In answering if Socrates went any step to deny divinity or spirituality, a source had written ‘No’. And I’m convinced this is a good foundation to lay our premises on.
Socrates was not an atheist; he believed in god, and in fact, he may have believed in some of the Greek gods— just that he was a non-conformist; he had a view contrary to those of the traditional perspective held by the people toward religion, among other things.
If it stands that believing in god means being aware of and acknowledging the existence of a god or having confidence in the power of a god, then we shall remain confident in proving our point on Socrates’ belief with a not far-fetched famous quote of his: “The end of life is to be like God, and the soul following God will be like him.”
The reason he made this quote should, in fact, be the ultimate answer to the question.
He had posited that because all his life, he lived for, or so he made us believe, the gods for whom he enlightened others.
So, as we have seen in the works of Plato and Justin Martyr among others, Socrates taught people to live like god all his life. He was very often occupied with this service.
Once, he contemplated if there could be any blessing to his people which is greater than his services to the god. That showed the extent to which he was devoted to a god.
Admittedly, nonetheless, whoever this god is doesn’t seem to be unanimously understood or agreed on by scholars. But H.P. Blavatsky, for one, noted that the god Socrates worked with all his life was his ‘Daimonion’ (said to be colloquially spelt as daimon or daemon).
Daimonion was the spirit or god he (Socrates) claimed to have sitting on his shoulder for the inspiration to do good. Socrates was so dedicated to being led by this spirit that sometimes he’d go motionless for so long listening to it.
The chances for the veracity of this proposition increase as several other sources have written in favor of it, with some also adding that his acclaimed god the Daimonion is not evil or demonic as one’s instinct may have suspected. It is a spirit many creatives in ancient times have drawn inspiration from.
In a more simplified view, at least two reasons show his belief in god:
One, he had a god for himself— the spirit that guided his actions and reportedly made him eschew the wrong actions.
Two, it is only reasonable for one to say that he believed in god because he never denied the existence of any god— rather, he proselytized the competence if that’s the right word, or more technically ‘superiority’ of his personal god over others.
He, maybe didn’t say filth or bluff about the gods of his people but he believed in a personal god. But, in fact, he quite implicitly invalidated the competence of some Greek gods in a dialogue with Euthyphro.
Read Also: Did Socrates believe in more than one god?
He would be quoted as: “That which is dear to the gods is dear to them because it is loved by them, not loved by them because it is dear to them.” By this, he was sorta expressing deprecation in the gods. He was convinced that with this ideology, they are not the kind of god he thinks a god should be.
Was Socrates an Atheist?
That Socrates was an atheist (a non-believer) was one of the allegations filed against him in the courthouse by Meletus. And it was something he refuted, though diplomatically— with Socratic irony— another reason he was a wise man.
No more ado, Socrates was not an atheist.
First, let’s reach an agreement on what we take atheism for. According to a Wiktionary definition of the term, an atheist is one who “believes that no deities exist.”
If this is the term, then it follows that Socrates was not an atheist in any way. Not even for the fact that he saw most of the gods in Old Athens as not worth following— a reason he prioritized his’, though still cognizant of the existence of others.
To underscore this, a source had written that Socrates was also willing to pay respect to Zeus and other gods of the land.
If he didn’t believe in these gods and still was quite willing to pay them his respects, then Andreas Kluth wasn’t wrong after all when said Socrates’ view on religion was unorthodox.
But however nuanced he made it, he made the people in the courthouse believe that he was not an atheist. Could that have been a deception by the same man who taught us to be godlike? By the same man who accepted his death because his god didn’t direct him otherwise? Nah, he was evidently a believer!!
In which case the more reasonable question to pose should be whether he truly ignored the Greek gods and found himself some new spiritual things as Meletus proposed.
Socrates’ inconspicuous subtleness is the more reason simple questions about him are not easily answered, but we have refused to give in to that.
Our writing on whether Socrates believed in god is the third part of our study on his stance on belief and religion. So you can be sure that we got you covered on anything related to his belief.Share