Oh, not even close! We have created countless deities, far too many to ever count. Even among those who claim as a collective to believe on "only one", every single believer within that collective has created his own personal deity, but since everyone within the collective all claim that it's the same as all other members believe in nobody ever realizes that their own personal deity is different from everybody else's.
Even Christianity has multiple deities and I'm not talking any Trinitarian nonsense here. And we repeatedly see "true Christians" called "creationists" zealously "serving God" with lies and deception and other mean nasty stuff which actual Christian doctrine identify as instead serving another Christian deity, the Lord of Lies.
As an atheist/secular humanist, you likely think that we all collectively make up our God by trying to be good and noble to each other.
Ha! Right! Since when did "true believers" ever try to be good and noble about anything, let alone to each other?
Also, you're lost in the muck and the mire of your sectarianism and so cannot see the big picture that an outsider can easily see quite clearly. I remember an epiphany I had talking with someone from a narrow "fundamentalist" congregation. Only she bristled immediately at being called that, since that applied to those apostates! It turns out that while all those myriad sects (Should we call them "Legion" for they are many? Please don't tell me that Bible reference went right over your head.) that are virtually identical to each other in almost every single way as to be indistinguishable to external observers, whereas among themselves they are strongly divided on very finely split hairs of theological differences -- they can immediately identify unsurmountable differences between each other while they all just look exactly the same to us.
Despite the following quote from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, an awareness of perspective is still important:
quote:The Total Perspective Vortex derives its picture of the whole Universe on the principle of extrapolated matter analyses.
To explain — since every piece of matter in the Universe is in some way affected by every other piece of matter in the Universe, it is in theory possible to extrapolate the whole of creation — every sun, every planet, their orbits, their composition and their economic and social history from, say, one small piece of fairy cake.
The man who invented the Total Perspective Vortex did so basically in order to annoy his wife.
Trin Tragula — for that was his name — was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher or, as his wife would have it, an idiot.
And she would nag him incessantly about the utterly inordinate amount of time he spent staring out into space, or mulling over the mechanics of safety pins, or doing spectrographic analyses of pieces of fairy cake.
“Have some sense of proportion!” she would say, sometimes as often as thirty-eight times in a single day.
And so he built the Total Perspective Vortex — just to show her.
And into one end he plugged the whole of reality as extrapolated from a piece of fairy cake, and into the other end he plugged his wife: so that when he turned it on she saw in one instant the whole infinity of creation and herself in relation to it.
To Trin Tragula’s horror, the shock completely annihilated her brain; but to his satisfaction he realized that he had proved conclusively that if life is going to exist in a Universe of this size, then the one thing it cannot afford to have is a sense of proportion.
In the story's narrative, Zaphod Beeblebrox had, unbeknownst to him, been transported into a bubble universe that had been created just for him. So when he was condemned to having his brain annihilated by the Total Perspective Vortex, all it ended up doing was to inflate his ego manifold (not that it wasn't already over-inflated) since that he was the most important thing in that universe.
Which reminds me of a story in which almost everybody in all of history (save for four) all ended up going to Hell just because for any individual there was somebody who believed that his kind was damned to Hell.
Re: A few comments and observations for PaulK and dwise1.
I'll offer a little something to munch on with your morning coffee: Pascal's Wager, which was offered to me in a proselytizing attempt as "after-life insurance" which I discuss on my page of the same name.
Most people, myself included, have not read the original in Pascal's Pensées, but the basic argument as most understand it you can arrive at four conclusions from two binary premises in which you either win or lose: "Either God exists or He doesn't" and "Either you believe in God or you don't." Refer to either or the two links above for a presentation of those conclusions, but in popular usage:
If God exists and you choose to believe, then you win.
If God exists and you choose to not believe, then you lose.
If God does not exist and you choose to believe, then you win (by having benefited from religion).
If God does not exist and you choose to not believe, then you lose (by not having benefited from religion).
Therefore, choosing to believe is the safer and better choice, basically a no-lose situation.
The Wager is plagued by all kinds of bad assumptions, some of which have leaked in over time, such as the assumption that believing costs you nothing (absolutely wrong!), that everyone benefits from religion (absolutely wrong!), etc. Read the discussion on my page. On my links page I link to a parody "news article" from no longer extant Religion Detox that I reconstructed from a printout, Pascal's Casinos Under Fire. In that article, Pascal's Casinos lured in customers with the promise of sure-win games when in reality those customers were losing their shirts (plus, once you play at Pascal's you are forbidden to play at any other casino).
quote:He tried to sell me after-life insurance! Though he didn't actually call it that. Rather, he used car insurance as an analogy. He said that we get car insurance just in case we ever get into an accident. If we have an accident, then we are glad we bought the insurance. If we never have an accident, then at least having had the insurance had saved us a lot of worry. Similarly, if Hell exists and we convert, then we are saved, but if we don't convert, then we are damned for Eternity. And if it turns out that Hell does not exist, then we would have lost nothing by having converted but would have gained peace of mind.
Unfortunately for him, I immediately recognized his argument as a rehash of the classic Pascal's Wager. Even more unfortunately for him, I also knew the Wager's problems. It very quickly became obvious that he neither knew Pascal's Wager nor its problems, but he soon learned.
. . .
So I told my after-life insurance salesman that his after-life insurance was a rotten deal (unfortunately, I didn't think of that name for it until the next day, but that poor guy was already hurting too much). We had to pay an exorbinant price for a policy that would only pay in the most restricted and oddest of circumstances. By the car insurance analogy, it would only pay if you were hit by a green Edsel -- on the northbound side of the Santa Ana Freeway -- while it was exceeding the speed limit -- backing up -- at night -- with its lights off -- being driven by a one-armed Lithuanian midget.
He had been so self-assured that his argument was flawless and unassailable. He couldn't understand what had just happened. I think he still doesn't know what had hit him.
Which goes to show that it does pay to read the classics
Two of the worst assumptions made by invokers of Pascal's Wager are: 1) the odds of God existing or not are even, 50/50, and 2) that there's only one possible definition for "God" and everybody who uses that word means the exact same thing by it. Here is my discussion of the Wager's problems:
quote:First there is one very basic question which never gets asked here: which god? Just because some of the gods may exist, does not mean that they all exist. Which one do you choose? Remember, if you choose the wrong one, the outcome will be the same as for not choosing any. Each god has roughly the same probability of existing as any other (ignoring some of the pantheon package deals out there), or that none of them exist. So choosing the right god is not 100% as presented to us, but rather is a fraction of 1%.
Even worse, you not only need to choose the right god, but you also need to choose the right theology. Some gods have a variety of theologies associated with them, each one considering itself the True Faith and the others heresies; e.g., the various sects of Christianity. So even if you choose the right god, if you choose the wrong theology, then you are just as out of luck as if you had chosen the wrong god, some times even more so. Pascal was a Catholic, so he was talking about choosing to be a Catholic. The Protestants using his Wager in vain have already chosen the wrong theology and so picked the losing side of the Wager and are trying to make losers out of everyone they proselytize to. To choose none of the gods actually turns out to be the safer bet, because, unlike the Christian god, a lot of the gods couldn't care less whether you believe in them or not.
And what happens if you choose a god and it turns out that none of them exist? Pascal naively assumed that being a Catholic had an inherent benefit of making you a better person, which you could not achieve as a non-believer. While there may be some room for argument in the first part, the last part is blatantly untrue.
Pascal maintained that believing in his god and theology costs you nothing, but that is not true of his own theology, nor of most of the theologies that exist. What if you could not pursue your dream career because your chosen god forbade it? Or marry your one true love (your "media naranja", or "half orange", as my wife's grandmother had put it) because your god forbade you to marry that kind of person? Or learn the sciences because your god forbade you to study the truth? Or to think for yourself because your god forbade it? Or had to suffered from a horrible disease or injury or had to watch your child die horribly of a treatable disease because your god forbade the medical treatment for it? For many of us, that would be too great a cost to bear.
In case you missed it there, the "God" in Pascal's Wager was the Catholic god, which makes you as a heretic Protestant damned for Eternity.
And not only is it extremely improbable to choose the right god, but agnostic and ignostic truths make even that impossible. We cannot know anything objective about the supernatural because it is outside our human abilities to detect it let alone study it. All we have to go by are subjective feelings and unfounded assumptions which form the quicksand foundations for massive and intricate theological structures ever fearful of being toppled by the slightest breeze.
Now, of course, if one decides to use a god-based approach, then that is that person's own choice and he's free to do so. But he is not free to insist to others that his own personal choice must also be accepted by everybody else. And I would hope that in deciding on a god that that person would do so with his eyes open (and brain engaged) enough to realize that his choice of god is arbitrary regardless of how necessary that choice is to his god-based approach.
I should also mention how you're pushing our buttons. Christians and other religious fanatics have a long and very bloody history of prosecuting others even to the point of annihilating them just for the purpose of imposing their gods on others. Whenever a Christian tries to force his god on us, we see that extremely ugly side of Christianity coming out and we do not like it one bit! Not unlike when Republicans start talking about "tax cuts" (Reagan's much touted "tax cuts" caused our taxes to nearly double despite our being lower middle class homeowners).