Epicurus, gods and God

  • So some version of gods are possible given these conditions, even probable, but are not required.

    Lots of these words have multiple meanings but to focus on "required" -- required for what?

    Epicurus and Lucretius are very specific as to the need to avoid "thinking unworthily of the gods" as a means to the most happy life - for example here in Book 6:

    Unless you purge your mind of such conceits, and banish them your breast, and forebear to think unworthily of the gods, by charging them with things that break their peace, those sacred deities you will believe are always angry and offended with you; not that the supreme power of the gods can be so ruffled as to be eager to punish severely in their resentments, but because you fancy those beings, who enjoy a perfect peace in themselves, are subject to anger and the extravagances of revenge: and therefore you will no more approach their shrines with an easy mind, no more in tranquility and peace will you be able to receive the images, the representations of their divine forms, that form from their pure bodies and strike powerfully upon the minds of men: From hence you may collect what a wretched life you are to lead.

    And if "which version to accept" is the issue, then that is a matter of adhering to clear Epicurean texts, or going one's own way on them, since no one has formed a "club" with a "membership requirement list" requiring that any particular version of divinity be believed.

    My personal bright line is mainly to rule out of court any version of the position that "Epicurus said things things because he was a hypocrite, just to save himself from the fate of Socrates." Because at some point if someone doesn't respect that the Epicureans were attempting to be honest on something as basic as this, on which they made repeated clear statements, then that person really has no sincere interest in being part of a group that respects Epicurean philosophy.

  • And as Diogenis of Oinoanda also said : "The important point to take from the study of physics is that the universe did not arise at random from chaos, nor was it created, or is it controlled, by any gods. But do not take from this that we Epicureans are impious, or that we fail to have sympathy for those who have false opinions about the gods. Men who experience false visions, but who are unable to understand how they are produced, are understandably apprehensive, and they convince themselves that these visions were created by the gods. Such men vehemently denounce even the most pious men as atheists. As we proceed, it will become evident to you that it is not the Epicureans, who deny the true gods, but those who hold false opinions about the gods. For we Epicureans are not like those philosophers who categorically assert that the gods do not exist, and who attack those who hold otherwise. Nor are we like Protagoras of Abdera, who said that he did not know whether gods exist, for that is the same as saying that he knew that they do not exist. Nor do we agree with Homer, who portrayed the gods as adulterers, and as angry with those who are prosperous. In contrast, we hold that the statues of the gods should be made genial and smiling, so that we may smile back at them, rather than be afraid of them.

    Let us reverence the gods, and observe the customs of our fathers, but let us not impute to the gods any concepts that are not worthy of divinity. For example, it is false to believe that the gods, who are perfect, created this world because they had need of a city, or needed fellow-citizens. Nor did the gods create the world because they needed a place to live. To those who say such naive things, we ask in turn: “Where were the gods living beforehand?”

    Those men who hold that this world was created uniquely by the gods, as a place for the gods to live, of course have no answer to this question. By their view, the gods were destitute and roaming about at random for an infinite time before the creation of this world, like an unfortunate man, without a country, who had neither city nor fellow citizens! It is absurd to argue that a divine nature created the world for the sake of the world itself, and it is even more absurd to argue that the gods created men for the gods’ own sake. There are too many things wrong, with both the world and with men, for them to have been created by gods!

    Let us now turn our attention from gods to men.

    Many men pursue philosophy for the sake of wealth and power, with the aim of procuring these either from private individuals, or from kings, who deem philosophy to be a great and precious possession.

    Well, it is not in order to gain wealth or power that we Epicureans pursue philosophy! We pursue philosophy so that we may enjoy happiness through attainment of the goal craved by Nature".

    Beauty and virtue and such are worthy of honor, if they bring pleasure; but if not then bid them farewell!

  • Quote

    My personal bright line is mainly to rule out of court any version of the position that "Epicurus said things things because he was a hypocrite, just to save himself from the fate of Socrates." Because at some point if someone doesn't respect that the Epicureans were attempting to be honest on something as basic as this, on which they made repeated clear statements, then that person really has no sincere interest in being part of a group that respects Epicurean philosophy.


    However...Epicurus also taught that the virtues (honesty, sincerity), and vices (dishonesty, hipocrisy) are not inherently good or bad, but only to the extent that they produce pleasure or pain.

    It would be quite Epicurean to lie about your religious beliefs to people who are going to harm you if you tell the truth.

    Lying to your students or fellow Epicureans would be a bit more problematic.

    To be clear, I do not believe Epicurus was lying or trying to hedge his religious beliefs.

    I just wanted to add a bit of nuance.

    Edited once, last by Todd ().

  • Quote

    To be clear, I do not believe Epicurus was lying or trying to hedge his religious beliefs.

    I agree with this as well.

    As a non-philosopher, I'm working my way from a superficial understanding to a deeper understanding of the philosophy. The theory has been put out there that Epicurus was playing it safe on the gods, which is why I asked about that in my initial post. Now I can see the evidence is such that it puts the lie to that idea.


    Lots of these words have multiple meanings but to focus on "required" -- required for what?

    Required to exist.

    Also in the interest of deepening my understanding of EP, I'm wrestling with the question of whether or not believing in gods is a necessary part of the philosophy. As an atheist from a culture that does not seriously recognize polytheism, it's challenging to adopt a belief in gods. Relating to what I said in my initial post, I think it's a serious question to consider the place of the gods in EP and some evidence of this is the amount of thought given to this by "professional" philosophers.

    Diogenes is quite explicit in spelling out various misconceptions of the gods, and I think that these are readily acceptable to anyone practicing EP. And he and Epicurus both state that gods exist. As far as I have gone with this is that it is probable that godlike beings as generally described by Epicurus exist and that the "idealist" versus the "realist" interpretation makes the most sense to me.

    Obviously this isn't a superficial topic. I'm finding this discussion very illuminating, apologize if I've offended anyone, and look forward to its continuing.

  • , apologize if I've offended anyone,

    You certainly have not! You're going to have to try pretty hard to be "offensive" with this group, as we should always take things in good humor whenever possible!

    it's challenging to adopt a belief in gods.

    You don't need me to say this, but of course this isn't a belief in "gods" in the standard sense of that term at all - as you know.

    As I see it even if you apply everything that Epicurus said literally, you are still talking about nothing more than the kind of reasonable speculations about alien life that you would find in most any Star Trek episode. It might even be better to talk about "divinity" as the subject matter rather than gods, because as I gather the drift, it really amounts to a discussion of "what would perfection look like in the real universe that we live in?" - Then applying those thoughts to the examples of life that we've come into contact with here on Earth to come up with reasonable speculation about how life forms that have mastered deathlessness would act anywhere in the universe.

    Which I admit kind of frustrates me in some cases, as it appears that it can be difficult for some people to take the Epicureans at their word, and strip away all the omnipotence, omniscience, and universe-creating supernatural nonsense that religion insists on adding. Some people INSIST on using the standard definitions of gods, and so they insist that Epicurean explanation of "the gods" makes no sense and is unconvincing -- which indeed it WOULD be if you insist on clinging to the standard definitions of gods!

    Godfrey I don't know how much additional reading you plan to do, but your discussion here has reminded me of what I think is an important supplement: Philodemus' "On Methods of Inference" is devoted to the topic of how to make inferences when the data is not as clear as we would like, and when we should treat those inferences as valid or insufficient.

    If you get interested in that part I highly recommend this version at Archive.org by De Lacy. I do not recall that the part that survives addresses the gods at all, but it is some very interesting material about logic and the differences between Epicurus' approach and the Stoics and others. I do recall that it does have some specific examples of how we should reason about the way things are in countries that we have never visited, which is pretty obviously analogous to places in the universe that we have never visited. I have learned a lot by reading the Appendix in which De Lacy explains the context of all this, especially as to how even Aristotle had not broken entirely free of Platonism, so even if you don't get a chance to read the main text, I think you would find the Appendix is very worthwhile - especially parts 4-6.

    in fact our discussion about this reminds me of the more general point that the reason I like to talk about this subject of the gods is not so much due to "the gods" at all -- but that this is, I think, an excellent test of whether someone sees how dramatically Epicurus departed from the Greek norm in developing his standard of truth. He tears away from faith in Logic and invests it in deductive reasoning based firmly in the senses, and that's the way of course he "proves" the existence of atoms. It seems to me that his position on "the gods" is just a small extension (maybe not an extension at all) of his method of reasoning about the atoms, applied to the stars and man's place in the universe.

  • In fact, Godfrey, your discussion is really advancing my thought on this. Hopefully we will one day develop some kind of "course" or discussion on Epicurean "theology" and I just realized that the opening section of that should probably not be devoted to the statements of Epicurus on the gods or to the Epicurean section from on "On the Nature of the Gods" but probably to this On Methods of Inference. If we don't first fix people's minds on the issue that Epicurus was dealing with the issue of how to think about something on which there is not a lot of "direct evidence" -- on the issue of how to deal with things that we cannot ourselves see -- then we may never be able to break through the conventional religious perspective to entertain that Epicurus had good reasons for what he was saying.

    Much like the "size of the sun" issue -- it is ridiculous ever to simply say "Epicurus was wrong about the size of the sun" without explaining in the same conversation what the issues were that he confronted from competing positions, what evidence he enlisted in support of his conclusion, how he also maintained that alternative explanations which are possible should not be eliminated, and how he got right the issue that was probably more important - that the Earth is not the center of the universe. And in my reading of the details of what is left on that controversy, it is not even clear to me that Epicurus took a firm position on the measurement of the sun - the record I have seen is that Epicurus said that the sun was something like "more or less what it appears to be" and that in itself can be interpreted in varying ways. The bottom like is that it always irks me when people who are supposedly giving a neutral or even sympathetic portrayal of Epicurus cannot point out that the arguments against him may not be all that they appear to be.

  • So whenever it is suggested to me that we should top talking about "the gods" because it turns off people who might otherwise be interested in Epicurean philosophy, my response is to say that "Unless we DO talk about "the gods," and explain Epicurus' reasoning about them, then they will never understand the full depth of Epicurus' reasoning about proper reasoning (the canon) and humanity's place in the universe!

    And that bothers me. But of course it doesn't really bother those whose interest in Epicurus starts and stops with Epicurus was a hedonist, but a funny kind, because he held that the greatest pleasure is the absence of pain, and all we really need is bread and water and tranquillity. (my summary, not a quote ;) )

    It is a wonder that I have any teeth left, since I have to "grit" them so often!

    (Added note:

    In fact, even if Epicurus had never said the first word about pleasure, pain, and happiness, I think I would have found Epicurus to be one of the most fascinating figures in world history, just for his views on physics and the universe and this "divinity" issue.)

  • Yes, the more we discuss various aspects of the philosophy, the clearer the ideas become. There's so much more than is initially evident and it gets more interesting the more I get into it.

    And the gods are definitely a juicy topic with which to deepen one's understanding!

  • And the gods are definitely a juicy topic with which to deepen one's understanding!

    Dare I suggest it, but being willing to give serious consideration to "the Epicurean gods" may be analogous to being willing to give serious consideration to about "pleasure" as the goal of life.

    Are we brave enough to through off the chains of political and academic respectability, and explore whether Epicurus may have been onto something big, two thousand years ago, that we have fully and completely buried today, even in educated academic circles that are supposed to be Epicurean-friendly?

    It's quite clear to me that significant numbers of people, even in the educated classes, are not willing, and will never be willing, to open their minds to that possibility. But it's the ones who are that I think are the key to revitalizing Epicurean philosophy. Which is not to say at all that we're going to agree on the same conclusions, but I do think we ought to be willing to give Epicurus the benefit of every doubt, and really consider his statements from every possible sympathetic angle before rejecting them.

  • I have the impression that Epicurus and the epicureans in general, on the issue of gods have realize it on the basis of social common affairs and specifically about the customs with celebrations concerning the gods. As we know any fiesta/party is something that produce pleasure to the people. If Epicurus would be against the customs and all the annual celebrations concerning the gods, and all these things that unite the people he would be against the social coherence of his polis Athens. Epicurus wants to eliminate from people the fears and superstitions for studying the Nature properly and living pleasantly. So, the clear image about the gods is such an issue that has to produce union, friendship, creative things and pleasure to the people of a society. And that's all.

    Beauty and virtue and such are worthy of honor, if they bring pleasure; but if not then bid them farewell!

  • Against the celebrations and the fiesta of life we have the opposite with this :

    "On Sundays and in the feasts, neither you play nor you dance, because the games and the dances are works of Devil. The Hellenes (Greeks), the atheists and the deceived, were those who did not believe in God, they did not hope in the resurrection and Crisis, those were that did those things and they danced, and drunk and they enjoyed the games". Ioannis of Damaskos (A "holy father" of the orthodox christian church).

    Beauty and virtue and such are worthy of honor, if they bring pleasure; but if not then bid them farewell!

  • "𝐀𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐮𝐫𝐞 𝐰𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐡 𝐰𝐞 𝐝𝐚𝐢𝐥𝐲 𝐟𝐞𝐞𝐥 𝐢𝐧 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐬𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐬 𝐡𝐞𝐥𝐩𝐬 𝐮𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐬𝐡 𝐚𝐧𝐲 𝐬𝐨𝐫𝐫𝐨𝐰".

    I consider this sentence by Pericles to be very important. He says the pleasure that we 𝐝𝐚𝐢𝐥𝐲 feel helps us to banish sorrow. Yes, this is clear and obvious when many people in a society feel sorrow and melancholy are due to their fears of god, of death and are the same issues that lead to loneliness and depression these persons in this society. In this society people are not participating with gladness in common affairs political or religious. They are not creative. They are the fatalists for being suspicious to each other. And they vote for leaders like themselves, who think that are like the axis of Earth for spinning around the universe. Because if the common affairs (philosophical, political and religious) became boring, we may think and this : Is there any virus in these peoples' life that provoke to them an illness as a great plague? Is there something that is going against to these peoples' nature?

    IF the 𝐝𝐚𝐢𝐥𝐲 things and issues, in any society, bring to people the painful feelings of sorrow, stress, agony, depression and melancholy, this society is doomed to be dissolved because these feelings lead to suspicion and disastrous actions among them. This society has no coherence anymore. And as a greek idiom says : "in any disaster, only the carnivorous wolves are feeling happy".

    And here from Meneoceus : "I (Epicurus) have abolished the Necessity that is introduced by some thinkers as the mistress of all things, for it were better to subscribe to the myths concerning the gods than to be a slave to the Destiny of the physicists, because the former presumes a hope of mercy through worship but the latter assumes Necessity to be inexorable".

    And that means for being united with the others in my society I will put all the probabilities on the table for doing the hedonic calculation and according to the right study of Nature and my nature, and even to subscribe worshiping with others our common gods. Because for being bliss and happy I will use all the tools that lead myself and my society living our unique life in pleasure. Since we all 𝐤𝐧𝐨𝐰 that there is no other life nowhere else. But when these tools do not bring us pleasure anymore e.g. worshiping some gods, we are able to change and even the image of those gods because we are 𝗳𝗿𝗲𝗲 to choose whatever brings to us pleasure. And when we say we are free, we are also 𝗮𝘂𝘁𝗼𝗻𝗼𝗺𝗼𝘂𝘀 . And that means we are responsible and capable to give all the laws by ourselves and for ourselves since, we do not accept that the laws are given by some leaders or by any god that were proved harmful. We are able to change and the laws, and the leaders and the gods when they do not bring to us any 𝗽𝗹𝗲𝗮𝘀𝘂𝗿𝗲 in our daily common affairs. But what the new greeks are doing now in Epicurus homeland? They insist to vote the same stupid leaders. They insist to follow stupid religious leaders who are spreading the same image of a foreign stupid god.

    I want back again all the 30 thousand ancient greek gods that their image was given clearly by Epicurus as natural beings that were living in bliss and pleasure that is according to the natural and not the unnatural. I want back that Democracy of Pericles that is all described of how can be achieved in his epitaph. I want hundreds of epicurean Gardens to be established in the cities of Epicurus homeland. I want epicurean philosophy to be taught properly inside the schools and academies. This choice and option is against the new greeks' sorrow and melancholy that became higher after the financial crisis. No, thrice NO in Greece the crisis 𝐢𝐬 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐟𝐢𝐧𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐢𝐚𝐥. The crisis is in all the values that have been turned upside down. The means i.e. virtues became an abstract goal and the real goal i.e. the pleasure, and its proclaimer Epicurus, is hidden and be slandered for centuries and centuries till our days.

    𝗧𝗿𝗮𝗻𝘀𝘃𝗮𝗹𝘂𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗼𝗳 𝗮𝗹𝗹 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘃𝗮𝗹𝘂𝗲𝘀 𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗲 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗻𝗼𝘄!

    Beauty and virtue and such are worthy of honor, if they bring pleasure; but if not then bid them farewell!

  • This subject is always pleasant to contemplate, for its power to suggest something of grandeur and perspective, apart from anything else. I proposed a few months back in another thread that an advanced artificial intelligence might fit the description of an undying and untroubled divinity figure.

    And other figures present themselves for consideration. There is in Utah, for instance, a clonal colony of a single quaking aspen tree, called Pando (I spread out, in Latin) all sharing one individual's DNA, whose branching grove spans 106 acres. An extremely venerable tree, the root system of this trembling giant is said to be 80,000 years old. To call Pando a god would require us to expand our conception of pleasure and happiness, and there are other problems besides. But this patriarch among trees does serve to illustrate the point; there are natural marvels even in this world. Surely in the infinite reaches of space greater wonders await discovery.

    In supersaline lagoons in Australia there are ancient colonies of cyanobacteria quietly bubbling away on the same pillared altars of sediment that they began to wrought when the earth was young. These stromatolites are sustained by the finest viands, drinking a little sunlight in each single photo-synthesizing cell, and splitting off an O² molecule here and there as if in compensation. Without their kind, the atmosphere of this planet would have remained oxygen-poor and unable to sustain higher life. These structures were ancient beyond memory even when Pando was a sapling; the two elders have been trading oxygen and carbon dioxide with each other for over a thousand lifetimes of men.

  • I think the key problem I have with the theory of the Epicurean gods is their immortality. It doesn’t pass the test of conceivability that we find in Philodemus’ “Methods of Inference”.

    I can conceive of blissful, super-evolved beings, maybe ones who live for hundreds or for thousands of years.

    But No species has ever been observed to be immortal.

    And furthermore, no _habitat_ has been observed to be eternal. All the stars are suns that, like ours, will eventually explode as supernovas. There are rogue planets with no sun in between the galaxies that are not vulnerable to these and gamma rays and other outbursts, but beings there would have to get their nourishment from the heated core of their home planet, which would have to have a frozen crust. This heated core energy would eventually exhaust. And there is nothing keeping a rogue planet from being captured by a star eventually

    "Please always remember my doctrines!" - Epicurus' last words

  • But No species has ever been observed to be immortal.

    "Never before seen" was never a sufficient argument against atoms, and is itself not a sufficient argument against anything that can be conceived to potentially exist through deductive reasoning. Just as observing that "no one had ever seen an iphone" before this century was not a good reason to believe that they were impossible.

    All the stars are suns that, like ours, will eventually explode as supernovas.

    And yes this is good current physics which I accept too (and Epicurus did too, since he said all that comes together eventually comes apart!), which is logically the probable reason that the Epicureans placed the gods in the "intermundia" between the cosmos, and not as residents of any single one.

    The point here is that we can all come up with objections to why we personally may be skeptical about something, but to start and stop the discussion with our personal conclusion without even stating it in detail does no justice to the Epicurean argument.

    The dismissal of the Epicurean argument as obsolete and unworthy of discussion not only hints at an "unseemly" disrespect to Epicurus' general approach, but it advances no one's thinking in understanding the Epicurean thought processes.

    The thought processes applied to the gods touch on many other issues separate and apart from "the nature of the gods," not the least of which is the entire issue of reasoning based on analogy vs reasoning based on dialectical logic / ideal forms, which is in the same league of importance. Philodemus devoted his book to it and no doubt there was much other discussion about it, as this goes to the heart of Epicurean philosophy vs the Stoics and those who based their conclusions on "logic."

  • In the main I don't think I find fault with those objections, Hiram; and at any rate, the value in such beings is not in their being, per se, but in the human frame of mind that allows for their being.

    I, like Godfrey, am an atheist as I understand the term. I deny the existence of the God of theism, since by definition that God is creative and supernatural (an impossibility), intercessory (a contradiction with lived experience), and revelatory (a gross offense against the intellect of the common man).

    And what is the desirable frame of mind I mention above? Simply this;

    1. An alert and healthy sense of perspective.

    While it is mean and petty and narcissistic to suppose oneself the exclusive beneficiary of divine revelation, and to announce oneself thereby as the inheritor and disposer of creation, it is cautious and magnanimous to imagine a rung of natural intelligence still higher up the ladder. Compare the Hymn to Venus in Lucretius with the following verse in Psalms; "The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’s; But the earth He has given to the children of men." And behold whither this leads, in the following contemptible utterance of Anne Coulter; "God gave us the earth. We have dominion over the plants, the animals, the trees. God said, ‘Earth is yours. Take it. Rape it. It’s yours." Well, the earth is not ours. It was here for billions of years before our ancestors, and others will inhabit it for aeons after the last of our kind has died. We should not be nihilists, forever moaning the smallness of man in the dead emptiness of space. Neither should we be megalomaniacs.

    2. A becoming and genuine intellectual modesty.

    This is a related problem, and finds its distinction in the difference between Pyrrho and all Prophets. One claimed to know nothing; the other, to know everything. They were both playing false.

    3. A reverence for life and its contingencies.

    This goes a long way toward explaining why Epicurus attended the sacred rites. To express gratitude to Demeter is not to grant any meaning to the silly and fatuous myths that surround her; it is merely to recognize that our own common social existence depends upon the fecundity of Nature. As for the attendant virtue of civility, it is expressed best by Christopher Hitchens; "When I go into a Mosque, I take off my shoes. When I go into a Synagogue, I cover my head."

    And why is this frame of mind desirable? Because it encapsulates the spirit of inquiry that is best able to delve into the nature of physics and ethics, as typified by the figure of Epicurus. That spirit of inquiry is essential to probing the nature of the good (pleasure), and the foundation of human happiness.

  • I think Joshua's summary is a very good description of where most of "US" are - and it helps provide background to why this is not really an issue for those of us who have found our way to a forum like this.

    But we are a very small minority of the human race, and it is my view at least (not sure if anyone wants to argue this or not) that the great majority of human beings in the world ARE concerned with the issues of "whether there are higher beings" and if so "what is their nature and power" and "what is humanity's relationship to them."

    The Epicurean system provides rational answers to the questions for people who are concerned about those issues. And also, again speaking only for myself, of course, I have no desire to limit discussion of Epicurean philosophy to people who see no need (for themselves) to consider the "divinity" issue. That may offend the professional atheists who see "atheism" as the center of their philosophical universe, and want to shut down all discussion other that ethics in the here and now, but I have never felt much affinity for that crowd myself, and I see it as a major error to approach philosophy in that way. If there was ever a use for the term "ivory tower" that is it, because I observe these issues to concern every "normal" person in my own experience - and the closer we get to death the more it concerns us.

    For all we know, Epicurus himself might well have personally gotten to the point that the issue was not of paramount importance to him. Regardless of that, doubtless he knew how important it was to the many who where his friends, and to many who would be relevant to his life, whether or not they were his friends.

  • According to DeWitt, Epicurus never described the gods as "immortal" but as "incorruptible". He goes on to say:

    "The reasoning behind this doctrine of incorruptibility is readily discerned. From the doctrine that nothing exists except atoms and void it follows that the bodies of the gods must be corporeal. Gods are zoa, "animate beings." They are thus units in the ascending order of Nature, as is man. Being in this order and corporeal, they cannot be deathless. If deathlessness were inherent in their nature, they would be in another class by themselves. Since they do belong in the same class as man, it is a logical necessity to think of their incorruptibility as by some means preserved. Since in the cosmos of Epicurus, unlike that of Plato, this incorruptibility lacked a superior being to guarantee its continuance, the sole possibility was that the gods preserved it for themselves by their own vigilance. Thus it must be discerned that just as the happiness of man is self-achieved, so the happiness of the gods is self-preserved."

    This brings to mind images of animals wandering the savanna, nomadic tribes, space opera. Also images such as "two faces or a vase?" or "young lady or witch?"

    Like many innovations of Epicurus, understanding his take on the gods involves a new way of seeing. Personally, I feel like I just got a new pair of glasses and am still tripping when I descend a staircase.

  • Actually, for us moderns, many innovations of Epicurus are common sense. So the ones that aren't (like the gods) uncomfortably challenge us perhaps in a way that he challenged his contemporaries.