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Read e-book online A Million and One Gods: The Persistence of Polytheism PDF

By Page duBois

ISBN-10: 0674728831

ISBN-13: 9780674728837

Many humans worship not only one yet many gods. but a constant prejudice opposed to polytheism denies legitimacy to a few of the world's oldest and richest spiritual traditions. In her exam of polytheistic cultures either historical and contemporary--those of Greece and Rome, the Bible and the Quran, in addition to glossy India--Page duBois refutes the concept that the worship of a number of gods certainly evolves over the years into the "higher" trust in one deity. In A Million and One Gods, she indicates that polytheism has persevered intact for millennia even within the West, regardless of the various hidden ways in which monotheistic proposal keeps to form Western outlooks.

In English utilization, the note "polytheism" comes from the seventeenth-century writings of Samuel Purchas. It was once pejorative from the beginning--a note to differentiate the assumption procedure of backward peoples from the extra theologically complicated faith of Protestant Christians. this present day, while monotheistic fundamentalisms too frequently force humans to dedicate violent acts, polytheism continues to be a scandalous presence in societies nonetheless orientated based on Jewish, Christian, and Muslim ideals. Even within the multicultural milieus of twenty-first-century the USA and nice Britain, polytheism reveals itself marginalized. but it persists, possibly simply because polytheism corresponds to subconscious wishes and deeply held values of tolerance, range, and equality which are significant to civilized societies.

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Chateaubriand surveys earlier philosophical thinkers and finds them wanting, arguing that there can be no morality without the promise of heaven or hell after death, a system of rewards and punishments: “men no sooner divest themselves of the idea of a God than they rush into every species of crime, in spite of laws and executioners” (Chateaubriand, 190). Atheists are such criminals. “The rewards which Christianity promises to virtue, and the punishments with which it threatens guilt, produce at the first glance a conviction of the truth” (Chateaubriand, 203).

Religious wars in the East have been relatively rare, whereas they have been endemic in the West for hundreds of years. 39 Nisbett himself subscribes to the distinction between interdependent and independent psychological development and cites the psychological experiments that back up these claims. S. K. prize individualism to the exclusion of other ways of coexisting with other human beings that might be more consistent with polytheism. ” Each can learn from the other; the rigid pseudo-separation of religion and the public sphere in the Western Protestant model might change to accommodate other perspectives, including those of polytheists, and rigid independence open to a new interdependence.

Boyer sums it up: “people generally adhere to the specific religious commitments of their community and ignore other variants as largely irrelevant” (Boyer, 317). This does not mean that religions, or societies, that do not lodge guarantees of morality in a system of rewards and punishments after death, governed by a single divinity, are unethical or immoral. It is only through the Western discovery of difference that monotheism became the norm, polytheism the other. If the many polytheisms seem primitive to monotheists, these latter attribute a chaotic, underdeveloped ethics to polytheists, and such attribution may be a consequence of an unwarranted projection from their location within an untheorized, unrealized horizon of monotheism, the separation of church and state, and the smug conviction of superiority and inevitability that has grown out of Christian hegemony, especially in predominantly Protestant countries.

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A Million and One Gods: The Persistence of Polytheism by Page duBois


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