Start Encyclopedia69 Dictionary | Overview | Topics | Groups | Categories | Bookmark this page.
dictionary -  encyclopedia  
Full text search :        
   A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z   #   




  Polytheism (Greek, ‘many gods’) is the mirror-image of monotheism. Monotheists claim that there is only one God, that even in so-called polytheistic religions one god is supreme in the pantheon and the others are subordinate—in other words, that polytheists are monotheists in all but name. Polytheists might equally assert that even the most granitic monotheistic religions have their trinities, saints and sages, conforming exactly to the ‘minor’ deities of polytheism. An atheist might comment that the whole thing is semantic quibbling, that the fact is that humans have always worshipped a diversity of beings, and that whatever the grand intellectual core of a faith, at practical level it is usually fragmented into a variety of local forms involving what seem to be more accessible, more domestic supernatural intermediaries.

The problem, if it is a problem, has been further compounded by the vehement denunciation of polytheistic belief and practice by the large monotheistic religions, notably by adherents of Judaism (and from them, Christianity) in the West, and by followers of Islam in the Middle East after Muhammad\'s attack on the idolaters in the Ka\'aba. The theological tendency of monotheists has been derisively to assert that polytheism is a ‘primal’ practice, deluded if not evil, and that people evolve from it into monotheism. Are so-called ‘primal’ religions, the traditional religions of most of the world, including such systems as the Olympian religion, the religions of the ancient Egyptians and the medieval Nordic peoples, really of less cultural importance than the so-called ‘world’ religions? Where do semi-religious systems like Buddhism, Daoism, Hinduism and Shinto fit into this pattern? Viewed from outside, it seems high time that the whole nature of world religious belief and practice was re-examined—and a useful starting-point for monotheists might be the attempt to see that polytheism is, and always has been, as valid and as satisfying a human response to the supernatural natural as their own, not to mention often more widespread and more tolerant. EMJ KMcL



Bookmark this page:



<< former term
next term >>


Other Terms : Phrenology | No-Ownership Theory Of The Self | Hegemony
Home |  Add new article  |  Your List |  Tools |  Become an Editor |  Tell a Friend |  Links |  Awards |  Testimonials |  Press |  News |  About |
Copyright ©2009 GeoDZ. All rights reserved.  Terms of Use  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us