The Difference Between “Atheist” and “Liar” (for Cicero: none)

Nam cum de natura hominis quaeritur, <haec> disputari sole<n>t—<et> nimirum ita est, ut disputatur—perpetuis cursibus conuersionibus<que> caelestibus exstitisse quandam maturitatem serendi generis humani, quod sparsum in terras atque satum diuino auctum sit animorum munere, cumque alia quibus cohaererent homines e mortali genere sumpserint, quae fragilia essent et caduca, animum esse ingeneratum a deo. Ex quo uere uel agnatio nobis cum caelestibus uel genus uel stirps appellari potest.

Itaque ex tot generibus nullum est animal praeter hominem quod habeat notitiam aliquam dei, ipsisque in hominibus nulla gens est neque tam mansueta neque tam fera, quae non, etiamsi ignoret qualem haberi deum deceat, tamen habendum sciat.

Cicero, De Legibus 1.8.24

Population of Atheists and Agnostics by country, according to the Cambridge Companion to Atheism (2007), or, according to Cicero, percentage of liars, or Strong Liars, Implicit/Weak/Negative liars, and Implicit Liars in the world, by country.

Population of Atheists and Agnostics by country, according to the Cambridge Companion to Atheism (2007), or, according to Cicero, percentage of liars, or Strong Liars, Implicit/Weak/Negative liars, and Implicit Liars in the world, by country.

For when the question concerns the nature of man, these things are usually discussed—and doubtless it is just as it is discussed—that in constant courses and heavenly cycles a certain growth pattern for the sowing of the human race has arisen, which scattered and sown about the lands has been increased with the divine gift of minds, and that, though they have received other things of which men of the mortal race consist, which are fragile and liable to deterioration, the mind is generated within by god. From which is truly able to be named our relationship with the heavenly beings or our kind or stock.

And so out of so many kinds there is no animal except man which has some awareness of god, and among men themselves there is no race, be it never so tame or wild, which does not know, even if it be ignorant what sort of god he should be held to be, nevertheless that he ought to be held to be.

Cicero, The Laws 1.8.24

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So the atheist is either a liar (if he’s an implicit or explicit/negative atheist, in other words, an agnostic), or else he’s a believer in a faith, namely, that the statement “There is at least one deity” is false. Such a thing, which is unprovable, must needs be a matter of faith.

Thanks, dear reader, should you ever find me, for being my gadfly.

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About philokalos

Philologist, historian, and lover of great books, I started this blog to keep myself alert to the beauty of what I see amid the demands of my work.
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