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Thread: Why a Monothestic Deity (singular)?

  1. #1 Why a Monothestic Deity (singular)? 
    Forum Professor scoobydoo1's Avatar
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    I am not sure if my question suits this particular section of TheScienceForum, particularly the Scientific Study of Religion section, but I will ask it anyway.

    *If the mods/admins feel that this belongs to another section, or if it is unsuited for this forums, please let me know*

    I have always seen & have participated discussions of a proposed creator type deity from various religions, especially more so from the abrahamic faith (since it is by far the more popular one given it's size). And yet I have noticed that these discussions often address the "question" of the existence of such an entity as singular, rather than plural.

    Is a monotheistic variation of such a hypothetical entity (singular) more logical (if you entertain such a concept/proposal) than one from a non-monotheistic (plural)?

    Was there a shift in religions worldwide from a anthropological point of view to one that is as popular as the hypothetical creator type deity from the abrahamic faith? I have always thought of it as a cultural byproduct/phenomenon that questions/discussion/debates of said entity as being singular, which from my point of view makes most discussions flawed.

    I hope I am making some sort of sense, and I hope that some of you might be able to understanding what it is I am trying to ask.


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  3. #2  
    Forum Professor jrmonroe's Avatar
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    One may as well ask, "Why believe in a Grand Unified Theory?"

    IMO, the answer is that, by default, a "god" is something that is omnipotent — can ultimately control everything. So, it just doesn't work to believe in the Corn God, or the Ocean God, or the Mountain God because none of those things can control everything. Also, in a polytheistic world, these gods all vie for power ... at least in the minds of people. Thus, my Wind God can whip your Ocean God, or my Ocean God can swamp your Corn God, etc etc. Monotheism, by definition, means that the penultimate forces exist in symbiosis with each other because they depend from a single ultimate power.


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  4. #3 Re: Why a Monothestic Deity (singular)? 
    Time Lord
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    Quote Originally Posted by scoobydoo1

    Was there a shift in religions worldwide from a anthropological point of view to one that is as popular as the hypothetical creator type deity from the abrahamic faith? I have always thought of it as a cultural byproduct/phenomenon that questions/discussion/debates of said entity as being singular, which from my point of view makes most discussions flawed.

    I hope I am making some sort of sense, and I hope that some of you might be able to understanding what it is I am trying to ask.
    I think it proved militarily more effective to have everyone in your society believe in the same deity (and thereby follow exactly the same set of ethics.)

    Those societies which refused to become monotheistic found themselves at a huge disadvantage when they had to face the unified, fanatical hordes of people following the "one true god".
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  5. #4 Re: Why a Monothestic Deity (singular)? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    [I think it proved militarily more effective to have everyone in your society believe in the same deity (and thereby follow exactly the same set of ethics.)

    Those societies which refused to become monotheistic found themselves at a huge disadvantage when they had to face the unified, fanatical hordes of people following the "one true god".
    Shinto is not monotheistic but it turned out some pretty fanatical warriors for Japan.
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  6. #5 Re: Why a Monothestic Deity (singular)? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Shinto is not monotheistic but it turned out some pretty fanatical warriors for Japan.
    And if I recall correctly the Pax Romanica was enforced by having the legions beat the shit out of anyone who diaagreed with Roman rule, yet a wide variety of religions and gods were worshipped by the Romans.
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  7. #6 Re: Why a Monothestic Deity (singular)? 
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scoobydoo1
    Is a monotheistic variation of such a hypothetical entity (singular) more logical (if you entertain such a concept/proposal) than one from a non-monotheistic (plural)?
    If a person claims that "there is one god" or "there are seven gods" then you should ask that person what how he proposes to verify either claim. Since there is no possibility of verification there is no possibility of a logical discussion about which proposition is the more likely to be true. Any discussion will be purely emotional. Logic has nothing to do with it.

    However I have to admit that atheism faces the same problem.
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  8. #7  
    Administrator KALSTER's Avatar
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    However I have to admit that atheism faces the same problem.
    Atheism is purely emotional?
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
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  9. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    However I have to admit that atheism faces the same problem.
    Atheism is purely emotional?
    proving or disproving a god theory is impossible logically, it's all emotion.

    Logically, there is no need for a good, but that means nothing as to whether or not a god exists.
    Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools, because they have to say something.
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  10. #9  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    According to A.J.Ayer:

    For if the assertion that there is a god is nonsensical, then the atheist's assertion that there is no god is equally nonsensical, since it is only a significant proposition that can be significantly contradicted.
    While I call myself an atheist for want of a better word, my position is more like Ayers': the hypothesis of a deity is on its face nonsensical, but I can't disprove it. There is in fact no argument to answer and if you attempt to argue logically against such a hypothesis you just fall into the trap of crediting the nonsensical hypothesis with respectability.

    Agnostics fare no better:

    All he [the agnostic] says is that we have no means of telling which of them is true, and therefore ought not to commit ourselves to either. But we have seen that the sentences in question do not express propositions at all. And this means that agnosticism also is ruled out.
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  11. #10  
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    proving or disproving a god theory is impossible logically, it's all emotion.
    If your intention is to prove either proposition, sure. But making arguments in support of either need not be an emotional endeavour.

    Logically, there is no need for a good, but that means nothing as to whether or not a god exists.
    If you stop there, yeah. But surely one can examine the logical possibility of the existence of a god as well?

    For if the assertion that there is a god is nonsensical, then the atheist's assertion that there is no god is equally nonsensical, since it is only a significant proposition that can be significantly contradicted.
    I'd agree with this, but in order to reliably know the logical validity of an assertion, one should try and build up as strong a logical case for both alternatives as possible. Part of the exercise is to properly define the object of the investigation. If the concept of a god is as limited as the definition of a god as found in the Bible is for example, then I would agree that it would not be a very sensical definition and would not require a significant effort to refute to a high degree of certainty (Occam's Razor is heavily stacked in favour of only one conclusion). Exploring the concept of a god, though, can make for quite an interesting investigation, especially when one looks into it from a scientific viewpoint (i.e. causality and free will, the scientific possibility of omnipotence and omniscience, the existence of other universes, the existence of other forms of energy, etc.).
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
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  12. #11  
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    One way to interpret the old testament is that there were many tribes and groups, each with their own god. When these tribes came into conflict with on another, winning or loosing was an indication of the god's power. So ' my god beatup your god'. 'My god is more powerful'. In a sense it was a competition to find the biggest, baddest god. The old testament mentions competing gods like Baal... can't think of any others off the top of my head. But the Isrealites accepted their version, yahweh, as the best god and their story is the one pasted down through history. So one god.
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  13. #12  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    in order to reliably know the logical validity of an assertion, one should try and build up as strong a logical case for both alternatives as possible.
    Yes, but isn't it possible that some assertions are just plain silly to begin with and deserve no expenditure of mental effort? Sorry to invoke our old friend, but the Flying Spaghetti Monster is intended, I think, to demonstrate this idea. The idea of supernatural anything (gods or goblins) has always seemed just plain silly and not worth bothering with. Of course the fact that billions of people are quite comfortable with gods, witches, fairies and ghosts puts some of us out on a limb somewhat, but I'm OK out here.

    Part of the exercise is to properly define the object of the investigation.
    There are six billion people and about 12 billion definitions of God in my estimation. Which one you gonna investigate?

    If the concept of a god is as limited as the definition of a god as found in the Bible is for example, then I would agree that it would not be a very sensical definition and would not require a significant effort to refute to a high degree of certainty (Occam's Razor is heavily stacked in favour of only one conclusion). Exploring the concept of a god, though, can make for quite an interesting investigation, especially when one looks into it from a scientific viewpoint (i.e. causality and free will, the scientific possibility of omnipotence and omniscience, the existence of other universes, the existence of other forms of energy, etc.).
    How does one apply science to metaphysics?
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  14. #13  
    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
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    Only strong atheists actually believe there is no god.
    More common is the weak atheist position, whereby they concede a lack of 100% certainty, but tend toward non-belief due to a lack of compelling evidence.

    Weak atheism describes most atheists more accurately than strong. By example, I don't "believe there are no gods," I just don't find the case for god(s) compelling so move on about my day the same way I don't find the case for unicorns compelling.

    http://atheism.about.com/od/atheismq...trong_weak.htm
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atheism


    Further, even most religious people are atheist about all of the worlds gods except one. I just go one god farther. A lot of this has already been covered in the thread, though.



    From the first link above:

    Weak atheism, also sometimes referred to as implicit atheism, is simply another name for the broadest and most general conception of atheism: the absence of belief in any gods. A weak atheist is someone who lacks theism and who does not happen to believe in the existence of any gods — no more, no less. This is also sometimes called agnostic atheism because most people who self-consciously lack belief in gods tend to do so for agnostic reasons.

    Strong atheism, also sometimes referred to as explicit atheism, goes one step further and involves denying the existence of at least one god, usually multiple gods, and sometimes the possible existence of any gods at all. Strong atheism is sometimes called “gnostic atheism” because people who take this position often incorporate knowledge claims into it — that is to say, they claim to know in some fashion that certain gods or indeed all gods do not or cannot exist.

    Because knowledge claims are involved, strong atheism carries an initial burden of proof which does not exist for weak atheism. Any time a person asserts that some god or any gods do not or cannot exist, they obligate themselves to support their claims. This narrower conception of atheism is often thought by many (erroneously) to represent the entirety of atheism itself.
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  15. #14  
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    Usually when people talk about disproving god, what they really mean is disproving some particular religion. While it's true that an atheist can't disprove a generic "supreme being" with no other stipulations attached, you can certainly point out logical inconsistencies in a certain religion's doctrine, factual inaccuracies in their holy books, show that the founder was a deliberate con artist who was just out to make money, etc.

    As for the generic supreme being that can't be disproved, well...so what? Simply saying "there's a supreme being" without providing any other information is pretty meaningless. How is that supposed to affect my life in any way?
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  16. #15  
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    Consolidation of power by religious leaders is the best reason for the development of monotheism.
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  17. #16 Re: Why a Monothestic Deity (singular)? 
    Time Lord
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Shinto is not monotheistic but it turned out some pretty fanatical warriors for Japan.
    And if I recall correctly the Pax Romanica was enforced by having the legions beat the shit out of anyone who diaagreed with Roman rule, yet a wide variety of religions and gods were worshipped by the Romans.
    Rome was the first major world power to embrace Christianity, though. They made several attempts to suppress its worship, but all met with failure. In a sense, they eventually had to embrace it because they were being conquered from the inside. I think monotheism is just like any other military technology. You can be a power without it, as long as everyone else doesn't have it, but once it exists, it starts to matter. But then again..... the Mongols and Huns kicked everyone's ass in their days, including the monotheistic cultures, so it can't be that essential.

    Maybe it's just like the way that businesses tend to become monopolies. Every religious group longs to push out the others and not have to compete for people to listen to them.
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  18. #17  
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Only strong atheists actually believe there is no god.
    More common is the weak atheist position, whereby they concede a lack of 100% certainty, but tend toward non-belief due to a lack of compelling evidence.
    By this logic one cannot believe something unless one is 100% certain about it. I believe the sun will come up tomorrow, but I'm not 100% certain. Does that make me a strong or a weak solarist?
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  19. #18  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury
    By this logic one cannot believe something unless one is 100% certain about it. I believe the sun will come up tomorrow, but I'm not 100% certain. Does that make me a strong or a weak solarist?
    I'm not sure the analogy works, since tomorrow brings with it an empirical test... We can validate the belief and confirm its accuracy. Can't do that with god...

    My larger point is that most atheists accept the possibility there is a god, just find it so mind bogglingly small and unsupported as to be hardly worthy of attention. Not many actively state a "belief" that "there is no god."
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  20. #19  
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    Wow, thank you all for your responses so far.

    Quote Originally Posted by jrmonroe
    One may as well ask, "Why believe in a Grand Unified Theory?"

    IMO, the answer is that, by default, a "god" is something that is omnipotent — can ultimately control everything. So, it just doesn't work to believe in the Corn God, or the Ocean God, or the Mountain God because none of those things can control everything. Also, in a polytheistic world, these gods all vie for power ... at least in the minds of people. Thus, my Wind God can whip your Ocean God, or my Ocean God can swamp your Corn God, etc etc. Monotheism, by definition, means that the penultimate forces exist in symbiosis with each other because they depend from a single ultimate power.
    Are there cultures with multiple creator-type deities (that might have worked in unison to "create the world"?)

    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    I think it proved militarily more effective to have everyone in your society believe in the same deity (and thereby follow exactly the same set of ethics.)

    Those societies which refused to become monotheistic found themselves at a huge disadvantage when they had to face the unified, fanatical hordes of people following the "one true god".
    I suppose there are advantages by unifying different ancient (warring/peaceful) tribes under one "religious flag".

    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury
    If a person claims that "there is one god" or "there are seven gods" then you should ask that person what how he proposes to verify either claim. Since there is no possibility of verification there is no possibility of a logical discussion about which proposition is the more likely to be true. Any discussion will be purely emotional. Logic has nothing to do with it.

    However I have to admit that atheism faces the same problem.
    I guess what I meant was, regardless of the existence of deities (or number of deities) in ancient civilizations, someone might have considered and actively promoted the idea of a singular deity (opposed to multiple deities) to encourage social cohesion within their ranks, as a form of military stratagem during those chaotic times.

    Quote Originally Posted by stlekee
    One way to interpret the old testament is that there were many tribes and groups, each with their own god. When these tribes came into conflict with on another, winning or loosing was an indication of the god's power. So ' my god beatup your god'. 'My god is more powerful'. In a sense it was a competition to find the biggest, baddest god. The old testament mentions competing gods like Baal... can't think of any others off the top of my head. But the Isrealites accepted their version, yahweh, as the best god and their story is the one pasted down through history. So one god.
    Interesting, thank you for sharing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox
    Consolidation of power by religious leaders is the best reason for the development of monotheism.
    This does seem like a reasonable motive for unifying early smaller cultures into a more cohesive society, since it is almost likely that many of them had some form of superstitious belief in the supernatural.

    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Shinto is not monotheistic but it turned out some pretty fanatical warriors for Japan.
    And if I recall correctly the Pax Romanica was enforced by having the legions beat the shit out of anyone who diaagreed with Roman rule, yet a wide variety of religions and gods were worshipped by the Romans.
    Rome was the first major world power to embrace Christianity, though. They made several attempts to suppress its worship, but all met with failure. In a sense, they eventually had to embrace it because they were being conquered from the inside. I think monotheism is just like any other military technology. You can be a power without it, as long as everyone else doesn't have it, but once it exists, it starts to matter. But then again..... the Mongols and Huns kicked everyone's ass in their days, including the monotheistic cultures, so it can't be that essential.

    Maybe it's just like the way that businesses tend to become monopolies. Every religious group longs to push out the others and not have to compete for people to listen to them.
    The unifying properties from a common and shared philosophical/ideological/religious belief does seem to give a valid reason for the preference of that which is monothesitic. Interesting, I had never seriously considered that before.
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