Fun Facts: Philosophy and Religion
"'To be is to do.'- Socrates
'To do is to be.' - Jean-Paul Sartre
'Do be do be do.' - Frank Sinatra"
- Kurt Vonnegut
It has been estimated that over 100,000 different religious
faiths have existed since the dawn of humanity. Most of them, of course, have failed.
The oldest religious custom is that of burying the dead, which has religious
connotations. There is evidence of Neanderthals burying the dead as early as
60,000 B.C., in the Shanidar cave in northern Iraq.
Egyptian pharaoh Amenhotep IV, who renamed himself Akhenaten, who reigned circa 1351–1334 B.C., was the first
recorded monotheist in history. He decreed that Aten was the only god to be
worshipped, and images of the old official god, Amun, were destroyed.
However, this revolution did not affect the general population of Egypt, who continued
to worship their own regional gods, nor was it long-lasting, since after his
death the old gods were reinstated.
The Greek philosopher Thales (624–546 B.C.) is generally considered to be
the first philosopher. He was the first man in recorded history to ask
questions such as "Of what is the Universe made?", and to answer
without introducing gods and demons. In later centuries, when the
Greeks constructed lists of "seven wise men", Thales was always
Socrates, one of the greatest Ancient Greek philosophers, was forced
to commit suicide by drinking hemlock after being found guilty of "corrupting
the youth of Athens."
Socrates was said to have always worn an old, worn-out coat,
gone shoeless, and to have been ugly.
The ancient Romans had gods for boundary stones (Termini), hinges (Cardea), doors (Janus), and mildew (Robigus).
The first lunar missions were named "Apollo", a name suggested
by Abe Silverstein, who was an early director of the Lewis Research Center and one of the "founding fathers" of NASA's Manned Spaceflight Center in Houston, now Johnson Space Center.
Some scholars have suggested that pagan Romans would have (and some did) welcomed Jesus Christ into the Roman pantheon, but Christians would have nothing to do with that.
The Donatists of fourth-century North Africa were so committed to
martyrdom that they would stop strangers, demanding to
be killed by them. As they threatened the strangers with death should
they refuse, their demand was frequently obliged.
According to the rules of logic, the question "What would happen if an
irresistible force met an immovable object?" is meaningless.
In a universe where one of the above exists, the other cannot by definition.
The philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) was the first person to propose that what
we now call galaxies lay outside the Milky Way and were indeed galaxies (or
"island universes", as Kant called them) in their own right.
Since Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) emphasised duty, stressing that
valid ethical rules must be applied in all circumstances, he gained a
reputation for being dry and humourless. However, that reputation is wrong;
he was a great conversationalist, a witty and imaginative
lecturer, and an excellent host.
Isaac Asimov, one of the 20th century's most prolific authors,
has a book in all major categories of the Dewey
Decimal System—except for the 100s (Philosophy and Psychology).
The largest religious building ever built is Angkor Wat, now in
Cambodia, enclosing 402 acres. It was built to honour the Hindu god
Vishnu by the Khmer King Suryavarman II between 1113 and 1150.
Gerbert of Aurillac, who became Pope Sylvester II in the year 999, was the greatest
Latin scholar around the turn of the first millennium. In his youth he went to Muslim Spain to
study philosophy and mathematics. His education
made him so intellectually superior to the rest of his Christian
contemporaries that for many centuries he was regarded as possessing
mysterious powers of black magic and sorcery.
The seven deadly sins (anger, covetousness, envy, gluttony, lust, pride, and sloth)
are not found in the Bible; they were first enumerated by St. Thomas Aquinas.
The philosopher Spinoza enjoyed watching spiders fight.
Nietzsche's autobiographical Ecce Homo includes chapters
titled "Why I Am So Wise," "Why I Am So Clever," and "Why I Write Such
Ludwig Wittgenstein, one of the most significant philosophers of the 20th
century, gave away his share of his large inheritance in 1919, not to the poor,
whom he believed might be corrupted by the wealth, but to some of his
already rich relatives, believing that it wouldn't corrupt them further. In
1935 he applied to emigrate to the Soviet Union and become a Russian peasant.
While the Soviet Union was willing to welcome him as a professor, they didn't
need any more peasants, so Wittgenstein returned to Britain. Later on in his
career at Cambridge, if any of his philosophy students expressed any interest
in pursuing philosophy, he would ban them from attending his classes.
While most of us believe that we "obviously" have free will, many that
study this subject become less convinced, believing that everything that we
do is determined (determinism). Anything that happens happens happens for a reason, and
all processes, including all decisions that humans make, are caused by
other processes. If this were not the case, there would be no order in the world.
Four major religions were born in India: Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. Around 25% of the world's population follows one of these four religions.
Hedonism, which is living in accordance with the principles of pleasure, was
introduced by the Greek philosopher Epicurus (circa 341–270 B.C.). However,
Epicurus advocated a simple life, not overindulgence in pleasure, because those
who lead a simple life will get more pleasure from pleasurable occasions
than someone inured to those pleasures.
The smallest chapel in the world is on the grounds of a
Benedictine monastery near Covington, Kentucky, in the United States. Not much larger
than a telephone booth, it was built by Brother Albert Soltis for his
personal use in 1878 and can accommodate no more than three people at once.
The South American country of Suriname comprises around 23% Catholics,
25% Protestants, 20% Muslims, and 27% Hindus. Additionally, many of the native
people practise traditional animism, a population of former black slaves
whose ancestors escaped into the rainforest practise an African syncretic
faith, and a Chinese community practises Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism.
Niccolo Machiavelli (1469–1527) was not Machiavellian. His 1519
book The Prince describes how a ruler must be cruel to retain
power, but Machiavelli was a philosopher, musician, playwright and poet,
not a statesman, and so did not commit any such cruel acts.
In 1997, U.S. News & World Report surveyed its readers as to whether they believed various well-known figures to be "very likely" or "somewhat likely" to get into heaven. More people (87%) picked themselves as being likely to get into heaven than anyone else, ahead of people such as Mother Teresa (second place, 79%) or Oprah Winfrey (third place, 66%). (source)
It is estimated that over 7,500,000,000 copies of the Bible have been made.
In the 2001 census for England and Wales, around 390,000 people specified
their religion as "Jedi". The Office for National
Statistics in the United Kingdom does not recognise "Jedi" as a separate category, so those
listing "Jedi" were classified as atheists.
The Free Pentecostal Holiness Church is a fundamentalist Christian sect
in the southern United States. Its members believe that the Bible
is the literal word of God. As Mark 16:18 states that true believers are able to
defy fire, poison, and serpents, as part of their religious services the
congregation will handle rattlesnakes, drink strychnine and touch fire,
apparently without discomfort or ill effect.
The Temple of the True Inner Light, a Greenwich Village (in New York City) storefront church,
attracted worshippers in 1988 by offering
dipropyl tryptamine, a legal yet powerful psychadelic drug, as the communion drink.
"Easter", the English name for the chief Christian feast, comes from
Eostre, the name of the pagan Anglo-Saxon goddess of dawn.