The Ineffective Dissemination of Monotheism

I used the words “higher intelligence” because there were many different names that God went by depending on the group of people.

I base it on the cave paintings and methods of burial that indicate they knew about life after death. Later on came the writings such as “The Egyptian Book of the Dead”. Those kind of things. I guess the main question is could man discover God without any sacred tests. Well, I believe he could and did, unless, of course, man was never out of contact with God in the early years. We live in an artificial world now, one of computers, plastic, glass, and cement. We have lost contact with nature, and ourselves. We have become like sheep believing what our parents, teachers, professors and government tell us to believe. In ancient times being in tune with nature and yourself meant life or death. So it was taken seriously.

Being in touch is the process of observing nature and learning the lessons that apply to us. It is examining our actions, the motives for those actions, and trying to understand ourselves. It is true that if you knew all about one single thing, such as a flower, you would know about all things.

Mormon perspective: people who did not get a chance to learn about Jesus during life - whether because they lived before his time, or because they lived in a place where no word could reach them - will have the chance to hear the gospel in the spirit world (where human spirits reside between death and resurrection). Those who choose to accept Jesus in the spirit world have baptism and other saving ordinances performed vicariously for them in Mormon temples.

Surely that God has seperated himself into the Father above and the Son below itself undermines that important notion? Why not just incarnate himself, by that logic?

As to the second part, you seem to have debunked “hundreds or thousands” and gone straight to one. What about, say, 2? One in the ME, and one over in the Americas? Or 3, and have one in East Asia? That’d stop quite a lot of those false religions turning up now and again.

On top of this, you’re begging the question - by skipping over why God would choose to send a son. You’ve just accepted it as the best choice, and thought about why he’d do it. How about, instead, he simply snaps his fingers, and instantly all humans know that he exists. Much simpler, and avoids all that nasty crucifixion business.

“Sizable portion” is a relative measure. You could just as easily say the ancient Chinese cultural civilisations were sizable, or skip further along and say the British Empire (with vastly better communication methods, on top of that). And there’s still the point that the “instant knowledge” method is a much better approach.

Which actually describes rather a lot of seperate deities, rather than a single one. Perhaps in their greater connection with nature than you or I, they had a tighter idea on the whole situation.

There has always been only One God within which all are given life. Different cultures use different names, even splitting the One into many. This is due to different perpectives of life. There are many facets on a diamond, but all are still the same diamond.

I apologise. I thought your point was that we had lost contact with nature, and believed those in power too much. The ancient Egyptians, who were very much more in contact with nature than yourself, and had somewhat less contact with teachers, professors, and government (and parents, considering lifespan), would certainly under that view be more likely to be right than you or me. And they were pretty clear about the whole seperate-and-many-gods issue. I might add in that polytheism as a whole was pretty much more popular (in terms of percentage of total believers, not total believers) in those past times you bring up. The Romans, Greeks, various South- and East-Asian civilisations, various American civilisations, various European civilisations - they all seemed quite set on the idea of pantheons or just many gods. As for many facets of a single diamond, that implies that the facets should be representative of the whole. And yet pantheons of gods often turn against each other, show jealousy and vindictiveness, and all those fun concepts that were very much in vogue again long ago but not so much now, with our propaganda and lack of contact with nature and such.

If anything, I would say that monotheism, while certainly an ancient concept, only really started gaining the considerable status it holds as civilisations lost their connections to nature. I’m not really seeing how your two points aren’t contradictory - is perhaps connection to nature not such a good thing, or is polytheism more likely to be correct?

Prove it. Many cultures have believed in seperate gods, and that the gods that they worshiped were completely different and seperate entities from the gods worshiped by other people. And they had just as much evidence for their beliefs as you do for yours.

From my reading of the earlier sections of the Old Testament/Tanakh, I would vote that it supports the existence of other deities than God, they just aren’t “The God who Made Everything” and are undeserving of worship. Going by that view, it would be more likely that worship of nature Gods or heavenly bodies would tend to be frowned upon by the big guy, not something that indirectly leads back to him.

One Hindu perspective is that God continually reveals himself to Mankind, but since cultures are different and since people themselves are at various stages of enlightenment, the revelation is interpreted differently.

Personally, I think religion is best viewed as a debate about the nature of God. It is through this process of debate that God will be manifest.

According to mainstream Christian doctrine, God did not separate himself. There is one triune God, “three in one and one in three”. Or as it says in the book, “The Word was God”. The existence of the Trinity does not mean that God partitioned Himself into non-overlapping parts.

Recall Paul Weyerich’s famous line, “the only good type of leadership is leadership by example”. If it’s true for people, then it would naturally be even more true for God, who leads of a much larger scale. Jesus put his words into action, and that provided a far more powerful message than if the a heavenly loudspeaker had simply broadcast the words everywhere.

Humanity by nature rebels against any overwhelming authority. However, the message of Jesus was one that would look particularly bad if it was delivered by authoritarian methods. Saying things like:

would sound unreasonable if it came from on high. It has to be put into practice by someone with a low station in society, or else it looks hypocritical.

This is an entirely unsupportable assertion. The ancient Greeks worshipped the Gods of Mt. Olympus centuries before the God of Abraham was asserted by anyone to exist. Are you saying that the pantheism of the Greeks was somehow “inspired” by one God? One God who makes it very clear in the Torah, Bible, and Koran, just how much he hates pantheism?

No-one on earth knows about life after death. No-one. Even those people who have allegedly had “near death experiences” (henceforth known as NDE’s) cannot prove that they are anything other than the result of the brain being starved of oxygen. Scientists, on the other hand, have

No, the main question is could the God of Abraham, one very specific God among hundreds of thousands be discovered without any sacred texts. Obviously he couldn’t because the sacred texts themselves make it unambiguously clear whenever possible that the only way to this God’s heaven is through faith in him and obedience to his pronouncements in the texts.

Fatuous, insulting, drippy-hippie nonsense. Would you think it better living in the wild with no sustainable infrastructure?

I’m not sure what this has to do with the OP. God is not nature. Nature is not God.

No, it is not true. Sticking within nature, explain to me how knowing all about a flower can help you find the jugular vein on a wild boar. You can’t do it. You are wrong.

And yet, later on you claim that it’s important that Jesus (who had low standing in society, relatively speaking) give the message. I don’t know what particular beliefs you hold, but generally Christians seem to believe that Jesus was not simply God incarnate. He had a different personality, was not omnipotent, had lesser powers than God (that he chose to show, anyway). They may certainly be overlapping, but that doesn’t mean each aren’t ascribed different properties and roles - in fact, that’s an argument you’ve made yourself.

Less like three seperate people, and more like a hydra - same creature, many heads (not that I wish to imply God’s a monster). A better approach would be for God to remove this kind of seperation - or even appearance of seperation - and incarnate as himself in mortal form. It’s not exactly unheard of in godly terms.

…mmm, good point. I think you probably have a point about learning from people like that. OTOH, my argument wasn’t a “heavenly loudspeaker”. I’m not suggesting God simpy *told * people he existed. I’m suggesting he make people know it. And making someone know something would be much more powerful than even a great leader. It cuts out the middleman. Plus it means that the Word can be spread to everyone, all at once, rather than over many centuries in which adherents are persecuted and that kind of nastiness.

*Is * it hypocritical? If not, why can’t God simply install that information, too? This is another place where instant knowledge is the better approach; as you say, people can interpret ideas and concepts in many different ways. Look at all the people who consider themselves Christian, and who they in turn consider Christian. Wouldn’t it be better for God instead to simply make everyone know what he wants to get across? Rather than get Jesus to say those words, instead, implant the idea behind it, the true idea, in people’s minds. Much simpler, much quicker, and much more fair, since everyone starts with the same knowledge about God.

In all societies that I have studied there has been only one God, with the Greeks it was Zeus, the Egyptians it was Ra. True there were many beings these societies believed to be divine and therefore worthy of worship. If you look at the Christian religion we can find the same kind of hierarchy there also. First comes God, the creator, and master of all, then we have some who are considered divine, like Jesus, Mary, and the Holy Spirit, followed by the Paul, Peter, then the disciples and then the saints. This order will change in the Protestant view. The Bible is also different from religion to religion. While there has always been a tiered arrangement for our religion, government, and everything else we humans get involved in, there has also always been just one supreme leader.

This one God, has as many definitions as there are people in the world. So I think it would be a good thing to find out what God really does and expects us to do. Even if you discovered the truth, I doubt many would listen. So finding God is, and shall remain a personal search, and a personal belief.

This is my observation of the God problem.

Wanted to add, the God I know is in and of all things. A pretty common belief. This is not pantheism as some have claimed, it is one God who is at once the creator and the creation. I regularly get labeled pantheistic or new age, neither of which have anything to do with the God experienced by near death experiencers. But people can, and will, only relate new ideas to the old ones they already know.

Ow. Your view of history wounds me. I think you may be suffering from an extreme case of the see-what-you-want-to-sees.

Take the Greeks. Zeus is not “one God”. He’s a god, of many. The chief god, to be certain. But the other gods were not believed just mere divine beings. Hera, Hades, Poseidon - these weren’t just aspects of him, but his siblings. Hell, he wasn’t even the original “big” god; the Titans came before them. Zeus’s father, Cronos (sp?) heard a prophecy that one of his children would cast him down, so he ate them all. Zeus’ mother saved him by replacing his infant body with a stone. Zeus grew up, came back, saved his various siblings, and overthrew the titans.

Another difference; a one God and his divine beings act in accordance. The Greek Gods do not. The titan Prometheus stole fire from the gods to give to mankind - for which he was* punished*. Zeus slept around. Pretty much all of them did at one point or another. And, like a giant cosmic soap opera, their partners (yes, partners, spouses, other halves, not servants) got pretty damn pissed. And their children through mortals, who you might more reasonably consider “some who were considered divine”, also often didn’t give a crap about what their parents thought and fought each other.

Ra, you could make a better point about “aspects”, I think, though I don’t know a huge amount about them. I could point out the Norse gods, however, who again don’t follow your “one master, many servants” approach - Odin and Loki are at considerable odds, and both are actually fated to be killed!

You either have a huge confirmation bias working in your “research”, or you clearly haven’t taken a good look at things. There has not always been “one supreme leader”. There are plenty of religious beliefs in which the chief is, in fact, equal to other surpreme beings, or even bested by them.

On preview; I don’t know who has claimed that, but I wouldn’t call it pantheism. As for the second part, i’d switch it around; you seem incapable of relating old ideas to anything other than your own thoughts, and unable to even comprehend a system other than one in the style you believe in.

Speaking of unsupportable assumptions… how do we know how far back various beliefs go? If Abraham actually existed, then the earliest that “the God of Abraham was asseted by anyone to exist” would have been Abraham’s own lifetime, of course. (Before that, He wouldn’t have been the “God of Abraham.”)

Wait a minute—you’re saying the texts came first, and the knowledge/beliefs about God came second?

Surely the ideas contained in the texts predate the actual writing down and compiling of those texts!

It is as I said, the Greeks defined their Gods by their own standards, just as we do today. You don’t really think Prometheus stole fire from the gods to give to mankind. I don’t, it was just an explanation for where man got fire. In the Christian religion we have Jesus that is aligned with God along with the Holy Spirit. Each of them act independently. Oh yes, there was Satan also who acted independently. The more things change the more they remain the same. Look beyond the literal into the conceptual and I think you will see some patterns form. Man, over the years have worshipped One God with many names and many definitions and attributes. Logically it could not have been otherwise.

You’'re right, I don’t believe that. But people did, at one time. I’m just trying to point out to you that the Greek gods were nowhere near a “One God” system. If Zeus actually embodies your One God, then your God is a fractured, spiteful, lustful character, easy to trick and to anger, who came to his position through usurping his forbears. You cannot compare Zeus to a monotheistic God; the only similarity is that they’re gods.

Independently, certainly. But I said “in accordance”. Jesus and God can be considered two different personalities, with two different ways of going about things - but they still act for one overall goal. They’re a team. The Greek gods, among many other gods, were certainly not a team. They were, for lack of a better word, considerably human gods, with different agendas. They fought with each other. And there was no overall supreme being.

I’m actually not so certain i’d call it independently, as he’s supposed to be an enemy of God. I suppose it depends on your definition of independent and your concept of Satan, for that one.

But that is not what your argument says.

You have suggested that we have moved away from our naturalistic ties, into a synthetic world. You’ve suggested this, plus the propaganda from people in power, is blinding us to the truth of the world. Logically, then, ancient people would be far more likely to see the truth than you, me, or anyone on these boards, since they were much more in contact with nature and had less contact with those influential powers. And since those ancient fellows happened to be pantheists more often, your own argument says that they are more likely to be correct. You exhort me to look further, deeper; certainly worthwhile, but you need to also look at your manner of seeing in the first place. If you want to look at the night sky, using a telescope is a good plan; but don’t forget that the round, faint image you see is not representative of space as a whole.

Logically, if we take your premises as right, ancient pantheists are more likely to be correct than current monotheists. According to your own argument, you are most likely wrong. Congratulations; you’ve provided evidence your own God doesn’t exist. Normally I would congratulate you for your fair-mindedness if I weren’t reasonably sure that wasn’t your goal.

Addressing the OP: As far as I am aware, there is in fact no widely accepted theological answer to this question.

Here is my attempt at presenting my own opinion, a non-Orthodox Jewish perspective informed by the modern school of theology widely known as Jewish Renewal:

Since all of creation, including all humans, are simply aspects of God, we all have the potential capacity to experience God and discover directly what God wants from us (short answer: treat each other nicely). Certain individuals throughout history have been able to tune in exceptionally well to this God-frequency, and religions are the institutions that have evolved to try to preserve the insights and teachings of these spiritual leaders. Being human institutions, they are all necessarily flawed. In the basic texts of any major religion, we can see the true message of God (be nice to each other) co-existing more or less uncomfortably with human distortions thereof (stone the unbelievers). The distortions, of course, reflect the particular social conditions of the time and place in which the “revelation” occurred (quote marks because these epiphanies are much more in the nature of “noticing what was really there all the time”, rather than reflecting God’s “decision” to communicate some message at a particular time and place).

Mankind’s spiritual development (like its development in other spheres) has been a slow, evolutionary progression, and monotheism appeared only when people were ready for it; when their previous polytheistic religions no longer met the spiritual needs of their society. Monotheism implies that there should be only one universal ethical code for all of humanity; in a tribal society, the notion that there is really no important difference between us and those guys over the next hill is simply too far-fetched. Monotheism emerged when urbanism and trade developed to a point where enough people had enough contact with other cultures to begin to see the common God-sparks that unite all humanity.

The mistake in the OP, and in Hitchen’s thinking generally, is conceptualizing God as some entity that exists outside the universe and could act upon it in ways that we would find more pleasant, but chooses not to do so. The universe is as it is because God is the way that God is; to ask God to make it different is to ask the impossible. Indeed, although of course the precise nature of God is unknowable by human intellect, I do not think it is at all accurate to think of God as “choosing” between a set of alternatives in the same way that we experience ourselves as doing; rather, God simply continually manifests God’s nature.

The whole notion of heaven and hell, of course, is a childish attempt to avoid the inevitability of death by projecting our individual egos into a form which will endure eternally. It nicely serves the interests of those religious leaders who want to scare people into obeying them.

Well, I think I am starting to ramble, and have probably already said a thing or two that somebody might disagree with, so I’ll stop there for now.

lekatt and Sir Oinksalot, I think that if you want to prove that behind it all, all the other deities to ever be worshiped by man are secretly just other images of the Christian God, you’ll have to first explain why each of them teaches entirely different things.

Why did God ask the Incans to make human sacrifices but not Christians? Why did God think it was a-okay for Greeks and Romans to have great big sexual orgies with any mix of genders, but not Christians? Why did God tell all the people in India that they were going to be reborn as a cow, but not Christians? Etc. etc.

Good point. And not just Greeks and Romans. One word - Ganymede.

If Zeus were in charge of Eden, it might really have been Adam and Steve.