Agnosticism/Atheism Quotes

How do I define God? I don't. Divinities have been understood in various ways in the cultural traditions that we know. Take, say, the core of the established religions today: the Bible. It is basically polytheistic, with the warrior God demanding of his chosen people that they not worship the other Gods and destroy those who do -- in an extremely brutal way, in fact. It would be hard to find a more genocidal text in the literary canon, or a more violent and destructive character than the God who was to be worshipped. So that's one definition.

In the Prophets, one finds (sometimes) a different conception, much more humane. That's why the Prophets (the 'dissident intellectuals' of their day) were persecuted, imprisoned, driven into the desert, etc. -- other reasons included their geopolitical analysis, unwelcome to power. The intellectuals who were honored and privileged were those who centuries later were called 'false prophets.' More or less a cultural universal. There were different conceptions of divinity associated with these tendencies, and Greek and Zoroastrian influences are probable causes for later monotheistic tendencies (how one evaluates these are a different matter).

Looking beyond, we find other conceptions, of many kinds. But I have nothing to propose. People who find such conceptions important for themselves have every right to frame them as they like. Personally, I don't. That's why you haven't found my 'thoughts on this [for you] criticaI question.' I have none, because I see no need for them (apart from the -- often extremely interesting and revealing -- inquiry into human culture an history).
- Noam Chomsky

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