The trend in the last 2000 years is monotheism. But will it go on forever ?
Wouldn’t it be great and more enriching if people (believers, I mean) had a pantheon of deities to prostrate before ? (whether on one’s knees, with nose touching the ground and the behind high up, or flat on one’s belly or whatever).
Well, Hinduism is a major world religion, and they’re polytheistic. Buddism, depending on what branch one practices, can be polythesitc. Also some monotheistic religions have sort of drifted into polytheism. Many Catholics and Eastern Orthodox worship a pantheon of saints that, in some cases, cut pretty close to polytheism. Similarily the Trinity, while supposedly three-in-one can be viewed as a sort of polytheism.
In short, the rise of monotheism can, I think, be laid at the feet of the success of the two successors to Judaism, Christianity and Islam. And in the case of Christianity, anyway, there has been a certain amount of drift back in the other direction.
Hmm…apparently I’m not as intelligent as you are subtle, as I don’t get your point. Is my quote close to something Adams wrote in an article and you’re saying I’m plagerizing? I did a search of the SD archives via the word “monotheism” and didn’t see anything relavant.
Anyway, if my conclusion is close to that of an SD article I don’t think I’ve read it, at least not in the last couple years as I don’t remember it. And I wouldn’t be a very intelligent poster if I was dumb enough to plagerize an authors works in what is (at least in some respects) a fan site for that author. So if you are suspicious I’m plagerizing, I’ll just have to claim that Great Mind’s think alike, and apparently mine thinks like one of the Greatest (well, at least occasionally).
(appologies if I’m just missing your point and your not accusing me of anything. As I said, I don’t do subtelty well).
Interesting. So that’s to religions that’s two major world religions (Catholicism/Eastern Orthodox and Hinduism) that are monotheisitic “on paper” but still manage to sneak a pantheon in the back door. Anyone have examples of this sort of thing in other religions?
I think henotheistic is the best way to qualify most ‘monotheistic’ religions. It’s an attempt to describe the singularity.
Individual gods are aspects of the whole, but the top God would be the whole.
I’d classify Catholicism as Henotheistic.
The thing I have always wondered at is that monotheistic traditions could war with one another. If there is one God then there is one God, and if they are worshippnig on God, then they must be worshipping THE one god. I have always had trouble assimilating the idea that they worship a “fake” god.
Even Islam gives a sort of deification to it’s prophets and martyrs.
It’s because “they”, whoever “they” are, don’t worship or believe the same way “we” do, even if it only differs in some way that isn’t even noticeable. That makes them wrong, heretical, and dare I say, EVIL. No, it doesn’t make any sense to me either. Look at the wars that happened in Europe between one group of christians and another group of christians (Catholics vs. Protestants). Everybody killing each other in the name of the same God.
I am not a Catholic, nor an Eastern Orthodox, but I think they would tell you that they don’t “worship” the saints, and that anyone who does is heretical. However, I do think it’s fair to say that the saints play somewhat the same role, and appeal to somewhat the same part of human nature, as “the gods” of a pantheistic religion do.
I think it may be somewhat misleading to use the same word, “god,” to refer to a god of a polytheistic religion (like Zeus or Thor or Osiris), as to refer to The Supreme Being that a monotheist believes in. They’re completely different kinds of beings. The way a true monotheist conceives of God, I don’t think it even makes sense to imagine that more than one separate such God could coexist.
On the other hand, I don’t see anything logically impossible with a universe that had both a pantheon of gods and a God over and above them. For instance, I could write a fantasy novel set in a world in which the Greek gods, or some set of beings much like them, really existed; yet I, as author and creator of that world, would in a sense be like God over all of it.
I think some of the reason may well be political. Often our religious beliefs mirror our political beliefs. As we have gravitated toward central governmental structures, so have our religious beliefs.
And of course as we believe more in the rationality of the world these days, so we must discard the pleasant poetry that lets us give a diety to this or that. I mean, it is hard to believe that the Sea God is angry with New Orleans when we have had it tracked for nine days and the weather men have predicted where it will hit (Of course, there are wackos that still make that claim, but that’s a whole nother thread).
Likewise with such things as DNA testing, it is hard to believe a girl who gets knocked up and says this or that god did it (like Lydia and the Swan). Granted at least one monotheistic religion went for that one too.
And if you mule dies after eating toxic waste, these days we have trouble believing that it was a minor god who took a dislike to you. Although I imagine that the attorneys who represent the company doing the dumping would like that belief to return.
Even without any gods at all, I bet some people would find something “magical” to blame it on. My relatives used to laughingly tell stories about “the old country”, where anything bad could be explained by mal occhio - The Evil Eye.
That’s a very linear way of thinking. God has to have a rate which limits his/her omnipotent and omnipresence. Basically, a God that is omnipotent and omnipresent and is not constrained by the flow of time would’ve already done everything and anything. So, you could have several Gods duking it out, all omnipotent and omnipresent but limited by the flow of time.
Yeah, I understand that “on paper” Orthodox and Catholics aren’t polytheists (1st commandment, after all). But to the non-theologin, the difference between praying to Neptune for a safe voyage, and praying to the Patron Saint of Ships to intercede with God for a safe voyage is pretty indistinguishable. As Thudlow said, it would appear that whatever human psychological need is filled by an pantheon could also be filled by the pantheon of saints. And then there’s the trinity, which cuts even closer (though again I understand that the trinity isn’t technically three gods).
The relevance to the OP was that even though it may appear that there has been a global drift to monotheism, some of the Christian religions have during the same period created very polytheistic like beliefs.
Well then, there must be a reason why the universe has the time flow rate it does, and that reason must then trascend God, for God is infinite and is not bound by this limit. Why did he/she create the universe? An omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent being that is not bound by any time constraint cannot have a reason to perform any action. Ergo, God is purely random.