God Since the time of Epicurus to the present, many people have had certain beliefs in myths and in the Gods. Epicurus presents his philosophy pertaining to these convictions. In his reasoning, he derives a definition of mythology and of the Gods contradicting to much of popular thought. Many people depend on mythology when they need an explanation for a phenomenon. Epicurus rationalizes that mythology is unchangeable and dogmatic, for when one accepts one theory and rejects another which is equally consistent with the phenomenon in question, it is clear that one has thereby blundered out of any sort of proper physics and falled into mythology (3.87; pg. 20). Epicurus believes that the cyclical periods of the heavenly bodies cause much of the unexplained meteorological phenomena.
Nevertheless, further knowledge of a natural phenomenon will not alter the minds of those who believe in mythology because they already have an answer to their curiosity. They base their beliefs on theories which have no true or logical facts. These people are those who possess an inappropriate and lunatic behavior (3.113; pg. 27). Mythology leads to a necessity for Gods.
People look to the Gods as a justification for a phenomenon. For example, if we were to be confused by what thunder is and what brings about thunder, we would conceive a God to explain the appearance of thunder. With the rising amount of too many unexplainable occurrences, people needed to derive more than one God to expand the responsibilities among each God. Epicurus does not disagree with the concept of a God; he concludes that they exist. His conformation lies in what he calls a prolepsis, which is the basic grasp of a notion of the Gods. This basic knowledge is not one which is taught, but is rather an innate sense in the minds of all people. Every race and culture has a God and this God was formed without any conventions, dictations or laws.
Epicurus logic is that what all men agree about must necessarily be true (16.44; pg. 51). Since the concurrence of all men believe in Gods, there must really be a God. Epicurus rationale gives God the form of a human being. The same prolepsis that accounts for the occurrence of Gods also justifies that Gods are blessed and indestructible. God is to have the form of one which is blessed and eternal and so it should have the most admirable or beautiful form of existence. Throughout all of creation, humans have the best extremities, arrangement of features, shape and altogether appearance.
The human shape is superior to the form of all living things, and a god is a living thing, then certainly he has the shape which is most beautiful of all (16.48; pg. 52); this shape being the shape of humankind. Therefore, God should take on the appearance of a human being. The popular belief in Gods are that they have wishes and undertake actions and exert causality in a manner inconsistent with those attributes (2.80; pg. 18). We possess a fear of the Gods because they are able to affect how we live, how we die and what happens after we die. This fear is concurrent with our belief of fate, or heimarmene, and that whatever happens has flowed from an eternal set of truths and a continuous chain of causes.
(16.55; pg. 54) The Gods know of everything that we do and so we must fear them in fear of the consequences that might occur. A God becomes an eternal master whom we are to fear by day and by night; for who would not fear an inquisitive and busy god who foresees everything, and supposes that everything is his own business? (16.54; pg. 54) The ideas and logical reasoning of Epicurus contradicts these beliefs. Epicurus believes that the Gods are not concerned with human affairs; for if a blessed and indestructible animal, overflowing with good things and free of any share of what is bad, is completely preoccupied with the continuance of his own happiness and indestructibility and so is not concerned with human affairs.
(108; pg. 97) The Gods have no responsibilities concerning people or any meteorological phenomena for they would cause troubles and concerns and anger and gratitude that are not consistent with blessedness, but these things involve weakness and fear and dependence on ones neighbours. (2.76, 2.77; pg. 17) A God that is blessed and eternal would have no concerns for anyone or anything. Therefore there is no need for people to fear the Gods since they are not concerned about us.
There is no need to pray to the Gods for they would be too preoccupied with themselves and would not do anything to return our prayers. Epicurus feels that anything that we pray for is unnecessary, for they can be attained with the limiting of our desires. Furthermore, if the Gods actually did answer our prayers, all men would rather quickly be destroyed, since they constantly pray for many sufferings to befall each other. (114; pg. 98) Even though Epicurus believes that the Gods are too preoccupied with themselves to be concerned with us, he still feels that one should not speak their mind on popular religion. He urges Polyaenus to join in the celebration of the festival of Anthesteria.
For one must remember the gods as being the causes of many good things. (54; pg. 82) An Epicurean would accomplish nothing if he decides to announce his ideology of the Gods to the public. Hardly anyone would listen or believe him because they already believe in the myth of God and would denounce the Epicureans every word. Therefore, one should not actively and openly attack popular religion. There are some certain aspects in Epicurus ideology on God that asserts a few problems that I can not seem to understand.
Epicurus believes that there is a God, yet he denies that God has anything to do with us. God did not create the earth or any life on earth because that would present a burden to him; God also has nothing to do with any meteorological phenomena or human affairs. If this is true, what then is the use of a God if he does nothing for us? Does God just sit there and preoccupy himself with his own satisfaction of happiness while the rest of humanity suffers? If God is just concerned with his own happiness and ignores all of humankind, he would be considered a selfish God. However, selfishness is a trait that goes against the blessedness of God. Therefore Epicurus only contradicts himself by saying that God is blessed, yet also unconcerned with us. Epicurus tells us that there is no need to fear God because he is unconcerned with any type of human affairs. How then can we be able to respect and honor a God if there is no fear involved? There would be no need to worship or glorify God because whether or not we worship him would have no affect on our lives in any way.
Since there is no fear or respect towards God, God becomes nothing of importance in our lives. We would not need to create a supreme presence if this presence had no affect on or no importance to us. Epicurus believes that the Gods were created to explain the unexplainable phenomena. Nevertheless, he denies that God has anything to do with phenomena because that would make him busy and burdened with responsibility, and ultimately, not blessed. Therefore, God is fabricated to do the job of creating phenomena, but he does not do this because it would make him not blessed.
I truly believe that Epicurus was an atheist in his own sense. Carrying Epicurus logic one step further, there should be no God if he does not do what he was created to do. Consequently, there is no God. These questions show that Epicurus did not respect God, or the idea of a God, in any way possible. Epicurus destroys the eminence and power of God, making him tainted and not blessed. He presents God as one who is selfish and not gratified by our worship. Therefore, Epicurus definition of God must be wrong, for his God is not blessed.