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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

PostPosted: Wed Apr 08, 2009 3:07 am
by Idesigner
C.M.This creation of this thread has been inspired by the long thread hijack in the "Texas Creationists Defeated" thread between myself and debunker. I thought I'd take this opportunity to make a new thread, this one about the merits or demerits of polytheism versus monotheism.

A few ground rules:
-Please, first of all, no verses from any 'scripture' proclaiming the awfulness of polytheism.
-Try to take the philosophical systems on their own terms- IE: Don't project the need for a transcendent, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good god where it doesn't exist, and then try to act as if the lack of that type of god disproves polytheism in and of itself.
-Distinguish, whenever possible, between evidence based upon logical principles, and evidence based upon established doctrine. For instance, if you are trying to disprove polytheism, and you arrive at a conclusion that it must be false because the doctrine of immanence has been disproven by science- you have only disproven immanence.
-Be respectful. This is hard to do, and I know I myself often fail in this regard, so I will ask your indulgence if I get carried away.

I will start:

I believe it is possible that polytheism may be correct. I don't believe that gods are necessarily in things or natural processes, but that they may have created or still sustain them. The existence of the gods explains evil and apparently arbitrary suffering by innocent and guilty alike- each god has its own will, each god may help or hinder humans based upon their plans or whims, and humans may be helped or harmed by the gods based upon actions either purposeful or accidental.


I dont know what you mean by ... polytheism may be correct.

Now we all know that those so called forces of nature are not some soverign entities trying to be benign or malign to humankind. There are physical explanations behind their handiwork.

Polytheistic ideas in Indian thought led to idea of Karma & reincarnation. This concept took responibilty of arbitary actions from hand of demigods/ natural forces to wilful & intentional karmas of human beings.

Almost all polytheistic gods religion had to invent one powerful god. Jews also belived in many gods but their own was most moral, most powerful, others were pretty mean, materialistic, immoral and bad guys. Hindus went to triad of creator, sustainer, destroyer and finally to one supersoul.

It also begs question why many polytheistic religions became extinct and were defeated by monotheistic god and their followers.Looks like ancients got convinced that one powerful general can conquer the battle against many weak kings fightin amon themselves.

Ofcourse we know that neither actions of demigods or karma explains misery of mankind. There are commonsnse explanations.

I believe that multiple gods may be more likely than one god- especially one that takes interest in humanity as a whole- based upon the fact of arbitrary suffering.
[/quote]

We dont have any good reason to belive that there is one and only god or there are multiple gods. Both ideas are equally absurd.

Well propagandist of Monotheism wll tell us that theirs is superior philosophy because one god crowd finally won over pagans of Europe, Romans, Greek and numerous tribes of the world.

Atheist may claim that from many god to one god idea evolved and finally no god idea should win the day.

Re: Polytheism and monotheism

PostPosted: Wed Apr 08, 2009 5:18 am
by crazymonkie_
Hi Idesigner. You didn't need to quote my entire opening statement to write this:

Idesigner wrote: I dont know what you mean by ... polytheism may be correct.

To answer your question, however: I said 'may be correct' because I'm arguing from a purely intellectual standpoint. I have my mind made up about the issue, but I can argue the various sides. I wanted others to put their point of view up, and as a starting point, I wrote down one of the directions I could have taken the discussion.

Now we all know that those so called forces of nature are not some soverign entities trying to be benign or malign to humankind. There are physical explanations behind their handiwork.

Hence why I mentioned the doctrine of immanence. And that disproving something logically is different from disproving a doctrine.

Polytheistic ideas in Indian thought led to idea of Karma & reincarnation. This concept took responibilty of arbitary actions from hand of demigods/ natural forces to wilful & intentional karmas of human beings.

Actually, no. Reincarnation could have started outside of a polytheistic system of belief. In Indian thought it had more to do with the belief that one's guiding principle (similar to the Greek 'pneuma') left after death and, during the burning of the body, went upward into the sky where the gods apparently lived. After a while, there came the idea that the principle could go downward as well... and then philosophers started thinking, 'why not sideways as well?'

The Pythagoreans had this same concept- and it developed independently of Indian thought.

As to Karma: Show me a religion that doesn't have some concept of karma, and I'll show you a religion that you just made up.

Almost all polytheistic gods religion had to invent one powerful god.

Wrong again. Polytheistic religions tended to reflect the societies which gave them birth. Hence most had a king of the gods and his consort (sometimes several.) That god could be the most powerful, *or*, he could have just been the craftiest, or the one god given authority over the other gods. Zeus, for instance, wasn't as powerful as the Titans. He probably wasn't even as powerful as Poseidon or Hades- but the former had too much Titan in him and the latter was just uninterested in running things.

That monotheistic religions are now looking back and seeing the coalescing of different beliefs into clusters as evidence of this invention of 'one powerful god' is projection. Before Christianity outlawed all other religions in the West, there was a plurality of beliefs. Many were decayed to the point that they probably weren't coming back; others were still quite strong. But none, save Christianity, invented one powerful god by necessity.

Jews also belived in many gods but their own was most moral, most powerful, others were pretty mean, materialistic, immoral and bad guys.

A long, long time ago, yes. By the time of Hezekiah, however, they were monotheist, and the Hebrew Bible had mostly been written (Isaiah still hadn't been born yet). YHWH was NOT the most moral or the most powerful. Even his consort, Asherah, was better on both accounts. He was some sort of sky-god (or maybe the god of a volcano). She was a fertility goddess in charge of the growth of crops, animal husbandry and human birth. Which seems more important to you?

And YHWH is not exactly the opposite of 'mean, materialistic, immoral and bad.' That the propaganda machine of the Hezekiah-era Israelite kingdoms was working overtime on slandering these very popular, powerful, and, quite honestly, rather moral gods, is evinced by the fact that over 3000 years later, we're still talking about this document as if it's not apologetics or propaganda, but as history.

Hindus went to triad of creator, sustainer, destroyer and finally to one supersoul.

This, is true. Though the really interesting part is that the triad system was ancient by the time one of the gods (Agni, I think) was supplanted by Vishnu (again, not sure.) Though you'd be hard-pressed to make a case that these were from the same traditions. They did get mashed together as time went on, but the Vedic (especially the early Vedic) literature, the Upanishads, and whatever else there is, all are REALLY different things.

It also begs question why many polytheistic religions became extinct and were defeated by monotheistic god and their followers.

Because the ruler of one particularly big and prosperous kingdom realized that not expressing discontent with authority figures, and not figuring things out for yourself, was enshrined in the doctrine of a still fairly minor, but growing, proscribed cult, and, seeing that his kingdom was suffering from a pretty severe economic depression, decided to use this cult for his political gain. And it worked- despite the fact that it's clear that the ruler (Constantine) had NO CLUE about Christianity (the cult), and didn't realize just what the Christians had planned after he made it the state religion and proclaimed that it had to be tolerated (within 50 years or so, Christianity would outlaw all other religions and kill or convert all those who stood in their way.)

Then, about 300 years later, another man, claiming to be speaking for the same god, came around and wiped out *more* polytheism, and big chunks of the old Empire as well.

So.. yea. Swords, pikes, bows and arrows... these are the things that destroyed polytheism. Not the superiority of its ideas.

Ofcourse we know that neither actions of demigods or karma explains misery of mankind. There are commonsnse explanations.

Then what is your explanation?

I'm getting a bit of a sense that you're arguing against polytheism. ;)

We dont have any good reason to belive that there is one and only god or there are multiple gods. Both ideas are equally absurd.

Well propagandist of Monotheism wll tell us that theirs is superior philosophy because one god crowd finally won over pagans of Europe, Romans, Greek and numerous tribes of the world.

Atheist may claim that from many god to one god idea evolved and finally no god idea should win the day.

Fair enough answer. Would you care to elaborate? I want to know more about your opinions on these matters.

Re: Polytheism and monotheism

PostPosted: Wed Apr 08, 2009 6:01 am
by crazymonkie_
Yohan wrote:Rome probably had high moral values early on. But things changed rapidly. Here are just a few. Homosexuality was encouraged everywhere and imposed upon young boys. Some way to bring up good men!

See, I knew that part of your argument was going to go into this.

The view you're espousing shows massive ignorance of what it meant and where it came from. To begin: Everyone lived much shorter lives back then. It was common to be married around 13, have had one's first child at 14, and be dead around 40- barring wars, plagues or just bad neighbors.

When you talk about homosexuality here, you're talking about an institution that was about education, and also (based upon shorter lifespans) between an older and a younger man. In today's parlance- an adult and a teenager. Objectively, that's pretty gross, but for the time, it makes sense.

Now- the point of this was that the men would be separated from the women for months, if not years, at a time, working together to learn how to 'real men.' Learning martial arts (use of weapons), strategy, rhetoric, the classics, and so on. At some point, it became the cultural norm to become physically- sometimes even intensely romantically- involved in these situations. At this point, the monotheistic religions, having inherited their bias against such things from the Hebrews (who may have just been talking about homosexual rape and temple prostitution, BTW) will say 'eeewww.' It worked out just fine, though- and the hard limit the ancients put on the relationships (they ended when the young man got married, and there was rarely anal sex involved- it usually involved rubbing between thighs) helped to give the system form.

But hey- if you want to gainsay an educational system that gave the world Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Aristophanes, Epicurus, Ovid, Virgil, Seneca, Pliny (both Elder and Younger), etc, sure, go ahead and be bothered by something that doesn't even concern you, that should just be a matter between whatever deity or deities there may be and the practitioners.

Public entertainment degenerated into torture and brutality.

Not.. really. The Greeks always were known as very fine playwriters. Heck, they INVENTED it, thanks to the Dionysian rites (and if there ever was a god to worship, it's the god of wine, sex and song!) When it came to the Romans, there was a lot of resistance to 'degenerate Eastern' things like Greek plays, Greek rhetoric, and so on. But the Romans were always bloody-minded. It's just how they were- they were frumpy, imperialistic and really violent.

It's also interesting to note, however, that the Christians didn't outlaw the gladiatorial contests or beast fights until the infrastructure of the Empire would no longer allow the bringing to and fro of war captives or live animals, due to its horrendous neglect.

Even more strange is that people got a kick out of such sadistic pervert acts.

I'll definitely agree with that. Though brutal public spectacles weren't just a Roman thing. About a thousand years later, people in the West still liked seeing two armed men beating each other into submission with iron weapons, and loved torturing and killing animals for fun (bear baiting- which in England caused the ENTIRE BEAR POPULATION to go extinct- and fox hunting, for instance.)

Core family structure itself broke down, where wives with children were abandoned to poverty and destitution, and husbands went off to live with other women. It was the disintegration of the basic family unit which finally did make the Empire collapse (not the Barbarians). Romans couldn't reproduce enough Romans with good principles to keep the empire going.

Nope, nope, nope, nope.

Roman family structure remained the same until such time as Christianity came around. However, because the Empire went through periods of expansion and contraction, and because some of the client states asked to be allowed to join Rome, the Romans were soon outnumbered. Which is why the later Flavian Emperors just said 'Oh forget it- everyone inside the line, you're citizens if you're male.' Which unleashed the floodgates when it came to Roman treatment of non-Romans (was and remained quite abominable; even one of the best Emperors ever, the Romano-Iberian Hadrian, couldn't catch a break from the patrician families in Rome).

When, about 300 years later, Rome decided to use the Ostrogoths as a buffer against the then-new Huns, the mistreatment of the former by Rome led to the final crisis and the collapse of order in the West. So yes, it was the barbarians. It wasn't 'family values.'

Oh, and also: Blame Han China. It was probably their expansion about a decade earlier that pushed everyone in central Asia further west and precipitated the collapse of the Western Roman Empire.

Actually Christianity's rule of "one husband-one wife in one's life" came into being to bring stability to the basic family unit across the Roman empire. Early converts to Christianity, Roman empire women, demanded it.

Wow- where did you get this?

You do know that Christianity's 'main man' hundreds of years later, Charlemagne, openly was married to several women and had scores of mistresses- all with the active blessing of the Roman Church- right? Monogamous heterosexual marriage only came into play much later, as a matter of controlling property lines and for political stability. Until that time, Christians then, as Mormons about a millenium later, looked to the Torah examples of the ancient Hebrew kings.

Thus, monogamous heterosexual marriage was rather unusual until everyone got tired of everybody's half-brother killing everyone else's half-brother over a few acres of land. This, incidentally, was why the Holy Roman Empire splintered, and continued to splinter, after Charlemagne's death- All the sons wanted a piece of the kingdom. They got it, and so the empire became a collection of principalities until Kaiser Wilhelm I of Prussia made them all one political entity.

And when it came to women: HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. :roflmao:

Roman ideas of women were low, but Christian ideas were far lower- particularly from Paul, which is where the inspiration for 'mainstream' Christianity's view on women came from since the beginning of the religion. For Paul, women had no place except at the back of the congregation, and only should receive instruction (should it so please the men) from their husbands or fathers. Great attitude, that.

No, the early converts were desperate people at the bottom of the social ladder. They also tended to gravitate toward other proscripted cults: Magna Mater, Isis, Serapis, Stoics (well, okay, Stoics weren't even close to proscripted most of the time- but they had their times of severe persecution). It was rarely women who did this- though, if they were going to go toward any cult, they would probably have gone toward Isis. The Isis cult had a far better attitude toward women than almost all the other cults at the time.

Re: Polytheism and monotheism

PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2009 11:18 am
by debunker
@ Hux & CM

First regarding the archeological finds, I understand that they are, according to you, conclusive enough. Well, I don't think that they are. In any case, even if they were then this still doesn't preclude the possibility that every monotheistic religion before Judiasm has undergone enough changes to wipe out all monotheism and replace it with polytheism. In fact, that's the reason there were too many prophets because people always changed their religion and turned from worshipping one God to many gods.

Take for example, the Romans or mankind at large. Their religion, according to Paul, was first monotheistic and then it became polytheistic. I know Paul's views cannot be taken as authortitative by you (neither by me) but still his claims are plausible. Here's the verse.

Romans 1:18-23
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?se ... ersion=31;
18The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. 21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

Now, regarding the development of monotheism in the Bible, as you describe it, I really see nothing but a plausible hypothesis by you, but no hard facts. When I read the Bible, I only see monotheism.

For example, the world clearly has one creator according to the book of Isaiah (I know it's not one of the books of Torah):
Isaiah 40:22
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?se ... ersion=31;

Also, the use of the word son of God is an honorary title given to His most distinguished servants (including Angels, who according to the Bible married women who gave birth to the Nephilim.) See for example, these verses.
Adam is a son of God (Luke 3:38)
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?se ... ersion=49;
David is the begotten son of God (Pslams 2:7)
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?se ... ersion=49;
In Exodus 4:22, God of the Bible declares that Jacob (Israel) is His first born son!
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?se ... ersion=49;
So Jacob's children automatically became children of God (Deutoronomy 14:1)
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?se ... ersion=49;
And Jesus EXPLICITLY asked every Christian to call God, father
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?se ... ersion=49;

Finally, even if your hypothesis is accurate then this can be challenged using another hypothesis. The Israelites were affected by a polytheistic religion, corrupted their own religion (which started as monotheistic) and therefore religious reform took place later to rectify the diversion. That's all. Your hypothesis does NOT necessarily mean that their religion started as a polytheistic religion and then became monotheistic.


@ CM
As promised, I listed the most difficult questions about God (of the Quran) in this post
viewtopic.php?f=21&t=1761&p=26205#p27575
My treatment of these questions, I admit, is a bit loose. These are merely my developping thoughts on these issues.

Re: Polytheism and monotheism

PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2009 6:31 pm
by Idesigner
C.M.To answer your question, however: I said 'may be correct' because I'm arguing from a purely intellectual standpoint. I have my mind made up about the issue, but I can argue the various sides. I wanted others to put their point of view up, and as a starting point, I wrote down one of the directions I could have taken the discussion


I take it that you belive idea of polythysm seem more logical than monotheism, whether one belives in it or not. Tell us more about " my mins is made up". I have stated my position that both belief systems are absurd . Ofcourse polytheism was natural belief of all primiticve societies including Jews. Their prophets talked lot about two armies of Yhwh and pagans fighting eaxh other, ofcourse theirs won atleast in their day dreams. Most of the time pagans and pagan god beat the shtt out of jews. Jews had lots of doubts abut fighting prowess of their god, hence all lamentations, whining , crying and hoping that ultimately theirs will prevail.Ofcourse he did when might MO took over.


C.M.Actually, no. Reincarnation could have started outside of a polytheistic system of belief. In Indian thought it had more to do with the belief that one's guiding principle (similar to the Greek 'pneuma') left after death and, during the burning of the body, went upward into the sky where the gods apparently lived. After a while, there came the idea that the principle could go downward as well... and then philosophers started thinking, 'why not sideways as well?'


I am talking about Indian context. All later philosophies in India either try to validate and assimilate vedic philosophies or try to negate it. Rigveda talks about many gods and often talks about more powerful among them. This inevitably lead to the one most poweful, others mere servants and subordinates..Often the seers will praise one particlular as the most powerful when he is the one invoked, but also take care that others are not offended.

The soul of dead was belived to have hang aroud inbody of waters, in plants or on mountain tops. Refer rigveda about this belief where reincarnation idea was not taken hold yet. Falling of this soul, worry about its sustainance evolved into rebirth idea . The idea about immortality in this world ( ofcourse impossible, they all ulitmately died) lead to idea of glorious heaven, abode of their strong gods. I am not arguing which came first heaven or soul hanging around in water bodies etc. The belief could have existed side by side, layer upon layer. There can be shradha , feeding soul of dead also and there can be low life of dog for same soul. :D



C.M.As to Karma: Show me a religion that doesn't have some concept of karma, and I'll show you a religion that you just made up.


That is correct but no religion in the world had so foramlsed and ritulised karma/reincarnation idea as Indic religions did. Some one even defined present Hinduism as the religion of belief in karma and reincarnation.


Wrong again. Polytheistic religions tended to reflect the societies which gave them birth. Hence most had a king of the gods and his consort (sometimes several.) That god could be the most powerful, *or*, he could have just been the craftiest, or the one god given authority over the other gods. Zeus, for instance, wasn't as powerful as the Titans. He probably wasn't even as powerful as Poseidon or Hades- but the former had too much Titan in him and the latter was just uninterested in running things.


Tell me where was I wrong when I said polytheistics finally went to worship the most poweful god. Reasons can be many. For example It can be mundane when primitves were conquered by Alexander who ruled from India to Greece and called him a god or philosophical when some thhought there has to be order in universe. Sun is most powerful and rest bodies are just dim lights!! :D

Almost all societies started as polytheists. Polytheists were very mindful of not upsetting even a weak god. More poweful and organised tribal structure became , idea of one superior god seem more logical to primitive mind.

Monotheistic ideas did not win by brutal force alone. Simplicity of this idea might have appealed many poltyheists. On philosophical level many polytheistic pagans were no match when arguing with monotheists. Hindu polytheism survived because its polytheism accomodated monotheism.


C.M.I'm getting a bit of a sense that you're arguing against polytheism.


Not at all. To me both belief systems are illogical and absurd, if system belives in some humanised/ personalised demi giods or one supreme god.



Fair enough answer. Would you care to elaborate? I want to know more about your opinions on these matters.


My point is: From many gods to few gods to one one and only one of Mohemmed is as logical as many gods to few gods to no god.
Onus is on belivers of one supreme all powerful, all knowing to prove their case.

Re: Polytheism and monotheism

PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2009 8:16 pm
by THHuxley
debunker wrote:First regarding the archeological finds, I understand that they are, according to you, conclusive enough. Well, I don't think that they are. In any case, even if they were then this still doesn't preclude the possibility that every monotheistic religion before Judiasm has undergone enough changes to wipe out all monotheism and replace it with polytheism. In fact, that's the reason there were too many prophets because people always changed their religion and turned from worshipping one God to many gods.

How odd that you go in a single beat from pure speculation into acting as if the speculation is a fact. The completely circular nature of your "reasoning" is quite nakedly exposed. You first establish your preexisting dogma as a mere "possibility," and then you suddenly (sans either evidence or reason) elevate it to certainty claiming, "In fact, that's the reason there were too many prophets..." Huh? How can that be "the reason" when you have no reason for even suspecting that it is true in the first place?

Further, how does one pretend to know that there were "too many" prophets as opposed to not enough, or just the right number?

No, my friend, the archeological evidence is compelling, and you have nothing beyond apologetic speculation with which to contradict it.

debunker wrote:Take for example, the Romans or mankind at large. Their religion, according to Paul, was first monotheistic and then it became polytheistic. I know Paul's views cannot be taken as authortitative by you (neither by me) but still his claims are plausible.

And Paul would be in a position to know that... how exactly? He is speaking thousands of years after the fact, about something he would be in no position to know. It is amusing when a sectarian apologist turns to another sectarian apologist and pretends that their shared sectarian belief has been magnified by numbers. I think your use of the word "plausible" is suspect at best.

It's like Osama bin Laden saying Jews are evil and turning to something Ayman al-Zawahri said as evidence that he is correct.

debunker wrote:Now, regarding the development of monotheism in the Bible, as you describe it, I really see nothing but a plausible hypothesis by you, but no hard facts. When I read the Bible, I only see monotheism.

That would be easier to believe if you made an effort to directly confront what I have previously posted.

debunker wrote:For example, the world clearly has one creator according to the book of Isaiah (I know it's not one of the books of Torah):
Isaiah 40:22
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?se ... ersion=31;

This is true in many polytheistic religions too. Not all gods are creator gods.

debunker wrote:Also, the use of the word son of God is an honorary title given to His most distinguished servants (including Angels, who according to the Bible married women who gave birth to the Nephilim.)

Sometimes yes. Often, no. The critical issue you are making a desperate effort to ignore is that verses in the Bible (which otherwise require elaborate reinterpretation and special pleading to conform to your beliefs) are absolutely and completely straightforward when the archeological information is used to inform the context. Your interpretation requires us to deny both the clear language of the Bible and the archeological record.

This is, of course, classic in the track record of religious apologetics. So it comes as no surprise.

debumker wrote:Finally, even if your hypothesis is accurate then this can be challenged using another hypothesis. The Israelites were affected by a polytheistic religion, corrupted their own religion (which started as monotheistic) and therefore religious reform took place later to rectify the diversion. That's all. Your hypothesis does NOT necessarily mean that their religion started as a polytheistic religion and then became monotheistic.

Again... the issue here is not whether any of us can propose elaborate and convoluted hypotheses to get around the problems of the actual evidence. Give me the latitude to ignore the evidence and propose the absurd, and I could assemble a hypotheses that Abrahamic monotheism was founded by Abraham Lincoln.

Thinking people judge between competing hypotheses based by how well they conform to the evidence combined with a rigorous application of Occam's razor. And as reasoning human beings, there comes a point where we must eventually say, "We have enough evidence," and then ascribe intellectual allegiance to one and rejection to the others.

This is in contrast to the apologetic method in which the conclusion is delivered by assertion, and all subsequent reasoning is designed to explain and interpret inconvenient facts to salvage the assertion at all costs. Occam's razor is rather explicitly thrown out the window.

So too with the laughable Islamic absurdity that Islam is "the original religion of mankind."

The evidence (all the evidence) is that monotheism in general and Abrahamic monotheism specifically evolved from preexisting polytheistic faiths. You may try to get around that all you want, and just as long as you feel it necessary to insulate your faith from the imposition of reality. No one can force you to make sense. That is a choice you can only impose on yourself.

But at least be honest enough with yourself to acknowledge which idea has actual evidence, and which does not.

Re: Polytheism and monotheism

PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2009 9:26 pm
by Idesigner
deleted double post

Re: Polytheism and monotheism

PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2009 9:28 pm
by Idesigner
Idesigner wrote:
Debunker:Take for example, the Romans or mankind at large. Their religion, according to Paul, was first monotheistic and then it became polytheistic. I know Paul's views cannot be taken as authortitative by you (neither by me) but still his claims are plausible. Here's the verse.


We really dont know who Paul was. A fictional character later created by christians or even by Roman emperor convert. He seem very opprtunistic fellow. Gave up his own religion to become christian.

Here Paul ( whoever he may be) is seeking some authenticity for his new found faith. Now this new faith had pretty goofey belief of god being born, god being beaten up and dying. His own book or gospel were not even sure whether Christ was prophet or he was the father himself who came to save others. From day one they were talking about father and his son, later make it goofier by three in one( trinity). Ice, Water, and steam having one character. :*)

Latr Mo also will seek authenticity for his own mumbojumbo. :D

No matter how absurd is a religion, it seeks a. authenticity, meaning going back to old book b. Antiquity, meaning going back to creation , as far back as big bang.

Many Hindus ( Arya Samajis) believe taht their Rig Veda is the first book singing praise of the one and the only one.In reality it talks about many many god and in desparation worship all gods ( Viswa Devaha, all gods of universe)

Re: Polytheism and monotheism

PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2009 9:59 pm
by debunker
@ Hux

Thinking people judge between competing hypotheses based by how well they conform to the evidence combined with a rigorous application of Occam's razor. And as reasoning human beings, there comes a point where we must eventually say, "We have enough evidence," and then ascribe intellectual allegiance to one and rejection to the others.


Ok, I get you argument for using the Occam's razor. Of course, if we use it then my hypothesis should be immediately discarded. The only way for my hypothesis to have an equal weight with yours is if i can prove that the archeological evidence found thus far is either nowhere near conclusive or that it's been convoluted (by that I mean, proving all signs of monotheism in any polytheistic religion have been smeared unrecognizable).

I admit that if you insist on using Occam's razor in every argument against religion or God then you are always bound to win... But I at least hope when atheist scholars and TV programs deny God or start buchering religious claims (like monotheism), they should at least explain that their "FACTS" are based on this principle of applying the razor and let the audience decide for themselves.

By the way, I laughed my guts out for the way you were sarcastic of my arguments. Usually I get very angry, but perhaps I enjoyed your sarcasm because I'm in a masochistic mood today.

Re: Polytheism and monotheism

PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2009 2:54 am
by BlacKStaR
debunker wrote:@ Hux

Thinking people judge between competing hypotheses based by how well they conform to the evidence combined with a rigorous application of Occam's razor. And as reasoning human beings, there comes a point where we must eventually say, "We have enough evidence," and then ascribe intellectual allegiance to one and rejection to the others.


Ok, I get you argument for using the Occam's razor. Of course, if we use it then my hypothesis should be immediately discarded. The only way for my hypothesis to have an equal weight with yours is if i can prove that the archeological evidence found thus far is either nowhere near conclusive or that it's been convoluted (by that I mean, proving all signs of monotheism in any polytheistic religion have been smeared unrecognizable).

I admit that if you insist on using Occam's razor in every argument against religion or God then you are always bound to win... But I at least hope when atheist scholars and TV programs deny God or start buchering religious claims (like monotheism), they should at least explain that their "FACTS" are based on this principle of applying the razor and let the audience decide for themselves.

By the way, I laughed my guts out for the way you were sarcastic of my arguments. Usually I get very angry, but perhaps I enjoyed your sarcasm because I'm in a masochistic mood today.


Ha! He didnt win anything using occams razor debunker. He can't and will not ever win any debates with spiritualists. Having said that, Huxley, where's your proof that god doesnt exist???

:)

Re: Polytheism and monotheism

PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2009 3:02 am
by charleslemartel
BlacKStaR wrote:
Ha! He didnt win anything using occams razor debunker. He can't and will not ever win any debates with spiritualists. Having said that, Huxley, where's your proof that god doesnt exist???

:)


Actually, God does not exist. What exists in his place is the Skybunny.

Re: Polytheism and monotheism

PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2009 4:07 am
by BlacKStaR
charleslemartel wrote:
BlacKStaR wrote:
Ha! He didnt win anything using occams razor debunker. He can't and will not ever win any debates with spiritualists. Having said that, Huxley, where's your proof that god doesnt exist???

:)


Actually, God does not exist. What exists in his place is the Skybunny.


Prove it. Talk is cheap.

Re: Polytheism and monotheism

PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2009 4:43 am
by crazymonkie_
How about you prove to us first of all that there is such a thing as something that exists, objectively, yet cannot be experienced or measured directly OR indirectly.

When you can do that, start laughing again.

Re: Polytheism and monotheism

PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2009 5:42 am
by crazymonkie_
Idesigner wrote: I take it that you belive idea of polythysm seem more logical than monotheism, whether one belives in it or not.

You take it incorrectly. I said 'intellectual exercise.' As far as I'm concerned, any and all god-beliefs have exactly the same amount of proof for their correctness: Zero. When taking this stance, the relative logic weight of one or the other system is shown for what it is: Irrelevant. This is just for kicks, basically.

Tell us more about " my mins is made up".

See above.

I have stated my position that both belief systems are absurd . Ofcourse polytheism was natural belief of all primiticve societies including Jews. Their prophets talked lot about two armies of Yhwh and pagans fighting eaxh other, ofcourse theirs won atleast in their day dreams. Most of the time pagans and pagan god beat the shtt out of jews. Jews had lots of doubts abut fighting prowess of their god, hence all lamentations, whining , crying and hoping that ultimately theirs will prevail.Ofcourse he did when might MO took over.

Indeedy. All I would ask in the case of this thread is for you to argue one way or another. I could also argue convincingly the case for the Christian god- give me a sect (except Mormons, I don't know them very well) and I can argue for it. Just... I dunno, do your best. Have fun with it. I know I have.

I am talking about Indian context. All later philosophies in India either try to validate and assimilate vedic philosophies or try to negate it. Rigveda talks about many gods and often talks about more powerful among them. This inevitably lead to the one most poweful, others mere servants and subordinates..Often the seers will praise one particlular as the most powerful when he is the one invoked, but also take care that others are not offended.

It didn't *inevitably* lead to one being the most powerful; that was the result of polytheists' reflecting their social structure onto the mythology of their gods. Societies with councils tended to have slightly more egalitarian gods; those with monarchies tended to have one, or several related, gods that were more powerful in terms of prestige or deference by the other gods. This did not mean, for instance, that Enlil was necessarily more powerful to the Sumerians than Ea- only that Enlil's city (Nippur) had eclipsed Ea's (Erech). Ea was in fact more powerful, but eventually retired to the highest heavens (thought of a series of concentric domes above the flat earth...gosh, that sounds familiar. :wink: )

Seers or prophets will praise one god over another precisely for these reasons. Not because they're more powerful, but because those gods are their patrons. Though there are, obviously, gods that are more powerful than others. This fact does not, however, reflect a sort of consolidation of power of some gods over others. In India's case, it wasn't that Brahma was the end result of consolidation of powers of the gods- more that Brahma was a later, more philosophical, more cerebral development, an idea similar to the Platonic Logos. It more reflected the fact that there was an established highly introspective class of people who could think about these things and come up with solutions to vexing philosophical problems.

The soul of dead was belived to have hang aroud inbody of waters, in plants or on mountain tops. Refer rigveda about this belief where reincarnation idea was not taken hold yet. Falling of this soul, worry about its sustainance evolved into rebirth idea . The idea about immortality in this world ( ofcourse impossible, they all ulitmately died) lead to idea of glorious heaven, abode of their strong gods. I am not arguing which came first heaven or soul hanging around in water bodies etc. The belief could have existed side by side, layer upon layer. There can be shradha , feeding soul of dead also and there can be low life of dog for same soul. :D

Ah. Thank you for this clarification. As I think I mentioned here (might have been another thread) this interests me very much.

C.M.As to Karma: Show me a religion that doesn't have some concept of karma, and I'll show you a religion that you just made up.


That is correct but no religion in the world had so foramlsed and ritulised karma/reincarnation idea as Indic religions did. Some one even defined present Hinduism as the religion of belief in karma and reincarnation.

Oh indeed. No doubt about that. Other religions do talk about it quite a bit- Stoicism has a surprising amount of it, and there might have been more in the earlier Stoics, but we don't have any of their works. Just later Stoics, who, due to their stodgy Roman (or Greco-Roman) character, tended to focus more on the harsh moral code. Romans loved 'virtue' in the Greek sense; they didn't care much about metaphysical speculation.

Tell me where was I wrong when I said polytheistics finally went to worship the most poweful god.

I went over it earlier, but I'll just state it again: You're oversimplifying what happened and ignoring the many cases where it didn't happen. That some gods were worshiped *more* is undeniable. That there were some that were more powerful, also true. But to say that polytheists went to finally worship the most powerful god... well... that's just not true. When it came to monotheism, the first among the extant three that we have currently had to destroy competing temples and exile or kill the priests/priestesses of very powerful and popular cults.

The second simultaneously used the 'pagan' philosophy that it decried (via Plotinus and others like him) while tacking itself on to the first group from the 'Gospels' that were available to them; and took the letters of a leader of an unrelated mystery cult and smashed them together. There's really little Judaism in Christianity. It's almost all Neoplatonism, and some mystery cult stuff. Though the works have been changed so many times, and the oldest manuscripts are so hard to get, that most people don't know just how much it's changed.

The third... well, we know how the third got going. Though I did hear one theory about where Mohammad got his stories of Jesus. There was this odd group of 'heretical' Christian mystics who apparently fled to Arabia in the 2nd century and survived until the 7th or 8th. They were called the Marcionites, after their founder, Marcion, who was the first Christian to canonize the 'New Testament.' Though his was quite a bit thinner than others; he believed that the god of the Hebrews was the 'Demiurge,' a flawed creation (more like emanation, actually) from the one true god, who *really* believed he was *the* creator of the world. Marcion believed Jesus was the true god come to earth to save all humanity, and that Christians should not pay any attention to the 'Old Testament' at all.

I'm not sure if this is true, but apparently, one theory says that Marcionites in Arabia were the source for Islamic beliefs that Jesus didn't die on the cross. Though how 'he's not god in the flesh' came from that, I don't know. It could more likely be that Mohammad and his followers just heard some of the 'popular Christianity' of the area (sort of like how missionaries only focus on the feeding of the 5000 and the sermon on the mount and the Passion and so on) but then said 'nope, god wouldn't allow his servant to suffer like that. Oh, and he's not god- that doesn't make sense to me, therefore it's wrong.'

Reasons can be many. For example It can be mundane when primitves were conquered by Alexander who ruled from India to Greece and called him a god or philosophical when some thhought there has to be order in universe. Sun is most powerful and rest bodies are just dim lights!! :D

Hey now- the Greeks were philosophically inclined well before Alexander conquered that far. They were already noticing how silly it was to believe that some natural process has a god in it; some even came up with the idea that that was an 'age of mythology,' a time when gods walked among men, siring children... but the age was over, and the gods didn't directly interact with humans. Then again, some believed (like Plato) that the stories that had been passed down for ages were horrible, and should be banned (EG: The many rapes of Zeus.)

But I won't doubt that Alexander's conquest changed things enormously. Though it was better for Buddhism, being as it was the dominant Indian belief system at the time. Apparently there were early Buddhist teachers as far west as Alexandria. And there was an Indo-Greek empire in Central Asia that lasted for hundreds of years. I think that was the only place where the Manicheans were able to go without pissing people off to the point of being massacred.

Almost all societies started as polytheists.

Until monotheistic societies, yes.

Polytheists were very mindful of not upsetting even a weak god. More poweful and organised tribal structure became , idea of one superior god seem more logical to primitive mind.

Not really. The gods became stratified, but didn't necessarily condense power into one god's hands. That was only rarely the case. Think about how many people prayed to Athena or Hera versus Zeus, for instance. Zeus was the king of the gods, and he definitely had his due, to put it mildly. But whatever god's services were needed, they were called upon.

Monotheistic ideas did not win by brutal force alone.

Actually, yeah, they did. Consolidation of gods did happen, but mostly what would happen was that one god wouldn't be worshiped any more- though often that god wasn't that popular or powerful to begin with.

Simplicity of this idea might have appealed many poltyheists. On philosophical level many polytheistic pagans were no match when arguing with monotheists. Hindu polytheism survived because its polytheism accomodated monotheism.

Nah. The history of Christianity alone gives many examples of groups killing each other over apparent philosophical niceties. They may be able to say all the things they have in their creed... but when it goes beyond what's in the Nicene Creed, Christians are at each others' throats.

And considering the relative ignorance of many monotheists- how, because they tended to be from the lowest levels of societies they were in, they didn't have much in the way of education- they tended to get *shredded* in philosophical contests by polytheists. The only time I ever heard of a monotheist 'winning' a philosophical argument against a polytheist is Origen winning against Celsus. Which was easy enough to do considering that Celsus had been dead for almost eighty years when Origen wrote his 'dialogue' with Celsus.

Though you're obviously correct about Hinduism surviving how it did. I heard it described as the "anaconda of the Indian subcontinent."

My point is: From many gods to few gods to one one and only one of Mohemmed is as logical as many gods to few gods to no god.
Onus is on belivers of one supreme all powerful, all knowing to prove their case.

I like this discussion!

Re: Polytheism and monotheism

PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2009 7:16 am
by BlacKStaR
crazymonkie_ wrote:How about you prove to us first of all that there is such a thing as something that exists, objectively, yet cannot be experienced or measured directly OR indirectly.

When you can do that, start laughing again.


So you mean to say, that in this planet, rich with many diverse life forms, so sophisticated and complex in physical terms from the most tinniest to the largest..HAS NO CREATOR FOR IT????????????????????????? SO THESE LIFE FORMS CAME OUT FROM NOWHERE????????????????? :prop:

Thats why you atheists are such losers in life. You dont think above your capabilities. While many many scientists are embracing religion today, atheists are becoming more threatened that their non existent intelligence too becoming extinct.

You know what Jacques Costeau once said??? " science risk running into error when it does not recognize miracles"

and

"If we were logical, the future would be bleak, indeed. But we are more than logical. We are human beings, and we have faith, and we have hope, and we can work. "


Think about it.

Re: Polytheism and monotheism

PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2009 9:35 am
by Aksel Ankersen
BlacKStaR wrote:So you mean to say, that in this planet, rich with many diverse life forms, so sophisticated and complex in physical terms from the most tinniest to the largest..HAS NO CREATOR FOR IT????????????????????????? SO THESE LIFE FORMS CAME OUT FROM NOWHERE????????????????? :prop:

Thats why you atheists are such losers in life. You dont think above your capabilities. While many many scientists are embracing religion today, atheists are becoming more threatened that their non existent intelligence too becoming extinct.

Could you make your point without insulting other members? This thread has been (unusually for FFI) civil so far.

Re: Polytheism and monotheism

PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2009 9:47 am
by Aksel Ankersen
Having just read the thread, I would say polytheism is illogical, because multiple, diverse gods with different origins cannot establish a universal standard of morality. If you have read Plato's Eurythphro you will see that in a polytheistic system there cannot be a universal standard of right vs wrong and piety vs impiety when such things are defined according to the interests of various conflicting gods.

In later henotheistic systems each god represented an attribute or virtue of the One God that people strived for, sometime taken as a patron deity or spirit.

Re: Polytheism and monotheism

PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2009 10:29 am
by CuteCoot
Aksel Ankersen wrote:In later henotheistic systems each god represented an attribute or virtue of the One God that people strived for, sometime taken as a patron deity or spirit.

One could readily argue that the ninety-nine names of Allah represent 99 attributes, aspects, virtues or what might be seen metaphorically as 99 faces or persons within the One God. The Christians content themselves with three, but the Muslims go all the way to 99.

Just as a single person, just one individual, can be conflicted so too can God. One aspect may be at odds with another. For example, Allah is seen as both compassionate and powerful. In a given situation, it might be better, more moral or virtuous, to exercise one's power. In another, to exercise compassion. In most cases, there will be a conflict there. Some of Allah's attributes are even direct opposites, such as "The Abaser" and "The Exalter".

It may be more realistic to accept the basically conflictual nature of the human psyche and of the divine universe that has been imagined to represent it. Whether this acceptance takes the form of a strict polytheism or of a multi-faceted monotheism may not be too important.

Re: Polytheism and monotheism

PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2009 12:42 pm
by Brendalee
So you mean to say, that in this planet, rich with many diverse life forms, so sophisticated and complex in physical terms from the most tinniest to the largest..HAS NO CREATOR FOR IT????????????????????????? SO THESE LIFE FORMS CAME OUT FROM NOWHERE????????????????? :prop:


Because you cannot explain life and this planet, you simply ASSIGN a cause for it which has no empirical evidence for it whatsoever?

The lack of an explanation is not proof that some unsubstantiated theory must somehow be more correct than any other arbitrary random theory.

I

Re: Polytheism and monotheism

PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2009 4:01 pm
by charleslemartel
BlacKStaR wrote:
charleslemartel wrote:
BlacKStaR wrote:
Ha! He didnt win anything using occams razor debunker. He can't and will not ever win any debates with spiritualists. Having said that, Huxley, where's your proof that god doesnt exist???

:)


Actually, God does not exist. What exists in his place is the Skybunny.


Prove it. Talk is cheap.


:lol:

If the existence of God does not need any proof, why should the existence of Skybunny need it?