Friday, July 10, 2009
Those Whom Cannot Draw On Three Thousand Years Of History, Are Living From Hand To Mouth
A completely new way of thinking evolved in Greece about six hundred years before the birth of Christ. Until that time people had found answers to all their questions in various religions. These religious explanations were handed down from generation to generation in the form of myths.
Now mortals could not just sit idly by and wait for the gods to intervene while catastrophes such as drought or plague loomed. They had to act for themselves in the struggle against evil. They did this by performing various religious ceremonies, or rites. One can easily imagine how people's response to a drought or crop failure would be to enact a drama about the event. Perhaps a man from the village would dress up in the most ridicules costume one could imagine and dance around like he had a hot coal on his ass. By doing this, people were taking some action to make it rain so the crops would grow in their fields.
A mythological world existed in Greece when the first philosophy was evolving. The stories of the Greek gods had been handed down from generation to generation for centuries. In Greece the gods were called Zeus and Apollo, Hera and Athene, Dionysos and Ascle-pios, Heracles and Hephaestos, to mention only a few of them.
Around 700 B.C., much of the Greek mythology was written down by Homer and Hesiod. Now that the myths existed in written form, it was possible to discuss them.
The earliest Greek philosophers criticized Homer's mythology because the gods resembled mortals too much and were just as egoistic and treacherous. For the first time it was said that the myths were nothing but human notions. By man creating the gods in their own image, they had bodies and clothes and they spoke the same language as those who created them.
The earliest Greek philosophers came along around 500BC and were called natural philosophers because they were mainly concerned with the natural world and its processes instead of mythological superstitions.
One of these philosophers was Parmenides (c. 540-480 B.C.). Parmenides thought that everything that exists had always existed. Everything that existed in the world was everlasting. Nothing can come out of nothing, and nothing that exists can become nothing. His viewpoint on human reason is called rationalism and the primary source of our knowledge of the world.
Another philosopher to come along was Democritus and he conceived that everything was made up of atoms. Democritus agreed with his predecessors that transformations in nature could not be due to the fact that anything actually "changed." He therefore assumed that everything was built up of tiny invisible blocks, each of which was eternal and immutable. Democritus called these smallest units atoms.
The word "a-tom" means "un-cuttable." For Democritus it was all-important to establish that the constituent parts that everything else was composed of could not be divided indefinitely into smaller parts. Moreover, nature's blocks had to be eternal because nothing can come from nothing. Democritus believed that nature consisted of an unlimited number and variety of atoms.
Yes, Democritus developed the concept of the atom 2500 years ago and what is surprising to me is that there are some of extreme, fanatical, religious faith who still do not believe in this science fact. Today we can establish that Democritus' atom theory was more or less correct. Nature really is built up of different "atoms" that join and separate again. Democritus did not believe in any "force" or "soul" that could intervene in natural processes. The only things that existed, he believed, were atoms and the void. Since he believed in nothing but material things, we call him a materialist. According to Democritus, there is no conscious "design" in the movement of atoms. In nature, everything happens quite mechanically. This does not mean that everything happens randomly, for everything obeys the inevitable laws of necessity. Everything that happens has a natural cause that is inherent in the thing itself.
Some say in humor is what separates man from the animals is the desire to dress up in silly costumes and expound illogical superstitions as religious faith. For these people, their viewpoint is if you believe in Christianity, it was called "faith," but if you believe in another religion, astrology, or even Friday the thirteenth it is superstition! But who has the right to call other people's beliefs superstitions in these examples, when others see both as the same without any difference? Yet even today there are many who try to force their extreme religious beliefs on others because of their superstition mandates them to do so.
Democritus did not believed in this fate. He was a materialist. He only believed in atoms and empty space. The true faith in Science Fact.