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By Page duBois

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

In English utilization, the observe "polytheism" comes from the seventeenth-century writings of Samuel Purchas. It used to be pejorative from the beginning--a notice to tell apart the assumption process of backward peoples from the extra theologically complicated faith of Protestant Christians. at the present time, whilst monotheistic fundamentalisms too frequently force humans to dedicate violent acts, polytheism is still a scandalous presence in societies nonetheless orientated in keeping with Jewish, Christian, and Muslim ideals. Even within the multicultural milieus of twenty-first-century the USA and nice Britain, polytheism unearths itself marginalized. but it persists, possibly simply because polytheism corresponds to subconscious wishes and deeply held values of tolerance, variety, and equality which are relevant to civilized societies.

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A Million and One Gods: The Persistence of Polytheism

Many of us worship not only one yet many gods. but a continuing prejudice opposed to polytheism denies legitimacy to a few of the world's oldest and richest non secular traditions. In her exam of polytheistic cultures either old 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 evidently evolves over the years into the "higher" trust in one deity.

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Extra resources for A Million and One Gods: The Persistence of Polytheism

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In fact, as he shows, there are many paganisms, many polytheisms, and those fashioned by contemporary thinkers, influenced by new age spirituality, can only be seen as one aspect of an extremely heterogeneous spectrum. He distinguishes Christianity from paganism by noting that while the Christian god is transcendent, the gods of paganism, and even pagan monism, are immanent, that is, residing not beyond the physical world, but in it. Yet the claim for paganism as “world religion” seems possible only from the perspective of a scholar of religious studies, not an “emic” category, not an “immanent” category, since believers in one form of paganism, still a term of disapprobation, I would think, would not recognize believers in another form as participating in the same, single “world” religion.

In associating the one god, God, with this word, this reason, the evangelist John forged a bond between a philosophical monism and monotheism: “In the beginning was the word,” in Greek, logos. ” Later apologetics focused on the rivalry among the Abrahamic religions; Christian apologists argued for the greater excellence of their creed, in relation to the other monotheisms. At the time of the European discoveries, voyages into the rest of the world—the shock of encounter with thriving and flourishing polytheisms in the Americas, in Asia, and in Africa— brought new life to the defense of Christianity as the colonizers augmented their claims to ethical and social and religious preeminence with a conviction of ethnic superiority.

As Richard E. Nisbett has remarked: Eastern religions are characterized by tolerance and interpenetration of religious ideas. One can be a Confucian, a Buddhist, and a Christian in Korea, in Japan (and in China prior to the revolution). 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.

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