Origin of monotheism question.

Discussion in 'Ancient History and Mythology' started by Senthil, Jul 7, 2015.

  1. Senthil

    Senthil Active Member

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    I'm glad this forum exists cause I can ask questions and get decent answers. ( I think.)

    Today for about what seemed the 3000th time I was asked why Hindus worship so many Gods, and it occurred to me (that happens after you get the same question over and over) to give a snarky response of , "And why do some people only worship one God?"

    The Norse, the Romans, Egyptians, Shinto, many if not all First Nation (aboriginal, native, tribal, whatever you call it) peoples, Polynesians like Maori and Hawaiians, the Greeks, and of course we Hindus all worship (or worshiped) many Gods. Some of these cultures are absolutely ancient, before recorded history. Some also have intricate complex well defined philosophies and systems of thought.

    So my question is: "What happened? Was there a single turning point, or did this idea of monotheism slowly occur over time? Were certain individuals responsible, or was it many? What factors created the 'better than the old way' flow? Or is this whole idea mainly a mystery like my answer to the question I get.

    My answer is usually, "Nobody really knows why Hindus have so many Gods. It developed so long ago that its a bit like asking why we have a sun or a moon."

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Devils' Advocate

    Devils' Advocate Well-Known Member

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    A quick Google search found the single diety was tried a couple of times in prehistory. Probably most famously in Egypt when one of the Pharaohs around the 13th century BCE tossed out the Egyptian pantheon and replaced it with the Sun God Aten. That lasted no longer than that one Pharaoh's reign (Can't remember the dude's name). Once he died, the Egyptians returned everything back to the way it was.

    The prophet Zarathushtra preached there was but one God. No one is really sure when he lived though. Best guesses anywhere between 1500 & 600 BCE.

    Finally Zoroastrianism messed around with the one god concept way back in prehistory - something like 3500 BCE.

    So monotheism, while not as popular as polytheism, was floated around a few times during prehistory. It certainly wasn't an advancement from Polytheism!
     
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  3. Senthil

    Senthil Active Member

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    Thank you. According to Wiki on Zoroastrianism it was fairly early, and other monotheistic traditions came out of that.
     
  4. StevePame

    StevePame Administrator Staff Member

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    I believe that was Akhenaten. I had always heard that it wasn't monotheism because he expected the people to still worship him as a god, but that only he and his family would be able to worship Aten. So multiple gods, but one elevated above the other, in a situation known as henotheism.
     
  5. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea An ordinary cup of tea

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    We've had preachers come here and demand restitution from all monotheisms to Zoroastrianism for stealing and corrupting the concept. I've never heard a really compelling reason as to why the idea can't spontaneously emerge separate from each other.
     
  6. Senthil

    Senthil Active Member

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    I agree. It seems obvious that polytheism 'emerged simultaneous' in different places. It's highly unlikely that it originated in one spot and spread. Too many hunter and gatherer societies were focused on just hunting and gathering (and nomadic) to develop this stuff really early on. Religion, arts, music, etc. developed once people settled down near a stable food resource, or had agriculture.
     
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  7. Senthil

    Senthil Active Member

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    Now I'm wondering where, when and how this idea of 'I'm right and the rest of you fools are wrong!" came about, or is it just the egocentric nature of man to project his own thoughts on to all others?
     
  8. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea An ordinary cup of tea

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    Form a psychological point of view I'm thinking that we build systems of how to understand and value the world around us. It becomes a part of who we are and sometimes it is strongly connected to our self worth or meaning. A lot of the times we need these systems to be correct or it will break the world for us, and for some that can be a very painful experience. All of this is subconscious of course, pointing it out to people would be counter productive.

    If the world just worked in one simple way and if people just understood what I understand everything would be so much better. I get that to an extent, but I see it's an illogical position so I don't indulge that part.
     
  9. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    biblically it was the snake and eve? or cain and able? biblically it originated as soon as man did...
     
  10. Senthil

    Senthil Active Member

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    wil, not sure if I understand, but ... in the scripture itself it says, 'this view is the one and only correct view' and tells people to go out and preach that message.

    I always thought it was just in the people themselves, similar to being convinced of a political party, or of a favorite car make. But if scripture is telling you to be that way, then it actually explains a lot.
     
  11. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    lol...explains a lot does it??

    You contemplated where when and how the origins of this gotta be right came from... I simply pointed out that the earliest reference I know is about 3,000 years old....where, when and how... if you have an earlier origin... or a counter idea now, I'd love to hear it... but this original blame others by adam and then eve... has not created that in me... (it was probably listening to arguments at every dinner table for my formative years)
     
  12. Senthil

    Senthil Active Member

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    I have no 'counter' idea. That idea is absurdly foreign. Gee, who knew? But it will help me psychologically understand why if I get into something like your dinner table.
     
  13. Devils' Advocate

    Devils' Advocate Well-Known Member

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    Well it's obvious! The Zoroastrians were the First to come up with a monotheistic religion. So, just as obvious, anyone after them must have stolen it from them! ;). I am curious though what sort of 'restitution' they think they aught to receive.

    You are right, of course, an idea can develop independently many times in many areas. And religious ones are no different from anything else.
     
  14. Devils' Advocate

    Devils' Advocate Well-Known Member

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    I don't think so, Steve. As I understand it the Egyptian pharaohs had a long standing tradition of identifying themselves as their Gods. So Akhenaten was the Aten and was to be worshipped as the God.
     
  15. Aussie Thoughts

    Aussie Thoughts Just my 2 cents

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    That's a question I've not put too much thought into myself, but now that you bring it up, I think the dreamtime story of creation may just be able to shed some light on the subject.

    You see, in Australia, Aboriginal beliefs vary one region to another. Some believe in multiple Gods, while others believe in a single God. According to the dreamtime story of creation though, in the beginning, Aboriginal society was strictly polytheistic and split off in different directions with the advent of Adam.

    The story goes that in the dawn of creation, God started by creating the angels and charged them with making the earth inhabitable. That's when the angels penetrated the earth's surface, emerging with all early forms of life, including the Aboriginal people themselves. These early humans assumed their creators to be Gods, abundant and vast in number.

    Now, with the advent of Adam, new man or God's man as he is called by the Aborigines, because he was of God's direct creation, came the idea that God is a single entity capable of multiple manifestations. Many Aboriginal tribes wholeheartedly embrace this belief, while others do not and continue in the old ways. Still others have adopted a sort of hybrid view of the situation.

    To me, this Aboriginal story offers a very reasonable explanation of how monotheism came to be.
     
  16. Devils' Advocate

    Devils' Advocate Well-Known Member

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    Well it is not a truism of all religions. The Romans had their pantheon of Gods, but they readily accepted and integrated the Gods of peoples they conquered. (Until that troublemaker JC came along!) And the Romans were not the only ones. So there were cultures where a theological live and let live existed.

    There were also many civilizations where you had your Gods and I had my Gods and everybody was good with that. So I didn't have to believe in your Gods but I respected them as your Gods, and vice versa. Like all the Native American nations.

    I'm not sure about this last comment; it may have been the Abrahamics who came up with the my way or the highway attitude.
     
  17. Senthil

    Senthil Active Member

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    Thanks everyone for all the food for thought. I've always lived, (as have most of the people here) under the 'live and let live' method. It's easier, and just makes more sense to me.
     
  18. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Search, be your own guru.

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    Nice post. But you have made Zarathrushtra and Zoroastrians into separate entities. The followers of Zarathrushtra are known as Zoroastrians. When did he live? Zoroastrianism is not as old as 3500 BC. Say around 1,500 BC is OK and not as late as 600 BC too, because otherwise there would have been a mention in Hindu books. After all, the Hindu Vedas and the Zoroastrian Gathas have the same root.

    As Steve said, the Egyptian Pharaoh was Akhenaten, also spelled Echnaton, Akhenaton, Ikhnaton, and Khuenaten; meaning "Effective for Aten (Sun)"; but it was not pure monotheism. - Wikipedia
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2015
  19. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Search, be your own guru.

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    It can, but the proximity of Judaism and Zoroastrianism during exile is historical. After all, Pharisees were returning Babylonian/Iranian jews.
     
  20. Devils' Advocate

    Devils' Advocate Well-Known Member

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    Oh those Zoro's mess me up every time. And I never even got to the Zorodashians!
     

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