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  1. #1
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    Polytheism better than Monotheism?

    Hi,

    I think that we would be better of in this world as polytheists. I'm not saying that we should revert to the ancient ways of sacrificing animals or humans (that not all polytheists did). What I am proposing is that we should adopt a polytheistic psychology and show respect for everyones faith by acknowledging the commonalities between different faith systems and by doing so show respect, but at the same time practice one's own beliefs. I'd also propose abandoning the missionary attitude some faiths have, claiming that their way is the only true way.

    If polytheism can exist peacefully in the past, why couldn't it do so now?

    I don't intend any offence to monotheists, but the structure of monotheism seems to be designed to maximise control of people, and minimise individual freedoms to worship as individuals wish to. History has shown this to have been the case; (e.g. Constantine and Akhenaton).

    Best wishes and respect to all.
    Last edited by Rakkyosai; May 10th, 2009 at 04:18 PM. Reason: Spelling

  2. #2
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    Re: Polytheism better than Monotheism?

    What is it about believing in multiple imaginary beings that is preferable to just believing in the one?

    Faith does not deserve respect.

    Belief in God, Yahweh, Allah, Thor, Xenu, or any of the other thousands of gods in which humans have believed is equally laudable. Which is to say, not at all.

    Christianity, Judaism, Scientology, Wodenism, etc., etc. are all ridiculous. They all make claims so outrageous that if it weren't for the fact that they are religious claims, any adult believing in them would be rightfully derided.
    Ezekiel 4:12 (King James Version)
    And thou shalt eat it as barley cakes, and thou shalt bake it with dung that cometh out of man, in their sight.

  3. #3
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    Re: Polytheism better than Monotheism?

    I think you are absolutely right, Rakkyosai. Pagans acknowledged existence of other Gods and respected other religions, they just chose not to worship them.
    And MrFungus, even if you think that all religion is ridiculous, wouldn't you agree that we would be better off if religious people were more tolerant?

    But I really don't think this is realistic. If you were a religious Jew, Christian, etc., would you be willing to say that everything you have been taught is wrong and other Gods do exist?
    I think that the best we can do is ask that people be more religiously tolerant.

    You mention Constantine and Akhenaton. I think that the problems that they caused had to do with telling people that their religion is wrong. If a radical polytheist came into power today, it would probably cause the same problems.

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    Re: Polytheism better than Monotheism?

    If polytheism can exist peacefully in the past, why couldn't it do so now?

    Polytheists may have been more accepting of other faiths because they were not as deep rooted in their faith as monotheists are. Not to completely stereotype all ancient Pagans, but I've gotten the impression that worshipping the gods was more about being a "Good Greek" or "Good Roman"
    then actually having a faithful, loving relationship with God.

    Polytheism was extremely popular in the Ancient times, and was the religion of choice for the vast majority of humans. It is natural to venerate or worship all the elements of other factors that hold sway in our lives. Maybe it is part of our developement as a worldwide society that these primitive ideas be phased out over time.

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    Re: Polytheism better than Monotheism?

    Quote Originally Posted by cdubs View Post
    Polytheists may have been more accepting of other faiths because they were not as deep rooted in their faith as monotheists are.
    This is just not true. Consider the elaborate funeral ceremonies ancient Egyptians had for their dead kings, and the olympic games held in honor of the Greek Gods. I think you're confusing faith with intolerance.

    Quote Originally Posted by cdubs View Post
    Not to completely stereotype all ancient Pagans, but I've gotten the impression that worshipping the gods was more about being a "Good Greek" or "Good Roman" then actually having a faithful, loving relationship with God.
    I guess this is true sometimes, but a lot of pagans did have intimate relationships with the Gods.

    Again, the problem is when someone says that an entire religion is wrong. Akhenaten did this when he denounced all other Egyptian Gods and there would be similar consequences today if the situation happened in reverse: imagine an extremely powerful ruler of a Christian nation deciding to convert the nation to polytheism. People would be outraged.

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    Re: Polytheism better than Monotheism?

    This is just not true. Consider the elaborate funeral ceremonies ancient Egyptians had for their dead kings, and the olympic games held in honor of the Greek Gods.

    Both of those had more to do with the culture of the people then their love of polytheistic gods.

    The Greeks for example loved sports and competition down to the local level, so it is only natural that they would devise some type of regional competition to see who was best.

    I think you're confusing faith with intolerance
    The Romans no tolerance for any other race or culture with the exception of not forcing their religion on the people they conquered.

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    Re: Polytheism better than Monotheism?

    Quote Originally Posted by cdubs View Post
    Both of those had more to do with the culture of the people then their love of polytheistic gods.
    The Greeks for example loved sports and competition down to the local level, so it is only natural that they would devise some type of regional competition to see who was best.
    Yes, they are cultural. Because religion is part of culture. Even if it was based on their love for competition, it was still a religious ceremony. Is it no longer religious when you enjoy it? Maybe the way that they worshiped depended on their culture, but they still worshiped the Gods at an extremely extravagant level.

    Quote Originally Posted by cdubs View Post
    The Romans had no tolerance for any other race or culture with the exception of not forcing their religion on the people they conquered.
    Rome became much less tolerant when its official religion became Christianity.

    What I meant by "you're confusing faith with intolerance" is: It is not faith that causes one religion to persecute another because polytheists are more tolerent, but no less faithful.


    Even if you're right, polytheists were more tolerant. (Who cares if they were less faithful?)

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    Re: Polytheism better than Monotheism?

    [QUOTE=bobloblaw;376838]
    What I meant by "you're confusing faith with intolerance" is: It is not faith that causes one religion to persecute another because polytheists are more tolerent, but no less faithful.
    QUOTE]

    No I knew what you meant by that, but that was a sweet one liner ( confusing faith w intolerance) and I really had no comeback cause you were right. So I just threw that stuff out there..

  9. #9
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    Re: Polytheism better than Monotheism?

    I think you might be confusing polytheism with religious pluralism. A polytheistic religion includes multiple deities, but each deity is part of a very specific pantheon. These pantheons are as exclusive as monotheistic religions, because they make similar claims to truth.

    Polytheism tends to have a better reputation for tolerance compared to monotheistic traditions. Most examples of extremism and religious persecution have occurred in monotheism; however, this has more to do with our perception of history than religious tendencies. Recent history, being more extensively documented and discussed, tends to be the focal lens through which we view these things. The 'Big 3' of monotheism (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) have been the religions of imperialistic nations for the past millennium or more. There are countless examples of polytheistic excess (some of which have been mentioned above) that indicate another set of problems altogether. The need to incur the goodwill of a patron god, for example, does tend to make sacrifice much more likely.

    An entirely different system, religious pluralism accepts all religions - and in doing so, cannot condemn the intolerable aspects of any. The end result is a protected status for religious beliefs, wherein criticism of a particular dogma is impolitic. It offers a variant of Dostoevsky's 'God is dead. Everything is permissible.':

    God is everything. Anything is tolerated.

    This is an unnacceptable surrender, I think. Furthermore, the idea of religious pluralism seems a bit patronizing. Accepting all religions subtly concedes that none of them are true. As this is clearly the case, what purpose any religion at all?
    RagnarD

    Fiat justitia ruat caelum.

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    Re: Polytheism better than Monotheism?

    Christianity is actually polytheistic. The jews in the north worshipped Elohim ,while in the south they worshipped Yahwe. Elohim was all good and benevolent. Yahwe was the jelous god. When they made the old testamnet they couldn't decide which one to put in, so they both got in. That is why the christian god has a split personality.

    LOLZ

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    Re: Polytheism better than Monotheism?

    The main point I'm arguing is this; (For some reason) it seems that when people believed in a polytheistic faith there was a much greater degree of religious tolerance and even respect between faiths. It also seems to be an inherent trait in monotheistic faiths to claim that it is wrong to believe in more than one deity. Even between monotheistic faiths there is disagreement... One says in order to be faithfull to 'God' one must follow the rules as written in THIS book, not that one. Another says one must follow the rules of this new section weve added on to the original, but dip in to the older section if its beneficial. (I'm avoiding direct naming for a reason).

    The claim I am making based on these observations is that we should take a polytheistic attitude to religion, acknowledge that all other gods exist and respect them; and avoid the case where one faith claims it is the only true way and thustly alienates all others.

    It's worked in the past...

    Oh, and how can you claim that Christianity is polytheistic based on your claims about Judaism? - Christianity did not adopt either of these terms, nor did it acknowledge the Jewish nature of God. The differences in the names comes from the writing styles - each name was used to make reference to different aspects of the same one God.

  12. #12
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    Re: Polytheism better than Monotheism?

    Christianity is actually polytheistic. The jews in the north worshipped Elohim ,while in the south they worshipped Yahwe. Elohim was all good and benevolent. Yahwe was the jelous god. When they made the old testamnet they couldn't decide which one to put in, so they both got in. That is why the christian god has a split personality.

    LOLZ


    Thats a gross over simplification and exaggeration of the different interpretations of the nature God by the Jews, which fluctuated with what was happening during that particular time in Israel. And just because they had different interpretations of the same God doesn't mean they worshipped many gods.

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    Re: Polytheism better than Monotheism?

    Polytheistic belief probably couldn't last in the modern world. Deities would not be accepted and worshipped unless their religion held a different and beneficial viewpoint which seemed plausable and the most feasable answer to the problems of the universe. in the modern world with science giving the most plausable answers to problems in the universe there should be no place for the idea of deities.

    The reason religion has lasted in the modern world against the evidence of science is because of the inclusive viewsd they held. Religions such as islam and christianity teach to shun other ideas as heathen. The main viewpoints on forgiveness show this as they preach to forgive all sins except for those against their specific beliefs. Since taught at a very young age to children who have no other ideas from which to choose from are brought up with the viewpoint that they are right and evryone else wrong and that they should ignore them.

    A viewpoint that all could be deities but only one was the true one would lead to a weakness in its structure. Arguments would come about arguing which was the correct one. The easiest way to stop these arguments is saying only one exists.

    A world where people can accept all religions equally and freely would be like utopia. A brilliant idea but will never happen. To keep a set view strong all opposing ones must be crushed. Strong religions would not give up their inclusive power for peace. Never.

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    Re: Polytheism better than Monotheism?

    Quote Originally Posted by stixitis1 View Post
    Polytheistic belief probably couldn't last in the modern world. Deities would not be accepted and worshipped unless their religion held a different and beneficial viewpoint which seemed plausable and the most feasable answer to the problems of the universe. in the modern world with science giving the most plausable answers to problems in the universe there should be no place for the idea of deities.

    The reason religion has lasted in the modern world against the evidence of science is because of the inclusive viewsd they held. Religions such as islam and christianity teach to shun other ideas as heathen. The main viewpoints on forgiveness show this as they preach to forgive all sins except for those against their specific beliefs. Since taught at a very young age to children who have no other ideas from which to choose from are brought up with the viewpoint that they are right and evryone else wrong and that they should ignore them.

    A viewpoint that all could be deities but only one was the true one would lead to a weakness in its structure. Arguments would come about arguing which was the correct one. The easiest way to stop these arguments is saying only one exists.

    A world where people can accept all religions equally and freely would be like utopia. A brilliant idea but will never happen. To keep a set view strong all opposing ones must be crushed. Strong religions would not give up their inclusive power for peace. Never.
    I don't think that's a utopia; if religious beliefs can be held in conjunction, then they're ultimately part of a broader religious belief system.

    Most religious conflict with each other: Believing in God means denying the existence of Buddha; believing in Buddha means rejecting Christianity; believing in Allah means rejecting Shintoism, etc.

    And your last point about "strong" religions doesn't really apply to religions that put a very low value on wordly power, don't you agree?
    If I am capable of grasping God objectively, I do not believe, but precisely because I cannot do this I must believe. - Soren Kierkegaard
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    Re: Polytheism better than Monotheism?

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    I don't think that's a utopia; if religious beliefs can be held in conjunction, then they're ultimately part of a broader religious belief system.

    Most religious conflict with each other: Believing in God means denying the existence of Buddha; believing in Buddha means rejecting Christianity; believing in Allah means rejecting Shintoism, etc.

    And your last point about "strong" religions doesn't really apply to religions that put a very low value on wordly power, don't you agree?
    OK maybe the wording was poor towards the end but the point i was trying to get across was that polytheism wont bring peace as throughout history religions have flourished by denying other views and crushing other ideas before they could catch on.

    By "stong" religions i was referring to ones that have flourished and have become successful by fighting for their views politcally and physically. By "strong" i meant in the support and political influence they hold.

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    Re: Polytheism better than Monotheism?

    Quote Originally Posted by stixitis1 View Post
    OK maybe the wording was poor towards the end but the point i was trying to get across was that polytheism wont bring peace as throughout history religions have flourished by denying other views and crushing other ideas before they could catch on.

    By "stong" religions i was referring to ones that have flourished and have become successful by fighting for their views politcally and physically. By "strong" i meant in the support and political influence they hold.
    The number of gods you believe in is irrelevant; all that matters is the content of their philosophical framework. Believing in three hundred gods that say murder is wrong isn't better than believing in one God that says murder is wrong.
    If I am capable of grasping God objectively, I do not believe, but precisely because I cannot do this I must believe. - Soren Kierkegaard
    **** you, I won't do what you tell me

    HOLY CRAP MY BLOG IS AWESOME

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    Re: Polytheism better than Monotheism?

    Quote Originally Posted by stixitis1 View Post
    Polytheistic belief probably couldn't last in the modern world. Deities would not be accepted and worshipped unless their religion held a different and beneficial viewpoint which seemed plausable and the most feasable answer to the problems of the universe. in the modern world with science giving the most plausable answers to problems in the universe there should be no place for the idea of deities.

    The reason religion has lasted in the modern world against the evidence of science is because of the inclusive viewsd they held. Religions such as islam and christianity teach to shun other ideas as heathen. The main viewpoints on forgiveness show this as they preach to forgive all sins except for those against their specific beliefs. Since taught at a very young age to children who have no other ideas from which to choose from are brought up with the viewpoint that they are right and evryone else wrong and that they should ignore them.

    A viewpoint that all could be deities but only one was the true one would lead to a weakness in its structure. Arguments would come about arguing which was the correct one. The easiest way to stop these arguments is saying only one exists.

    A world where people can accept all religions equally and freely would be like utopia. A brilliant idea but will never happen. To keep a set view strong all opposing ones must be crushed. Strong religions would not give up their inclusive power for peace. Never.
    Explain Hinduism then. It violates everything that you've just said, and it's been attacked with monotheism (Christianity and Islam) for six or seven hundred years now.

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    Re: Polytheism better than Monotheism?

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    The number of gods you believe in is irrelevant; all that matters is the content of their philosophical framework. Believing in three hundred gods that say murder is wrong isn't better than believing in one God that says murder is wrong.
    I disagree.

    A hundred gods supporting the same belief elevates that belief to a truth that all gods recognize, and thus exists independently of a single god. A single god saying something is a command, and that god is viewed as The Decider of Things.

    One way elevates the truth over god, the other elevates god over truth. (I think you get in what sense I am using "truth")


    the poetics of a religion are just as important as the dogma.

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    Re: Polytheism better than Monotheism?

    Quote Originally Posted by AuspiciousFist View Post
    I disagree.

    A hundred gods supporting the same belief elevates that belief to a truth that all gods recognize, and thus exists independently of a single god. A single god saying something is a command, and that god is viewed as The Decider of Things.

    One way elevates the truth over god, the other elevates god over truth. (I think you get in what sense I am using "truth")


    the poetics of a religion are just as important as the dogma.
    You know that 100([Belief] x [God]) = [Belief] x [100 x god], right? In both cases, the belief is held by the god, and is therefore held by the supplicants. Increasing the number of entities that express [x] does not change the nature of [x] or the relation of [x] to those entities.
    If I am capable of grasping God objectively, I do not believe, but precisely because I cannot do this I must believe. - Soren Kierkegaard
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    Re: Polytheism better than Monotheism?

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    You know that 100([Belief] x [God]) = [Belief] x [100 x god], right? In both cases, the belief is held by the god, and is therefore held by the supplicants. Increasing the number of entities that express [x] does not change the nature of [x] or the relation of [x] to those entities.
    I'm curious as to why you think an equation applies.

    As I've already said, the implications of 100 gods vs. 1 god is to where the belief comes down from. From God or from something "above" the gods.

    Sure if you make it into a logic statement it is identical- but you are also gutting it.

    Yes, the belief of the god(s) is always held by the believer of the god(s), but the believer's conception of the relationship between god(s) and the belief changes in a significant way, in my opinion.

    I suspect you are viewing polytheism with a monotheistic mentality, which made you decide that your logic was relevant. One of the biggest differences between monotheism and polytheism is that the gods came from something other- the "oneness" of reality exists beyond the gods. Whereas in monotheism the concept oneness and god are squished together.

    I don't think those things can be represented in an equation.


    the belief that murder is bad could be a commandment of a god, or a requirement to have a better relationship with the universe or the transcendent self or atman or whatever. (which could easily support the murder is wrong because of evolutionary instinct idea)

 

 
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