It’s true. Spend some time as a theist talking to an atheist and pretty soon they’ll introduce Zeus to the conversation. For example, Chris asked The Atheist Missionary to explain his atheistic view of morality. This was the end of TAM’s reply:
I don’t propose to have all the answers on this. All I am fairly certain of is that my sense of right and wrong was not breathed into me by Zeus or any other divine agency.
There you go. Zeus again. If it’s not the Flying Spaghetti Monster then it’s Zeus. The trend is so common that I even named my forthcoming book on apologetics From Angels to Zeus: Apologetics in One Long Conversation. But what is going on here?
I’m sorry to break it to Zeus, but I don’t think this revival of interest has much to do with him in particular. Rather, I think this is a mere rhetorical move designed to marginalize current concepts of God by associating them with now defunct concepts, and Zeus is ideal in this regard because he is widely known in popular culture and yet obviously not widely believed in.
Let me show you the same rhetorical move applied to air travel. Anne does not like flying by airplane. It scares her. So when Suzie asks Anne whether she is going to fly to Hawaii for her vacation Anne replies incredulously:
I don’t believe in flying on airplanes. I wouldn’t fly on the Hindenberg either!
Way to go Anne! You sure showed Suzie. That was an effective rhetorical move! Now enjoy your boat ride.