Sertorio wrote: ↑
Thu May 28, 2020 3:27 am
cassowary wrote: ↑
Wed May 27, 2020 10:31 pm
neverfail wrote: ↑
Wed May 27, 2020 6:35 am
Roman civilization was pagan as well as stocic. Very likely the multitude of deities they recognised and whose intercession they sought did not hold them accountable in the next life for the sins and Grace's of this one:. unlike the God of Jews and Christians.
You are right. Their gods were amoral. So they did not inspire good behavior with their human worshippers. The Christian conception of a loving Father in heaven inspires compassion but also sternness against wrongdoing.
You may be surprised to know that most stoics were theist and believed in a divine being - Zeus - who was the spiritual component of the Universe. Zeus had created everything which was necessary for people to do "good" rather than "evil" and, being rational, people would tend to choose being "good" - which meant being in accord with nature - because being "good" would make them happy, and being happy was the objective of everybody. But because people are free they could choose not doing "good", but then they would end up unhappy.
I didn't know this. Are you sure? I always thought that Greek and Roman gods were amoral. They did not care for right or wrong. They just did whatever they felt like doing and thus made bad examples for humans. For example, here is how Zeus (or if you like Jupiter, the Roman name) behaved:
Here are the stories about Zeus.
I will just pick one for you to get flavor of the beliefs of pagans in ancient Greece and Rome:
#3 ZEUS AND HERA
Hera was one of the sisters of Zeus. Zeus fell in love with her but she refused his advances. Zeus knew that Hera had great love for animals and other beings. He transformed himself in a cuckoo, flew outside her window and pretended to be in distress due to the cold. Hera felt pity for the bird, took it inside and held it to her breast to warm it. Zeus then transformed back into himself and raped her. Hera, ashamed of being exploited, agreed to marriage with Zeus.
How did that inspire good moral behavior among the ancients? Incest and rape. No wonder ancient Romans were so screwed up. It took Christianity to straighten out European society.
By the way, many Chinese gods were also bad examples though none raped and committed incest. The one I am familiar with is the Kitchen God
, whom my wise granny worshipped. Here is a story about him:
It is believed that on the twenty third day of the twelfth lunar month, just before Chinese New Year, the Kitchen God returns to Heaven to report the activities of every household over the past year to Yu Huang, the Jade Emperor. The Jade Emperor, emperor of the heavens, either rewards or punishes a family based on the Kitchen God's yearly report.
Offerings of food and incense are made to Zao Jun on his birthday (the third day of the eighth lunar month) and also on the twenty third day (or twenty fourth day) of the twelfth lunar month, which marks his return to Heaven to give his New Year's report to the Jade Emperor. On this day, the lips of Zao Jun's paper effigy are often smeared with honey to sweeten his words to Yu Huang (Jade Emperor), or to keep his lips stuck together.
The practice in my household was slightly different. Granny would bake a sticky cake for the Kitchen God to either get his lips stuck or to bribe him.
With a god like that, it is no wonder that there is so much corruption in China. If gods can be bribed, so can human officials in the government. But at least, the Jade Emperor wanted people to do good. The old Chinese religion was thus better than the ancient Greek and Roman religion.
In my opinion Stoicism favourably compares with Christianity, because it has a very strong code of ethics without imposing a vengeful, demanding God. It's a very good combination of ethics and liberty, based on Man's rationality.
The interesting thing is that Zeus did not want to force people being "good" nor did he threaten people with all sort of punishments if they didn't. The other very interesting thing is that stoicism didn't foster the need for a mediating clergy. Relations between Zeus and Man were strictly personal, and based on freedom. The multitude of "gods", popular in Rome, did not concern stoics and stoicism.
If Zeus did not force people to be good by threatening punishments for misbehavior or rewarding them for good behavior, then he was totally ineffective to motivate people to do good and avoid evil. That common practice in the ancient Greeks and Romans was that they would make sacrifices to motivate the gods to do things that they wanted. So instead of being motivated by their gods to do good, they sought to motivate the gods to grant them their desires - more money, power or girls.
I don't see how this motivated people to do good. Besides that, there was an adverse economic impact. I believe that the animal sacrifices were burnt. It might create demand for farm products but it was also a waste of food causing some poor people to become hungry.
Admit it Sertorio. The Christian faith improved European society.