Google, Julian the Apostate, Beetles and Anthromorphism

I love having a leisurely morning with coffee to randomly pursue things through the internet…

I started over at the wonderful blog Pharyngula, which fights the good fight against the forces of creationist irrationality, talks about squid mating behavior and exciting news in the world of maggot development, and also has a random quote thingy. Today’s was a rather biting one on that subject near and dear to my own heart:

The idea of an incarnation of God is absurd: why should the human race think itself so superior to bees, ants, and elephants as to be put in this unique relation to its maker? . . Christians are like a council of frogs in a marsh or a synod of worms on a dung-hill croaking and squeaking “for our sakes was the world created.

Julian The Apostate

This Julian guy, I thought, had a few issues, although I do agree with him–can’t think of a single reason why a hypothetical deity would be more interested in us than in elephants. (Actually, they might find the elephants restful after all of us jabbering non-stop, give me this, give me that, smite this, smite that. Although I have no proof that elephants aren’t just as bad, and am just assuming this because it seems weird that something so ponderous would also be petty.)

Possibly being called “the Apostate” is enough to make anyone snide. I googled him.

Julian the Apostate (360-363 A.D.)

He was an emperor. Neat! I scanned the article–there’s a limit to how much Roman history I can absorb before breakfast. A name caught my eye, for the obvious reason that it’s nearly mine–“Ursulus.” (Out of curiosity–my name is so rare that I never got in the habit of assuming people could be talking about anybody else. Say “Ursula” and my head snaps up, because there’s almost no chance it’s NOT me (barring one MFF when Ursula Husted was present.) I know we’re all sensitive to our own names, but if you have a common name like John or James or whatever, do your reactions slow a bit? Can you scan a page without your own name leaping out at you, or are we all hardwired this way no matter what?) Ursulus was…something in Latin. Comes sacrum largitionum He was beheaded and given to the troops for dissin’ the army’s performance. Sheesh. Tough crowd.

I googled “Ursulus.” If he was a notable Roman, it didn’t show up for a few pages, and I was immediately sidetracked by Mechois ursulus at

It’s kinda cute. I mean, you all know how I feel about bugs, but the big schnozz and the large black eyes with one white highlight looks like something I’d draw.

Having dead-ended, it occurred to me that Mr. Apostate’s quote was a lot like one I’d run into in philosophy class…something about horses and oxen having hands and making statues…Herodotus? No, I just default to Herodutus when I can’t remember who it is. I googled it.

But if horses or oxen or lions had hands
or could inscribe with their hands and accomplish such works as men,
horses would inscribe the figures of the gods as similar to horses,
and the oxen as similar to oxen,
and they would make the bodies
of the sort which each of them had.

Xenophanes of Colophon, Fragments 1

Ah, yeah. Xenophanes. I feel vaguely ashamed that I didn’t remember that, after all that drilling in quotes by Greek and Roman philosophers back in college. Which was, admittedly, not quite a decade ago, so I suppose I shouldn’t, but I can still see the xeroxed handout, and “A man cannot step twice in the same river,” and so forth. And Zeno’s Paradox. Thing.

Under this handy quote was a paper on anthropomorphism–not furries, but the assigning of human traits to animals and so forth, and whether or not there’s a danger of trying to call any function uniquely human and thus anthropomorphic if assigned to animals–which was kind of interesting although I am arguably still much to groggy to absorb much from the article itself.

The internet is a fun and wandering thingy.

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