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Polytheism vs Monotheism

Polytheism vs Monotheism
May 29, 2012, 05:00:24 PM
I have no religion, although I'm not an atheist. I am a perennialist, meaning I believe all religions are trying to describe the same metaphysical phenomenon that is god.

I have limited theological understanding so my opinion may not very much weight, but the way I see it is polytheistic religions are really at heart monotheists, but with deities that represent manifestations of the chief god, or god himself.

I'm inclined towards polytheism because its more interesting to me, I find the inspiration I get to be much more potent. Usually a more beautiful aesthetic in their art as well.

But recently I've read a few comments in the ANUS that seem to be dismissing polytheism as a more primitive form of religion. I want to know more about how users of these forums feel and think about polytheism and monotheism. I suspect there will be a strong streak of paganism on these forums. Interestingly however, it seems to me the users with more consistently quality posts seem to endorse monotheism.

Re: Polytheism vs Monotheism
May 29, 2012, 06:08:36 PM
To my mind, the difference between the two depends entirely on what you consider the term "god" to be a valid descriptor of. As far as I'm concerned, all religions are either polytheistic outright, or employ polytheism in significant volumes of their denominational subsets. Judaism and Christianity have angels and demons. Catholicism has saints. Islam has prophets. Before these belief systems gained force, similar beings in older religions would have simply been called minor gods.

So, really, the difference between the two is not a matter of what their respective adherents believe at all. The difference is in what the systems value and encourage. And it's clear that, all things being equal, polytheism encourages individualism, whereas monotheism encourages purity. They both encourage unity, but in different spheres; monotheism wants a culture to be united by all of its members sharing the same beliefs, while polytheism wants a culture to be united by more of a "scratch my back and I'll scratch yours" attitude in its members. Again, I want to point out this is all in terms of "pure concept" - the reality, of course, is that all religions employ some mixture of these elements.

But the examples do seem to support this. Christianity, for example -Catholicism in particular- has an especially strong emphasis on the concept of purification; from the Eucharist, to baptism, to penance for more severe trespasses, to some of the torture methods of the Spanish Inquisition, there is an incredibly strong streak of a desire to root out the inner cancer that blights the soul of the pagan and the heretic. Combine this overarching trend of a will towards "true essence" with more specific occurrences like the so-called "cadaver tombs," the architecture of Romanesque and Gothic churches as a way to make the human lose sight of himself via his immersion into something much bigger, and its view of "evil" as an active, vibrant, eternal force, and it becomes no wonder that death and black metal have shown such an infatuation for the whole phenomenon. Its development into a sort of pan-European philosophical system that combined the refinement and expressiveness of southern European cultures with the wanderlust and vir of the northern Eueopean ones probably also plays a part in this, albeit subconsciously for the most part.

Re: Polytheism vs Monotheism
May 29, 2012, 06:46:43 PM
One might say that vishnu and Shiva are like ourselves. Beings of the same essence at different stages of advancement and function.


Re: Polytheism vs Monotheism
May 29, 2012, 07:48:07 PM
In my paradigm there is a singular absolute divine that is impersonal in nature (ex: Tao, Emptiness, Consciousness, etc), as well as various lower deities or godforms.

June 01, 2012, 01:00:23 AM

Re: Polytheism vs Monotheism
June 02, 2012, 11:27:36 AM
In my paradigm there is a singular absolute divine that is impersonal in nature (ex: Tao, Emptiness, Consciousness, etc), as well as various lower deities or godforms.

That's a worthy view.
Christians all too often see God as a personality, just like them, right down to looking like them.
God is the aggregate of all souls, souls being consciousness. That which lives, eternally.
Which is why our purpose, and the purpose of anything that may develop consciousness, is to develop consciousness.
It is God-food.