Ludovic Kennedy:The Ancients, wrote the philosopher John Locke in 1689, had no beliefs in a personal god, and about the same time French missionaries seeking converts were finding godless societies living contentedly all over the world.
The Indians of the Gaspe peninsula, wrote Chretien Le Clerq, had never formed a conception of any divinity but were charitable beyond anything in Europe, while the Jesuit Le Jeune found the natives of Cap Breton “exceptionally clever, honest and decent, very generous with a cheerful disposition”, but also godless. And the Dominican Jean-Baptiste du Tertre whose church had warned him he would find black atheists in the Antilles to be depraved found otherwise.
“The love they have for one another is extremely tender… they assist each other in all their illnesses and cannot see their companions mistreated without feeling their pain.” Similar discoveries were made in Thailand, China and Japan.
Would that such societies still existed today. But wherever one looks there is conflict: Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland; Jews, Christians and Muslims in Palestine; Muslims and Hindus in the Indian subcontinent; Christians and Muslims in Nigeria, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. Is not the case for atheism made?
AboutThis is an unfocused catch-all personal blog written by a South African environmental journalist living in Cape Town. My professional blog is Leaves of language.
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