys into the ancient Mediterranean, a world almost unimaginably How new is atheism Although adherents and opponents alike today present it as an invention of the European Enlightenment, when the forces of science and secularism broadly challenged those of faith, disbelief in the gods, in fact, originated in a far remote past In Battling the Gods, Tim Whitmarsh journeys into the ancient Mediterranean, a world almost unimaginably different from our own, to recover the stories and voices of those who first refused the divinities.Homer s epic poems of human striving, journeying, and passion were ancient Greece s only sacred texts, but no ancient Greek thought twice about questioning or mocking his stories of the gods Priests were functionaries rather than sources of moral or cosmological wisdom The absence of centralized religious authority made for an extraordinary variety of perspectives on sacred matters, from the devotional to the atheos, or godless Whitmarsh explores this kaleidoscopic range of ideas about the gods, focusing on the colorful individuals who challenged their existence Among these were some of the greatest ancient poets and philosophers and writers, as well as the less well known Diagoras of Melos, perhaps the first self professed atheist Democritus, the first materialist Socrates, executed for rejecting the gods of the Athenian state Epicurus and his followers, who thought gods could not intervene in human affairs the brilliantly mischievous satirist Lucian of Samosata.Before the revolutions of late antiquity, which saw the scriptural religions of Christianity and Islam enforced by imperial might, there were few constraints on belief Everything changed, however, in the millennium between the appearance of the Homeric poems and Christianity s establishment as Rome s state religion in the fourth century AD As successive Greco Roman empires grew in size and complexity, and power was increasingly concentrated in central capitals, states sought to impose collective religious adherence, first to cults devoted to individual rulers, and ultimately to monotheism In this new world, there was no room for outright disbelief the label atheist was used now to demonize anyone who merely disagreed with the orthodoxy and so it would remain for centuries.As the twenty first century shapes up into a time of mass information, but also, paradoxically, of collective amnesia concerning the tangled histories of religions, Whitmarsh provides a bracing antidote to our assumptions about the roots of freethinking By shining a light on atheism s first thousand years, Battling the Gods offers a timely reminder that nonbelief has a wealth of tradition of its own, and, indeed, its own heroes From the Hardcover edition. Get A CopyKindle Store Online StoresAudibleBarnes NobleKoboApple iBooksGoogle PlayAbebooksBook DepositoryIndigoHalf.comAlibrisBetter World BooksIndieBoundLibraries Or buy for ebook, 304 pages Published November 10th 2015 by Knopf More Details ISBN 0307958337 ISBN13 9780307958334 Edition Language English Literary Awards Hessell Tiltman Prize Nominee for Shortlist 2017 Other Editions 8 All Editions Add a New Edition Combine Less Detail edit details Friend Reviews To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up Reader QA To ask other readers questions about Battling the Gods, please sign up

Be the first to ask a question about Battling the Gods

Lists with This Book Notable Atheist Books 407 books 885 voters Beautiful Covers Of Books I May Or May Not Have Read 132 books 12 voters More lists with this book Community Reviews showing 1 30 filter sort default Rating Details 0 copy ratingGraph.clone j rating_details_tip_graph.remove copy.attr id , rating_details_tip_graph copy.find script.remove j rating_details_tip.prepend copy Feb 04, 2016 Emma rated it really liked it Shelves netgalley Fascinating exploration of the role and relevance of atheism from the time of Homer to the Christianised Roman Empire Whitmarsh provides a readable and convincing case that atheism was not only evident in, but important to, ways of thinking in the Ancient World He works chronologically through the extant evidence, primarily textual works of tragedians, philosophers, historians and , that deal with the form and meaning of the divine in Greece and Rome The Greeks had no sacred texts or dete Fascinating exploration of the role and relevance of atheism from the time of Homer to the Christianised Roman Empire Whitmarsh provides a readable and convincing case that atheism was not only evident in, but important to, ways of thinking in the Ancient World He works chronologically through the extant evidence, primarily textual works of tragedians, philosophers, historians and , that deal with the form and meaning of the divine in Greece and Rome The Greeks had no sacred texts or deterministic rules to follow, works of literature were where contemporaries could debate the human divine dichotomy The pluralistic religiosity of Athenian society afforded the cornerstone for a shared culture, but one that could be questioned and tested within the bounds of contemporary discourse It was this that allowed the pre Socratic philosophers, such as Anaximander, Xenophanes, and Hippo, to move away from theological explanations for the world around them to naturalistic and relativistic ones Most especially, human ones In Thucydides and Gorgias Helen , the question of human responsibility and justification is manifest Whitmarsh calls the History the earliest surviving atheist narrative of human history location 1287 Thucydides certainly rejected divine motivation or involvement his History of the Peloponnesian War is a thing of human action and reaction based on power, not religion My area of my personal interest, Greek tragedy and historiography Herodotus Thucydides Sophocles Euripides , provided a good deal of evidence for Whitmarsh s argument I was aware of the ways in which these new forms of literature questioned the role of the gods in society especially that of direct divine intervention in human affairs, as the punishers of transgressions or the deciders of fate Yet Whitmarsh made some excellent points about the ways in which theatre could underpin the status quo whilst being a safe space in which dangerous religious ideas can be experimented with without causing offence location 1602 Therefore it is important that much of the staged action of tragedy, such as Sophocles Oedipus Sophocles I Antigone Oedipus the King Oedipus at Colonus, is of humans acting outside of divine influence, even if the downfall is, in the end, inevitable Putting the question of the gods onstage opened it to the whole Athenian community, and demanded an evaluative response from its citizens I was surprised that atheism is considered by some to be a modern phenomenon, intrinsic to the post Enlightenment West It seems rather sensible, to me, to understand that there has always been a broad spectrum of belief disbelief Perhaps this is a reflection of my own atheism Or maybe because it is no longer necessarily the case that belief in God gods is considered normal , or even valuable In this vein, atheism is not now lesser or unnatural, hidden by being outside the normative accounts of society Instead, the notion of disbelief has been associated in modernity with progress time, science, and technological innovation being naturally opposed to religious belief Whitmarsh notes that within the sphere of Greek religiosity, each god was individualised to local culture, meaning that people environment determined the face of divinity according to their own circumstances situation It seems apt that the atheists he presents follow the same pattern, reflecting a diversity and plurality of opinion and explanation on the subject of the divine The nature of theist discourse is expected to be multifaceted and Whitmarsh accords that same value and interest to atheism Many thanks to Tim Whitmarsh, Faber Faber, and Netgalley for this copy in exchange for an honest review flag 18 likesLike see review View 2 comments Dec 09, 2015 Peter Mcloughlin rated it really liked it review of another edition Shelves classical world, philosophy, general history, european history, intellectual history, world history, nonfiction, 10000 bce to 500 ce, owned books Pssst Atheists have been around a lot longer than Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris Atheism existed in the ancient world Anyone familiar with Epicurus knows this fact but the author brings into focus Atheists that existed in the classical world I knew a lot of this history but it is nice to see it the focus of book With talk about God genes and natural propensities to religion, could it be that a small varying minority of humanity had a natural predisposition to disbelieve Unbelievers se Pssst Atheists have been around a lot longer than Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris Atheism existed in the ancient world Anyone familiar with Epicurus knows this fact but the author brings into focus Atheists that existed in the classical world I knew a lot of this history but it is nice to see it the focus of book With talk about God genes and natural propensities to religion, could it be that a small varying minority of humanity had a natural predisposition to disbelieve Unbelievers seem to go back a long way It could be that there have always been a skeptical few living among us throughout the ages flag 6 likesLike see review View 2 comments Feb 06, 2016 Caterina rated it it was amazing Shelves history, favorites, philosophy, non fiction, netgalley, ebooks An excellent portrayal of atheism in antiquity covering than a thousand years of free thinking and disbelief The author wishes to prove that the rise of atheism as it evolved in the last two centuries is not a phenomenon of the modern era, and he does so by exploring writings of several ancient scholars, philosophers and scientists The ancient Greeks had no sacred texts, no particular moral codes invested in religion, while priests and priestesses were there only for the occasional ritual An excellent portrayal of atheism in antiquity covering than a thousand years of free thinking and disbelief The author wishes to prove that the rise of atheism as it evolved in the last two centuries is not a phenomenon of the modern era, and he does so by exploring writings of several ancient scholars, philosophers and scientists The ancient Greeks had no sacred texts, no particular moral codes invested in religion, while priests and priestesses were there only for the occasional rituals and sacrifices So the circumstances favored philosophical debate, doubt, even open challenge of the nature of divinity Atheists were often frowned upon but were rarely prosecuted see Anaxagoras or the trial of Socrates Tragedy was one of the most successful vehicles in order to disapprove of the gods right to intervene into human affairs, especially the plays by Sophocles and Euripides I personally find Aeschylus pious A mass audience had the chance to familiarize with atheistic and agnostic beliefs through a popular spectacle such as the tragedy.Extremely interesting subject, well written researched and the use of a smooth understandable language makes it even appealing to the untrained reader.Many thanks to Faber Faber Ltd and Netgalley for providing a copy of this wonderful book in exchange for an honest review.Recommended reading In EnglishAntigone Oedipus the King ElectraThe Trojan WomenThe Trial and Death of SocratesThe Epicurus Reader Selected Writings and TestimoniaNatural History A SelectionIn Greek 1 , , , , , , flag 4 likesLike see review Apr 15, 2016 Melora rated it really liked it Shelves history, religion While this was a bit of a polemic than I d anticipated Whitmarsh claims in his Preface that it is not my aim to prove the truth or indeed falsehood of atheism as a philosophical position, but he then practically ties himself in knots trying to work out ways in which the most unlikely of the ancients Sophocles might be construed to be atheists it is, nevertheless, interesting and entertaining Whitmarsh writes nicely, only occasionally slipping into flippancy or inserting too many While this was a bit of a polemic than I d anticipated Whitmarsh claims in his Preface that it is not my aim to prove the truth or indeed falsehood of atheism as a philosophical position, but he then practically ties himself in knots trying to work out ways in which the most unlikely of the ancients Sophocles might be construed to be atheists it is, nevertheless, interesting and entertaining Whitmarsh writes nicely, only occasionally slipping into flippancy or inserting too many popular references for purposes of illustration into his history His quest to out the atheists of ancient Greece and Rome, if often unconvincing and he is honest enough to conclude his discussions, in most cases, with the recognition that the figures he discusses, while unconventional, would generally not qualify as atheists by most modern standards offers an interesting angle from which to examine a variety of Greek and Roman philosophical and religious positions 3 1 2 stars, rounded up to 4.ETA To clarify, what I mean by polemic is that Whitmarsh is working very hard to establish the ancient Greek and Roman world as one in which, atheism was not treated as a heretical position, the other of true belief it was seen rather as one of the many possible stances one could take on the question of the gods albeit an extreme one It was only in Christian late antiquity that atheism began to be constructed in systematically antithetical terms, as the inverse of proper religion, a threat to the very foundations of human civilization Until that moment borrowing from Assman, we might speak of the Christian distinction atheism was an integral part of the cultural life of Greece Of course, as Socrates, Aristotle, Theodorus of Cyrene, etc discovered, even the ancient Greeks were not consistently open minded about religious disbelief Atheism seems to have been integral in the ancient world in the sense that questioning the nature and or interest of the gods was sometimes done And a few writers openly doubted But integral flag 4 likesLike see review Dec 06, 2015 Philip Koslow rated it it was amazing Professor Whitmarsh has brought an erudite and thorough narrative to light in researching a subject that has been seemingly neglected by mainstream historians primarily focused on the story of antiquity His recent tome, aptly entitled Battling the Gods Atheism In the Ancient World draws on a variety of partial and secondary texts in philosophy, drama and political screeds to highlight the voices of theistic doubt that pervaded the Greek and Roman world environment of pantheism Of immediate Professor Whitmarsh has brought an erudite and thorough narrative to light in researching a subject that has been seemingly neglected by mainstream historians primarily focused on the story of antiquity His recent tome, aptly entitled Battling the Gods Atheism In the Ancient World draws on a variety of partial and secondary texts in philosophy, drama and political screeds to highlight the voices of theistic doubt that pervaded the Greek and Roman world environment of pantheism Of immediate insight is his deconstruction of the much familiar Oedipus the King as a world without divine determination and the will of the gods does not dictate our lives angle that highlights the ongoing fate and free will discussion undermining a great deal of the epic stories credited to Homer And who knew that Diagoras was the first self described atheist in the Greek world In addition, his chapters regarding the famed fate of Socrates as presented to modern readers through his most famous student, Plato deserves commendation And a thoughtful chapter on the rise of Christianity as Rome floundered reinforces the well known trope of monotheism as an exclusionary religion while pantheism remained inclusionary in nature.In all, a very welcome and rather concise 242 page reflection on a little known area of ancient understanding Highly recommended flag 4 likesLike see review View 1 comment Nov 10, 2016 Otto Lehto rated it really liked it I enjoyed the reading of the book, and couldn t put it down I gobbled it up surprisingly quickly, voraciously, because it is written in a very engaging style that immerses you in the ancient history of ideas But you should know a few things about it before you judge whether you want to read it 1 It is streamlined and clearly written for a lay audience It rushes through hundreds of years of Greek and Roman and a bit of Christian history, and it is impossible to tell the whole story in only I enjoyed the reading of the book, and couldn t put it down I gobbled it up surprisingly quickly, voraciously, because it is written in a very engaging style that immerses you in the ancient history of ideas But you should know a few things about it before you judge whether you want to read it 1 It is streamlined and clearly written for a lay audience It rushes through hundreds of years of Greek and Roman and a bit of Christian history, and it is impossible to tell the whole story in only 200 pages Some chapters feel a bit too wikipedia ish or college course ish to my taste.2 Despite the name, it doesn t stray out of the Western Classical context In fact, it treats history as a linear path from Homer to today As such, the title Ancient World is a bit of a misnomer, because there have been many ancient civilizations outside of Europe, which would have deserved a look The worlds of ancient India and China, for example, would have provided wonderful comparative material, because the notion of divinity was differently construed in those societies, and many non Western religions actively disbelieved in personal deities But Whitmarsh only makes passing references to non European contexts This is fine as it is, but should be noted.3 Rather than treating atheism as a topic of purely intellectual and philosophical nature, the act of disbelief is painted in the context of the positive beliefs, common practices and political environments of the times This is a valid approach But the end result is that a lot of the chapters deal about cultural history, or religious schisms, than atheism and agnosticism per se So, reading about the Church s imposition of the Nicene Creed or about the complex political machinations of Roman Emperors is interesting and fun, for sure, but only tangentially related to the topic of atheism, and often told in a way that doesn t shed any new light on well known events.The book is a valid attempt to trace the early history of atheism But its interpretation of the various statements made by the ancient thinkers, and of the world views underlying them, is often superficial, or, when original, contentious There is, then, still an unrequited calling for a massive compendium of ancient atheism, or something a bit scholarly, to give us the full picture But, scholarly shortcomings aside, different standards apply for edutainment books like this, i.e mid brow non fiction books They are to be judged by how well they convey complex historical and philosophical questions to an intelligent lay audience and in this mission Whitmarsh s book is an exceptionally engaging and polished work It feels like a screenplay of a really exciting movie The most curious thing about this movie, where Socrates is killed, and where divinities populate the imagination of humanity, is that we are still actors in it, playing the same drama Atheism, despite the best efforts of many intelligent people, has not become universal, nor religion nullified Yet flag 2 likesLike see review Dec 08, 2015 Chris rated it liked it review of another edition Recommended to Chris by Michelangelo Signorile Shelves nonfiction, history, atheism, religion Battling the Gods meets its design, which, according to the author is for a broad readershipit deals with a millennium of history in a small compass and cannot be comprehensive I will be critical in 242 pages there is room enough only for a summary historical sketch, elaborating only when necessary to connect all the mentioned people and ideas into some topical thread I get the feeling the author had written a larger book that was severely cut down for publication.Tim Whitmarsh i Battling the Gods meets its design, which, according to the author is for a broad readershipit deals with a millennium of history in a small compass and cannot be comprehensive I will be critical in 242 pages there is room enough only for a summary historical sketch, elaborating only when necessary to connect all the mentioned people and ideas into some topical thread I get the feeling the author had written a larger book that was severely cut down for publication.Tim Whitmarsh is a professor of Greek culture at the University of Cambridge and not surprisingly the chapters on Greek religion and atheism are well done, but not nearly detailed enough Much of the material the mythological, theological, and philosophical ideas of all the usual Greek characters from Homer, through the Anaxims, Xenophanes, Herodotus, Protagoras, etc., up to Socrates, Aristotle, and Epicurus has, of course, been covered elsewhere by innumerable authors for centuries, and has been taught to most college students What Whitmarsh adds, however, is a particular focus on atheism, or, as he calls it, battling the gods, which does make the material worth sifting through, at least, to locate the new matter But because of the few pages he has to cover all this, it often appears simply as a elucidation of names and ideas, formatted into paragraphs, a form which is the shallowest kind of history.After using 193 pages 78% of the book on the Greeks, only 50 pages are given to the Romans This was the major failure of the book Whitmarsh s main thesis is that atheism in Greece existed in interconnected pockets, and was influential enough as such, but in Rome grew to something much larger, eventually enraging the Christians by being an example of any belief system which was not Christian The Theodosian Code was promulgated in the Fifth Century AD directly as a result of this It defined Catholic Christianity in opposition to every other belief As Whitmarsh states correctly, The arrival of Catholic Christianity Christianity conjoined with imperial power meant the end of ancient atheism in the West Once it had been established that the paradigm of true versus false religion was the only one that mattered, there was nowhere to place atheism on the map Yes, he rises to his subject in the Roman chapters, but they are much, much too short.I picked up Battling the Gods as an accessory to Gibbon s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire which I m reading now They dovetail, chronologically, quite well, but especially in the light of Gibbon s great work, Whitmarsh s was insufficient.The last word goes to Whitmarsh The apparent rise of atheism in the last two centuries c 1800 now , however, is not a historical anomaly viewed from the longer perspective of ancient history, what is anomalous is the global dominance of monotheistic religions and the resultant inability to acknowledge the existence of disbelievers flag 5 likesLike see review Dec 05, 2015 Peter Caron rated it really liked it Shelves history, philosophy, religion, non fiction This is an approachable book for non academics which, while I enjoyed the style and readability of the text, do not think it quite lived up to its promise It is clear that atheists clearly lived and sometimes thrived in the ancient world, battling seems far too active a word for the denial of theism and the gods What was even clearer, was that as important as non believers were in Greece and Rome, they were marginalised once Catholicism was adopted as the Roman state religion and for the fir This is an approachable book for non academics which, while I enjoyed the style and readability of the text, do not think it quite lived up to its promise It is clear that atheists clearly lived and sometimes thrived in the ancient world, battling seems far too active a word for the denial of theism and the gods What was even clearer, was that as important as non believers were in Greece and Rome, they were marginalised once Catholicism was adopted as the Roman state religion and for the first time, forced people to believe in one faith to the exclusion of all others This, the author demonstrates, was truly revolutionary.All in all, however, I enjoyed this book and can recommend it to all readers interested in atheism in ancient history flag 2 likesLike see review Feb 26, 2016 Goran rated it really liked it If Greek philosophy 101 for me represented a kind of a musty attic, this book makes for a really strong flashlight and many things begin to make sense in its beam Gets a bit longish in the middle with repetition of ideas, but than worth it for the synergistic effect and explanatory power Regarding imperial power and religion, the sad truth of plus a change, plus c est la m me chose shines through as a central idea flag 2 likesLike see review Dec 18, 2015 Rafee Helmy rated it really liked it Very interesting book, graceful and entertaining, Battling the Gods relates the fascinating history of atheism in Greco Roman antiquity, setting contemporary debates about religion and secularism in much needed context. highly recommended flag 2 likesLike see review May 21, 2017 Al Bit rated it it was amazing review of another edition This rather superb, erudite and lucidly written text is pretty much a godsend pardon the pun not only for atheists but also for anyone at all interested in the history and development of critical thinking and intellectual curiosity regarding our dealings with the natural world we live in.Whitmarsh s scholarship is concentrated specifically on the Western tradition, and covers roughly the period from the 7th century BCE until the 5th century CE, when Rome and Christianity took over the Western This rather superb, erudite and lucidly written text is pretty much a godsend pardon the pun not only for atheists but also for anyone at all interested in the history and development of critical thinking and intellectual curiosity regarding our dealings with the natural world we live in.Whitmarsh s scholarship is concentrated specifically on the Western tradition, and covers roughly the period from the 7th century BCE until the 5th century CE, when Rome and Christianity took over the Western world Of the four sections comprising this work, the first three Archaic Greece Classical Athens and The Hellenistic Era are obviously Greek in theme while only the final one Rome gradually moves away from the Greek influences Thus the constraints or limitations of Whitmarsh s research are clearly set out but the richness of this seam of knowledge and its relevance to Western thought quickly becomes apparent.A crucial element of atheism is scepticism In this sense, it follows upon established beliefs such as the polytheism of the Greeks Once one began to question the validity of these beliefs, and the apparent historical irrelevance to actual reality, the suspicion was raised that these beliefs were of a con than anything else Unfortunately, however, these beliefs had by this time become a source of cultural identity, and it became politically correct that adherence to them was essential for political, social and cultural cohesion disagree with that, and one could be accused of being traitorous, if not directly inimical to Greek society as a whole.It did not stop thinkers from coming up with other ideas about the world such as its constitution into the four elements of earth, air, fire and water e.g the pre Socratics or that the world consists of numbers the Pythagoreans or perhaps as the result of various combinations of primal indivisible a tom not cut particles into many material realities e.g Democritus None of these suggestions had any need for any contribution of higher powers Unfortunately these proto scientific approaches did not have the mechanisms or technologies to back up their claims they would not be readily available until after the 16th c CE Despite ridicule and even persecutions, the doubters and sceptics persisted and still do to this day The above are just a few of the interesting aspects covered in Whitmarsh s book and it is important to note that his dealing with them is not presented in any particularly judgemental way his approach is strictly a straight forward historical telling of the history of multi faceted atheism in these ancient times There are also many philosophical as well as theological aspects as well If anything, Hindmarsh is concerned that his readers come away from his work with a better appreciation of how questioning and scepticism not only has a long and illustrious history, but also that these qualities are essential to maintaining a healthy and human balance in even the most modern of societies.I will conclude by offering a kind of off shoot related to this work all religions, by their very definition, will argue for their specific approaches to how one should deal with the world, and that necessarily means they have an inbuilt intolerance for any other interpretation which differs from their own One can only conclude that, as a result, every religion, at its very core, is in some way atheistic itself in regards to the beliefs of any other religion flag 1 likeLike see review May 01, 2017 Tadas Talaikis rated it really liked it What is are god s Randomness, basically And all people have tendency to be Fooled by Randomness People don t control random events fierce gods and people are awarded by random events god s love With the only difference that people, as an evolution programmed safety measure, also have tendency to invent an agency in randomness personification Everything said it means, believers should grow up finally, it s 21st century, we re not kids believing in Santa and other imaginary f What is are god s Randomness, basically And all people have tendency to be Fooled by Randomness People don t control random events fierce gods and people are awarded by random events god s love With the only difference that people, as an evolution programmed safety measure, also have tendency to invent an agency in randomness personification Everything said it means, believers should grow up finally, it s 21st century, we re not kids believing in Santa and other imaginary friends The rise of disbelief isn t anomalous Anomalous are monotheistic religions that are unable to recognize the existence of disbelievers flag 1 likeLike see review Feb 18, 2017 Jeanne rated it it was amazing review of another edition Shelves history, non fiction, favourite, male author, english author, 2010s, owned books, philosophy, religion, greece, ancient history, roman empire, athens, 2017 tbr, 2017 favourites, macedonia With an ample amount of evidence to back up his arguments, Tim Whitmarsh not only discusses the idea of atheism existing in the ancient world but also the differing aspects of ancient Greek and Roman religion itself.I, for one, had never before considered that ancient Greek religion was any different from the religions of today aside from the fact that multiple Gods were worshipped I learned a lot in that aspect.Discussion of religion was allowed, as was theatrical productions of the Gods Th With an ample amount of evidence to back up his arguments, Tim Whitmarsh not only discusses the idea of atheism existing in the ancient world but also the differing aspects of ancient Greek and Roman religion itself.I, for one, had never before considered that ancient Greek religion was any different from the religions of today aside from the fact that multiple Gods were worshipped I learned a lot in that aspect.Discussion of religion was allowed, as was theatrical productions of the Gods There were no sacred texts, Homer could be critiqued for its portrayal of the Gods and save for when it was relevant, religion had no place in Athenian law.And every so often, the popular religion would be critiqued by philosophers which makes sense considering they question everything else Socrates was the most famous of those that questioned religion as he was executed after being accused of disbelieving in the Gods.To say the least, I really enjoyed this book I learned a lot about a topic I thought I was fairly well versed in and I found the writing to be extremely engaging and readable To top it off, Tim Whitmarsh also provides historical context for each area and the reading is never left wondering who is who.I should mention, however, that there is a definite focus on ancient Greece and that the section on Rome could be easily expanded That particular aspect didn t matter all that much to me but I know some are interested in Rome than I and would prefer an expanded section flag 1 likeLike see review Jul 31, 2016 Tom rated it really liked it Fascinating I had no idea atheism existed in the ancient world to the extent presented in this enlightening book Mr Whitmarsh definitely knows his subject and explains the various strains of philosophy and religion in a compelling and adroit manner I like the way he takes the history of non belief all the way from the ancient Greek and Hellenic world up to the conversion of the Roman empire into a Catholic, Christian state Anyone interested in the history of religions should appreciate this Fascinating I had no idea atheism existed in the ancient world to the extent presented in this enlightening book Mr Whitmarsh definitely knows his subject and explains the various strains of philosophy and religion in a compelling and adroit manner I like the way he takes the history of non belief all the way from the ancient Greek and Hellenic world up to the conversion of the Roman empire into a Catholic, Christian state Anyone interested in the history of religions should appreciate this book flag 1 likeLike see review Jan 07, 2016 Doug Newdick rated it really liked it review of another edition Shelves history of ideas Whitmarsh draws together disparate evidence from a range of sources mainly literary and philosophical to show that atheism was a live part off the intellectual scene in ancient Greece and Rome His aim is to show that atheism is not just a recent, western phenomenon, but a widespread response to rational questioning of conventional religious beliefs and practices At the same time he illuminates those religious practices and contrasts them with contemporary western culture He shows that there Whitmarsh draws together disparate evidence from a range of sources mainly literary and philosophical to show that atheism was a live part off the intellectual scene in ancient Greece and Rome His aim is to show that atheism is not just a recent, western phenomenon, but a widespread response to rational questioning of conventional religious beliefs and practices At the same time he illuminates those religious practices and contrasts them with contemporary western culture He shows that there is to atheism than the sterile dualism of militant atheism and its reaction flag 1 likeLike see review Apr 06, 2016 Kathy Chumley rated it it was ok review of another edition Shelves read in 2016, baw suggestions I was looking forward to this book but found it too academic and textbook ish It s obvious the author is passionate about the subject, but in my opinion he would have reached people if it had been written in a less scholarly manner The only reason I finished it is because I was interested in the subject and there really aren t any books out there that cover atheism among the ancients I would not recommend it for general reading flag 1 likeLike see review Dec 26, 2015 Matthew rated it it was amazing Interesting read Although I was already aware of the differences between the ancients Greek and Roman and modern attitudes toward religion, it was interesting to be exposed to those that were atheist and agnostics flag 1 likeLike see review Feb 04, 2016 Andrea Way rated it it was amazing Really enjoyed this book I really enjoy anything based on history flag 1 likeLike see review Dec 12, 2016 Stan Prager rated it really liked it review of another edition Review of Battling the Gods Atheism in the Ancient World, by Tim Whitmarshby Stan Prager 4 17 16 How do we define atheism today What exactly constitutes an atheist Although I am not a believer in magical sky gods, I avoid describing myself as an atheist, which not only has a bit of an arrogant ring to it but these days is additionally burdened by the negative fallout from the militant atheism actually anti theism of a Richard Dawkins or a Bill Maher, as of late further tarnished by Review of Battling the Gods Atheism in the Ancient World, by Tim Whitmarshby Stan Prager 4 17 16 How do we define atheism today What exactly constitutes an atheist Although I am not a believer in magical sky gods, I avoid describing myself as an atheist, which not only has a bit of an arrogant ring to it but these days is additionally burdened by the negative fallout from the militant atheism actually anti theism of a Richard Dawkins or a Bill Maher, as of late further tarnished by blatant Islamophobia On the other hand, agnostic sounds a bit tentative, so I coined my own term, dogmatic skeptic, to sum up my outlook in this regard My point here is that while there are lots of variations of the religious experience, there may be just as many varieties and degrees of non belief un belief Armed with a stunningly encyclopedic knowledge of ancient times, renowned Classicist Tim Whitmarsh sets out in Battling the Gods Atheism in the Ancient World to establish that atheism is not only a post Enlightenment phenomenon but has as well a solid foundation in the remote past There are problems almost from the very start Once , how do we define atheism If one rejects established religion, does that establish them as atheist Hardly Plato rejected the Olympian pantheon, but he believed in mysterious perfect forms and a vague supreme being, so he was hardly atheist And we know a lot about Plato from the relatively large body of his work that has survived In contrast, most of what we know about the rest of the ancient world is fragmentary, so much interpretation is required, and whenever possible Whitmarsh interprets to suit his thesis What if all we had were portions of Martin Luther s Ninety five Theses challenging the Roman Catholic Church on indulgences We might conclude that Luther was an atheist, but we would of course be very wrong I would take this one step further there remains a heated debate in some circles of twenty first century American historiography as to the religious beliefs, or lack thereof, of the various Founders, with some even asserting that Jefferson or Madison were atheists, and others vigorously challenging that notion In this case, we have a vast collection of writings both by the subjects in question and by those who knew them intimately, yet much dispute remains This is further complicated by the fact that spiritual beliefs can change dramatically over a lifetime many become devout as they grow older and mortality looms A perfect example is Hamilton, a devoted Presbyterian in his youth who seemed to lose interest in religion entirely during the Revolution he later briefly flirted with Deism according to biographer Ron Chernow , and yet on his deathbed spoke with great passion about his commitment to a loving god These men lived only a little than a couple of centuries ago, yet there remains great ambiguity How can we then reach back thousands of years with fragmentary evidence and make pronouncements with such certainty Whitmarsh takes us on an extremely well written and often delightful tour of the philosophical and religious realms of the ancient Mediterranean in his studied attempt to turn up committed atheists, but leaves me mostly unconvinced, not because they did not exist but because after all he presents little incontrovertible evidence of their presence The author himself hints at them than locating them in their respective haystacks At one point, Whitmarsh cites the famous rhetorical flourish of the pre Socratic philosopher Xenophanes Now if cows, horses or lions had hands, and were able to draw with those hands and create things as humans do, horses would draw gods in the form of horses, and cows in the form of cows, and create bodies just like they had Yet, on the very next page he concedes that Xenophanes, a believer in one god, greatest among gods and mortals, not at all like mortals in body or thought, is hardly the atheist the former quotation might suggest p60 61 Battling the Gods is replete with such material I have no reason to doubt that there were atheists at the very dawn of the human experience, but I remain unconvinced that they ever comprised than a very tiny minority I would also grant that this number may have been greater during the heyday of ancient Greek and Roman scientific inquiry, but if in the twentieth first century at the height of modern science and medicine so many billions stubbornly cling to supernatural beliefs, we should not be surprised if these numbers were dramatically larger in the days when the forces of earthquakes and lightening remained objects of some great and terrible mystery I was a bit troubled by the treatment of Socrates in this work, whom Whitmarsh buzzes around tenuously in dozens of references We all know that Socrates was charged with impiety More specifically according to Xenophon s Memorabilia for refusing to recognize the gods acknowledged by the state, and importing strange divinities of his own he is further guilty of corrupting the young but there is a consensus among historians that this was but a pretext to punish the great gadfly for his former association with members of the Thirty Tyrants, the Spartan supported reactionary regime that came to briefly rule Athens after her defeat in the Peloponnesian War, and especially his one time pupil, Critias, their cruel leader Whitmarsh makes much of the fact that the existence of the capital charge of impiety had to imply that there was a wealth of the impious, but I find him careless in failing to underscore that Socrates was hardly an example of the same The charges levied against Socrates, however, do raise an issue that Whitmarsh barely explores but perhaps buttresses his thesis if you could likely be put to death simply for challenging religious orthodoxy never mind atheism in an unusually open society like the Athenian polis, few would advertise such proclivities nor leave written confirmation of the same Thus, as they say, absence of evidence is hardly evidence of absence Susan Jacoby s marvelous book Freethinkers resurrects the relatively large cast of agnostics that publically populated nineteenth century America, but they lived in a free society where they could perhaps be shunned but not jailed or burned at the stake You would hardly expect to find something similar elsewhere on the globe back then, or in such places as Saudi Arabia today Atheist remains a dirty word in the United States in 2016, but at least in Massachusetts you cannot be stoned to death for proclaiming yourself one Remarkably, while I often found Battling the Gods to lack focus and ultimately concluded that Whitmarsh failed to substantively make his case, I still enjoyed reading this book for the author s wide acquaintance and articulate commentary upon philosophy, religion and ancient history I would caution that some background in these disciplines is requisite in order for the reader to properly place the narrative in context, as this volume is hardly suitable for the general audience Finally, I would note that while I agree with Whitmarsh that atheism is not purely a modern phenomenon, I would maintain that in the past its adherents likely remained lurking quietly at the periphery, even much so than they do today My review appears on my book blog at flag Like see review Jan 10, 2017 Isaac Baker rated it it was amazing Shelves library books Over the past decade or so, much screen space has been consumed by hand wringing over the New Atheist movement This cabal, so goes the trope, led by the late Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and Sam Harris, is injecting a novel and venomous form of atheism into our discussion about religious faith I have my own problems with the most outspoken and prominent atheists all being privileged white Western men, but I don t buy into most of the critique of the New Atheist movement Atheism Over the past decade or so, much screen space has been consumed by hand wringing over the New Atheist movement This cabal, so goes the trope, led by the late Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and Sam Harris, is injecting a novel and venomous form of atheism into our discussion about religious faith I have my own problems with the most outspoken and prominent atheists all being privileged white Western men, but I don t buy into most of the critique of the New Atheist movement Atheism is as old as the hills But atheism evolves as time goes on, due in some part to the fact that scientists are constantly making new discoveries that fill the gaping holes left by vapid religious explanations Lighting used to be the realm of the divine meteorology snuffed that out Disease was once God inflicted now we have germ theory Neuroscience shows us all sorts of fascinating things about how we incorporate new ideas into existing paradigms Contrast this with theology, the only ogy field of study that never receives new data Theologians riff on other theologians take on other theologians take on Holy Scriptures But it s all copies of copies of copies Nothing new, just the same things said in sometimes novel ways Maybe atheism seems new because and people are stepping out of the shadows and saying publicly and, yes, sometimes loudly , No I don t buy this I ve been fascinated by skepticism for many years, and I ve often wondered what it would ve been like to be a doubter, a skeptic, an atheist in ancient times Sure we have Enlightenment thinkers, who faced their own tribulations, but what about further back Like way back Ancient Greece, perhaps This is where Tim Whitmarsh s book Battling the Gods Atheism in the Ancient World comes in It is a fascinating foray into the ancient roots of skepticism and atheism Whitmarsh is a professor of Greek Culture at Cambridge, and this is where he focuses his dissection of religious disbelief This book thus represents a kind of archaeology of religious skepticism, he writes And it s a wonderful archaeological dig According to Whitmarsh, the notion that atheism is new is a modernist vanity The history of atheism matters because, as Whitmarsh puts it History confers authority and legitimacy He continues The deep history of atheism is then in part a human rights issue it is about recognizing atheists as real people deserving of respect, tolerance, and the opportunity to live their lives unmolested I like Whitmarsh s nuanced approach in almost everything he analyzes He seems like a seasoned explorer posing questions to Greek history and trying to answer them as best he can, as opposed to someone vigorously defending a thesis and cherry picking evidence to support it As far as the scope of his analysis, Whitmarsh kicks off with pre Socratic philosophers and ends around the Third Century AD He deals largely with partial first sources recordkeeping of ancient atheism wasn t very good and secondary sources.Much of the book focuses on how atheists relate to the fluid belief systems of Greek polytheism These Olympian views, he explains, were diverse and maintained unique regional qualities, leaving much open to interpretation and, also, dissent Greek polytheism, he says, was not designed for personal communion with the divine, and, legal judgment was never theologized in Ancient Greece Contrast this with the theocratic monotheism of later Christendom, which puts up firm barriers between insider and outsider the one god demands absolute loyalty Only in Christian late antiquity did atheism begin to be, constructed in systematically antithetical terms, as the inverse of popular religion Epic poems of Homer and Odysseus were revered but were not considered scripture they were hotly debated and playfully satirized This led to the freedom to explore the texts without fear of blasphemy or state sponsored retribution for heresy Whitmarsh explains how, the nonscriptural nature of Greek epic poems had a significant effect on the development of logical thought, as Greeks felt free to doubt the historicity of some of the unrealistic elements of the myth But all was not well for religious doubters There was definitely some pushback from religious and state institutions, although nothing like the persecution that would be meted out by Christendom Whitmarsh writes What the Athenian example shows is that even within Greek polytheism, a flexible and adaptive system, the mixture of religion, law, and imperialism was a potentially toxic one It s impossible to label the first prominent atheist, but Whitmarsh offers up than a few suggestions of Greek skeptics, doubters, and those who question the existence of the gods The pre Socratic philosopher Hippo of Samos certainly gained a reputation as an atheist Aristotle blasted him for being a strict materialist The Skeptic Sextus is fascinating, and Whitmarsh claims he supplied the, most important evidence for a sustained, coherent attack on the existence of gods in intiquity Lucretius the Epicurean was a strict naturalist and pointed out that heinous acts committed in the name of religion would be condemned in any other area of life Lucian came later AD 120 180 and skewered and mocked the new cult of Christianity All of these free thinking heroes offer modern day atheists a lot to ponder By the second century AD atheism, in the full, modern sense had acquired full legitimacy as a philosophical idea, the author writes Unfortunately, this trend toward open criticism of religion would be crushed Constantine did his part to make the Roman Empire a Christian one, while later emperors like Theodosius I forced all Romans to worship in the specific Nicaean Christian context The Christianization of the Roman Empire, writes Whitmarsh, put an end to serious philosophical atheism for over a millennium Over the next centuries, there were surely countless skeptics, doubters, blasphemers and other rabble rousers who did their part to fight back against authoritarian theocracy But they likely did not survive the same goes for any of their writings And this is where Whitmarsh ends his analysis I ll leave him to finish off with a closing remark Individuals surely experienced doubt and disbelief, just as they always have in all cultures, but they were invisible to dominant society and so have left no trace in the historical record It is this blind spot that has sustained the illusion that disbelief outside of the post Enlightenment West is unthinkable The apparent rise of atheism in the last two centuries, however, is not a historical anomaly viewed from the longer perspective of ancient history, what is anomalous is the global dominance of monotheistic religions and the resultant inability to acknowledge the existence of disbelievers I highly recommend this book to both theists and atheists with curiosity in these matters flag Like see review Aug 13, 2017 Harv rated it it was amazing Shelves history This book is a masterclass in the history of the philosophical battle within religion The first thing to think about is that this book is not strictly, in any, about religion and atheism in ancient Greece and Rome, rather a trip into the past to draw parallels to the religious tension that have plagued the globe since early modern history, and of course along that journey we learn of the birth of Christian fundamentalism in the Western sphere.This is a heavy book, and most people who are not st This book is a masterclass in the history of the philosophical battle within religion The first thing to think about is that this book is not strictly, in any, about religion and atheism in ancient Greece and Rome, rather a trip into the past to draw parallels to the religious tension that have plagued the globe since early modern history, and of course along that journey we learn of the birth of Christian fundamentalism in the Western sphere.This is a heavy book, and most people who are not studying the contact of cultures and the interplay of beliefs may well not enjoy it as much as I did, but Thought this book was brilliantly put together, and brilliantly written flag Like see review Jul 04, 2017 Eric rated it it was amazing review of another edition A comprehensive review of atheism and skepticism in the ancient world Clearly written and citing numerous sources, Whitmarsh explores the history of atheism in ancient Greece and the Roman Empire He clearly skews towards the classical Greek literature due to its effect on modern thought, and due to the official adoption of Christianity in the late Roman era, which suppressed both atheism and polytheism A highly recommended book flag Like see review Jun 01, 2017 Jesika rated it liked it review of another edition Shelves academic research, non fiction An accessible and equally comprehensive account of the origins of modern atheism This book clarifies the meaning of atheistic thought, social importance and historical context from classical Athens through to the Roman Empire It is a good start for anyone interested and makes analysing primary sources the General reader may not have read look easy flag Like see review Jun 21, 2017 Kiseruyoru rated it liked it Shelves 2017 Stuff worth knowing, not so sure it s worth reading you know Just dry On the flip side, the arguments put forth are actually contained in real historical argument rather than absolute, extreme, or otherwise rather pointless assertions flag Like see review Aug 14, 2017 sillypunk rated it it was amazing Soooo good flag Like see review Aug 19, 2017 Elisabeth rated it liked it review of another edition Tror denne ville f tt en ekstra stjerne fra meg om jeg hadde visst LITT mer om emnet fra f r Men har l rt masse her flag Like see review Aug 03, 2017 Alexandra Schae rated it did not like it I was disapointed by the lack of substantial primary sources not that that is the author s fault flag Like see review May 10, 2017 Kirttimukha TheCat rated it really liked it Shelves 2017 read This is definitely an academic book rather than a fun read, but it s very informative and enlightening about the history of Atheism in the western world flag Like see review Mar 09, 2017 Matt Hunt rated it liked it Shelves religion, non fiction, mythology, history, philosophy, 2017 This a really interesting book I would have rated it higher but I really struggle with these history books which are full of names and names and names and I can remember who anyone is and it all gets an it complicated Sometimes the ideas got a bit lost in the detailing of events too, but I guess someone else might find this okay I didn t find it preachy or anything like that Just a nice pile of thoughts and facts and commentary 5 stars if I wasn t dyslexic and Greek memes weren t really har This a really interesting book I would have rated it higher but I really struggle with these history books which are full of names and names and names and I can remember who anyone is and it all gets an it complicated Sometimes the ideas got a bit lost in the detailing of events too, but I guess someone else might find this okay I didn t find it preachy or anything like that Just a nice pile of thoughts and facts and commentary 5 stars if I wasn t dyslexic and Greek memes weren t really hard to read and pretty confusing I dunno, maybe flag Like see review Feb 26, 2017 Jenny rated it really liked it Well researched, and well written I find it comforting that even though atheists may not be well represented in history, or for that matter, now , we have been around forever Polytheism and monotheism have been a part of human history almost as long as there have been humans These belief systems have been intertwined with politics for almost as long as that It is no wonder that atheism gets short shrift when there is no way to frighten or cajole an unbeliever into a behavior that a governme Well researched, and well written I find it comforting that even though atheists may not be well represented in history, or for that matter, now , we have been around forever Polytheism and monotheism have been a part of human history almost as long as there have been humans These belief systems have been intertwined with politics for almost as long as that It is no wonder that atheism gets short shrift when there is no way to frighten or cajole an unbeliever into a behavior that a government or a religious power wants.This book covers archaic Greece through Roman times, religion and philosophy It covers the monotheistic world of ancient Greece, where it was not uncommon to challenge the gods, or even deny them, through the rise of the personality cults that became the powerful monotheistic religions of today, where it became unheard of to deny the existence of deities Worth a read if you like ancient history, or books about religion or the lack thereof flag Like see review previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 next new topicDiscuss This Book topics posts views last activity Goodreads Authors Battling the Gods by Tim Whitmarsh 1 7 Mar 13, 2016 08 59AM More topics Recommend It Stats Recent Status Updates Readers Also Enjoyed.



Battling the Gods Reviews

Battling the Gods
Emma

Fascinating exploration of the role and relevance of atheism from the time of Homer to the Christianised Roman Empire Whitmarsh provides a readable and convincing case that atheism was not only evident in, but important to, ways of thinking in the Ancient World He works chronologically through the extant evidence, primarily textual works of tragedians, philosophers, historians and , that deal with the form and meaning of the divine in Greece and Rome The Greeks had no sacred texts or dete

Battling the Gods
Peter Mcloughlin

Pssst Atheists have been around a lot longer than Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris Atheism existed in the ancient world Anyone familiar with Epicurus knows this fact but the author brings into focus Atheists that existed in the classical world I knew a lot of this history but it is nice to see it the focus of book With talk about God genes and natural propensities to religion, could it be that a small varying minority of humanity had a natural predisposition to disbelieve Unbelievers se

Battling the Gods
Caterina

An excellent portrayal of atheism in antiquity covering than a thousand years of free thinking and disbelief The author wishes to prove that the rise of atheism as it evolved in the last two centuries is not a phenomenon of the modern era, and he does so by exploring writings of several ancient scholars, philosophers and scientists The ancient Greeks had no sacred texts, no particular moral codes invested in religion, while priests and priestesses were there only for the occasional ritual

Battling the Gods
Melora

While this was a bit of a polemic than I d anticipated Whitmarsh claims in his Preface that it is not my aim to prove the truth or indeed falsehood of atheism as a philosophical position, but he then practically ties himself in knots trying to work out ways in which the most unlikely of the ancients Sophocles might be construed to be atheists it is, nevertheless, interesting and entertaining Whitmarsh writes nicely, only occasionally slipping into flippancy or inserting too many

Battling the Gods
Philip Koslow

Professor Whitmarsh has brought an erudite and thorough narrative to light in researching a subject that has been seemingly neglected by mainstream historians primarily focused on the story of antiquity His recent tome, aptly entitled Battling the Gods Atheism In the Ancient World draws on a variety of partial and secondary texts in philosophy, drama and political screeds to highlight the voices of theistic doubt that pervaded the Greek and Roman world environment of pantheism Of immediate

Battling the Gods
Otto Lehto

I enjoyed the reading of the book, and couldn t put it down I gobbled it up surprisingly quickly, voraciously, because it is written in a very engaging style that immerses you in the ancient history of ideas But you should know a few things about it before you judge whether you want to read it 1 It is streamlined and clearly written for a lay audience It rushes through hundreds of years of Greek and Roman and a bit of Christian history, and it is impossible to tell the whole story in only

Battling the Gods
Chris

Battling the Gods meets its design, which, according to the author is for a broad readershipit deals with a millennium of history in a small compass and cannot be comprehensive I will be critical in 242 pages there is room enough only for a summary historical sketch, elaborating only when necessary to connect all the mentioned people and ideas into some topical thread I get the feeling the author had written a larger book that was severely cut down for publication.Tim Whitmarsh i

Battling the Gods
Peter Caron

This is an approachable book for non academics which, while I enjoyed the style and readability of the text, do not think it quite lived up to its promise It is clear that atheists clearly lived and sometimes thrived in the ancient world, battling seems far too active a word for the denial of theism and the gods What was even clearer, was that as important as non believers were in Greece and Rome, they were marginalised once Catholicism was adopted as the Roman state religion and for the fir

Battling the Gods
Goran

If Greek philosophy 101 for me represented a kind of a musty attic, this book makes for a really strong flashlight and many things begin to make sense in its beam Gets a bit longish in the middle with repetition of ideas, but than worth it for the synergistic effect and explanatory power Regarding imperial power and religion, the sad truth of plus a change, plus c est la m me chose shines through as a central idea.

Battling the Gods
Rafe'e Helmy

Very interesting book, graceful and entertaining, Battling the Gods relates the fascinating history of atheism in Greco Roman antiquity, setting contemporary debates about religion and secularism in much needed context. highly recommended

thumbnail Title: Battling the Gods
Author:Tim Whitmarsh
ISBN :0307958337
ranting: 3.5
Reviewer: 95 Reviews
Description: How new is atheism Although adherents and opponents alike today present it as an invention of the European Enlightenment, when the forces of science and secularism broadly challenged those of faith, d

7218 Users Online Now