Polytheism Essay

2739 words - 11 pages


Reproduced, with permission, from THE FUTURIST, Published by the World Future Society, 7910 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 450, Bethesda, Maryland 20814 Toward the end of the nineteenth century, the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote a fictional account of a madman who went about the town proclaiming that "God is dead." Nietzsche's story is illustrative of a wave of atheism that spread through the intellectual circles of Europe in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but that never caught on in society at large. The idea of the divine demise, however, did not die: A movement by theologians resurrected Nietzsche's thesis in the 1960s, amidst the other forms of radical thinking that characterized that decade. The cover of Time magazine for April 8, 1966, summarized it best with the boldfaced headline, "Is God Dead?" Despite the theologians' doubts, the next few decades marked a rise of religious fundamentalism among many Christians and Muslims and a return to traditionalist thinking among many Jews. Today, 96% of the U.S. population say they believe in God, a slight increase compared with surveys done half a century earlier. If he were to appear today, Nietzsche's madman would still find that he had come too early. What is the future of God? Will He ever truly die? One difficulty in answering these questions is the word "God." It may seem like a simple word, but "God" doesn't mean the same thing to everybody: Various images and ideas of the deity appear throughout different times and cultures. So the first issue we need to look at is semantic. We need to study the way people have understood God in the past and what they believe today. Then we can address what concept of God is emerging for future believers. MANY GODS OR ONE GOD? One common theory about the Western image of a single, distinct God is that He arose out of a more ancient era of polytheism. Indeed, the first books of the Bible tell how the Israelite God Yahweh forbids his people to bow down before other gods, suggesting the existence of parallel deities. In many cultures today, God is not singular: A tribe of deities perform their individual tasks and attract their own followings. Hindus, for example, have never found reason to abandon their pantheon. While polytheism may seem primitive to Westerners, who have been reared with the idea that there can be only one God, it does have certain advantages and may not be merely a less sophisticated predecessor of monotheism. For one thing, if there are many gods, it may be easier to find one whose job description best fits your needs. If you are an artist or an expectant mother, you might be able to seek the assistance of a god specially attuned to your situation and more comforting to you than a god who controls the weather (who might be favored by farmers). More importantly, having a variety of gods who specialize in different aspects of life relieves the single great deity of attending to a multitude of specific...

Find Another Essay On Polytheism

Pre-Islamic Bedouin vs. The Teachings of Early Islam

1131 words - 5 pages , religion in Arabia was present in the form of polytheism, idolatry and stone worship. Many deities were worshipped and even the Kaba was guilty of containing the god Habul and 360 others. These divinities were both male and female. For example, the daughters of Allah: al-Uzza, al-Lat and Manat. Sacrifices were made at various shrines, with each community having its own patron deity. Pilgrimages were made to these shrines where the deities were

The Cult of Dionysus in Classicl Athens

1413 words - 6 pages -Perry, The God who Comes: Dionysian Mysteries Revisited, (New York: Algora Publishing, 2003), 56. Ibid., 55. Ibid., 56. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. H.W. Parke, Festivals of the Athenians, (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1977), 107. Robert Parker, Polytheism and Society at Athens, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 290. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. H.W. Parke, Festivals of the Athenians, (Ithaca, New York: Cornell

David Hume and Karl Marx’s Critiques of Religion

1287 words - 5 pages absolutely impossible for anything to produce itself, or to be the cause of its own existence” (Dialogues, Part IX). Hume's also wrote “Natural History of Science” which touched on a different aspect of religion. Hume argues that polytheism, and not monotheism, was the original religion of primitive humans. Monotheism, he believes, was only a later development. Hume's establishes that polytheism is the origin of religion based on facts provided by

The Role of Religion in "The Conquest of New Spain"

827 words - 3 pages "cross and crown" in its imperial policy; much to the dismay and ultimate destruction of the indigenous peoples of the New World. Through an examination of Aztec polytheism and the Catholicism of the conquistadors, comes the central role of religion in the successful conquest of New Spain. When the Spaniards arrived on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico in 1519, they encountered the advanced society of the Aztecs. With Tenochititlan at its

Differnce between IBO Religion and Christianity

918 words - 4 pages What Are the Differences between Ibo Religion and Christianity?After reading, Things Fall Apart, we might ask what are the differences between the religions that the Ibo Clan practice, compared to a highly practiced religion, Christianity. Some of the differences are how the Ibo religion practice polytheism, belief in more then one God, and the Christians practice monotheism, belief in only one God, the creator of Heaven and Earth, his name is

The Fall of the Roman Empire

819 words - 4 pages modification to society for some people to handle, and instead stuck with the old Roman religion of polytheism. The change in religion caused internal chaos in the empire because not everyone accepted Christianity in empire when the religion changed. With Christianity becoming the new religion, it also changed where people saw who had power, which changed the people of Rome’s believe in the emperor to God because of the religion change. Before

Describe the religious beliefs and practices in pre-Islamic Arabia

859 words - 3 pages 'temple) the centre of pre-Islamic religious worship.The majority of Arabs did not belong to any formal religion but believed in a combination of supernatural forces, some of which they identified as spirits and others as Gods. This is known as Bedouin polytheism. The spirits were believed to inhabit natural objects such as rocks and trees and to have influence of human lives, whereas the gods were often identified with natural phenomena such as the

Native American vs. European Way of Life

582 words - 2 pages Americans practiced polytheism and were led by shamans. The Pueblo people, who performed elaborate dances hoping to bring rainfall to their land, are an excellent example of Native American beliefs. Retaining sometimes-conflicting views towards social, political, economic, and spiritual practices, Native Americans and Europeans can, therefore, be considered two distinct cultures. Both cultures were taken with one another’s practices regarding land

Religious Beliefs of the Ancient Mesopotamians and the Hebrews

535 words - 2 pages Polytheism, the belief in many gods. These gods controlled universally. The "ancient Mesopotamians saw gods and demons everywhere in nature."(13) Each god served a different purpose; there were gods of the sun, moon, storms, river, and fire and in all other things. There were also the demons; they caused the disasters and sickness.Hebrew beliefs were different than that of the ancient Mesopotamians. The Hebrews had an ethical and moral view about

History of the persian empire by: A.T. Olmstead

536 words - 2 pages early civilizations that worshipped many gods (polytheism), the Persians saved time and money by concentrating on two gods. Another model from the Persians was the roadway system. Because of roads, the communication became stronger and faster; not only that, the trading process was better too. Because of the roadway system everyone can travel faster and safer, especially for the caravans. If Cyrus the great didn't travel to Babylonia and started

Comparison Of Egyptian And Roman Empire As Greatly Noted Civilizations

561 words - 3 pages life. It shows through in their art, religion, writing, as well as social lives. The river helped shape their society as well as their existence.Religion also greatly affected the Egyptian society greatly. Their religion was one based upon the central idea of polytheism. Where they believed in a series of many gods and goddesses. Even the Egyptian kings or "Pharos" as they were called, were even referred to gods on earth. Society and their

Similar Essays

Egyptology Essay

1219 words - 5 pages The Ancient Egyptian civilization was one of the earliest civilizations in the world. Therefore, it had one of the earliest religions. The Ancient Egyptian religion, which beliefs were based on polytheism, helped to shape other religions presently practiced in Egypt. The ancient Egyptian religion came about to make sense of the changing atmospheric conditions surrounding the people.Egypt is the northeastern most country in Africa. To the north

Muhammad The Prophet & Jesus Rebels?

893 words - 4 pages religion. JESUS’S DISSATISFACTION: Like Muhammad, Jesus was also dissatisfied with the teachings taught by major religions. In Jesus’s time, similar to Muhammad’s, the most influential religions were Judaism and Polytheism. A history textbook, Patterns of World History, notes, “Palestine was a cauldron of cultural influences-some monotheistic, others monist, many clashing with polytheism.” There were certainly people within this “cauldron

Polytheistic Religions And The Super Divine

1613 words - 6 pages Polytheistic religions and polytheism in itself includes religions that worship many divinities rather then one sole god. This basic principal that defines polytheism has been carried out through many polytheistic religions within history, and plays a huge impact on worship and religion. The four oldest polytheistic practicing religions are the Greek religion, Egyptian religion, and Canaanite religion and Mesopotamian religion. Although these

Relationship Between Varna And Karma Essay

1744 words - 7 pages the two concepts helped people's beliefs and led on to the principles of modern day Hinduism. Explicate each, and compare and contrast with each other the concepts of animism, polytheism (paganism), and (mono)theism. Religious beliefs have existed since the beginning of man. Whether they wanted answers to make themselves feel secure or to explain natural wonders man had to create something to make it all make sense. While there are