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PostReligion and Sexual Taboos: Reflections from a Visit to Athens (Istvan Simon, USA, 01/02/18 4:52 am)
I just would like to respond to Hank Levin (29 December 2017) that I am in 100% agreement with all that he said in his post.
I try to respect everyone's beliefs in religious matters, because I think that it is perfectly OK with me that we may have completely different views on these matters. To me it is obvious that Hank is completely right that the faith of people tends to be completely determined by their indocrination and brain-washing as children in the beliefs of their parents. I am very grateful to my parents, that they did not ever try to brainwash me, and gave complete freedom for me to find my own thoughts on these matters.
In a future WAIS post I might address of what those thoughts are, as I thought a great deal about the existence or not of God and I think that my ideas are somewhat original in this subject.
I just spent 3 days in Athens and I was struck by the art on tombs dating back to many thousands of years. The Ancient Greeks, whom I admire perhaps more than any people on Earth, were extraordinarily talented in almost every human activity. They were polytheists, and Greek mythology offers a guidance into their thoughts on the supernatural. The Museum of Archaeology in Athens is an extraordinary museum, a real eye-opener on the amazing accomplishments of the extraordinarily gifted Ancient Greeks.
As far as I know, no other people ever accomplished as much in as little time as the Ancient Greeks. Yet their beliefs in the supernatural may strike us today as "primitive," because they believed in multiple gods. Perhaps this is more of a warning and a reflection on our judgmental arrogance in believing that ours is the best way, the more so considering what the Greeks accomplished. We must give them further recognition and honors when we reflect on the fact that there were so few of them, and yet their contributions to mankind were nothing less than monumental.
Back to the art on tombs. Maybe the religious feelings of humans come in part from our feelings of missing our loved ones when they die. Often the art on the tombs of the Greeks were statues of the deceased. Was this not a desire to preserve their visage for posterity, giving a kind of immortality to all? Is this the origin of the belief in many religions of life after death in a "better world"? And if the deceased are in a "better world," why do we mourn them rather than celebrate their deaths? This strikes me as completely contradictory.
Personally, I do not believe in afterlife, so at least my mourning makes at least to me logical sense, and seems rational.
Some further random thoughts. I bought a little book on Eros at the museum of the Acropolis. I already knew most of what's in it, but reading some passages in this book gave me further reflections and thoughts. It is clear that the Ancient Greeks were much more liberal about sex than we are. Clearly, there was no shame attached to sex of any kind, so much so that they decorated their vases with graphic depictions of all kinds of sex, including sex that our culture abhors today. The Greeks, at least some of them, practiced pederasty, homosexuality, sex with prostitutes was normal and common, and in fact they had a hierarchy of prostitutes, harlots, courtesans, etc., from the lowest to increasingly higher forms of prostitution, some of which were very highly rewarded by the Greeks in society with material riches showered on these women.
So all this raised some questions in my mind, which seem relevant to our discussions on God. For if our culture is right, and pederasty is bad and immoral, and in fact in the case of minors it is against the law, so let us suppose for the sake of argument, that God exists and condemns these acts as immoral. If so, why were the Greeks so accomplished? The Bible story of Sodom and Gomorrah is supposed to teach us about what sex is not tolerated by God. Yet God not only tolerated this with the Greeks, but rewarded them with all these exceptional accomplishments in many many fields.
JE comments: I can't add much to a discussion on sexual taboos, although all societies have them. Sex between siblings is another example: the practice was encouraged in places like Hawaii and Ancient Peru, and legend has it that our insatiable ancestor Charlemagne had sex with his sister and possibly his daughters. I'll add an unintellectual comment about Chuck the Great: eww.
Happy New Year, Istvan, and please: tell us more about your travels!