Pseudonym wrote:JustJim wrote:What do you think the likelihood is, very roughly and generally speaking (I'm not looking for the mathematic statistical probability here), that the Greek pantheon actually existed outside the imaginations of the people who believed it existed?
This was directed to Mitch, but I would like to point out a problem with the question as stated.
Many of the Greek pantheon were anthropomorphisations of concepts that were important to the pre-Classical and Classical-era Greeks. So, for example, Nike was a personification of victory. Victory really existed as an important concept at the time. The word for "victory" the concept was nike, the same word as the name of the goddess. Therefore, Nike existed as a concept that you could reason about.
We still put statues of Themis, holding a sword and scales and sometimes blindfolded, outside our courthouses because, even though we don't believe that Themis is a literal goddess, we still understand the concept of "correct procedure" and why it is important that the justice system of any civilised society must follow it. We still believe in themis even if we don't believe in Themis. To the extent that most of the Greeks did not make a distinction between the two, Themis actually existed and still exists today.
Indeed and this is an excellent illustration of my belief that relgion played an indispensible role in man's ability to conceive abstract concepts -- seeing the invisible things beneath the surface appearances. We use stories to bring invisible and hard to explain things into the awareness of people all the time.