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Featured Why would monotheism be a good thing, let alone a necessary one?

Discussion in 'General Religious Debates' started by LuisDantas, Dec 11, 2016.

  1. LuisDantas

    LuisDantas Aura of atheification
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    I am aware that there is some controversy among the Abrahamics on this matter.

    Many people consider the worship of Saints in some segments of Christianity to be a form of polytheism and therefore a deviation from supposedly necessary monotheism.

    Some consider Trinitarianism itself a form of polytheism.

    Islaam specifically seems to place a good deal of significance to keeping proper monotheism, to the point of insisting that politheism is automatically idolatry and, to the best of my understanding, insisting that we should understand that "God has no partners, no associates" and that it is not proper nor desirable to have intermediaries between a Muslim's relationship with God.

    That seems at first glance to imply on disapproval of the regard for the Qur'an as scripture and even of worship of God, but apparently that is not what is meant even by the most extreme interpretations of those principles. Fair enough, although I find the language inaccurate, even misleading, particularly given how seriously Muslims seem to take the matter.

    What I ask here is for some hint or help on why this specific (and IMO rather minor, as all matters that come too close to relying on the belief of the existence of a deity for their significance tend to be) matter is perceived as so significant by many Christians and Muslims.

    Word has it that whole denominations refuse to acknowledge specific others as being "true" Christians / Muslims supposedly because they are Trinitarians or are understood for some other reason to be polytheistic. It is, literally, a deal breaker for many people, and I am told that it requires a considerable effort from some in order to keep their faith that others keep true to apparently important monotheism despite what is perceived as indications to the contrary.

    Try as I might, I have so far failed to conceive better explanations for so much worry beyond two very weak reasons.

    1. Peer pressure and social bonding needs.

    People will often attempt to build a sense of community by producing issues and lending them significance, underscoring how misled the outsiders who fail to value it are.

    Monotheism is as good an issue to be lent significance as any, I suppose, although I don't think that explains the intensity of the passions that some people have on the issue.

    2. Pascal's Wager and its variants.

    It is all-out contradictory that a sincere monotheist would lend any significance to this glorified joke that is the claim that you better "at least try" to believe "in the right God" in order to avoid "punishment in the afterlife". Yet so many people assure me that they mean it that I can't help but assume that they are sincere. Presumably polytheism, even when not conscious, would be grounds for such punishment.

    It makes no sense. Then again Pascal's Wager was never to be taken seriously, as pretty much any serious analysis by any perspective will immediately show.

    It makes no theological sense, no religious sense, no rational sense, no moral sense, lacks internal coherence and does not take anthropological reality into consideration. Yet variations of it keep popping up, presumably as significant arguments for belief even, from people that I have no reason to believe to be lying or consciously trolling as they do so.

    Even taken together, those two factors seem way too weak to explain the insistence on monotheism and the passions attached to that insistence. Yet I have utterly failed to conceive of any other explanation.

    Any ideas on what I may be missing? Maybe it is just that there are indeed many people who take Pascal's Wager seriously, unlikely as that seems to me?


    Edited to add: after creating this thread it occurred to me that there may be a third, somewhat more understandable (but not much better) reason.

    Belief in monotheism or monocracy may be appealling for people who find in it relief from the terrible stress that is dealing with the diversity of beliefs and ideological stances around.

    In a way, it implies that there is no particular need to listen and deal to other people's perspectives, because it is all somehow part of God's plan and he will step in as he sees fit.

    I think it is a particularly strong appeal among the Bahais and Ahmadiyya Mulsims, but by no means limited to them.
     
    #1 LuisDantas, Dec 11, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2016
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  2. Laika

    Laika Well-Known Member
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    Based on its function to unite people round a single deity and its representatives in a religious and political institution, Monotheism can be a reflection of centralised political power into the hands of a monarchy as with the feudal system. Just think of monotheism as part of state worship and a cult and you may see what I am getting at. So having one god means having one authority and the politics of being loyal to their deity as representing ones tribe stirs the passions of worshiping the "true god" against the "false gods".

    In a more intellectual sense, If your looking for a non-material causes to pheneomena, a single "god" is arguably a simpler explanation than many gods. Why would you need many gods representing different aspects of nature when you can have a god that does everything?

    But I think it would be better if someone who actually followed a monotheistic religion answer this one. :)
     
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  3. icehorse

    icehorse Well-Known Member
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    I suspect it was (and still is to some degree), an effective way to rule people. Kings and such have long had close affiliations with churches.
     
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  4. Kemosloby

    Kemosloby Well-Known Member
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    Ask the Jews why the ten commandments say "thou shalt have no God before me" . And you might get the answer, because God wants it that way. Yes, You say Christians and Muslims but what about the Jews? Christianity teaches that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, King of the Jews and Lord of the scriptures. So it follows that Christianity is tied to the old testament Jewish scriptures. Muslims must have some other reason.
     
  5. Kemosloby

    Kemosloby Well-Known Member
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    Why do we have one set of rules? Because two sets of rules would get confusing and lead to arguements. Why couldn't we have both Trump and Hillary as president?
     
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  6. Kirran

    Kirran
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    I am in favour because I think that God is One.
     
  7. LuisDantas

    LuisDantas Aura of atheification
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    That is certainly a good reason for figures of authority to encourage the belief, but does not explain why people accept it.
     
  8. LuisDantas

    LuisDantas Aura of atheification
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    That commandment implies that monotheism is not true, though. Or, at least, that it is possible for people to create other Gods - as the Golden Calf mentioned by Jewish tradition, presumably.

    That is ultimately an incomplete variation on Pascal's Wager, and suffers from some of its crippling flaws as an argument.

    Many Jews seem to know better, and most others seem to have attained at least a tentative respect for their wisdom.

    Generally speaking, the Jewish People have the benefit of an overall better handled doctrine in Judaism.

    It is amazing what the sincere effort of people can accomplish.
    That reason does not really apply to Judaism either, though.
     
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  9. LuisDantas

    LuisDantas Aura of atheification
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    In essence, we don't.

    Arguments lead to wisdom, while autocracy - including theocracy - leads to decay and ruin.

    In any case, religion is a human activity. The premise that there is an omnipotent Creator God must deal with the reality that people don't universally tend to hold such a belief somehow.

    Why would it even be possible to be non-monotheistic if God Really Wanted Us to be monotheistic?
     
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  10. Kemosloby

    Kemosloby Well-Known Member
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    If you were playing scrabble, one set of rules would be beneficial to the fairness of the game. and if there was room for interpretation in the rules, one scrabble King to settle disputes would really bring peace to the game.
     
  11. LuisDantas

    LuisDantas Aura of atheification
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    I take it that you are implying that there is a valid parallel with morality, religion and/or theistic beliefs?
     
  12. Kemosloby

    Kemosloby Well-Known Member
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    No it's not reflected in the world. As you said, people can create their own Gods, believe whatever they want to believe. And God lets people do what they want until the judgement day. But this world has a lot of problems, and since God promises the next world is better, even heaven, where peace reigns. it stands to reason that there will be one set of rules and one ruler. .
     
  13. icehorse

    icehorse Well-Known Member
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    It seems that traditionally rulers have used an indoctrination model for "education". Indoctrination runs rough shod over the idea of people making there own, unencumbered choices.
     
  14. LuisDantas

    LuisDantas Aura of atheification
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    To say the least.

    The world is not well represented in your model of unquestionable power of a presumed supreme creator. And that is very much a good thing.

    A clear central authority is not nearly as important as the spread of civility, education and good will.

    Only to then punish them for holding reasonable beliefs - presumably forever?

    I don't think I will ever fail to be surprised that people actually believe in that. Or that, having convinced themselves of the truth of it, they see fit to have any respect for such a "God".

    Uh, no. That does not even attempt to make any sense.
     
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  15. Kemosloby

    Kemosloby Well-Known Member
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    Maybe you should be the supreme leader, you have all the answers.
     
  16. LuisDantas

    LuisDantas Aura of atheification
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    Nope. "Strong" leadership is the scourge of civility.

    That said, I don't feel any particular need to pretend doubts and ignorance. I have plenty of both for my lifetime needs as it is.
     
  17. Augustus

    Augustus the Unreasonable

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    A very pervasive, but completely anachronistic myth.
     
  18. Kirran

    Kirran
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    Don't damage antitheist doctrine! :O
     
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  19. LuisDantas

    LuisDantas Aura of atheification
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    Actually, do your best. It is best for us to dispose of the weaker, less accurate arguments as we find them.
     
  20. icehorse

    icehorse Well-Known Member
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    Well my guess is that hundreds of books and thousands of careers have been based on this question. I can't claim to bring anything new to the table. It strikes me that my beliefs are consistent with one camp of thought, and yours are consistent with another camp.
     
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