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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Memorial Service

I ask myself daily, "Why can't god worship just die out?" Then I remember how Hitchens forcefully puts it, "We're afraid of the dark, and we're afraid to die, and we believe in the truths of holy books that are so stupid, and so fabricated, that a child can and all children do-judging by their questions-recognize this." Well, perhaps believers should think about the fact that gods worshiped as fervently and devoutly as YHWH/Jesus are now fertilizer. H.L. Mencken put this best in his essay, Memorial Service...which most of you have already read, but it never hurts to post good atheistic writing.

Memorial Service

H. L. Mencken

Where is the grave-yard of dead gods? What lingering mourner waters their mounds? There was a day when Jupiter was the king of the gods, and any man who doubted his puissance was ipso facto a barbarian and an ignoramus. But where in all the world is there a man who worships Jupiter to-day? And what of Huitzilopochtli? In one year--and it is no more than five hundred years ago--50,000 youths and maidens were slain in sacrifice to him. Today, if he is remembered at all, it is only by some vagrant savage in the depths of the Mexican forest. Huitzilopochtli, like many other gods, had no human father; his mother was a virtuous widow; he was born of an apparently innocent flirtation that she carried on with the sun. When he frowned, his father, the sun, stood still. When he roared with rage, earthquakes engulfed whole cities. When he thirsted he was watered with 10,000 gallons of human blood. But today [in 1921] Huitzilopochtli is as magnificently forgotten as Allen G. Thurman. Once the peer of Allah, Buddha, and Wotan, he is now the peer of General Coxey, Richmond P. Hobson, Nan Petterson, Alton B. Parker, Adelina Patti, General Weyler, and Tom Sharkey.

Speaking of Huitzilopochtli recalls his brother, Tezcatilpoca. Tezcatilpoca was almost as powerful: He consumed 25,000 virgins a year. Lead me to his tomb: I would weep, and hang a couronne des perles. But who knows where it is? Or where the grave of Quitzalcontl is? Or Tialoc? Or Chalchihuitlicue? Or Xiehtecutli? Or Centeotl, that sweet one? Or Tlazolteotl, the goddess of love? Or Mictlan? Or Ixtlilton? Or Omacatl? Or Yacatecutli? Or Mixcoatl? Or Xipe? Or all the host of Tzitzimitles? Where are their bones? Where is the willow on which they hung their harps? In what forlorn and unheard of hell do they await the resurrection morn? Who enjoys their residuary estates? Or that of Dis, whom Caesar found to be the chief god of the Celts? Or that of Tarves, the bull? Or that of Moccos, the pig? Or that of Epona, the mare? Or that of Mullo, the celestial jack-ass? There was a time when the Irish revered all these gods as violently as they now hate the English. But today even the drunkest Irishman laughs at them.

But they have company in oblivion: The hell of dead gods is as crowded as the Presbyterian hell for babies. Damona is there, and Esus, and Drunemeton, and Silvana, and Dervones, and Adsalluta, and Deva, and Belisama, and Axona, and Vintios, and Taranuous, and Sulis, and Cocidius, and Adsmerius, and Dumiatis, and Caletos, and Moccus, and Ollovidius, and Albiorix, and Leucitius, and Vitucadrus, and Ogmios, and Uxellimus, and Borvo, and Grannos, and Mogons. All mighty gods in their day, worshiped by millions, full of demands and impositions, able to bind and loose--all gods of the first class, not dilettanti. Men labored for generations to build vast temples to them--temples with stones as large as hay-wagons. The business of interpreting their whims occupied thousands of priests, wizards, archdeacons, evangelists, haruspices, bishops, archbishops. To doubt them was to die, usually at the stake. Armies took to the field to defend them against infidels: Villages were burned, women and children were butchered, cattle were driven off. Yet in the end they all withered and died, and today there is none so poor to do them reverence. Worse, the very tombs in which they lie are lost, and so even a respectful stranger is debarred from paying them the slightest and politest homage.

What has become of Sutekh, once the high god of the whole Nile Valley? What has become of:

Resheph
Anath
Ashtoreth
El
Nergal
Nebo
Ninib
Melek Ahijah
Isis
Ptah
Anubis
Baal
Astarte
Hadad
Addu Shalem
Dagon
Sharrab
Yau
Amon-Re
Osiris
Sebek
Molech?

All these were once gods of the highest eminence. Many of them are mentioned with fear and trembling in the Old Testament. They ranked, five or six thousand years ago, with Jahveh himself; the worst of them stood far higher than Thor. Yet they have all gone down the chute, and with them the following:

Bilé
Ler
Arianrod
Morrigu
Govannon
Gunfled
Sokk-mimi
Memetona
Dagda
Robigus
Pluto
Ops
Meditrina
Vesta
Tilmun
Ogyrvan
Dea Dia
Ceros
Vaticanus
Edulia
Adeona
Iuno Lucina
Saturn
Furrina
Vediovis
Consus
Cronos
Enki
Engurra
Belus
Dimmer
Mu-ul-lil
Ubargisi
Ubilulu
Gasan lil
U-dimmer-an-kia
Enurestu
U-sab-sib Kerridwen
Pwyll
Tammuz
Venus
Bau
Mulu-hursang
Anu
Beltis
Nusku
U-Mersi
Beltu
Dumu-zi-abzu
Kuski-banda
Sin
Abil Addu
Apsu
Dagan
Elali
Isum
Mami
Nin-man
Zaraqu
Suqamunu
Zagaga
Gwydion
Manawyddan
Nuada Argetlam
Tagd
Goibniu
Odin
Llaw Gyffes
Lleu
Ogma
Mider
Rigantona
Marzin
Mars
Kaawanu Ni-zu
Sahi
Aa
Allatu
Jupiter
Cunina
Potina
Statilinus
Diana of Ephesus
Nin-azu
Lugal-Amarada
Zer-panitu
Merodach
U-ki
Dauke
Gasan-abzu
Elum
U-Tin-dir-ki
Marduk
Nin-lil-la
Nin
Persephone
Istar
Lagas
U-urugal
Sirtumu
Ea
Nirig
Nebo
Samas
Ma-banba-anna
En-Mersi
Amurru
Assur
Aku
Qarradu
Ura-gala
Ueras

You may think I spoof. That I invent the names. I do not. Ask the rector to lend you any good treatise on comparative religion: You will find them all listed. They were gods of the highest standing and dignity--gods of civilized peoples--worshiped and believed in by millions. All were theoretically omnipotent, omniscient, and immortal. And all are dead.

11 comments:

  1. Reminds me of Terry Pratchett's Discworld, where a god's power is directly propertional to the amount of belief they have.

    The small gods are those who have lost their followers, 'died', and now exist only as forgotten whispers amongst the dead ruins, buried under the sand. They outnumber the 'real' gods by many thousands.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Quasar,

    Yeah, a general theme I have noticed from debating theists for several years is that they think that just because their particular god is still worshipped and has been so for 2,000 years means that their faith is likely to be true. I just purchased an audiobook today called "Everything you know about God is Wrong" and listened to a section on the Philadelphia sex abuse trials where I was absolutely nauseated by the sadistic shit priests have done to children-hundreds of children, just in this area. Where is this "just" god? How can we understand the notion that god is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent when "He" allows children to be brutally raped and mentally scarred by "His" representatives?

    I have read a few studies suggesting that several new religions are born each week...most die out. THat is why we hear nothing of John Frum nowadays!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Clos said:

    Yeah, a general theme I have noticed from debating theists for several years is that they think that just because their particular god is still worshipped and has been so for 2,000 years means that their faith is likely to be true.


    I have had a lot of conversations with people who were pretty uneducated and I'm amazed at how many of them not only accept the biblical creation story as truth, but also are completely ignorant of the fact that anyone on this planet has ever worshiped anything other than the xian god. No, really, not kidding. You say 'god' to them and they immediately think Jesus and that's it. A lot of the people I'm referring to are elderly, so I'm not judgmental that they don't know any better, but the youth of today, with all the resources they have at their fingertips, should be better educated.

    Then again, they should also know math and science better than they do, but that's a whole other story.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I miss Pan and his enormous penis.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I always wonder which philosophy will survive the next century. So much information is coming in about the nature of the mind , our origins, the nature of the universe. Will naturalism stand up to it?, or will theism fall?
    I'm so anxious

    ReplyDelete
  6. [Where is this "just" god? How can we understand the notion that god is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent when "He" allows children to be brutally raped and mentally scarred by "His" representatives?]
    What would you have God do?

    ReplyDelete
  7. [Which god?]

    That's what I ask street evangelists (I'll talk to anyone who wants to talk to me on the street) when they mention god.

    There's a group down here in my town called "The Potter's House". Their followers are the saddest people I've ever seen. One of them came up to me and asked if I ever thought about what god wanted. I asked "which god?" and he looked so flustered that he left to get someone else to talk to me...

    That guy was named Mars and he plays guitar at Potter's House. After a while he told me that he was visited by "monsters" at night and heard voices talking about him. Then he met a Potter's House guy on the train. He read the Bible and realised he was a "evil person" and "as bad as a murderer". He joined Potter's House. He still hears voices but now he _knows_ they are demons...

    Potter's House people are the ones who once told me to get out of town "IN THE NAME OF JESUS!". It didn't work.

    ReplyDelete
  8. CF(nl), thanks for the excuse for me to babble on. I probably shouldn't have used Mars's real name... Anyways CF(nl), did you leave Ray's blog after he told you to change your name or did he ban you totally?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Llaw Gyffes - is that the Welsh god of lost sheep?

    ReplyDelete
  10. @MFT

    "What would you have God do?"

    Some questions simply don't require answers. This is like asking whether my actions will offend hobgoblins.

    ReplyDelete

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