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Author Topic: Why The One God Rule?  (Read 3611 times)

Airelinn

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Why The One God Rule?
« on: May 13, 2014, 02:35:55 pm »
There were a lot of instances in history of people acknowledging the idea of a single deity, and in some cases worshipping a single deity for a short period of time. Along came Judaism's ideas of strictly worshipping a single deity.  For a long time, they still acknowledged other deities but for some reason a few of them just got this idea that that should be forbidden.  Over time, it morphed from worshipping this particular deity over others, to the idea that others don't even technically exist.

Maybe someone here who has studied this could shed some light on this for me: Why did this stringent ideal come up? Why does it continue today? Why, in most of society, can there be Only One God? What function does that adherence to a strict, static doctrine serve?
« Last Edit: May 13, 2014, 04:49:25 pm by RandallS »

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Re: Why The One God Rule?
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2014, 03:45:36 pm »
Quote from: Airelinn;147439

Maybe someone here who has studied this could shed some light on this for me: Why did this stringent ideal come up? Why does it continue today? Why, in most of society, can there be Only One God?


I think you might be overstating the case; it depends on what society you're looking at. Considering that one can quite reasonably point to Hindus as worshiping more than one god, that's *a lot* of the world's population that still practices polytheism. And that's just one example.

I haven't studied this, but I can offer conjecture: The rise of science as a means to explain the workings of the universe hit polytheism particularly hard. If lightning is the result of electric charges built up in the atmosphere, and the seasons result from the tilt of the Earth's axis, and so on, one no longer needs deities with specific functions to account for these phenomena.

(Never mind that these deities may have a metaphoric importance and conceptual existence among their worshippers, in conjunction with their functions, which shouldn't be affected by the science; once science knocked the legs out from them, they became much easier to put aside, esp. if newer monotheistic religions were pushing for that to happen.)

That a single all-powerful deity is the cause for phenomena (even a very remote cause) is highly debatable. But it seems easier for some folks to swallow.
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Shakas

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Re: Why The One God Rule?
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2014, 03:55:15 pm »
Quote from: Airelinn;147439
There were a lot of instances in history of people acknowledging the idea of a single deity, and in some cases worshipping a single deity for a short period of time. Along came Judaism's ideas of strictly worshipping a single deity.  For a long time, they still acknowledged other deities but for some reason a few of them just got this idea that that should be forbidden.  Over time, it morphed from worshipping this particular deity over others, to the idea that others don't even technically exist.

Maybe someone here who has studied this could shed some light on this for me: Why did this stringent ideal come up? Why does it continue today? Why, in most of society, can there be Only One God? What function does that adherence to a strict, static doctrine serve?

 
So those who abuse religion and spirituality to rule over others can more easily shape and control the narrative to serve their own interests and ends.

That's my two coppers' worth, anyway.

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Re: Why The One God Rule?
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2014, 04:07:58 pm »
Quote from: Shakas;147446
So those who abuse religion and spirituality to rule over others can more easily shape and control the narrative to serve their own interests and ends.

That's my two coppers' worth, anyway.

 
I'm pretty sure that those who wish to rule over others can abuse any narrative to do so.
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Re: Why The One God Rule?
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2014, 04:49:55 pm »
Quote from: maybeimawitch;147450
I'm pretty sure that those who wish to rule over others can abuse any narrative to do so.

THIS is true. Unfortunately.
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Re: Why The One God Rule?
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2014, 08:24:05 pm »
Quote from: Airelinn;147439
Maybe someone here who has studied this could shed some light on this for me: Why did this stringent ideal come up? Why does it continue today? Why, in most of society, can there be Only One God? What function does that adherence to a strict, static doctrine serve?

 
I think one reason for some ancients back then switching from strict henotheism to absolute monotheism was to have a positive assurance of success and victory.

You're a king and your kingly predecessors had many competitions with their polytheistic foes to see whose deity is the true deity, i.e., the real Lord of heaven and earth. Sometimes your nation won the honour of being those people "whose deity is the Lord" and sometimes not. You are confident that your deity is that deity, but sometimes he doesn't favour you in battle and thus makes it look as if a neighbour deity is the supreme one.

What do you do? You deny any of those deities even exist! That way if your foes defeat you in combat your deity is still supreme and none of theirs won because theirs do not exist. Instead yours has a plan. He will eventually subject all of your foes to your people in an eschatological event according to your prophetic class (and the freelancers).

That is how I think the doctrine came up.
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Re: Why The One God Rule?
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2014, 09:27:35 pm »
Quote from: Airelinn;147439
There were a lot of instances in history of people acknowledging the idea of a single deity, and in some cases worshipping a single deity for a short period of time. Along came Judaism's ideas of strictly worshipping a single deity.  For a long time, they still acknowledged other deities but for some reason a few of them just got this idea that that should be forbidden.  Over time, it morphed from worshipping this particular deity over others, to the idea that others don't even technically exist.

Maybe someone here who has studied this could shed some light on this for me: Why did this stringent ideal come up? Why does it continue today? Why, in most of society, can there be Only One God? What function does that adherence to a strict, static doctrine serve?

 
I made a topic about how Yahweh used to be part of a pantheon, then the patron God of a legendary figure, then the one deity--most of that is covered in the video link, which I'll link here too:



Basically, some people form particular attachments to singular deities, hence things such as the Ishta Devata in Hinduism or Henotheism here among pagans.

But the key element to the domination of Monotheism was as a political stunt that was pulled off with phenomenal success. It continues long after it has served the politics of the time, because it continues to serve the politics and society of this time-- a majority of people continue to be comfortable with it, and the memeplex of the faith has all sorts of safety fuses inviting apologetics to explain away any great flaws. Most people who are already comfortable with its presence in society wouldn't rock the boat spiritually, so it continues.

If it doesn't serve any function, it doesn't harm--that is to say, the ideology hasn't done "enough damage or harm" to the "right sort of people" to call for an ovehaul in the system.

That's just the way the toast falls, in my opinion.
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Airelinn

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Re: Why The One God Rule?
« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2014, 11:51:45 am »
Thanks so much for all the replies.  The video Faemon posted was awesome; I've read a few books by that author but for some reason hearing it summed up in that way with the pictures was really cool.  I understood that Yaweh had basically started out as a god of war, but for some reason the picture used in that vid or the way the author of the video worded it gave that idea a different angle to see it from which was cool.

There's another thread floating around the forum that is really similar to this one where someone else is asking the same question as myself.  One good point someone made was that during the time a lot of Jews were exiled in Babylon, refusal to worship other deities was a way to avoid cultural genocide.  When they returned to Judah, they found that the Jewish relations there had evolved in a more relaxed manner, allowing the other cults to flourish alongside their heritage's unique deity.
It seems like, in an attempt to create a solid Hebrew/Jewish identity, and also to avoid a future of more scattered wanderings, the aggressive worship of a single deity became for affluent...especially when a certain king came into power who was one of these radical Yahwists.

I just find it very uncanny how it all turned out.  This thing that was supposed to preserve a cultural identity ended up actually morphing not only the culture from whence it came, but a great deal of cultures after it from all over the world. In the end, I guess it's convenient. Rather than remember a pantheon of hundreds of gods, Protestants only need to remember one. In Catholicism it's more loose. You remember all the saints and can pray to them, and of course there's Mary.  Muslims remember the prophets.  In that way, I guess monotheism is still somewhat rare given the belief in angels, saints, and prophets. Funny Abrahamic religions don't recognize it in that way.

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Re: Why The One God Rule?
« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2014, 12:51:56 pm »
Quote from: Djaty;147487
I think one reason for some ancients back then switching from strict henotheism to absolute monotheism was to have a positive assurance of success and victory.

You're a king and your kingly predecessors had many competitions with their polytheistic foes to see whose deity is the true deity, i.e., the real Lord of heaven and earth. Sometimes your nation won the honour of being those people "whose deity is the Lord" and sometimes not. You are confident that your deity is that deity, but sometimes he doesn't favour you in battle and thus makes it look as if a neighbour deity is the supreme one.

What do you do? You deny any of those deities even exist! That way if your foes defeat you in combat your deity is still supreme and none of theirs won because theirs do not exist. Instead yours has a plan. He will eventually subject all of your foes to your people in an eschatological event according to your prophetic class (and the freelancers).

That is how I think the doctrine came up.

 
I know this was the case with the ancient Israelites in relation to the Babylonian exile. Before that, I believe, they were basically henotheists (if you believe William G. Dever). What we know as the "Old Testament", the Hebrew Scriptures, was written, most likely, by the ancient 1%--the priests. And, since history is usually written by the victors, in this case the wealthy and literate, we get the sense that all of the ancient Hebrew people were monotheists. The writers of the scriptures, as far as I can, created the idea of a One, Sovereign Lord as a theodicy after being exile. You can see this in 2nd Isaiah (the second half of the book). YHWH is no longer a tribal deity, but a universal one fulfilling His plan to gather in "the nations." The way He did that, supposedly, was to allow His chosen to be conquered.

This is where I think it happened for the Hebrew people. But this is a very specific case and shouldn't be applied to other groups/
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MightyAntler

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Re: Why The One God Rule?
« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2014, 06:27:57 pm »
Quote from: RuachHaKodesh9;147539
This is where I think it happened for the Hebrew people. But this is a very specific case and shouldn't be applied to other groups/

 
I had the ancient Israelites in mind as I was typing up my reply.

Have you read Gods in the Desert by Glenn S. Holland? It is about the cultural religions of Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Syria-Palestine. I recall reading about the henotheism to monotheism thing in it. Great read.
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Airelinn

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Re: Why The One God Rule?
« Reply #10 on: May 14, 2014, 10:54:31 pm »
Quote from: Djaty;147562
I had the ancient Israelites in mind as I was typing up my reply.

Have you read Gods in the Desert by Glenn S. Holland? It is about the cultural religions of Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Syria-Palestine. I recall reading about the henotheism to monotheism thing in it. Great read.


I'm def going to have to check out that book. :)

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Re: Why The One God Rule?
« Reply #11 on: May 15, 2014, 12:18:34 pm »
Quote from: Djaty;147562
I had the ancient Israelites in mind as I was typing up my reply.

Have you read Gods in the Desert by Glenn S. Holland? It is about the cultural religions of Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Syria-Palestine. I recall reading about the henotheism to monotheism thing in it. Great read.

 
I haven't. At least, not yet. I think I got my information from The Evolution of God by Robin Wright (as well as Dever).
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MightyAntler

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Re: Why The One God Rule?
« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2014, 12:40:51 am »
Quote from: Airelinn;147577
I'm def going to have to check out that book. :)

 
Awesome. You will probably not be disappointed. The only thing I felt was lacking was that the third part of the book did not have as much content about Canaanite polytheistic religion as I anticipated – most of it was about ancient Israelite religion. Regarding the first two parts I loved how the author offered such perspicuous and even insightful details about Egyptian and Babylonian religion.
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Airelinn

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Re: Why The One God Rule?
« Reply #13 on: May 16, 2014, 01:37:10 am »
Quote from: Djaty;147650
Awesome. You will probably not be disappointed. The only thing I felt was lacking was that the third part of the book did not have as much content about Canaanite polytheistic religion as I anticipated – most of it was about ancient Israelite religion. Regarding the first two parts I loved how the author offered such perspicuous and even insightful details about Egyptian and Babylonian religion.

 
Going to buy it tonight or tomorrow. Just have to decide if I want Kindle edition or hard copy. I want the hardcopy more because of the maps, but it's $10 more....decisions decisions...lol. xD

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Re: Why The One God Rule?
« Reply #14 on: May 16, 2014, 01:35:21 pm »
Quote from: Airelinn;147653
Going to buy it tonight or tomorrow. Just have to decide if I want Kindle edition or hard copy. I want the hardcopy more because of the maps, but it's $10 more....decisions decisions...lol. xD

 
I bought the Kindle edition. Why would I need maps when I have a globe that lights up? :p
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