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Are Many Gods Better Than One?
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Author:  DWill [ Wed Sep 08, 2010 6:21 am ]
Post subject:  Are Many Gods Better Than One?

This thread is for anyone who cares to talk about the topic, not just for those reading TEoG by Wright.

The main thrust of Wright's first two Parts is how human thought about religion evolved from a polytheistic to a monotheistic platform. Often in discussions of religion (which are always heated, of course), opponents stress the damage done by monotheism, with the implication that the shift from belief in many gods, to one supreme god in a pantheon, to finally one God alone, was a regrettable change. With God as the only rule-giver and commander-in-chief, human groups became more inclined to believe that only they possessed the truth, and that this possession gave them the authority to view other groups as inferior, deserving to be conquered and deprived of rights. Of course, having just one God didn't mean that all monotheistic cultures would get along. If anything, the differences in how they worshiped this one God tended to make them implacable enemies.

In the old polytheistic days, when a culture might have hundreds of gods, there could be a "more the merrier" attitude towards the gods of other cultures. Why not accept or appropriate the gods of other peoples, if this smoothed out relations and added some pizazz to the native religion? Why worry about exclusive truth, when the gods weren't about moral and metaphysical truth anyway? Not that there was any lack of conquering other peoples for the usual time-honored reason of wanting wealth and power. But it wasn't conquering done because of what the other side worshiped.

Wright clearly believes the evolution represents moral progress. What feeling do you have about this momentous change?

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