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Is there proof of God?

I spend the occasional part of my waking hours on a University campus, a very minimal but nevertheless important portion of time. From time to time, when I am not so rushed, I sit outside of the building where my office is eight stories up, barely populated and very quiet by the time I arrive. The same routine awaited: elevator up the many floors, a quick check into the mailroom to see if I had any campus mail, and then off to the classroom. I only had about ten minutes to myself before I had to be in a classroom, but I decided to delay outside as long as possible because something about the bustling university, even under cover of dark, brings life to me. Scholars shuffling here and there, books in hand, speaking to one another about assignments and professors, some studying, some doing homework, others merely enjoying the communal nature of campus.

I sat on a low half wall thumbing through a volume that I teach from, passing through chapters of progressive economic policy and war with disinterest. Merely passing the time, but too unused to idle time to not pursue something academic, even if it was only with my eyes and not my mind.

It was in this short span of time that two young women approached me. I only noticed their arrival when the leader of the pair, a short blonde girl, greeted me and asked in a quick breath if I had any time to spare to help them with a school project. It was all done so quickly that it disarmed me, which I think was the unintentional intent. I informed them that I had only a few minutes to spare but I would help them as much as I could. It was at this point that I could sense how nervous they both were, unused to approaching strangers to ask for anything. It appealed to the sweetness in me, and so I had the leader write down my mobile phone number to contact me if, when I was done with my classroom engagement, they wished to meet somewhere so that I could help them with whatever they needed for their school project. And oh yes, the project is about God, would I mind that too terribly?

Absolutely not. I find God to be a fascinating socio-cultural construct. I did not say that, of course, I only consented that the subject was not too sensitive for me, and then I took my leave with the promise that if they so wished, I would return later.

Sure enough 15 minutes before class was to end I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket, a message from one of the young women that they both wanted to meet again where we had first met.

As I had nothing pressing for the evening, I decided that to keep my promise that I would help them with their project, even if it is about God, would be worth my while. We met precisely where we had parted and I took a seat on an elevated bench as they sat lower than me. One girl, clearly the dominate personality, had a paper in her hand, boxed and ready for my responses. She took out a stack of perspective cards, which she sectioned off into their appropriate categories. Very amusing.

The questions were predictable and a bit perplexing at time.

They asked me how important the Bible is, and if I believe that the Bible should be taken as the literal word of God. I try always to be respectful and to not let my cynicism show through. Perhaps I would not be so careful if I were speaking to intellectuals or fellow scholars, but with two young student girls I had to be kind and personable. I spoke to them then as an historian, that of course the Bible is not the literal word of God. It isn’t even the literal word of Jesus Christ. It is also a wonderful historical source. And, to ease their minds a bit, I conceded that there are many beautiful messages in the Bible.

They asked me if I believed that people were born more good or more bad. I had to admit that I am in no way an optimist and believe people are born of pure spirits and hearts, but neither do I believe as men such as Hobbes do that men are born inherently bad or beastly. If anything, man is born empty, though with a certain biological pre-disposition to living and working within a community, as that is necessary for survival of the species.

At the end of it, they asked me what I feel it would take for me to believe in God.

I had to confess that I would have to have my doubt satisfied, and to do so I would have to have real and tangible proof that God is real. To be fair to Christians throughout the world, I respect that they believe as they do, truly, and I keep my judgements largely to myself. They clearly feel as if they have had substantial and significant proof to believe in an invisible, all knowing deity in the sky. If their criteria is that they need no proof at all, good for them, though I would like to avoid any conversation with people like that. As for myself, I require my doubt be laid to rest with something I can identify.

I made it clear to them that I don’t expect God to come down from the sky and say, “Marius, I am real, believe in me.” I think proof is subjective. It doesn’t have to be something so obvious, it can be something more subtle, but still unquestionable.

I do remember years ago I was posed this question by a young man named John. My answer was the same. He pointed to the trees and the sky and everything around me and said, “This is your proof.”

It was charming enough that I smiled, just as I smiled at these two young girls, because I do find their faith very sweet. Even if I have none. In fact, if my years have taught me anything, it is that I must believe in nothing. Believing in nothing but the self is safe. It ensures, if anything, nothing can betray you or break your heart.

But am I missing out? Does my doubt, rather than protect me, keep me from experiencing a more fulfilling and beautiful life? Should I take the world as it is? Stop questioning everything, or looking for reasons and proof? Should I just take some things at face value, or believe what I wish simply because I want to and not because I have proof or validity to fall back on? Because anyway, who must I justify myself to?

34 thoughts on “Is there proof of God?

  1. Actually, I’m not talking about God and GmbH & Co. KG
    😉 on the Internet. I am not a missionary and would never be one. Everyone should believe in what he/she thinks is right and live a good life. In the end it’s important how you live your life. No matter is there a god or not.
    But you ask this question quite often and always so desperate, so let’s have one god round. It’s my shout. 😉

    Ha! That John guy is cool. Somehow he is right. I don´t think that something comes from nothing. I mean, how can something arise from NOTHING? You always need something to get something. So the universe must have a start and even for the big bang you need something or someone who ignites the fuse. Everything else is illogical.
    If I’m in a desert, just sand everywhere, and when I find a house in this desert, and even if I can see no one else I would be assuming that the house was built by someone. How could the house arise out of nothing?

    Some of my friends are atheists or something like that. They do not believe in God, or something else of that nature. Do you know what the amusing is? I don´t know any believer who speaks so often about God as the atheists, … who do not believe in him. LOL.
    If I do not believe in something, if I think its nonsensical, then actully… I don´t talk about it. 😀 I don´t waste a single thought on it. The real question is then, if you do not believe in something like God or that stuff, then why do you ask again and agian? You usually makes thoughts about something that is already there. No matter in which matter, of course.

    However, If it is better for you to believe in nothing but yourself, when you feel confident, safe with this, then everything is wonderful!! It´s perfect. So…, why are you asking? Logical conclusion: It’s not perfect. Your own answer does not satisfy you.

    Is there a proof of god? Well, unfortunately, I have no answers for you. I’m not so wise. I´m just a strange, normal mortal. ^.
    However, one question if you allow, what proof do you need to believe that is there a God or there is no god?

    1. I would require something that would satisfy me. I don’t believe it would be as direct as God descending from the sky to speak to me, but something that would satisfy my curiosity. Yet I don’t think proof will ever come. I understand all too well the creation of this God as a construct of human imagination, necessity, and also love and fear together. I know why humans need god. I know for what purposes he serves in their heart and in culture. There is no God. There is only a mass figment of the imagination that is used for good and bad.

      God seems such a beautiful idea, though, and I am drawn to beauty as a representation of the world around us. I think on some level God is this- quite simply a manifestation of beauty and love that takes on a meaning deeper than most things in this world. It is not the idea’s fault that people have used it for their own purposes, therefore I cannot blame this God construct for how people use his name to do evil to one another. Not when the original intent was something more out of love, and a coping mechanism to navigate a punishing and cruel world.

  2. Firstly, how very nice of you to give your time to these two girls and taking their questions seriously.
    Secondly, I had to smile when clicking the link about the perspective cards. That’s the first time I heard about them. I only knew there was a religious trading card game. This is different of course. Quite a nice idea even and obviously not primarily intended to convert people.

    If you want my own personal opinion to the questions at the bottom, well, I think you don’t miss out on anything. Not necessarily. I don’t think you’re a person who could ever stop asking questions. What matters is if what you have is enough to sustain you. I never believed in a god and since the day I left church I didn’t miss it for a single day. I’ve found my own morals, people and ideas which give me hope and happiness and the existence of a god wouldn’t chance anything.
    But it’s different for everybody. Logic, questions and looking for proof don’t exclude believe. Quite a few of my study colleagues and fellow scientists are religious people yet questioning everything and searching for the mechanisms behind things is their job. If it’s in your heart believe can and will flower everywhere, if it’s not you can be as happy without it

    Because anyway, who must I justify myself to?

    Mh, first and foremost to yourself. Let’s pretend you would believe in the forgiving of sins by god or Jesus. You still have to forgive yourself.

  3. I’ve never even heard of these perspective cards, but it seems like it could be very interesting to study into. 🙂

    I don’t generally talk religion because of the usual sensitivity that I find in so many. I keep it to myself because there are too many fights that seem to arise when people can’t calmly discuss their way of seeing things.

    Yes, I believe in God and Jesus, but I do not limit my knowledge to the bible alone. I believe God gave us ways of learning our weaknesses and our strengths. I believe he gave us great minds to think with and wise tools to learn with if we choose to, and that our choices in life are ultimately made by us. I believe we sleep in the ground we made in the last life, whatever that might have been. Astrology, numerology, divination, reincarnation, etc… I enjoy studying all of these from time to time and I believe they each play their part in helping me discover things for myself. However, I don’t see the point in people jabbing at each other in frustration and anger, just for the sake of trying to convert someone who has their own mind and heart to feel and think with. What good comes of this? Notta.

    Why should people be killed or mocked to tears and agony because of what or who they believe? So what if they believe in God? So what if they believe in facts? So what if they believe in nothing at all? So what if they believe in spirit guides, or worship the earth and its beauty? Do we not all feel…yes, we do. We have minds, hearts, and souls that guide us in unique ways and down different paths.

    When conversation about religion gets out of hand and heated where the spit flies and the words start to burn, well, I just shake my head and turn away from it all. I find it pathetic to be honest and view it as just another form of bullying when it gets out of hand. My beliefs cannot be put into one religion, and so I’m truly an outcast in many ways because I refuse to conform to one belief just to “fit in” with the masses. I believe in a bit of it all, and therefore I’m far too scattered to remain in one religion. Yet there is a peace in the loneliness and a form of wisdom can be found in it, self wisdom. It is the path that I choose to walk and I’m going to die alone, so why does it matter what others think about me and my crazy way of seeing things? I do not need anyone’s approval to find the joy of self discovery. :p Why be down about life, or limit myself to what they think is right or wrong? 😀

    Do I have proof of what I believe in and why? yes, and no. In my own way I feel that I have enough proof inside of me to keep me believing and fighting for my own reasons, but it isn’t proof that I can lay out to be touched or even seen. I see proof of something great every time I open my eyes and look around. However, that is only the way I see it and I certainly don’t find happiness in pushing my beliefs onto someone else just because I believe it to be so.

    1. How unfortunate that your way of thinking is a rarity in religion. Full of servants who think that there is one way. What’s worse, they have so much arrogance that they think they are right and everyone else is wrong. There’s nothing worse than being “wrong” in the eyes of a religious fanatic: being “wrong” is tantamount to damnation. I would be able to tolerate religion better if it would just leave me alone.

      At the end of the day, to use a colloquial phrase, all that matters is you have proof enough to satisfy your own heart.

      Yet I don’t know if believing in God would be comforting or terrifying.

      1. I am satisfied with the distance I keep away from these groups. Have you ever taken the time out to listen to them and find the loopholes in their ranting? I find it rather funny that they can’t always hold their own in an argument unless they are in groups like soldiers.

        Why can they not realize that by forcing their beliefs on others they are only pushing them away? People can find it if only they are left alone. But instead these groups come with this basket full of hope and food…with damnation’s and their supposed words of wisdom that if the sufferer had only lived their life right and by God’s unwavering word then starvation surely wouldn’t have filled their hunger. Pft, it’s bull. That isn’t the way to “save souls”. It only further pushes people into their lonely hopelessness and this just angers me. It is why I stay away and do not answer my door when these Jesus followers come knocking. I generally scare them away by offering to read them their full astrology or numerology chart and telling them that I believe Jesus mastered all of the signs in the astrological wheel. I do this for the value of humor it brings me.

        The true shame is, and in my own finding, I find that so many limit themselves to the beliefs of others just for a sense of purpose and to “belong” to something or a God, instead of reaching out and discovering things for themselves.

        I have enough proof to leave me forever unsatisfied actually, which is what pushes my faith and hope into being insatiable. I fear that if ever I slowed down or settled onto one thing then I might lose the reason to go on learning and fighting for what I believe and what I’ve not even discovered yet. I only hope that my curiosity doesn’t kill me in the end.

        May I ask further into the meaning of, you do not know if believing in God would be comforting or terrifying? This is interesting and so I would like to hear your thoughts more on this please.

        1. I respond to religious theory and discussion in the manner in which it is presented to me. If the individual is seeking an open, honest, mutually respectful discussion, I welcome that and readily give it. I do not attack or belittle their beliefs provided that they extend to me the same courtesy. However, if a person wants to thrust on me their beliefs, condemn my own personal understanding of the world, or force upon me a way of thinking, I take great offence to them and I let them know every ounce of my displeasure. Yes, in that instance I take great pleasure from pointing out their every error, their every instance of failed logic, their every ignorant loophole. I feel quite justified to do so.

          There is nothing that anyone could ever say to me that would convince me that there is a God.

          I find that to recruit people through threats of damnation, to play upon the fear of the unknown such as what happens after death, to be terribly disingenuous. Especially considering that the original message of Christ was one of love and redemption, and of helping those in need. For Christ, the company of sinners was a greater blessing than a company of blessed.

          On one hand, believing in God is wonderfully comforting. God is love, God is the father, God is infinite in his grace. Even the concept of something like predestination is an immense burden off of the shoulders of the elect because it no longer means that they must work toward the goal of salvation or fall under the weight of sin. People say that Christ is all forgiving, and is about love eternal. There is something also so very wonderfully comforting about the idea of redemption, of taking your sins and crimes to your judge, kneeling before him in utter shame, and finding redemption. And indeed of thinking, of knowing deep down in your heart, that you will never be lonely because Christ is always there.

          Yet isn’t that all very terrifying? Predestination? So if I am predestined to go to Hell, I can do nothing for it? Well that doesn’t sound very nice. And Christ always there to judge me? How awful. How terribly repressive. No wonder Martin Luther never felt as if he achieved any measure of salvation; the fear of spiritual recrimination is a horrible burden on the heart, on the soul, on the human spirit. I do not want to feel as if my every mistake is amplified in the spiritual realm, and that human folly is a terrible thing that I would have to pay for in eternal suffering.

        2. The idea of predestination is extremely terrifying, I mean to have no way of changing it. To think of being born as a baby and going into death Eek!

          What has been the strangest or most outrageous way that someone, or a group, has tried shoving their beliefs off onto you? Like what is the most outrageous way that someone has tried to “prove” to you that God is real? I ask this because I had an electrician try to put what he called the “fear of God” into me when I was barely 6 years of age.

        3. The idea of predestination is extremely terrifying, I mean to have no way of changing it. To think of being born as a baby and going into death Eek!

          That was always my reaction to predestination, as well. I can’t conceive feeling comfortable with something that requires I relinquish such utter control over my own fate.

          Yet I suppose historically there is some sense to it. Imagine Martin Luther who, no matter what he did, never felt saved. He never felt touched by grace. No matter how severely he atoned and prayed and suffered, Luther never felt as if he had earned salvation. I can imagine then that believing in predestination would remove a great burden from the shoulders, conscience, and soul of a person. No longer must the individual suffer wondering if they have done enough to save their own soul. No more will they have to worry if their acts have given them grace and salvation. It is in, as they say, God’s hands.

          What has been the strangest or most outrageous way that someone, or a group, has tried shoving their beliefs off onto you? Like what is the most outrageous way that someone has tried to “prove” to you that God is real? I ask this because I had an electrician try to put what he called the “fear of God” into me when I was barely 6 years of age.

          I was given a comic, a small thing no bigger than an index card.

          Inside was the story of a young man who had not found God. This led him first to turn to drugs, because of course he lacked all sense of morality (since morality is something one may only acquire through God and religion). His drug addiction caused him to attempt robbery on someone who unfortunately turned out to be an undercover policeman. Which in turn brought about his incarceration. Once incarcerated, he was raped in the shower. And as a result of that rape, he got HIV/AIDS. On his death bed, he finally accepted Jesus as his Lord and Saviour and ascended to Heaven.

  4. Then a person could just give up on everything and not even try to life a finger… then at the end of the road say to themselves “Well, I’m dying, it was always in Gods hands and so my life went exactly how he wanted”. I wonder how this is suffering? Wouldn’t true suffering come to those who used their own minds and learned lessons from their own mistakes, instead of settling down and just giving up? I guess everyone deals with life and the possible “afterlife” differently. I don’t know much about Martin Luther my dear.

    How odd that one awful thing led to another that was even worse. Amazing the imagination that went into that little comic though. 😉

    1. Ah but see, this is where the famous Protestant ethic of hard work comes into play.

      People always did, naturally, question how one would know if they were predestined or not. Even though they saw the entire matter as out of their hands, they still wanted the comfort of being assured that they were amongst those destined for Heaven. So they believed that personal success, wealth, and charity were all markers of elect status. If you had wealth, worked hard with the right positive work ethic, then this was understood to be proof of positive predestination. So in this way, they did not simply sit back and let fate take its course.

  5. So if one wasn’t wealthy then they were more likely predestined for hell? Well, I would probably have a place in hell then. I would think doing good for others with what one does have would also account for something.

    1. The problem with good works is that many cynically felt that good works could be done merely to buy one’s way into Heaven, and therefore were not done with a sincere and true heart toward good.

      1. That’s a true shame considering that it’s all about the heart. It doesn’t take gold and riches to please God from what I’ve read. Besides ask a man on the streets if he’d rather have the cheeseburger or the gold necklace and if he’s really on the verge of starvation then the cheeseburger would be gold to him.

        1. People have lost sight of the original intent of Christianity. And, sad to say, I do not think the Church can be reformed to its original purpose. The decadence and corruption will prevail, persist, and only further separate the Church from its constituency. Because more and more, people are beginning to see that the conservatism of the Church, the regulation of a person’s private life, is inconsistent with the abuses and corruptions the Church itself indulges in.

        2. I can relate with your words dear. Yet, there are many houses of God, and not all are the same. Not all have the same beliefs or practices. Corruption is everywhere, but that doesn’t mean that all who worship him are corrupt. Some churches are held in homes, and consist of 12 people or less, sometimes a couple of families.

          It seems the heart of goodness is dying out and I think that is the true shame. Religion aside, humanity is seemingly destroying itself and so it is what it is when I look at the world around me. People can put the blame anywhere they wish, blame this religion, or the-lack-thereof of that one with the constant finger pointing but at the end of the day it’s just a disgusting mess that is not even worth fighting over.

          Are these acts of anger and malice even Godly? The constant push and pull?! I’d say hardly.

          I guess it has always been this way though hasn’t it Marius? I don’t guess it will ever stop. I wish people would just let each other be, and stop the madness that separates us all. It makes me wonder, where is the love?

          I find it strange that nowadays some are actually mocked when they refuse sex and drugs, or even partying. Because it’s like “so uncool” to stay at home and study, or just come home from work and read. I don’t know, some things truly sicken me. But it doesn’t matter, I’ll still be one of the first ones to stand up and defend the underdogs who constantly get mimicked.

        3. There are been angry and malevolent gods, and gods who were absent or entirely disinterested in the stacking plights of the world, and there have even been capricious gods more interested in pleasure than the responsibilities expected of those of their station. Yet this Christian God and his Christ are supposedly deities of love and forgiveness, who say to help the weak and the poor, to turn the other cheek, to love even those who abuse and wrong you, and certainly to love everyone no matter who they are. This is what is absent. But it has always been. Christians have been using God and Christ to justify hate and cruelty from the time that they gained power in the vacuum of the absent Roman world well into now, and certainly will continue.

          I do not look to people of power and authority to find good, or to find the rumblings of change. I find there to be so much more beauty to the simple actions of every day people, but only when it is done with the right frame of mind and heart. For instance, I was sitting in a bookstore tonight and I overheard a woman having a conversation. She was telling a companion about some chocolate covered blueberry basket she sent to a friend, and her story was very long and self-congratulatory because her ultimate point was how good a gift it was and how thankful the recipient was because the gift basket came to her when she had received some ill news regarding her own health. The bulk of the discussion was about how wonderful a thing it was that she had sent her friend a gift.

          Last I heard, that is not why we give gifts.

          Yet at the same time, a young couple came in to the coffee shop attached to the bookstore and ordered suspended coffees, and then went about their coffee drinking with humble modesty. They did not want congratulations or thanks, and they did not extend their kindness so that others would know and be impressed by them.

          In one night, two vastly different types of people. Some are selfish, but every once in a while there are the few who are not.

        4. I guess everyone has their own personal set of motives behind gift giving. Whether it be of kindness, cruelty, adoration, or self gratitude.

          Speaking of the selfish… in the end I wonder if that is their way of gifting themselves with self-adoration and gratitude? I can appreciate their good will for what it is and how the gift might help another of less fortune, but the attitude behind it can be disheartening.

          Sometimes it is even far more frustrating when the receiver noticeably hunches their shoulders and feels belittled when they accept the gift that is given, as the “act of charity” makes them feel belittled. This is especially so when the “giver” constantly brags about how they helped the “less fortunate”.

          I find that no matter what one’s belief is… there are both the cruel and kind of heart. War will continue, as will love.

        5. It is people’s shame over “charity” that makes many people, especially with children, go without. Men can be terrible about this sort of pride. Though society places a lot of stigma on being impoverish or in need. They attach labels like, “lazy,” “degenerate,” or “freeloader.” There is still this pre-progressive idea that there is a deserving and undeserving poor. What’s worse, people are assumed to be the undeserving poor. Poverty is assumed to be an affliction of some secret vice like drinking or living beyond your means.

        6. Yes and that is the kicker I think, for how long can one live off pride and suffer for it? How long can fathers and mothers ignore the hunger, all the while their children cry to be heard and helped. I mean, after so long, wouldn’t the hunger consume that emotion?

          It makes me think of how much I should be grateful for, and it breaks my heart when I think of others just the same. I guess if one thought of all the sorrow and pain in the world they would go mad with the truth, wouldn’t they?

        7. That is the saddest fact of all: people cloak in ignorance as a defense mechanism. The weight of the world’s true suffering would be too much for the human heart to bear. In this way, I am sympathetic to humans and their need for illusion. The problem is, however, insistent and perpetual blindness. At some point, everyone must try to do something.

        8. Here comes another piece of thought. And this is fascinating to me as well. Some believe in the illusion without having a faith, they just “follow”. Yet, how can anyone criticize anyone for their own unique beliefs if they’re not harming anyone around them? I personally enjoy looking at everything from every angle I can find.

          Then there are those beliefs that come from pure thought alone. Yet, no one has proof of a god or the lack there of. No one can really say that the earth is incapable of holding spirits, just the same as it can’t be argued that there is hard evidence of them existing either. So, who knows? It’s a migraine pit, and one that I love to think about.

          Speaking of which, I watched a film once called “the secret” and it was an interesting look at the power of belief. It not only affects the water we mortals drink, but also how our life moves. If we believe in nothing at all, or have nothing to look forward to, as petty as it might be then I fear that some of us wouldn’t survive.

        9. I have always been on a mindset to let people believe as they will as long as they do not upset the balance of society or seek to impose their beliefs on others. I quite like Gods and Goddesses, especially for their literary and artistic value. I am a faithless person.

          Was this movie, the Secret, also a book? I seem to recall years ago someone recommending this to me.

        10. What are your favorite Gods and Goddesses in their artistic and literary sense? What artists do you favor, which pieces do you enjoy studying the most?

          Though I’m not familiar with most of them, romantic art such as Venus in the half shell or a satyr playing the wooden flute in a field full of fairies intrigues me. I’ve heard bits and pieces about some of them, but I’ve never just sat down and read the stories about them. I am too fascinated with flipping through the pages studying the artwork. I need to sit down some evening and read about them. Do you have any helpful suggestions as to where I might begin?

          Yes, actually it began as a book, but it wasn’t until it came out on film that I took interest and purchased it in dvd form. It was full of these different concepts that I never thought of before, and that is why it caught my attention. That is all I am saying about it for now, I don’t wish to ruin it for you if you haven’t already read or watched it.

        11. I hold particular favor toward the Gods of Greece and Rome. I hold the stories close to my heart. There is the story of Apollo and Daphne, and her unfortunate transformation into a tree in order to escape his lust. Or Orpheus and Eurydice. She died and he charmed Hell itself to rescue her from its depths, only to lose her once again by an error of his own judgment. Then there is Pygmalion who created the perfect woman made of stone, Galatea, and fell in love with her. Another favorite is the story of Zeus and Ganymede, a boy so beautiful that the King of Gods himself brought him to Olympus and made him his cup-bearer.

          I will always love the artists of the Renaissance, who found a way to fuse the Christian and Pagan worlds together. Botticelli painted Venus and Mary, Christ and Cupids, and often times it is hard to tell the two apart if not for the symbolism and notable poses typical of religious and pagan figures.

          Most students begin their studies of Greco-Roman mythology with Bulfinch: http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/bulf/. Second would be Hamilton’s Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes, which is sold at nearly every bookstore.

      2. Marius de Romanus Post author July 7, 2013 at 8:03 pm

        I hold particular favor toward the Gods of Greece and Rome. I hold the stories close to my heart. There is the story of Apollo and Daphne, and her unfortunate transformation into a tree in order to escape his lust. Or Orpheus and Eurydice. She died and he charmed Hell itself to rescue her from its depths, only to lose her once again by an error of his own judgment. Then there is Pygmalion who created the perfect woman made of stone, Galatea, and fell in love with her. Another favorite is the story of Zeus and Ganymede, a boy so beautiful that the King of Gods himself brought him to Olympus and made him his cup-bearer.

        I will always love the artists of the Renaissance, who found a way to fuse the Christian and Pagan worlds together. Botticelli painted Venus and Mary, Christ and Cupids, and often times it is hard to tell the two apart if not for the symbolism and notable poses typical of religious and pagan figures.

        Most students begin their studies of Greco-Roman mythology with Bulfinch: http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/bulf/. Second would be Hamilton’s Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes, which is sold at nearly every bookstore.

        I’m a little late, and rather untidy in that lateness, it’s been well over two years and in case I haven’t mentioned it yet, my apologies for that. I read all of these you mentioned above, and then some. I was rather fascinated by Psyche and Cupid also.

        After reading of Pygmalion I thought of you actually, of the way you so faithfully guarded and adorned those whom you kept, though they rarely even moved. I too enjoyed this one. Especially since he finally got the girl, her ivory became living and breathing flesh. -Smiles-

        Sometimes relationships can leave the heart momentarily bitter and scarred, and so I could relate with this personally. As I’m sure many others who also read this have. I cannot count the many times I have wished to pull someone out of a painting, and there are times when I express that desire in something so simple as a drawing, and even if just for a moment I find that emptiness filled.

        -Smiles- The tale of Apollo and Daphne is quite romantic and fascinating also. Daphne finally submitted her acknowledgement to the fiery wrath of his ardent affection, but only after tenderly encased in the bark of the Laurel. Since he would be of eternal youth, he made sure that she too would always be “green”. Here’s something to ponder, what had Daphne done to deserve that blunt iron tipped arrow of love repulsion? What made Cupid decide that she would be the instrument of his wrath in spite of Apollo? And after her transformation, I wonder if her thirsting feet found refreshment in the battle blood that her warrior Apollo brought to her feet? Perhaps this is a bit morbid, but I wonder if Apollo could pry away her bay and twig if it meant his suffering her tears, or the possibility that his snipping away meant her bleeding pain for his prize? I wouldn’t think so, but I couldn’t help but think it. She keeps many human elements, even after the transformation. I wonder if this was so forever, or if in time she became more and more verdant, less physically feeling?

        I truly enjoyed the beauty and lyrical romance in all of these, and then some. Much thanks for the link, Marius. I will have to find this one and read it from cover to back. I would love to have some of these scenes splashed along my walls, the tasteful nudity and all.

        A question though if you don’t mind my asking. In the tale of Orpheus, when he is in Tarsus pleading for his lover’s life, he mentions that tears streamed down the Furies cheeks. What are furies? Like little devils, or…? -Laughs-

  6. Last night I watched a program in which an Atheist, a Rabbi, and a Christian ( I know it sounds like the beginning of a joke *smile*) talked about the concept of good and evil; responsibility, and proof of God.  It was quite enthralling.  One of the questions posed by an audience member was “Is God because of law or is law because of God?”  None of the men had a definitive answer.  However the answer I liked the best was the Atheist gentleman’s. His reply was “Based on our own ignorance; The fact that I don’t understand something does not mean it can’t be understood. I believe in humility but not faith thus because I can’t prove there is no God I don’t share.”   I had never thought of it that way before, but I believe he is right.  I can not prove my faith to another, nor should I.  Even among those who believe in God or any Deity each persons belief is unique, as we all are. I agree in the end you must do or believe what feels right to you, what gives you peace.  Who am I to tell someone what to believe? 

    On a separate note, I agree with you on the campus at night.  I loved my night classes, the entire atmosphere changes and there is a different current about.  Plus, as a student, all of my professors that taught at were better than their daylight counterparts. I am sure you are no exception to that observation, *smile*

    1. You hit on the point of central importance: you cannot prove your faith, and you should not have to. Your faith is yours alone, a personal and private belief that no one has the right to take from you. Just as it is not right and proper to impose belief on a nonbeliever, it is equally intolerable to try to de-legitimise a person’s faith by calling them blind or ignorant.

      I like to think that I keep an engaged and active classroom. I think it means something when you can speak with passion. Not to mention my habit of using my students as props. It keeps them awake in the late hours.

      1. Oh my gosh I loved it when my professors did that, I liked to watch.  I am a very visual learner.  I of course avoided eye contact when the participants were chosen.  It was difficult because if I really liked my professor I usually sat in front and would only break eye contact or look away from the board if I was writing. Sometimes, if the topic was really engrossing or I was having a hard time conceptualizing it I wouldn’t look away even to write.  My notes were consequently uneven and a bit messy but I usually didn’t miss a word.  I have a little confession, I LOVED to highlight my notes, color code them.  I still color code my scratch sheets at work today, old habits…

        One of my favorite night professors was my chemistry teacher.  He was incredibly smart and so nice always made sure I had someone to walk with me to my car if I was lagging behind for some reason. Or he would walk me if was completely left behind.

        1. Watching my students get in to Greek battle formation amuses me, to say the least. Then I have them march against one another.

          I know the type of student whom you speak, the sort that you say you were. Enraptured by the content, but too shy often to speak, and certainly not the sort to get in front of the class to perform.

          Do you keep all of your old notebooks from college?

  7. That would be amusing to see, do you have them use props too? What time period in Greek history are you recreating? I ask because I have been reading up on the Spartans; I was wanting some inspiration while training for a race I will be in early next year. I thought it was a good opportunity to strengthen mind and body.

    Yes that is the type of student I was and still am when the occasion calls for it. No, I wouldn’t dare to get in front of the class, you would have seen a red faced awkward girl trying not to trip. At least now I am able to speak in front of small groups and not fall on my face, (thankfully I’m not as clumsy as I was) though I still get a bit warm, pink faced, and my words are rushed. Perhaps one day I will master it, any suggestions?

    My my you are good, but we both knew that! I did have all of my notes, but I had to pare it down to things that are relevant. There was just to much. I went to school for awhile before I decided what I wanted to do with my life. I also kept some text books that I thought would be useful.

    1. I always have props to show them. I have countless artefacts and pieces of art, so I think they are wonderful accents to a lesson. I recreate the early form of warfare, when the Greeks had just begun to use foot soldiers, and war was a matter of simply pushing the other side into retreat, or falling in such a clutter that they would be easily cut down.

      Perhaps one day I will master it, any suggestions?

      The key is to take a deep breath and focus on what it is you want to say rather than those who are listening. Know that you have something to say, and that it deserves to be heard.

      1. I guessed rightly, then, that you would have props.  I bet your collection is breathtaking.  There is nothing more finite for the mind (except maybe living it) when you are able to hold history in your hands.  

        The term “…falling in such a clutter…” reminds me of either a Mel Brooks or Monty Python scene and it makes me laugh. That aside your class sounds fascinating, I think I would enjoy it.

        The key is to take a deep breath and focus on what it is you want to say rather than those who are listening. Know that you have something to say, and that it deserves to be heard.

        Thank you I will attempt this when I am asked to speak publicly again.  I never thought of it that way before.

        1. It looks something like you would see in a Monty Python or Mel Brooks movie, and that is why I enjoy it immensely. Myself and the rest of the class do laugh at the expense of the unfortunate clutter of classmates. But such is the nature of war.

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