1. Welcome to Religious Forums, a friendly forum to discuss all religions in a friendly surrounding.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Our modern chat room. No add-ons or extensions required, just login and start chatting!
    • Access to private conversations with other members.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Atheists: How would you argue against polytheism?

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by Soundwave99, Jan 3, 2017.

  1. Soundwave99

    Soundwave99 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2016
    Messages:
    36
    Ratings:
    +17
    Religion:
    atheist-agnostic some days
    I've seen many arguments (and refutations of arguments) from atheists against monotheism, but not very many for polytheism. So, my fellow atheists, how would you argue against a polytheistic pantheon like the Greek or Norse Gods?

    I've seen some arguments on this page here (My Criticisms of Polytheism Pt.1: Philosophical Arguments Against Polytheism (Part One)) and I will paraphrase the ones that I feel are strong here.

    1.-Polytheistic gods are unnecessary to explaining how the world works now that we have satisfactory naturalistic explanations rendering polytheistic gods, at best, unnecessary additions to the equation.

    2.- Most ancient polytheistic cultures (i,e ancient Greeks, Ancient Germanic Peoples, Ancient Egyptians,etc.) were converted to the Abrahamic religions. However, given the fact that polytheistic deities seemed to benefit from being worshipped by humans, if these gods existed, the Abrahamic religions should not have succeeded in converting Pagans because the gods would have intervened so that they could keep being worshipped. Give. The fact that the Abrahamic faiths replaced the Pagan ones, it is unlikely Pagan gods exist (or at the very least, care about humans).

    So those are my aguments; what are yours?
     
  2. ADigitalArtist

    ADigitalArtist Well-Known Member
    Staff Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2015
    Messages:
    6,005
    Ratings:
    +6,721
    Religion:
    Irreligious Agnostic Atheistic Apatheist
    I'm an atheist because I haven't seen compelling reason to believe in the existence of *any* gods. Plural.
     
    • Like Like x 7
    • Winner Winner x 1
  3. Cephus

    Cephus Relentlessly Rational

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2013
    Messages:
    2,857
    Ratings:
    +594
    Religion:
    None
    Why would it be any different? There is no evidence that any of these gods exist. Doesn't matter if you're talking about one god or a million. No evidence is no evidence.
     
    • Like Like x 4
  4. YmirGF

    YmirGF Bodhisattva

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2005
    Messages:
    29,092
    Ratings:
    +14,861
    Religion:
    Beyond the Light
    I wouldn't and don't. It's not worth arguing. Seriously.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  5. Monk Of Reason

    Monk Of Reason ༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つ

    Joined:
    May 24, 2013
    Messages:
    6,509
    Ratings:
    +1,230
    Religion:
    Pragmatic
    I mean you still have the standard "there is no evidence" route which is really the main piont of any atheistic argument.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. columbus

    columbus Conservative Catholic from Hell

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2014
    Messages:
    18,398
    Ratings:
    +11,376
    Religion:
    None
    I don't much bother. That's mainly because polytheists rarely attempt to coerce or proselytize me or anyone I know about.

    If monotheists like Christians and Muslims generally behaved the way Hindus and Hellenists do there wouldn't be so much to talk about.
    Tom
     
    • Like Like x 5
  7. Soundwave99

    Soundwave99 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2016
    Messages:
    36
    Ratings:
    +17
    Religion:
    atheist-agnostic some days
    I agree that there's no evidence for polytheistic gods (I am an atheist, after all). However, with monotheism, while there's no evidence, atheists also make arguments against monotheism. From an atheistic pov, there's exactly as much evidence for polytheism as there is for monotheism. Yet the latter gets arguments made against it while the former doesn't. It seems to me that if you're going to refute one type of theism on philosophical grounds, you should do it for all types of theism. I think this because monotheism is not going to be the main type of theism forever. Philosophically, someday the god debate won't just be monotheism vs. atheism; it will be polytheism vs. atheism and pantheism vs. atheism. As atheists, we need to be prepared for these debates.

    I agree that polytheists don't proselytize and that that's good, but I'm more interested in the philosophical reasons as to why polytheism is not likely to be an accurate worldview (or more accurately, set of worldviews).
     
  8. LuisDantas

    LuisDantas Aura of atheification
    Staff Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2008
    Messages:
    44,695
    Ratings:
    +13,532
    Religion:
    Advocate of letting go of theism. Buddhist with an emphasis on personal understanding.
    I don't recall ever feeling the need. Such pantheons, unlike the God of Abraham, tend not to be used in abusive ways.

    Far as I can tell, polytheists do not feel any particular need to convince others of the existence of their deities, either.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  9. Evangelicalhumanist

    Evangelicalhumanist "Truth" isn't a thing...

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2013
    Messages:
    3,170
    Ratings:
    +2,989
    Religion:
    None, a humanist who doesn't even worship humans
    I can never quite figure out why people ask these kinds of questions.

    How would you argue against precisely 3 gods? Or perhaps 2 - 1 good and 1 evil (or creative/destructive)? Or perhaps a Flying Spaghetti Monster or Invisible Pink Unicorn? Or maybe 1 really, really impotent little "god" for every observable thing in the universe?

    Isn't the better question, "why do you suppose any gods at all, when there's nothing you can actually point to that suggests any such thing?"

    Well, that's where I always wind up, anyway.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  10. icehorse

    icehorse Well-Known Member
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2014
    Messages:
    8,347
    Ratings:
    +4,169
    Religion:
    spiritual anti-theist : )
    What I can say is this: Based on RF and the news, we should say "hooray for polytheists" because they don't seem to want to convert everyone.

    And of course, they don't have any evidence either.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  11. ADigitalArtist

    ADigitalArtist Well-Known Member
    Staff Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2015
    Messages:
    6,005
    Ratings:
    +6,721
    Religion:
    Irreligious Agnostic Atheistic Apatheist
    I personally don't make arguments against monotheism, I make arguments against specific claims that many monotheists make about our natural world, or sometimes arguments about my normative ethics which conflicts with theirs, or something along those lines. I encounter far more monotheists than I do polytheists so it makes sense that monotheism would be the subject far more often. But again, I don't argue against any sort of gods, or claim to know there isn't any. I just don't believe theres sufficient evidence to support them, and a supposition that large is not one I'm willing to take.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  12. Kuzcotopia

    Kuzcotopia If you can read this, you are as lucky as I am.

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2015
    Messages:
    1,869
    Ratings:
    +1,533
    Religion:
    Fat Stack 'o Pancakes
    I think that the more defined a god is, the easier it is to argue against. Arguing against Zeus is easier because his myths require certain behaviors that we should still see. He nailed everything in sight, and if he existed, his exceptional children should still be around, wreaking havoc.

    Arguing against some nebulous monotheistic God concept that exists outside the universe is a more challenging concept, not because it's more true, because those who argue for it keep is as deliberately vague as possible.

    The vaguest, and least useful concepts for a god, are probably the deist arguments. They're sillier, because they only focus on pure reason. . . But because the argument is for such a weak and pointless entity, there's no claims to even refute.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  13. Valjean

    Valjean Veteran Member
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2004
    Messages:
    20,287
    Ratings:
    +8,458
    Religion:
    Vedanta (reform)
    One God or a hundred, the arguments are the same.

    It's not for us to defend atheism. The burden of proof is on those proposing entities with no empirical evidence of existence.
     
    • Winner Winner x 1
  14. columbus

    columbus Conservative Catholic from Hell

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2014
    Messages:
    18,398
    Ratings:
    +11,376
    Religion:
    None
    Fundamentally I don't see them as very different, most all the same observations apply. If anything, most of them seem even more fictional than monotheism. But that's probably my own culture showing more than any objective assessment.
    Tom
     
    • Like Like x 2
  15. psychoslice

    psychoslice Veteran Member

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2013
    Messages:
    15,613
    Ratings:
    +4,133
    Religion:
    my own religion
    For me personally its not worth arguing over nothing.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  16. Jaiket

    Jaiket Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2004
    Messages:
    8,073
    Ratings:
    +1,660
    Religion:
    Something else
    Do you think that religious belief in more than one deity is an attempt to explain how the world works?

    I'm not sure this point has any potency.

    • Those gods may have been weak.
    • Perhaps those particular gods didn't exist in the first place but others do.
    • Perhaps they choose not to intervene.
    • Perhaps they can't.
    • Hunduism.
     
  17. HonestJoe

    HonestJoe Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2010
    Messages:
    3,195
    Ratings:
    +1,609
    Religion:
    None
    I think you’re failing to distinguish between fundamental philosophical arguments against theism and practical objections to specific religious implementations. Not many people actually address the philosophical aspect in any great detail and even then it’s normally in quite niche academic contexts. The objections to practical religious implementation is obviously much more apparent and mainstream. If there were any high profile polytheistic religions being used to influence political decision making or inspiring international conflict and terrorism, I’m sure we’d hear more objections to polytheism.
     
  18. Soundwave99

    Soundwave99 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2016
    Messages:
    36
    Ratings:
    +17
    Religion:
    atheist-agnostic some days
    Originally it definitely was. It was used by people to explain why things happened. As time went on, things changed and some cultures (or parts of some cultures) didn't take their mythology literally. However, it was still an attempt to explain the world. If you're positing a cosmology that involves multiple gods that fulfill some purpose or do something, then yes, it is an attempt to explain how the world works. The same as if you're positing one God that fulfills some purpose. If you purpose a being that does anything at all, then you're trying to explain the world.

    [/QUOTE] I'm not sure this point has any potency.

    • Those gods may have been weak. [/QUOTE]
    This is a valid point for some deities. However, the argument still holds some water against deities that were claimed to be strong or powerful.

    [/QUOTE] Perhaps those particular gods didn't exist in the first place but others do. [/QUOTE]

    This point is also valid, although it would be kind of odd if one pantheon existed, but others didn't. But there's nothing wrong with it, so it's a valid objection.

    [/QUOTE]Perhaps they choose not to intervene.[/QUOTE]

    But why wouldn't they given that they were (in most polytheistic theologies at least) benefiting from their worship? This is the crux of the argument. If polytheism were true, they would have been benefitting from being worshipped for hundreds of years. It seems really, really unlikely that they would just let this cycle stop as soon as opposition showed up.

    [/QUOTE]Perhaps they can't. [/QUOTE]

    Isn't this basically just a slight variation on your first objection?

    [/QUOTE]Hinduism.[/QUOTE]

    You're half right here, as some schools of Hinduism are monotheistic and some are polytheistic (and some are animistic and some are atheistic). While polytheistic Hinduism may be the exception to the rule, I would argue that the fact that almost every polytheistic culture was converted says more than the fact that one culture's polytheism still stands. This is why in the OP I said "Most polytheistic cultures..."
     
    • Like Like x 1
  19. Goddess_Ashtara

    Goddess_Ashtara NIN MOJAVE AK IMEN

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2014
    Messages:
    956
    Ratings:
    +591
    Religion:
    DINGIR EDENLIL AK ENE
    If involving God(s) in one's life strengthens and empowers an individual or a people and exponentially increases their ability to become who they Will to become, and to achieve their goals and dreams, if involving God(s) in one's life provides a constant source of powerful motivation and inspiration... whether or not these gods exist independently outside our subjective universes as living sentient beings is something I find to be completely irrelevant.

    Religion for some involves explaining how humanity got here, how the cosmos were formed, what we might experience after we die, etc. None of that is relevant to me or my spiritual-religious system.

    I do not require "evidence" to explain my spiritual-religious system or the God(s) of my pantheon, as my spiritual-religious system requires no belief in fantastical afterlife scenarios or human origin stories, and its God(s) can be perceived and experienced by the theist and atheist alike... as a means to help one discover strength, power, wisdom and beauty wherever one Wills, to make one's Will a reality, to provide a constant source of motivation and inspiration for the things one is passionate about, and to aid in the fulfillment of one's greatest goals and ambitions.

     
    #19 Goddess_Ashtara, Jan 5, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2017
  20. Monk Of Reason

    Monk Of Reason ༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つ

    Joined:
    May 24, 2013
    Messages:
    6,509
    Ratings:
    +1,230
    Religion:
    Pragmatic
    I think the main issue comes from the fact that the vast majority of the major religious population in the west is monotheistic. Even in the middle east its monotheistic. The only non-monotheistic major religion is Hinduism. Hindu's have their own set of problems but don't attempt to insert themselves into the laws of western countries and mostly end up getting ignored. Also from my personal experience most American Hindu's are very very very quickly converted out of the religion. I have met one actual true believer in the religion out of dozens of "hindu's" that I have known on a personal level to some degree. Its almost like Jews in how they retain their religion as part of a cultural identifier rather than an actual belief system. In India however that is not true and India has a whole slew of problems that I have talked about in the past but doesn't normally come up in religious debates here.
     
    • Like Like x 1
Loading...