Some interesting parallels betw Roman life, politics,and culture and contemporary American, society, politics, and culture is provided by Margaret Lyttelton and Werner Forman, in the Chapter “The Traditional Gods of Rome,” in The Romans: Their Gods and Their Beliefs (Orbis Publishing Limited: London), 1984, 1985,
“We are not accustomed to thinking of the Romans as a particularly religious people. By contrast with other societies of the ancient world such as the hierarchically organized society of Egypt or the theocratic state of the Jews, the Romans seemed to have been remarkably secular, and even modern, in their outlook of the world.
William Shirer, author of books on the Nazis and “The Third Reich” in his memoirs, stated: The longer I lived and the more I observed, the clearer it became to me that man had progressed very little behyond his earlier savage state. After twenty million years or so of human life on this earth the lot of most men and women is, as Hobbes said, is “nasty, brutish and short.” … “Civilization is a thin veneer … “
Along with thoughts from a few thinkers “to think about” !
“More realistically unlike Plato:who thought that heaven, the Elysian Fields, was the reward for all the injustices and unhappiness on earth.
… There were skeptics.
Epicurus, for one. …
“There is no immortality, he was sure, and therefore death for us is not an evil, it simply does not conern us – while we exis – there is no death, and when death comes we are gone.
William Shirer stated:
“Without subscribing fully to his view, even after I lost my faith in the Christian certainties of the hereafter, I have always liked the way Epicurus put it:
“Faith in immortality was born of the greed of unsatisfied people who make unwise use of the time that nature has allotted us. But the wise man finds his life span sufficient to complete the full circle of attainable pleasure, and when the time of death comes, he will leave the table, satisfied freeing a place for other guests. For the wise man one human life is sufficient, and a stupid man will not know what to do with eternity.” …
Shirer: After 20 million years – Savage State/Civilization – Progress/Evolutionary Progress:
“Blessed is he who learns how to engage in inquiry with no impulse to harm his countrymen or to pursue wrongful actions, but perceives the order of immortal and ageless nature, how it is structured.”
— Euripides, Fragment From An Unnamed Play, Fifth Century B.C.
“There is another form of temptation, even more fraught with danger. This is the disease of curiosity – It is this which drives us to try and discover the secrets of nature, those secrets which are beyond our understanding, which can avail us nothing, and which man should not wish to learn.”
— Augustine, Late Fourth/Early Fifth Century A.D.
Stephen Jay Gould – Evolutionary Progress:
Gould favored the argument that evolution has no inherent drive towards long-term “progress”. Uncritical commentaries often portray evolution as a ladder of progress, leading towards bigger, faster, and smarter organisms, the assumption being that evolution is somehow driving organisms to get more complex and ultimately more like humankind. Gould argued that evolution’s drive was not towards complexity, but towards diversification. Because life is constrained to begin with a simple starting point ( like bacteria), any diversity resulting from this start, by random walk, will have a skewed distribution and therefore be perceived to move in the direction of higher complexity. But life, Gould argued, can also easily adapt towards simplification, as is often the case with parasites.
In a review of Full House, Richard Dawkins approved of Gould’s general argument, but suggested that he saw evidence of a “tendency for lineages to improve cumulatively their adaptive fit to their particular way of life, by increasing the numbers of features which combine together in adaptive complexes. … By this definition, adaptive evolution is not just incidentally progressive, it is deeply, dyed-in-the-wool, indispensably progressive.”” …
“Stephen Jay Gould (/ɡuːld/; September 10, 1941 – May 20, 2002) was an American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist and historian of science. He was also one of the most influential and widely read writers of popular science of his generation. Gould spent most of his career teaching at Harvard University and working at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. In the later years of his life, Gould also taught biology and evolution at New York University.
Gould’s most significant contribution to evolutionary biology was the theory of punctuated equilibrium, which he developed with Niles Eldredge in 1972. The theory proposes that most evolution is marked by long periods of evolutionary stability, which is punctuated by rare instances of branching evolution. The theory was contrasted against phyletic gradualism, the popular idea that evolutionary change is marked by a pattern of smooth and continuous change in the fossil record.
Most of Gould’s empirical research was based on the land snail genera Poecilozonites and Cerion. He also contributed to evolutionary developmental biology, and has received wide praise for his book Ontogeny and Phylogeny. In evolutionary theory he opposed strict selectionism, sociobiology as applied to humans, and evolutionary psychology. He campaigned against creationism and proposed that science and religion should be considered two distinct fields (or “magisteria”) whose authorities do not overlap.
Gould was known by the general public mainly from his 300 popular essays in the magazine Natural History, and his books written for a non-specialist audience. In April 2000, the US Library of Congress named him a “Living Legend”. “