In the last several chapters, particularly in the chapter titled Two Cultures, I have been most intrigued by the dichotomy between the Indo-Europeans and the Semites. These two groups seem vastly juxtaposed yet they hold many similar ideas. For example, both religious groups identity strongly with emphasis on good versus evil or sin, and this perpetuates many of the major teachings of both groups. Being fairly nonreligious, I found it quite interesting to read about the foundations of religions I am not particularly familiar with, such as those of the Indo-European origins. Polytheism is one topic that caught my attention; it seems that monotheism such as with Christianity and Judaism are much more widely regarded in the Western World than polytheism, though I know Hinduism does have multiple gods as a pillar of that faith. I didn’t know that the Islamic faith avoids photography and art in order to uphold God’s ability to create and to subsequently avoid any human attempts at creation. This contrasts really strongly with my own experiences with religion, where the image of Jesus is celebrated and widely represented through art and imagery. I never realized this was anything but a universal norm, though of course in this case Jesus specifically is not universally acknowledged by all religions. I was fascinated by the rate at which Christianity spread across Greek and Roman cities (the book said in only three to four hundred years). Given that the Greek philosophers had such a strong hold on culture and society through knowledge (although Socrates was rather a pariah) such a vast revolution in what is a comparably short period of time strikes me as bizarre and rather amazing.
The overtaking of the Greek philosophers in the wake of Christianity reminds me very much of the growing rates of atheism and its beliefs (or lack thereof), as was discussed in one class handout. In society today, particularly in the United States, rates of atheism have increased over an extremely short period of time. Pew Research reported on June 1 of 2016 that a 2014 study found that 3.1% of the United States population identifies as an atheist, which increased from 1.6% of the population in 2007. The handout from class states that atheism relies on logic and morality as well as other non-physical entities and concepts without the addition of a deity or God as supposed reasoning. This, along with the increasing rates of atheism, are a result of a level of shrewdness and scrutiny brought about by the Information Age. People are more heavily reliant on science and (nonfake) news information that are more easily distributed as a result of technology. This is a “real world” application exploring atheist concepts we covered in class, as people garner support for ideals through new means of communication and discovery rather than using theism as an explanation for what they see in the modern age. The handout states that one atheist objection to theism is that most divine experiences can be explained readily by science or psychology, and this applies to the real world today through the discovery of the existence of the the Higgs Boson, otherwise known as the God Particle. The discovery of this particle enabled the understanding of how matter forms and subsequently why physical objects exist rather than simple energy. This sharply contests the idea of man being created by God from dust and woman from the rib of man, and it is discoveries like this that enable the widespread understanding and possible support for atheist ideas more than ever. As religion ebbed and changed during the time of early Christianity, atheism and forsaking religion is the new wave entering the world today through the greater understanding and application of concepts though technology.