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Edward P. Butler ([personal profile] endymions_bower) wrote2018-06-27 06:28 pm

Polytheism is Theism, Monotheism is Atheism

Polytheism is Theism, Monotheism is Atheism (from Twitter)

Polytheism is theism, monotheism is atheism.


IIRC, in the original Greco-Roman sense, abstaining from worshiping the Gods was seen as atheism, thus Jews/Xtians were considered atheists.

Yes, this is one part of it: Xtians were called atheos because *there were Gods they denied*.
This is the ancient logic—polytheists didn't deny the existence of other people's Gods.
Going deeper, though, there is an issue here about the nature of religious experience. Experience is primarily positive in character, including theophanic experience.
Hence I can experience a God, even a God who is all things; but I cannot *experience* that this is the only God.
(As a friend points out, "Even in math 'unicity' is something very hard to prove.")
Monotheism thus reveals itself as primarily a negative moment of disqualifying or modifying an experience.
This movement of negation, if followed through, results in atheism via a process of reasoning such as Hegelian absolute idealism.
Hence I would argue that even the theism of Abrahamics ultimately requires the acknowledgement of the possibility of polytheism.
I see the construct of monotheism as a Faustian bargain these faiths have made; not to say I imagine them backing out of it!

What did they win? What did they lose?

They won a notion of intellectual inevitability and rational mastery; they lost their God, if that matters to them...