Monotheism

Is Monotheism a superior form of worship (vs Polytheism)? Is it more complex? Was it an evolutionary step in religious beliefs?
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leonstrykerAsked:
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Anthony RussoCommented:
Is believing in unicorns better than leprechauns?

I do feel it is a more evolved belief. Once science started showing that a chariot didn't drag the sun across the sky, and the normal seasons made the flowers grow and these things didn't have specific Gods to control them, civilizations just needed one diety to explain what they didn't know.
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macuser777Commented:
Yes. No, though maybe. Not if you believe in it.

If these Qs were still worth 500 points I might invest more time. ;)  

Hi, leonstryker. We used to exchange comments a fair bit 2 or 3 years ago. I pop back very occasionally to see if there's still life in these boards, but there hardly ever is.

I'll watch along with this and see how it goes.  I was just kidding about the points thing.
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hdhondtCommented:
There's more thought gone into the monotheistic religions. With the old religions, it was mostly a mater of myths and "just do" stories, which did not have to be logical in any way.

The monotheistic religions have spent centuries trying to fill holes in their logic (think of the biblical "one god" vs the trinity of modern christianity). So yes, in that sense they are more "evolved".

Having said that, I do agree with AnthonyRusso: it's the difference between leprechauns and unicorns.
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tliottaCommented:
Numerous stories within monotheistic religions have major story elements that are found in stories told within earlier religions. It seems reasonable that retelling over centuries allows for much more thought and examination in varying circumstances.

Bits like contradictions within stories or some that are contrary to real life observations can be modified. Over time, I suppose that it can be said that the concepts have 'evolved'.

I don't know that anything like that is quite like whether or not the religions themselves are more 'evolved'. Then again, most if not all religions are based on some forms of stories rather than observable evidence.
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viki2000Commented:
Who cares which is better as long as is not true?
Man needs religion to reconnect with the true God.
If you believe there is no God, no spiritual world, no soul then you do not need religion. Many people live their life only following basic moral and ethic codes.
Religion means access to God who provides good life after physical death. Who wants that searches for God.
If you decide for that, you cannot prove it for all around, but you may have personal experience which change your initial beliefs. Then I personally believe is enough to be very sincere in your search and try to sanctify yourself  as much as possible, no matter where you are on earth and no matter what religious believe is around. You just need courage, stay vertical, use your rationality, be sincere and one day you will have the revelation directly from God what is best for you.
It may be very hard, but will come. You may be forced to live your land, family and move forward, but will come.
Some people in the past did that and they were blessed and found what is true, what is reality, which God. The religion follows after that.
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hdhondtCommented:
Sorry viki2000, but we're discussing the differences between monotheism and polytheism. Talking about which is "true" is not relevant here.

And, there is no way you can prove that your particular flavour of religion is better than any other. Be it polytheism or catholicism, you think all of them are invalid, except your particular interpretation of one particular book. All your "proof" comes from your interpretation of that book.
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viki2000Commented:
Why we need to worship anyway, if is not something true and just an invention?
Who cares which is superior?
In what way is superior?

Do you mean: the monotheist religion changes the way how people interact one to each other in a way which brings more advantages to the people, society and because of that is considered superior?
What is your reference and definition for that "superior"?
Superior means better than..., in other words brings advantages.
About what advantages we speak? To whom?
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tliottaCommented:
Why we need to worship anyway, if is not something true and just an invention?

With that "if" added on, we don't need to. I've certainly never had a need to.

Tom
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hdhondtCommented:
What is your reference and definition for that "superior"?
As AnthonyRusso put it, we're trying to discern between leprechauns and unicorns.

Monotheism, polytheism and atheism all teach morality. The actual commands differ from culture to culture. Monotheism tends to be somewhat more moral than polytheism (not much though: remember our discussion about stoning adulteresses). That, I assume, is because more and longer thought has gone into monotheism.

For the same reason I'm convinced that atheism is more moral than either of them. Our modern, secular, morality is streets ahead of that of religions, again because more people have thought about it, for a longer time. Remember, in secular morality stoning adulteresses is murder.
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Anthony RussoCommented:
I think the strength in morality of atheism is not just because it was thought about longer. I think it has to do with the reason to be moral. In religion, too often the reason to be moral is to please a deity, or to get into a promising afterlife. An atheist though is moral because they think it's the right thing to do.

Which is more admirable. Doing what is right out of fear or personal gain, or doing what is right out of the desire to do what is right?
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hdhondtCommented:
@AnthonyRusso

Remember that even christians have improved their morality a lot over the years. Think of witch hunts, and 150 years ago they still condoned slavery. Of course, a lot of the push came from non-religious people, such as the American founding fathers, but they did improve.

I agree that it's a lot better to do the right thing because you feel it's right, rather than to avoid punishment from a god.
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leonstrykerAuthor Commented:
Morality is a changing concept. What is defined as moral yesterday may not be considered moral today. Thinking longer about something does not make it better. Atheist are by no means more moral than theists.

We are caught in a trap of judging moral action based on our concept of morality as it is today. If there we were to speak to a Christian from 150 years ago, he would certainly not consider us more moral, in fact I would say he would judge us a lot less so.
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Anthony RussoCommented:
While the definition of what is moral can and has changed over the years, the basis of it is still the same. To do good and to treat others like you would with to be treated. The major infractions of morality of murder, stealing, etc are pretty straightforward and unchanged throughout history.

The question is not what is done or what is perceived moral, why is it being done. Those that do what is moral and do it just because they think it is the right thing to do I hold higher than those that do so in fear of punishment from a deity or for their own self in getting them closer to a better afterlife.

An atheist is no more moral than a theist is that theist acts out of his own motivation to do what is right. When the theist is only acting because of his perceived religious doctrine's repercussions, then the atheist is more moral.
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leonstrykerAuthor Commented:
When the theist is only acting because of his perceived religious doctrine's repercussions, then the atheist is more moral.
You are suggesting that an atheist is acting in a moral fashion based on altruism while a theist does so to avoid repercussion. This is a fallacy, both are acting based on a set of communal standards and ideas of right and wrong. In its based form both are avoiding repercussions.
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Anthony RussoCommented:
Not at all. The atheist, since he does not believe in a God or afterlife acting morally in a situation that is not illegal, or in one where there will be no repercussion from someone else (like stealing something they could get away with) only is acting out of the desire to act morally.

In the same situation, if a theist acts for the same motivation, then they are equal. If the theist acts moral because "God is watching" or "I wont get into heaven" then he is being less moral.
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leonstrykerAuthor Commented:
An atheist is subject to to societal rules which define morality. Their punishment is to be shunned from, and by society.

For a theist "God is watching" is mitigated by "I can receive forgiveness", while for an atheist it is the knowledge of not likely to be found out.

I see no difference in their level of morality. They both either are or are not.
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Anthony RussoCommented:
In the situation where there is no repercussion to be had from society or anything in the physical world, if the person making the good decision does so because he just feels it is the right thing to do, it is a higher degree of morality than the person who does it because his religion says he will be punished or he wont get into the good afterlife.

The first person is selfless in reasoning. The second is not.
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leonstrykerAuthor Commented:
No, again you are compering altruism with avoidance. Religion offers forgiveness, a believer can sin and knows that he will be forgiven. There will be no repercussion for a sinning theist as much as there is none for an atheist who knows that he can "get away with it".  Both do something because they feel it is right.

There is no higher degree of morality.
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PaulHewsCommented:
I agree with leonstryker for two reasons.  

First, a person can be altruistic because it feels good or has some other positive repercussion.  Morality does not have to be driven by negatives.  But arguing that seeking the positive repercussions is more moral is rather silly, given that both can be, ultimately, self serving.  

Secondly, the degree of morality is based on the result, not the thought process.  If I abstain from killing someone, that is no less moral an outcome than not wanting to kill them--in the end, no harm is done.  And if we are to be morally accountable for our thought crimes, we might as well lock everyone up.
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Anthony RussoCommented:
So murdering a lot of people and robbing everyone all your life will have no ill effects on getting into heaven because you will be forgiven?

I remembered hearing this as a kid in church. God always forgives. Even if at the end of your life if you have been bad your entire life, then ask God for forgiveness, he will forgive you if you are sincere and you will get into heaven.

I thought this was a real ripoff for all the people who were good their whole lives and then the guy walking to the chair on death row tells the priest next to him that he is sorry and both wind up in heaven with Mother Theresa.

It never made sense to me and still doesn't. Why do parents tell their kids God is watching? Why does it matter when you are a kid unless you expect to die at anytime. You have your entire life to be good later. You only have to be good at the end anyway.

It's another contradiction of organized religion. Be good so you go to heaven, but if you are bad just be sorry and then you go to heaven.

On the other side is the God who does not forgive. There are plenty of those religions too. They more seriously tell you to be good or you will NOT get into heaven. Christianity used to be like that but people don't like that though which is why the old term "God-fearing" isn't used much anymore. People only want God to be good and nice so are trying to forget all that old testament stuff and the fire and brimstone.

I'd much rather just be good because it is the right thing to do.
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leonstrykerAuthor Commented:
I though we were discussing degrees of morality?

Moral atheists and theist do good because it is the right thing to do.
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Anthony RussoCommented:
>>Moral atheists and theist do good because it is the right thing to do.

If so then that would be of equal morality. If one of them was doing it because of fear or to better themselves, then that would be different.
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PaulHewsCommented:
Re: monotheism, I guess for me it does represent a kind of evolution in thinking.  It's just a more refined and elegant way of thinking of divinity.  (For me the natural progression is many gods < one god < zero god.)
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Anthony RussoCommented:
Accurate progression Paul. "God of the Gaps" pretty much. Filling in what is not known used to take many Gods and then we learned a lot through science and now most of them are gone. It's letting go of the last one that is hardest for people.
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hdhondtCommented:
For me the natural progression is many gods < one god < zero god.
Amen to that!

This is another reason why monotheism is "more evolved" than polytheism, and atheism is the next step in the evolution.
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viki2000Commented:
I think you speak about things which are not related with the subject.
They have nothing to do with how the question was asked.
That’s why I asked the questions above.
Let me explain myself.

The question is about worshiping, the act of worship.
That means you acknowledge as your initial hypothesis for discussion the existence of God or gods.
It does not matter you do not personally believe that God or gods exist. The question is defined in such way that God or gods exist and then is about the relation man- God or gods.
That has nothing to do with morality.
You try now to bring morality between us people in scene.
And you try to show it as an advantage, benefit, almost as a reason.
Worshiping is not defined to bring moral advantages between us people.
The fact that worshiping may bring good or bad relation between people may be a consequence, depending what kind of god you worship.
The Satanist church is monotheistic and brings bad relations between people.

Review the initial question and ask properly. If you want add human relation benefits to the question or whatever…morality, ethics, but the way how is asked make no sense.
Worship is something done by the creature towards Creator(s) as an act of keeping relation between them.
Why do you speak then about morality? Makes no sense.
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viki2000Commented:
And if you want to speak about morality vs. types of religion (mono vs. poly) or atheistic position, then we can speak about hours. Let’s stop for a second at one point: sexuality and marriage.

Is this subject moral for you?
The answer defines your position and your belief.

The Muslims are monotheistic, they arrived later on the history scene and they can be polygamous, their teacher had a 9 years old girl as wife for sexual relation. We may say today that was pedophile, but they are seeing that different.
If you look at the other religions, before that time, there were also polygamous and polytheists, in Asia for instance.
Not to mention the Jews which were monotheistic, they have only one wife, still some guys had many wives, and Solomon had hundreds. All these against his religion. After he finished  with the pleasures he wrote the book Ecclesiastes, which is opposite of pleasure: is about how disappointed became with everything what life can offer, from reaches to women pleasures.  Solomon knew about Noah’s time when people were wiped out from earth surface for that and also about Sodom and Gomorrah.
Then is of course Christianity and other religions with monogamy and monotheistic directions.
There is also the atheistic position, which is limited at biology and to make no harm to others, meaning make any sexual combinations as you like if the partner agrees.

Each of the above states morality rules towards sexuality and marriage.

So you see, regarding the worship and monotheist vs. polytheistic view even related with moral issues there is no simple  direct answer, you cannot say one is superior to another as benefit for human relations if you do not define your reference; what are you looking for as advantage.
You must first define your religion, god, expectations for human beings, and then you can compare them.
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hdhondtCommented:
about Sodom and Gomorrah.
Indeed. Lot's wife got turned into a salt pillar for the peccadillo of turning back to look. Lot himself was a good man: when neighbours wanted sex with some angels, he offered them his virgin daughters instead.

I suppose raping virgins is better than the homosexual sex with angels (who're all male) the neighbours wanted. High morality indeed...
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viki2000Commented:
But you know very well that Lot is not a good example, what he did was extremely wrong, and for what he did cannot be considered a good man, rather sexual immoral. He choose to live a better life in a city, despite the morality of the city. He was influenced in thinking by those from the city. The situation turned worse later with his daughters having sex with him while he was drunk.
There is a lot of sexual immorality described there.
The difference is this: Lot listened and believed to God and his wife not.

If I tell you: don't look with your eyes into a laser beam because you will be cursed and you will be blind then what? you say God is bad?

You should see the God's goodness like this: a chance was offered to all from city, same as to the people from Noah's time. Only Lot accepted it.

And what you do is not logic: you compare 2 bad things (is not one good and one bad as you try to put them), both immoral: raping virgins and homosexual relation with angels. None of them is something to choose as less worse.
Is like, how do you want to die: slowly with a knife or slowly burned on fire. Both of them are bad and not something to choose. Nobody wants to suffer or to die. The same is with that immorality.

The event with angels is mentioned to show one more time how immoral were the people there.
Then you should remember also what the angels did.
Because there are a lot of things that we want on earth and we feel good doing them. Thanks God we are not let to do them by His angels.
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macuser777Commented:
Viki still talking in a horribly misinformedly about way Islam I see, to give the charitable view. She was around when this question brought this zone into disrepute and demotion.

http://www.experts-exchange.com/Other/Philosophy_Religion/Q_26476726.html

Posting things like you do Viki, why, you must wonder why the earth isn't filled with peace.
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tliottaCommented:
So murdering a lot of people and robbing everyone all your life will have no ill effects on getting into heaven because you will be forgiven?

That goes to the point of an "afterlife" in eternity. It has some basis in the relative unimportance of this life. This life is fleeting, transient, temporary. It has no real importance beyond the opportunity to make your choice. A horrible death in this life is the merest blip when viewed in the context of eternity. From the 'eternity' side of things with the idea that everyone (including those who were murdered) has a shot at it, how bad is murder?

A "god" might have a very different viewpoint than we have.

And note that asking forgiveness requires sincerity for it to be given.

As far as atheist/theist scales of morality go, I see that different religions can view different acts as moral or immoral. But it seems that atheists tend to see things more absolutely. (This necessarily excludes sociopaths who skew things whether they're atheist or theist.)

Tom
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Anthony RussoCommented:
>>Why do you speak then about morality? Makes no sense.

We are discussing morality because the discussion (as most religious/political discussions tend to) went on a tangent in that direction.

All your examples of what is or isn't considered moral is not what we are discussing. What we were discussing is why someone would choose to do the moral thing rather than immoral. Those that do so out of fear or reward are less moral than those that just want to do what they feel is right. That's still my view.

>>But you know very well that Lot is not a good example,
>>There is a lot of sexual immorality described there.

The problem is the Bible is full of bad examples just like this. They are constantly cherry picked around by believers stating how the Bible is a 'good' book.

>>If I tell you: don't look with your eyes into a laser beam because you will be cursed and you will be blind then what? you say God is bad?

Not at all, because if you look in a laser beam you are not cursed. You are blinded by the light damaging your eyes. It's absolutely scientific, provable with a ton of evidence what is happening. God has absolutely nothing to do with it.

Because God has nothing to do with it also means it can be tested and you can learn about it by experimentation and evidence and make a logical decision not to burn your eyeballs out. Things that God is supposedly involved with you have to just take his word for it and good luck.

>>You should see the God's goodness like this: a chance was offered to all from city, same as to the people from Noah's time. Only Lot accepted it.

Or you can see that God killed an entire city of people. That is what actually happened. But to make God not look like a monster focus on the lesson and the one man who was saved. Also his wife turning her head had to mean she was to turn into salt for some reason. I'm sure that lesson couldn't have been taught any other way either.

>>This life is fleeting, transient, temporary. It has no real importance beyond the opportunity to make your choice.

But making the horrible choice of killing and robbing people your entire blip of a life and then feeling sincerely sorry at the end gets you the same as the person who lived a very good life. Why worry about it when young then?
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tliottaCommented:
Why worry about it when young then?

My thoughts exactly.

That is, I wasn't giving my viewpoint about life. I was giving an example description of an immortal "god's" viewpoint about mortal life. We ask how "god" can allow bad things to happen, but we necessarily ask it from our perspective.

To us, death is "IMPORTANT!" But to an immortal, especially one that's somehow already existed for an eternity, it has no meaning at all.

Still, your question does have a potential answer. You should worry about it when you're young because there's no guarantee that you'll live long enough to be old. Your last chance can happen at any moment.

In a sense (to start linking back OT), that's the point of most religions nowadays anyway. I believe that various monolithic religions have evolved that concept to a slightly higher degree, particularly where earned alternatives of punishment and reward in an afterlife are concerned.

Tom
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leonstrykerAuthor Commented:
Still not seeing anyone attempting to answer, what I think is the most important of the questions posted above:

Is Monotheism a more complex form of worship (vs Polytheism)?
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Anthony RussoCommented:
If depends on your definition of complex.

If you mean having more parts and being more intricate and difficult to keep track of, then Polytheism is more complex.

If you mean having more realistic explanations (kind of) and more thought put into it, then possibly Monotheism if you believe any of it is true.

If you don't believe either is true, then it comes down to which has more complex stories. I'd call that a tie.
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leonstrykerAuthor Commented:
If depends on your definition of complex.

No it doesn't. I am looking for you to state your belief and support it.
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PaulHewsCommented:
Some forms of monotheism are complex, others less so.  Same for polytheism, although given that ancient polytheist religions are  are based on verbal traditions, this had to limit the complexity somewhat.  The ability to write and distribute written materials has made the big three monotheist religions complex monsters.  I can't really talk about modern polytheistic religions, not knowing much about them.
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Anthony RussoCommented:
>>No it doesn't. I am looking for you to state your belief and support it.

Complexity can be defined in different ways in different situations as I stated. Depending on which way it is used, either faith system can be argued to be more complex than the other.

I personally believe that Polytheism is more complex due to the number of gods to keep track of, and Monotheism is more evolved due to the (somewhat) more realistic role of the God in the workings of the world. I think Atheism though is more evolved than any supernatural based belief that lacks evidence.
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PaulHewsCommented:
I personally believe that Polytheism is more complex due to the number of gods to keep track of

I don't think that argument really holds water.

Just Christianity alone has tremendous scope. 800K words in the Bible, plus all the non-canon writings, plus all the theology that has been written for 41 000 denominations... It ends up filling a library.  The oral tradition of ancient religions enforced a certain amount of simplicity.  Also, the average person did not worship all the gods in the pantheon.  Priests or priestesses would devote themselves to a particular god, so there was a certain amount of picking and choosing going on.
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Anthony RussoCommented:
Good point Paul. A religion such as the Ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians though had you learning all these Gods as the basics of the religion.

Christianity though you can follow and practice barely knowing much of anything about it once you got down God, Jesus, Mary and the Holy Spirit. I'm sure we all have met plenty of people that call themselves Christians barely knowing anything more than this.

The full understanding of Christianity does seem like the most complex in that regard. The basic following though that is done by many Christians though ignores the bulk of that.
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PaulHewsCommented:
Also good points.
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hdhondtCommented:
Deciding which is more complex depends on what factors you consider.

Obviously, polytheism is more complex in having many gods. On the other hand, most of their ideas are simple myths and "just-so" stories. Very little thought has gone into the ideas of the religion.

Christianity on the other hand has had 2 millennia of theologians trying to put some logic behind the ideas of the bible. The idea of the Trinity alone has sparked centuries of debate and books. Some of their theologians rank among the greatest thinkers of all time: if only St Augustine could have used his intellect on more worthwhile matters!

Note: I do not know enough about Hinduism to make any definite statements about its complexity. Judging from the number of ancient books it has, it is obviously one of the more complex polytheisms. On the other hand, I'm ranking Islam and Judaism with Christianity in terms of complexity, but I'm no expert on those religions either.
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leonstrykerAuthor Commented:
I love these discussion which do not wonder into "my view is better than yours"
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