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Monotheism - how did it start? Is it really here yet?


Robittybob1
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They attribute monotheism to Abraham but is this really so? Does anyone understand that?

A long long time ago, protoJudaism was polytheistic. They worshiped the Canaanite pantheon. Over time, they shifted from polytheism to henotheism. At that point, they still believed in all of the pantheon gods, but YHWH was they're tribal god. That gave way over time to monotheism where they believe in only YHWH. Though, hints of the henotheistic and polytheistic past of the tradition are still apparent in the texts if you know what you're looking for.

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I'm not really wanting to know about angels or saints but the common statement that keeps coming up that Abraham starts up a monotheism. I'm just wondering how they come to that conclusion.


A long long time ago, protoJudaism was polytheistic. They worshiped the Canaanite pantheon. Over time, they shifted from polytheism to henotheism. At that point, they still believed in all of the pantheon gods, but YHWH was they're tribal god. That gave way over time to monotheism where they believe in only YHWH. Though, hints of the henotheistic and polytheistic past of the tradition are still apparent in the texts if you know what you're looking for.

I think this is along the line I need to examine. What I have tried to understand is how does anyone know who you are dealing with, how does anyone (including Abraham) know which "god" is giving Abraham his experiences?

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My textbook said that Moses made the Hebrews monotheistic, preceded by veneration of the Mesopotamian pantheon.

I would tend to agree with that a bit more than saying it was attributed to Abraham. The first four of the Ten Commandments does tend to make them focus on one God. http://lifehopeandtruth.com/bible/10-commandments/the-ten-commandments/10-commandments-list/

 

 

1. You shall have no other gods before Me.

2. You shall not make idols.

3. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.

4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

"You can have other Gods but none ahead of me". Is that what it says? So that is not strictly monotheistic either then is it?

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The first sort of beliefs in God(s) were almost certainly of the poly-theistic type.

 

Probably having to do with nature gods. As in, attributing things like weather, thunder and lightening and rain and good or bad crops to some type of sky-dwelling supernatural entities. And after praying to these gods a desired results was seen as proof they existed. And if the prayers were not answered, as was most likely the case, the homo erectus or even a. afarensis souls doing the praying simply figured the gods were displeased with them.

And thus the cycle continued, as there was no way back then to disprove the notion of gods.

As is unfortunately the case still today. Witness Carl Sagan's "The Dragon in My Garage" parable.

 

Funny. Though science has decidedly progressed on all areas since the times of our ancient ancestors, relgion and its attendant belief in god or gods has it seems to me RE-gressed. Since the aboriginal poly-theistic version really makes more sense than, say, the murderous, petty, jealous, and hopelessly anthropomorphized Yahweh type of a god.

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I think it is important to note that the majority of Biblical scholars agree that most of the Torah was only written between 600 BCE & 400 BCE. This was many generations after the alleged events surrounding Moses (approx. 1000 years) and Abraham (approx. 1500 years). The original stories were thus folklore and there is good reason to consider the likelihood that the ancient tales might have been influenced by myths of other more advanced civilisations given the fact that the writing thereof coincided with the time that Israel was subjected to first Babylonian captivity and later Persian captivity.

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They attribute monotheism to Abraham but is this really so? Does anyone understand that?

 

This is a question for historians but we are unlikely to ever have sufficient evidence to know the precise details of how Abrahamic monotheism grew from some fellow named Abraham and the existing tribal religions in the area. We have some general ideas as already mentioned by others - maybe these are more important than the details anyway as they say something about how some humans first interpreted nature.

 

@Velocity_Boy - Clicked the rep point in error sorry.

 

Corrected

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Wasn't Ahkenaten the first to promote Monotheism?

 

 

The first recorded to do so, yes.

Whereas it is repeatedly said Abraham is the father of monotheism but I don't see the reasons for that.

 

It is, presumably, said repeatedly by members of the Abrahamic religions. Perhaps other monotheistic religions would disagree.

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So they said in a documentary but it didn't last. Whereas it is repeatedly said Abraham is the father of monotheism but I don't see the reasons for that.

 

Cos about half the world's population (to some extent or another) are religious people follow who monotheistic religions in the Abrahamic tradition. The largest non-abrahamic monotheistic is I guess Sikhism which is at least 2 orders of magnitude smaller

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Cos about half the world's population (to some extent or another) are religious people follow who monotheistic religions in the Abrahamic tradition. The largest non-abrahamic monotheistic is I guess Sikhism which is at least 2 orders of magnitude smaller

Monotheistic religion means they follow "one God" but does that mean they are following the same god simply because they claim the same ancestry? When I read the story of Abraham it seems rather polytheistic and he came from a tradition of Mesopotamian polytheism.

I'll have to look at what Sikhism has to say. Thanks.

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MonDie: You state that "I've wondered whether the angels make Christianity polytheistic in all but name."

 

Of course, one of the major criticisms that Muslims have with Christianity is its idea of the Trinity, which Muslims claim proves that Christianity is not a true monotheism, but

rather just another polytheistic religion. However, many Christians dispute this Islamic claim: See http://carm.org/does-the-trinity-really-teach-there-are-three-gods

 

Ironically, Muslims also believe in angels: "Muslims do not believe that angels have free will -- they are incapable of disobedience. However, they are intelligent and can ask questions of God." I have never heard of a god who didn't supposedly have free will....but who can say? See the rest of the amazing description of Islamic angels at http://talktoislam.com/577/do-muslims-believe-in-angels

 

But what is odd is that "The commonly portrayed image of angels being human like creations with wings instead of arms is something that Muslims cannot confirm nor deny as there has not been given a visual description of Angels in Islam and neither has anyone seen them in their original form" Muslims tend to acknowledge that other people can see them in their human form.

 

But in any case, contrast this with recent Barna survey results that

seven million teenagers (35 percent) claim to actually have encountered an angel, a demon, or some other supernatural being.

http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/angels-and-demons-go-pop-culture/?mobile=on

 

Angels were created by God/Jesus and thus might be described as nonhuman "creatures" (whatever that means) according to one source, though another relates that "Rev. Dr. Nugent has stated definitively that the biblical Elohim אלהים – a word meaning gods...representing the Canaanite pantheon – are “angels” and the gods of Mesopotamia and Egypt."

 

I find it interesting that so many monotheists seem to resent the idea that there are polytheists. I am guessing that polytheists aren't as worried about the existence of monotheists in the world. I guess if you believe that there are a lot of gods, then you aren't as worried about whether someone just focuses on one, or even if they focus on others....as if there were plenty enough to go around for everyone.

Edited by disarray
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What would humans know about God if it wasn't for the angels? The Bible and the Koran in parts seem to be revealed through the action of angels.

From an atheist's point of view the words "angels, demons, supernatural beings" can't really have any particular meaning.

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Robbitybob1. You state that "From an atheist's point of view the words "angels, demons, supernatural beings" can't really have any particular meaning."

 

Ironically, I am not sure what your claim that these words have no meaning to an atheist actually means.

 

One problem I have with this statement is that what an angel or demon means in one religion is typically not the same as it means in another. And certainly the word "supernatural" could apply to thousands of religions.

 

Secondly, I have no idea what how you are defining "meaning." Are you suggesting that nonbelievers can't understand the concept of an angel or the concept of supernatural?

 

Thirdly, I can only wonder if you are assuming in the discussion that angels actually exist. If not, I fail to see how your statement is any different from stating that a mother can't really understand the words "tooth fairy" because, unlike her child, she doesn't believe that they exist. .I think that a person who doesn't believe in UFOs, as commonly described in the media, can understand the word just as well as those who do believe in them.

 

Fourthly, I am not sure how this statement relates to the origins of monotheism. Are you suggesting that nonbelievers or those who deny the existence of a single god can't really understand the concept because they don't believe in it? I fail to follow your logic... Perhaps you are you suggesting that angels didn't reveal themselves to atheists or that they similarly won't reveal themselves to a person who doesn't believe in them...?

 

Fifthly, I am not sure what you mean by the "particular" meaning of these words. Is that somehow different from their general meaning?

Edited by disarray
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Robbitybob1. You state that "From an atheist's point of view the words "angels, demons, supernatural beings" can't really have any particular meaning."

 

Ironically, I am not sure what your claim that these words have no meaning to an atheist actually means.

 

One problem I have with this statement is that what an angel or demon means in one religion is typically not the same as it means in another. And certainly the word "supernatural" could apply to thousands of religions.

 

Secondly, I have no idea what how you are defining "meaning." Are you suggesting that nonbelievers can't understand the concept of an angel or the concept of supernatural?

 

Thirdly, I can only wonder if you are assuming in the discussion that angels actually exist. If not, I fail to see how your statement is any different from stating that a mother can't really understand the words "tooth fairy" because, unlike her child, she doesn't believe that they exist. .I think that a person who doesn't believe in UFOs, as commonly described in the media, can understand the word just as well as those who do believe in them.

 

Fourthly, I am not sure how this statement relates to the origins of monotheism. Are you suggesting that nonbelievers or those who deny the existence of a single god can't really understand the concept because they don't believe in it? I fail to follow your logic... Perhaps you are you suggesting that angels didn't reveal themselves to atheists or that they similarly won't reveal themselves to a person who doesn't believe in them...?

 

Fifthly, I am not sure what you mean by the "particular" meaning of these words. Is that somehow different from their general meaning?

 

If those words have the same meaning to an atheist and a believer that's OK, for I was just thinking if they are just treated by an atheist as "they don't exist" I was then wondering how they would define them.

Would someone clear that up for me then please. If our religions depend on the revelation of God via angels (but they don't exist), what is it that we have?

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RobbityBob1: Judging from your last post, I think that the question makes more sense if you asked how those who claim to believe in God can actually believe in God if they don't believe in angels, who, are said to be the ones who give humans a reason to believe in God (by virtue of their revelations about his existence).

 

Atheists, on the other hand, don't believe in God, so it is not contradictory for them to say they don't believe in angels....and certainly atheists can understand what a theist means when he/she describes what they mean by angels....e.g., have or don't have wings, are or are not visible, do or do not play harps, were or were not once human, are all or are not all good, etc.

 

But of course there are thousands if not millions of Christians who don't take the Bible literally and who don't believe that angels exist, but rather think that the stories in the Bible are meant to be taken in a metaphorical sense, whether or not they believe that the Bible was divinely inspired.

 

So no, if one believes in one God, one has the option, as many Christians claim, of believing or not believing that such things as angels, demons, etc. revealed this God to humans. After all, they might tell one, God is beyond anyone's comprehension, and the Bible is just a mythological way to get a handle on "him," as if to adumbrate his image and give him meaning.

 

The spectrum of belief includes all sorts of possibilities....there are those who believe that the Bible is not inspired and that God never really talked to any human, and Jesus was just a wise philosopher, and angels don't really exist and never talked to humans, and even those who wrote the Bible were not inspired by God...yet, they still see the Bible as a valuable source of wisdom, and still believe that there is a God, and still consider themselves to be Christians.

Edited by disarray
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