A fool hath said in his heart, 'God is not;' They have done corruptly, They have done abominable actions, There is not a doer of good. - Psalm 14:1

17 June 2009

Limitations of Monotheism

I'll just give the bottom line now: monotheism is boring. One god, one Truth, no options. What kind of world would be complete with only one of anything? Sure you can factionalize monotheistic faiths and entertain yourself with ensuring controversies, but the foundation doesn't change. Ice cream has over 12,000 flavors, but eventually it's still frozen dairy.

And if you thought that was a terribly simplistic analogy, here's another in image form:

It may be the natural progression of religious faith to end up with singular deities, or perhaps the format itself became systemic to human civilization and now we're stuck with it. It seems most likely that the authoritarian nature of demanding observance of one god lends itself as a bridge to political control of populations through similar means.

In any event we lose something when ignoring broader mythologies. Classic heroes and antiheroes of ancient mythologies, truly original legends of creation, and culturally significant lessons in morality and history. One of the primarily detestable components of monotheism is how it excludes even the knowledge of other faiths.

2 billion Christians and 1.5 billion Muslims and despite the various differentiations between them the end result is nothing more than arguing over whether the blue unicorn is better or more powerful than the purple one. (The Invisible Pink Unicorn being understandably exempt.)

Where is all of this going? Spiritual education is not only important for anyone who honestly wishes to understand the mind of the faithful, but also entertaining. With that principle in mind I've decided Wednesdays are as good as any to pull up some basic information on obscure, but engaging polytheistic religions. The truth is a lot of us atheists tend to avoid an active understanding of faith and we do so to our detriment. So without further delay -


Ásatrú is an Icelandic/Old Norse term consisting of two parts: Ása (Genitive of Æsir) referring to the gods and goddesses, and trú meaning faith. Thus Ásatrú literally means faith in the gods. It is commonly misunderstood to mean 'true to the gods'. The faith is also referred to as Norse or Germanic Heathenry. The Old Norse term for 'heathenry' is "heiðni". Yet another Old Norse designation is "forn siðr"; the ancient custom.

The faith may be regarded as an indigenous ancestral faith much like Shinto, Native American spirituality, and Judaism. It represents the indigenous pre-Christian beliefs of the Germanic peoples. This included the peoples of present-day Scandinavia, England, Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium, among others. Ásatrú might be viewed as the northern branch of several philosophical offshoots of an earlier Indo-European religion, analogous to the way in which the proto-Indo European language evolved into such off shoots as Sanskrit and the Germanic and Slavic languages. Religious siblings of Ásatrú include the Greco-Roman religion in southern Europe, and early Hinduism in the east. Numerous scholars such as Georges Dumézil, H. R. Ellis Davidson, Hans Gunther (author of "The Religious Attitudes of the Indo-Europeans") have commented on the philosophical similarities of these religious systems. Friedrich Nietzsche laid some important groundwork in his works in which he felt the pagan philosophical system of the Greek religion of the ancient heroic and classical era was vastly superior to Christianity, which he felt suffered from a "transvaluation" (or inversion) of healthy instinctive values.



Cheryl Anderson said...

It is difficult for the religions to agree. Though they all share some agreement, thier differences lead to war. Bible belief itself has suffered Paganism added. Please give mercy. I do believe in bible. Have studied other religions. Do have respect for those who do not believe. Thank you for your thought provoking blog.

Diotrik said...


Glad to see this post here. I agree to disagree on matter of religious choice, though I do have to say that I find it refreshing to see someone who is openly athiestic mentioning that there are more than monotheistic religions, and espousing learning at least a bit about them.

I've never read that article from Knowledgerush regarding Asatru, however for the most part I do find it well researched.

The mention of Nietzsche, however, is a bit off as I don't see a direct influence from him in really any aspect of heathenry, and he espoused more the Hellenic ideas first, then almost an atheism later. Very interesting writer and philosopher though.

The system of honouring in Asatru and Heathenry in general is often compared to Shinto due to the importance of one's ancestors (not truly ancestor worship, but honouring).

Don't worry, not trying to convert you, would rather see people being themselves however they are able to and be true to themselves and live good lives then have them lie to themselves and others to be heathen if they aren't.

Interesting to pick Wednesdays though. It is named after Wodan/Woten/Odthinn/Wuotan. The Christian [sic] missionaries were actually so at a loss for converting the indigenous Germanic tribes that they forbade the use of Wodanstag in German, thus we have Mitwoch (mid-week) there, while Donnarstag (Thors day/Thursday) and Freitag (Freyr's Day or Freya's Day) still remain. In English Tuesday (Tiw's Day/Tyr/Ziu) still remains as well. The German Dingstag remains as a secular tribute to Tyr/Tiw however, as he was seen to govern over what was known as the Thing/Assembly of the People.

Just some bits of knowledge! Hope all is well.



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