Epicurus told us not to be afraid of the gods: they do not concern themselves with human problems; nor do they reward or punish you in this world or when you die. There is neither a Heaven nor a Hell, except in the minds, hearts and vivid imaginations of individuals.
This is fighting talk, of course, especially in the United States , where half the population appears to believe in the physical presence of angels, walking about the streets, presumably assisting drivers of SUVs with parking, and guiding believers when making purchases in shopping malls.Â Or so they say.
I can neither prove nor disprove the old concepts of heaven and hell, nor of angels.Â If people wish to believe these things let them do so as long as the don’t force me to believe them too.Â Regrettably, the Western history of religion in the last two thousand years is full of attempts to do just that.Â Huge waves ofÂ disapproval face those who don’t agree, and in the extreme versions of “christianity” (in inverted commas because any resemblance to Christianity is mainly coincidental)Â the descriptions of the hellfire awaiting rejectionists of superstition are quite imaginative.
I wish we could get past all this.Â 2,300 years after Epicurus we are still having the same debates.