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Old 12-13-2018, 08:37 AM
 
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There is a theory of power which could be called pluralism. In the American vernacular this could also be referred to as "separation of powers" and in more formal systems as "checks and balances". This theory is that the best political systems have plural power centers in which competing actors try to balance each other. The advantage for the "little guy" (which is why these systems are best) is that the little guy can change allegiances to the various power centers and play them off each other.

The extreme alternative is monarchy, literally rule by one. Monarchies are not good governing systems because there is no other force to balance the monarch, so power is abused. Monarchies are not good for the little guy, and given enough time they aren't good for anyone except those in the ruling clique. Since there is no competing power center, the oppressed must confront the monarch head on to change their situation, which is very difficult given that the monarch has immense wealth and power at his disposal.

Which leads me to polytheism and monotheism. Polytheism is a plural system of divinity, while monotheism is a singular system of divinity. We can debate ad nauseum about what the "truth" is regarding god or the gods, but after thousands of years that hasn't seemed to have gotten us anywhere. Instead I would take empiricism and humanism as my cues, and their attendant theological directive (which I am consciously flipping from the more known version) that "as below, so above". In other words, what theological system is best for humans?

There are atheists who think this theological stuff is nonsense, which is a reasonable position to take. In this case, polytheism and monotheism could be re-termed cosmopolitanism and totalitarianism if you please. The dynamic between the two, and the power relations that spring from those two models, are the same as far as the "little guy" is concerned.

Given our experience with Catholic Christianity, which during the middle ages was an oppressive totalitarian force, and modern day political Islam, which is an oppressive totalitarian force, and other unipolar quasi-religions such as Confucianism (mandate of heaven) and communism (all power with the party), are we ready to associate monotheism with eventual totalitarianism? I am, and the prospect of any single religion/philosophy/ideology becoming universally accepted is terrifying to me.
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Old 12-13-2018, 10:18 AM
 
Location: San Jose
1,600 posts, read 488,440 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Avondalist View Post
There is a theory of power which could be called pluralism. In the American vernacular this could also be referred to as "separation of powers" and in more formal systems as "checks and balances". This theory is that the best political systems have plural power centers in which competing actors try to balance each other. The advantage for the "little guy" (which is why these systems are best) is that the little guy can change allegiances to the various power centers and play them off each other.

The extreme alternative is monarchy, literally rule by one. Monarchies are not good governing systems because there is no other force to balance the monarch, so power is abused. Monarchies are not good for the little guy, and given enough time they aren't good for anyone except those in the ruling clique. Since there is no competing power center, the oppressed must confront the monarch head on to change their situation, which is very difficult given that the monarch has immense wealth and power at his disposal.

Which leads me to polytheism and monotheism. Polytheism is a plural system of divinity, while monotheism is a singular system of divinity. We can debate ad nauseum about what the "truth" is regarding god or the gods, but after thousands of years that hasn't seemed to have gotten us anywhere. Instead I would take empiricism and humanism as my cues, and their attendant theological directive (which I am consciously flipping from the more known version) that "as below, so above". In other words, what theological system is best for humans?

There are atheists who think this theological stuff is nonsense, which is a reasonable position to take. In this case, polytheism and monotheism could be re-termed cosmopolitanism and totalitarianism if you please. The dynamic between the two, and the power relations that spring from those two models, are the same as far as the "little guy" is concerned.

Given our experience with Catholic Christianity, which during the middle ages was an oppressive totalitarian force, and modern day political Islam, which is an oppressive totalitarian force, and other unipolar quasi-religions such as Confucianism (mandate of heaven) and communism (all power with the party), are we ready to associate monotheism with eventual totalitarianism? I am, and the prospect of any single religion/philosophy/ideology becoming universally accepted is terrifying to me.

Monotheism is a destructive and oppressive idea. But it wasn't just the idea of Monotheism but the notion that your God can be the only God. Its fascinating reading ancient history and seeing how religiously tolerant people in the ancient world tended to be. Almost every city in the ancient world had its own unique God and conquerors tended to leave local populations religions alone. As you said "Polytheism is a plural system of divinity". Even the Romans were generally quite tolerant of various foreign religions in their empire. It was popular for Roman soldiers to worship the Persian God Mithra. The Romans would fuse their religion with various other religions in the empire. The Temple of Jupiter in Baalbek was a merger of the local Semitic god Hadad and the Roman god Jupiter.
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Old 12-13-2018, 11:10 AM
 
Location: Southern Oregon
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It really doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that monotheism is destructive, just look at the cultures it has destroyed. Everywhere monotheistic religions have presented themselves people and cultures have died, sacrificed to their one and only God.
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Old 12-13-2018, 12:11 PM
 
1,270 posts, read 464,152 times
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Originally Posted by KenFresno View Post
Monotheism is a destructive and oppressive idea. But it wasn't just the idea of Monotheism but the notion that your God can be the only God. Its fascinating reading ancient history and seeing how religiously tolerant people in the ancient world tended to be. Almost every city in the ancient world had its own unique God and conquerors tended to leave local populations religions alone. As you said "Polytheism is a plural system of divinity". Even the Romans were generally quite tolerant of various foreign religions in their empire. It was popular for Roman soldiers to worship the Persian God Mithra. The Romans would fuse their religion with various other religions in the empire. The Temple of Jupiter in Baalbek was a merger of the local Semitic god Hadad and the Roman god Jupiter.
I don't think it's a coincidence that monotheism emerged as an idea during the axial age, when Judaism (which wasn't always monotheistic - it was henotheistic and Yahweh was the city god of Jerusalem and Samaria, to say nothing of the earlier Elohist tradition) took on its modern form, and Confucianism, Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam appeared. The axial age was the age of (attempted) world empires and every world empire needs a universal religion to keep everyone on the same page.
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Old 12-16-2018, 12:13 PM
 
Location: El Paso, TX
3,305 posts, read 3,793,005 times
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People tend to provide the negatives. What are the positives of monotheism?


When I teach at the university, I ask this question very often. Students tend to focus on the negatives of other peoples' views. However, when ask that question, they choke. Why? After further discussion, you can tell that most do not want to admit anything positive on the opposite view because they do not want to see anything wrong with their views.
On a rare occasion, a student is honest enough to say that he see there is validity on the opposite view.
That take strength.
You have a great day.
elamigo
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Old 12-16-2018, 03:28 PM
 
1,270 posts, read 464,152 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elamigo View Post
People tend to provide the negatives. What are the positives of monotheism?


When I teach at the university, I ask this question very often. Students tend to focus on the negatives of other peoples' views. However, when ask that question, they choke. Why? After further discussion, you can tell that most do not want to admit anything positive on the opposite view because they do not want to see anything wrong with their views.
On a rare occasion, a student is honest enough to say that he see there is validity on the opposite view.
That take strength.
You have a great day.
elamigo
The positives of monotheism, and monarchy, are that it's the best form of government *provided* the monarch is wise and just. Policy can be implemented more quickly and cleanly than in a plural form of government.

And if the authority of this wise, just monarch is universal, then there is no more war. There will be petty squabbles, but that would be something for the police and courts to handle, not the military.

Pluralism countenances continuous conflict and struggle to balance interests, whereas in a unipolar government everyone else can just live their lives without expending energy defending their interests.

On the rare occasions when human societies have been ruled by wise, just monarchs, it has been a golden age. The problem is that these monarchs are so few and far between. And then there is the problem of succession.

Augustine's City of God can only be ruled by God, who is perfectly wise and just, and will never be succeeded by an inferior master, since God's reign will never end. On Earth, it just doesn't work that way.

Last edited by Avondalist; 12-16-2018 at 03:40 PM.. Reason: Changed wording to clear up meaning
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Old 12-26-2018, 01:12 AM
 
Location: Whereever we have our RV parked
8,249 posts, read 7,236,503 times
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Polytheism isnt any different in regards to war and conflict with others, ancient Rome, Greece and Egypt all were all polytheistic. Stop trying to blame the evils of men on religion. Most religions are man made, so the problem is the people, not the religion.
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Old 12-26-2018, 01:59 AM
 
Location: Teach an Fhir Bholg
11,940 posts, read 13,344,963 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by augiedogie View Post
Polytheism isn't any different in regards to war and conflict with others, ancient Rome, Greece and Egypt all were all polytheistic. Stop trying to blame the evils of men on religion. Most religions are man made, so the problem is the people, not the religion.
I agree, with the change - "all religions are man made..." Chosen People, One True Church, Final Revelation, etc. are all expressions of human vanity and arrogance, and the desire to be superior to the other guy. But human vanity and arrogance are going to show up wherever there are humans.
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Old 12-26-2018, 11:05 AM
 
Location: State of Transition
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OP, why are you trying to compare monotheism/polytheism with political systems? They're not comparable.
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Old 12-29-2018, 10:18 AM
 
1,270 posts, read 464,152 times
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Originally Posted by Ruth4Truth View Post
OP, why are you trying to compare monotheism/polytheism with political systems? They're not comparable.
I agree they are not comparable because the nature of God concerns truth and is not of this world, whereas political systems concern what is possible in this world. However any truth will be corrupted when people try to implement it in the world, so this failing is not unique to the nature of God. I agree my OP was too sweeping, and I should have framed the question along the lines of theocracy/separation of church and state, maybe, or the extent to which religious beliefs are codified through political laws and forced on a people, if I wished to bring religion into it rather than just make this a question of unipolarity vs. multipolarity. Truth be told, I had given up on the prospect of a perfect government when I framed this question, so I was treating religion as a man-made construct, a tool of governance, in the way a sociologist would. Personally I believe religion is otherwise, and that there is one God, but this powerful truth can and will be abused by people. Breaking apart governance into many pieces is a defense against exploitation, when governance is by man.
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