Understanding through Discussion


Welcome! You are not logged in. [ Login ]
EvC Forum active members: 79 (8897 total)
Current session began: 
Page Loaded: 03-19-2019 8:42 PM
141 online now:
14174dm, DrJones*, xongsmith (3 members, 138 visitors)
Chatting now:  Chat room empty
Newest Member: WookieeB
Post Volume:
Total: 848,459 Year: 3,496/19,786 Month: 491/1,087 Week: 81/212 Day: 11/31 Hour: 0/0


Thread  Details

Email This Thread
Newer Topic | Older Topic
  
Prev123
4
56
...
25NextFF
Author Topic:   Is Christianity Polytheistic?
Dr Adequate
Member
Posts: 16085
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 10.0


(1)
Message 46 of 375 (563840)
06-07-2010 1:58 AM
Reply to: Message 28 by Straggler
06-06-2010 6:58 PM


Re: Godly Criteria
If I define pencils as being "gods" and choose to worship pencils does that make me a theist?

All hail the mighty pencil!

There is no pencil but The Pencil, and medium is its graphite.

Its devotees fear a time they know as The Coming Of The Great Eraser.

---

But, yes, seriously, if you started worshiping pencils as gods, then I guess they'd be your gods. It's not actually cheating to worship something that really exists. Perhaps a little unconventional.

Edited by Dr Adequate, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 28 by Straggler, posted 06-06-2010 6:58 PM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 61 by Straggler, posted 06-07-2010 1:57 PM Dr Adequate has responded

Straggler
Member
Posts: 10284
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 47 of 375 (563921)
06-07-2010 10:42 AM
Reply to: Message 38 by Dr Adequate
06-06-2010 8:43 PM


Re: Is greek mythology none-theistic ?
There isn't one unequivocal definition.

It's rather like the word "dragon". We translate various Chinese and Persian words by the English word "dragon", but all they really have in common is being mythical and scaly.

OK. So what is it that is common to all concepts that are labeled as "god" and how is Satan not included in that?

If Christians want to restrict the term "god" to what they mean by their version of god alone then how can they also say that vast swathes of humanity throughout history have believed in gods?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 38 by Dr Adequate, posted 06-06-2010 8:43 PM Dr Adequate has not yet responded

Straggler
Member
Posts: 10284
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 48 of 375 (563923)
06-07-2010 10:55 AM
Reply to: Message 32 by subbie
06-06-2010 7:30 PM


A tricky question. I think there is some set of minimum criteria that a being needs to meet to be considered a god. I'm far from a comparative religion expert, so I'm hardly the person to put forth a comprehensive definition, but on first glance, it at least needs to be some kind of self-aware entity with supernatural powers. This rules out a normal pencil.

But includes Satan.

But obviously beyond any minimum set of criteria, different religions have different, more detailed definitions, and the definition of god in Christianity does not include Satan.

I suspect the Christian definition discludes Hindu gods. Which means Christians think that Hindus are not theists?

Thus, Satan cannot be an example of a god showing that Christianity is polytheistic, unless you wish to quarrel with my proposition that the question must be answered by looking at the definition that the given religion uses.

So each religion can provide it's own definition of god and exclude all others? But simultaneously they can say that believers of other religions are theists?

Explain to me how that works unless there are equivocating.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 32 by subbie, posted 06-06-2010 7:30 PM subbie has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 49 by subbie, posted 06-07-2010 11:49 AM Straggler has responded
 Message 50 by Rahvin, posted 06-07-2010 12:10 PM Straggler has responded

subbie
Member (Idle past 34 days)
Posts: 3508
Joined: 02-26-2006


(1)
Message 49 of 375 (563927)
06-07-2010 11:49 AM
Reply to: Message 48 by Straggler
06-07-2010 10:55 AM


Explain to me how that works unless there are equivocating.

I suppose if you want to call it equivocating to acknowledge that different religions have different definitions than yours does, and understand that they identify types of beings as gods that you don't, then you can call it equivocating.

{AbE} Look at it this way.

To you, Mom is the person who gave birth to you. She didn't give birth to me. Does that mean I don't have a mom?

Edited by subbie, : As noted


Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus. -- Thomas Jefferson

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and non-believers. -- Barack Obama

We see monsters where science shows us windmills. -- Phat

It has always struck me as odd that fundies devote so much time and effort into trying to find a naturalistic explanation for their mythical flood, while looking for magical explanations for things that actually happened. -- Dr. Adequate


This message is a reply to:
 Message 48 by Straggler, posted 06-07-2010 10:55 AM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 51 by Straggler, posted 06-07-2010 12:43 PM subbie has responded

Rahvin
Member (Idle past 1261 days)
Posts: 3964
Joined: 07-01-2005


Message 50 of 375 (563931)
06-07-2010 12:10 PM
Reply to: Message 48 by Straggler
06-07-2010 10:55 AM


Christianity has a very specific hierarchy of supernatural entities. Obviously their deity sits at the top. Below him are many separate ranks of angels, of which Satan is supposedly a member of the top ranking, just below Yahweh himself.

The deities of other religions are counted as fallen angels deceiving humanity, inaccurate attempts to worship the one true god, or simply the delusions of heathen fools.

In this context, Satan is not a deity, the deities of other religions are not really deities even if their worshipers think they are, and there is in fact only one actual deity. There's no need for equivocation - followers of false deities only believe they are worshiping a god.

It is however essentially an argument via definition - the argument includes as its premise that there is only one deity. The deck is stacked. It's a matter of circular reasoning. "Since there is only one god, all other gods are false and not really gods at all. Since all other gods are not really gods, there is only one god."

I don't think it's very practical or objective to use Christianity's definition of "god," simply because it's only a valid definition for Christians. All non-Abrahamic religions would disagree with them.

Of course, I'm not sure what common definition of a deity could really be agreed on - not one single version is actually based on reality, none are testable to determine accuracy, and so every definition from the Christian one to the Hindu one to the Pastafarian one is equally valid.

I think about all that everyone would agree with is that "gods" always share the following characteristics:

1) their abilities are (or appear) supernatural, vastly exceeding the expected capabilities of any human being. The laws of physics as we know them do not seem to apply in the same way to deities.

2) They are ageless - while some gods apparently die, they do not do so because of old age. Typically the deaths of gods involve violence, especially a world-ending apocalypse

3) gods have some degree of interaction with humanity, especially in the form of human worship

4) gods tend to be the "top of the totem pole" in terms of relative power to other supernatural entities within the same belief system. For example, while a fallen angel being worshipped by humans or even a poltergeist (a ghost capable of moving objects) would qualify under criteria 1-4, they are "less powerful" than the deities of those who typically believe in them, and therefore are not deities themselves. Hierarchy within a pantheon of deities is frequently present, but even the lowest deity is still typically regarded as "more powerful" than any non-deity. There is also no objective method or reasoning to determine relative power and abilities.

That's still pretty loose, but I don't see how to be more specific. Yahweh and all his angels could easily be considered to be an entire pantheon of gods, with Yahweh simply sitting at the top. Or angels could be considered to be fundamentally different than Yahweh (Christians typically use the property of having been created as the determining factor - Yahweh was not created, and he created everything else, and only that which itself was not created is a deity, with everything else a lesser being, etc). There just isn't an objective way to compare supernatural entities, especially across multiple belief systems.

That's why I think the entire argument is rather pointless - it's impossible to make a real determination over whether Christianity is actually monotheistic or polytheistic or not, simply because there is no way to objectively define "deities" that does not either stack the deck such that the Christian god is the only deity by definition, or such that other supernatural entities are not considered "deities" despite no functional difference.

To me, it seems like this is more an argument over whether Superman or Batman would win in a fight - people who like Superman will point out that he's able to punch Batman into a bloody smear with his pinky finger, while people who like Batman will point our that he has access to Kryptonite, always has a plan for everything including a rampaging Superman, and has beaten Superman in comics before. The fact of the matter is simply that it's impossible to make an objective assessment when comparing fictional characters - in the case of Batman and Superman, the one who "wins" in a fight is the determination of the authors as needed for the story, and has nothing to do with anything our hypothetical groups of nerds would rage about.

So too with deities. There's nothing objective to base a discussion around, and so you can't really make a determination about what is or is not a deity (and therefore which religions are monotheistic or polytheistic or even atheistic) beyond the stated claims of each religion's followers. Christians say that Yahweh is a deity while Satan is not; ancient Greeks identify Zeus, Aries, Poseidon, etc. all as deities, but exclude the Titans or the Fates or other supernatural entities.

I think a far more interesting conversation would be to question whether modern monotheistic religions have polytheistic roots from an archeological and anthropological standpoint.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 48 by Straggler, posted 06-07-2010 10:55 AM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 60 by Straggler, posted 06-07-2010 1:53 PM Rahvin has responded

Straggler
Member
Posts: 10284
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


(1)
Message 51 of 375 (563934)
06-07-2010 12:43 PM
Reply to: Message 49 by subbie
06-07-2010 11:49 AM


Inconsistent
How many times have you seen believers here at EvC cite widespread belief in gods as some sort of evidence for the actual existence of gods?

It seems to me that Christians want to be able to say that the majority of humanity believes in god whilst simultaneously defining god such that it excludes everyone but them.

This is blatantly inconsistent.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 49 by subbie, posted 06-07-2010 11:49 AM subbie has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 68 by subbie, posted 06-07-2010 7:19 PM Straggler has responded

Straggler
Member
Posts: 10284
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 52 of 375 (563939)
06-07-2010 12:49 PM
Reply to: Message 45 by Meldinoor
06-06-2010 11:21 PM


Re: Godly Criteria
If I define pencils as being "gods" and choose to worship pencils does that make me a theist?

Sure, why not. I could make up any kind of new religion or deity today if I wanted to, and as long as it involves worshiping some concept of "god", it is theistic. What is "god"? It could be anything that I'd decide to worship in my new religion, including a pencil.

Precisely.

Yet I expect the Christians here will say that believing in pencils does not make me a theist because pencils aren't gods. Whilst simultaneously saying that Hindus are theists despite the fact that by any Christian definition the things Hindus believe in aren't gods either.

It is this contradiction I am attempting to highlight and to see if anyone has any answers to.

Simply saying "but all religions define god differently" (whilst true) isn't very illuminating as it fails to get round this contradiction.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 45 by Meldinoor, posted 06-06-2010 11:21 PM Meldinoor has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 57 by AZPaul3, posted 06-07-2010 1:16 PM Straggler has responded

Straggler
Member
Posts: 10284
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 53 of 375 (563943)
06-07-2010 12:53 PM
Reply to: Message 39 by slevesque
06-06-2010 9:38 PM


Re: Is greek mythology none-theistic ?
I define myself to be god.

I believe that I exist.

Am I now a theist?

I presuppose you are atheist, telle me if I'm mistaken

Well I used to be. Until I defined myself as god.

In the same way, the christian worldview does not consider satan to be a god, and therefore remains monotheistic (the trinity is another issue to discuss) even though satan would qualify as a god in another wordlview.

So by your world view (incorporating the Christian definition of god) are Hindus atheists? Or not?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 39 by slevesque, posted 06-06-2010 9:38 PM slevesque has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 72 by slevesque, posted 06-07-2010 11:29 PM Straggler has responded

Straggler
Member
Posts: 10284
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 54 of 375 (563946)
06-07-2010 12:59 PM
Reply to: Message 33 by subbie
06-06-2010 7:32 PM


Re: Godly Criteria
What is the definition of god in Christianity?

Presumably one that includes only the Christian version of god.

Does Satan fit that definition? If not, he's not a Christian god.

Do Hindu gods fit the Christian definition of god? No. So how can a Christian consider a Hindu to be a theist?

When a Christian says that people all over the world have believed in gods throughout history which definition of god are they suing and how does Satan not fit the bill?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 33 by subbie, posted 06-06-2010 7:32 PM subbie has acknowledged this reply

Straggler
Member
Posts: 10284
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 55 of 375 (563949)
06-07-2010 1:05 PM
Reply to: Message 37 by Pauline
06-06-2010 8:18 PM


Re: Godly Criteria
If Hindu gods qualify as gods then in what sense does satan not? Without some serious equivocation?

To whom? is the question. To Muslims? No. To Christians? No

I have repeatedly been told by numerous Christians on this site (possibly even yourself) that belief in god is globally widespread and ancient.

Whose definition of god were they talking about? And in what sense does Satan not fit the bill?

Edited by Straggler, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 37 by Pauline, posted 06-06-2010 8:18 PM Pauline has not yet responded

Peepul
Member (Idle past 3092 days)
Posts: 206
Joined: 03-13-2009


Message 56 of 375 (563952)
06-07-2010 1:08 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Straggler
06-06-2010 6:41 AM


Re: Is Christianity Polytheistic?
quote:
The bible contains a whole host of angels, demons and supernatural characters that are gods in all but name and which in other mythologies would be given that title.

Possibly, but Christians have never regarded these characters as Gods. They don't have anything like the same role as the Christian God.

Why must a 'supernatural character' be a God? They aren't necessarily the same thing atall.

I agree with CS that the trinity is polytheistic though.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Straggler, posted 06-06-2010 6:41 AM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 59 by Straggler, posted 06-07-2010 1:35 PM Peepul has not yet responded

  
AZPaul3
Member
Posts: 3795
From: Phoenix
Joined: 11-06-2006
Member Rating: 3.5


Message 57 of 375 (563955)
06-07-2010 1:16 PM
Reply to: Message 52 by Straggler
06-07-2010 12:49 PM


Re: Godly Criteria
Whilst simultaneously saying that Hindus are theists despite the fact that by any Christian definition the things Hindus believe in aren't gods either.

What does the standard definition of "theist" have to do with a christian's view that their god is the only one and all other "theists" worship false gods?

Just because one worships a set of false deities does not mean one is not a theist in the standard definition of that word that all, even christians, accept.

Just because one is a christian does not mean they have a different definition for "pencil" from a hindu, does it? Why would they differ in their definition of "theist"? Where they differ is in saying this "theism" has false beliefs while my "theism" is the one and only real thing.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 52 by Straggler, posted 06-07-2010 12:49 PM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 58 by Straggler, posted 06-07-2010 1:29 PM AZPaul3 has responded

Straggler
Member
Posts: 10284
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 58 of 375 (563960)
06-07-2010 1:29 PM
Reply to: Message 57 by AZPaul3
06-07-2010 1:16 PM


Re: Godly Criteria
What does the standard definition of "theist" have to do with a christian's view that their god is the only one and all other "theists" worship false gods?

If they are false gods they presumably still meet the criteria for being gods. So in what sense is Satan not also a god?

Just because one is a christian does not mean they have a different definition for "pencil" from a hindu, does it? Why would they differ in their definition of "theist"? Where they differ is in saying this "theism" has false beliefs while my "theism" is the one and only real thing.

OK. So when the Christians on this site repeatedly tell me that belief in gods is universal and ancient what definition of god are they using and how does it exclude Satan as being a god?

Do you see the problem here? They cannot have it both ways can they?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 57 by AZPaul3, posted 06-07-2010 1:16 PM AZPaul3 has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 73 by AZPaul3, posted 06-08-2010 12:42 AM Straggler has responded

Straggler
Member
Posts: 10284
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 59 of 375 (563961)
06-07-2010 1:35 PM
Reply to: Message 56 by Peepul
06-07-2010 1:08 PM


Widespread Belief in Gods
Straggler writes:

The bible contains a whole host of angels, demons and supernatural characters that are gods in all but name and which in other mythologies would be given that title.

Possibly, but Christians have never regarded these characters as Gods. They don't have anything like the same role as the Christian God.

OK. But are they consistent in their use of the term god?

Why must a 'supernatural character' be a God? They aren't necessarily the same thing at all.

Again - I am continually confronted with Christians on this site who tell me that belief in god is near universal and ancient.

When they say this what definition or criteria are they using that excludes Satan from being called a god?

Are they being inconsistent? Are they equivocating on the term "god" to suit their argument?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 56 by Peepul, posted 06-07-2010 1:08 PM Peepul has not yet responded

Straggler
Member
Posts: 10284
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 60 of 375 (563965)
06-07-2010 1:53 PM
Reply to: Message 50 by Rahvin
06-07-2010 12:10 PM


Internally Inconsistent
You and I have both seen Christians here repeatedly cite widespread belief in gods as some sort of evidence for the actual existence of god.

Now you and I would agree that this position has some serious evidential problems. But those problems aside, this position isn't even internally consistent.

When Christians say that there is widespread belief in gods what definition of god are they using and how can it possibly exclude Satan as meeting whatever criteria are being imposed?

I think a far more interesting conversation would be to question whether modern monotheistic religions have polytheistic roots from an archeological and anthropological standpoint.

Yes - I have been flicking through The Evolution of God by Robert Wright and thata is indeed what I hope this thread will evolve into.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 50 by Rahvin, posted 06-07-2010 12:10 PM Rahvin has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 62 by Rahvin, posted 06-07-2010 2:08 PM Straggler has not yet responded

Prev123
4
56
...
25NextFF
Newer Topic | Older Topic
Jump to:


Copyright 2001-2018 by EvC Forum, All Rights Reserved

™ Version 4.0 Beta
Innovative software from Qwixotic © 2019