Touching Note

While rereading an English translation of De Rerum Natura (The Nature of Things*), written by Lucretius around 50 BC, I came across a passage that I would paraphrase this way:

If you cannot touch your god, your god cannot touch you.

In other words, if your god is undetectable through your physical senses, then it can have no physical effect upon you. To still believe in such a god is to leave reality behind, and to wallow in supernaturalism.

The Nature of Things is essentially a 2,000-year-old science book. It is Lucretius’ effort, following in the footsteps of Epicurus (about 300 BC), to explain natural phenomena without recourse to supernaturalism. It disappeared early in the Christian era, but was rediscovered in the 1400s. It had a strong influence on the progress of the Western Enlightenment. In the book The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, Stephen Greenblatt tells that story.**

This history serves as a good example of how the Christian suppression (or disregard) of Western Culture impeded the progress of civilization.

* Penguin Classics, 2007. Translated by A. E. Stallings.

** W. W. Norton & Co., 2011.

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