Class Warfare Blog

July 19, 2019

God’s Powers—Omnipresence

Filed under: Religion — Steve Ruis @ 9:11 am
Tags: , ,

♫ He’s making a list and checking it twice
Gonna find out who’s naughty and nice
He sees you when you’re sleepin’
He knows when you’re awake
He knows if you’ve been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!

You better watch out, you better not cry
Better not pout, I’m telling you true
God is always watching . . . you! ♪

It seems that all of the powers attributed to the Abrahamic god are based upon what the god-believers want that god to do. Take for example, omnipresence. If this god is to be the judge of all humanity, he can’t be going about staging trials. He needs to be witness, judge, jury, and executioner. So, in order for people to not be able to hide from this god, it needs to know what you are doing all of the time. In order to “see” your misdeeds he has to be where he can see them, so he has to be omnipresent (and awake 24-7, and not distractible, and . . . , and. . . .).

To “explain” this ability, some theists have claimed that their god is “outside of space and time,” aka nowhere, while others have claimed this god is everywhere. In Gordian knot solution mode, Anselm claimed that both of those were true (and also claimed he resolved the conflict between them)!

To be omnipresent, this god is claimed to be a purely spiritual being. Of course, every time such a claim is made, problems accrue. For example, to make us “special,” it is claimed that we are made “in God’s image.” If this god is a being of pure spirit, existing outside of space and time, it has no image, so WTF? Every additional claim for a godly power creates conflicts with its other powers and makes the whole mess less and less likely. And starting from below 1% likelihood, going lower is not easy.

All of these “power problems” stem from one source: an insistence on monotheism. Who is going to be attracted to worship a god which is kinda great and sorta powerful and knows a lot of stuff? Establishing a monotheistic worship in a mostly polytheistic world is asking for a lot of competition.

This results in the social inflation of the monotheistic god’s powers. (Polytheist: My god is so powerful that he can throw lightning bolts at his enemies. Monotheist: Oh yeah, my god. . . .) The only end result for a monotheistic god’s powers is the most, the strongest, the greatest, the hugest, . . . , hmm, maybe Donald Trump is religious.

This all comes back to my basic question: why monotheism? By claiming to worship the One True God™, who is the only real god, means that everybody else is worshiping false gods and are very stupid to be doing so. This attitude doesn’t exactly ingratiate one to one’s neighbors.

Imagine living in a suburban neighborhood and when you moved in, your immediate neighbor to the left, built a tall fence so that he and his family did not have to look at you, forbade his children from playing with yours, gossiped to his neighbors on the other side that you were immoral idolaters and would come to no good. Can you imagine becoming friends with those people any time soon? Can you imagine them being good neighbors?

Imagine these standoffish neighbors, are surrounded by people like you, so there are now tall fences on all four property lines. They no longer gossip with their neighbors, but they continue to write letters to the editor of the local newspaper condemning the immoral, demon worshipers in their community.

A community of people not desiring to blend in, assimilate, or compromise anything aren’t going to be liked. If you think this is an uncharitable portrait, look up the ultraorthodox Jewish communities in New York right now and see what kinds of issues they are dealing with.

So, the Hebrews, situated in a high traffic land between largish superpowers of the day, adopt monotheism, thereby picking a fight with everyone around them. How did that work out for them as a people?

And please, comments that I am “blaming the victim” for what happened to them is not what I am doing. I am trying to get at why there was a push to convert the Hebrews from polytheism to monotheism (and then hand off that hot mess to Christians and Muslims).

For those of you that think “Hebrews? Polytheism? Weren’t they always monotheists? The answer is: not according to their Bible. Over and over again, those pushing monotheism (remember the winners write the histories) warned about worshiping false idols, false gods, building altars in “high places,” etc. If they were all monotheists, then why all the warnings? Israelite monotheism seems to date back to the seventh century BCE, but not earlier.

From the Biblical story lines and other histories it seems that the only beneficiaries of monotheism were the religious elites, the priests. The secular elites, kings and whatnot, inherited grief, grief, and more grief, so they were not all that rewarded by monotheism. The common people? They always were keeping their heads down, trying to avoid the attention of the elites. And, while a few busybodies were always looking to count coup on their neighbors, those people always had ammunition for their pettiness, monotheism didn’t provide any more of that.

So, why monotheism? The downsides were huge and the upsides were few. Any ideas?

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12 Comments »

  1. Banking on ignorance.

    Liked by 3 people

    Comment by john zande — July 19, 2019 @ 1:46 pm | Reply

  2. Hello Steve. It does seem that the monotheist were being deliberate jerks. I have heard from people that the polytheist system was working for everyone generally, with no one really concerned with who had what favorite god. Everyone sort of got along. Then the Mono people decided that everyone else was wrong and everyone needed to follow their one god. Seems to me that they wanted all the rewards and authority for themselves and were not willing to share. Also seems to be what is happening today with some religions in some countries. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Scottie — July 19, 2019 @ 3:55 pm | Reply

    • Even the character Jesus shows some confusion around whether they should stick to their own society or proselytize the others. To this day, many Jews are against “conversion.” The problems accrue when you start hammering on your neighbors.

      On Fri, Jul 19, 2019 at 3:55 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — July 20, 2019 @ 8:46 am | Reply

  3. Well, in mono, the priest class rules alone. In a poly system, you have various priests. Each god had his/her own priest to conduct the worship of that particular god. The mono guys were greedy enough to want it all. It is the basis of modern banking. Debt/repayment——sin/redemption. Same shit, different day.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by Walter Kronkat — July 19, 2019 @ 5:12 pm | Reply

  4. Those in power want division. They depend on it because united we are invincible. I always like the story of the Tower of Babel. God confounded the language “because the people are one, and they are about to accomplish what they had set out to do—and nothing could be restrained from them”.
    One god and no other gods before me is evident that believers of this god have the last word and have the moral ground not to listen to, or compromise with anybody. They were the first to have the last word.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by jim- — July 19, 2019 @ 10:00 pm | Reply

  5. Ideas?

    Well, one idea/concept I think is brilliantly simple that even a 7-year old can understand is this…

    What happens to an owner of 100 pure golden eggs puts every single one of those eggs in ONE nest, ONE basket, ONE hedge-fund, ONE leader, ONE spouse for life, ONE vaccine for an unknown unexpected epidemic, ONE teacher for K thru 16 years of education, or ONE planet for one species… HOPING on the lottery that extinction does not annihilate humanity and all of life!?

    How are THOSE ODDS for shaky monotheism? 😉 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Professor Taboo — July 20, 2019 @ 12:56 am | Reply

    • Well, it would make it easier for anti-theists to kill it. Right now we have to pick them off one at a time. Kill one and all of the others will just say “See it was a false religion.” and keep going their merry way.

      On Sat, Jul 20, 2019 at 12:56 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Liked by 2 people

      Comment by Steve Ruis — July 20, 2019 @ 8:59 am | Reply

  6. Christianity isn’t really a monotheistic religion, though. It’s a trinity, the father, son and holy spirit. And no matter how they may claim that they are all somehow still the same god, for all intents and purposes, they aren’t. They are treated as three distinct deities, each with its own individual traits. The “father” is the creator figure who’s responsible for everything. The “son” is the product of the “father” impregnating a young woman or girl who was betrothed to someone else, he then arranged to have that son tortured and murdered to somehow “save” the human race. Although exactly what we were “saved” from isn’t all that clear because nothing seemed to have changed at all after we were saved. And then there’s the “holy spirit” who flies around and does, well, spirit stuff, I guess. So there are three, not one.

    And if you’re a Catholic, well, Catholics worship Mary almost as intensely as they worship god, often more so. She is, for all intents and purposes, a fourth deity. Catholics also have hundreds of saints that they also worship. Yes, I know they call it “veneration” and not worship. They try really hard to make that distinction, but that’s just slicing and dicing the language to make it suit their needs. They just plain worship them. Each saint is associated with a specific trait or ability, and they are prayed to to exercise that trait or ability to the benefit of the worshiper… Hmm, starting to sound a lot like the Greek and Roman religions with Zeus replaced by the “father” and the lesser gods being replaced by the saints, doesn’t it?

    As for why the shift to monotheism took place, I think it was more political than religious. Christianity was defined more by the political figures of the time than by the religious ones. It was the political leaders who decided what would and would not be in the bible (with the cooperation of the religious leaders), thus defining what christianity would be to their own benefit. It was the political leaders who convinced the religious leaders to become their allies. In exchange for preaching that god approved of the political system, the government offered protection, the removal of rival religious sects, etc. It was a lot easier for the political entities of the day to deal with a single religion with a single (more or less) god, that it was to deal with the literally dozens of gods, each with their own cults and agendas, that the Romans and Greeks had to deal with. Monotheism had distinct political and financial benefits over the old system for both the politicians and the religious leaders.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by grouchyfarmer — July 20, 2019 @ 6:20 am | Reply

    • I would argue that beyond the trinity, other gods and demi-gods abound. If Satan isn’t a god, then what is it? Satan can hide the truth of God and can opposed God and not get done away with. This means they are on the same playing field. And even in some contest in which Satan loses, he was at the same level, that of a god. Christianity maintained polytheistic tendencies in claiming it’s form of monotheism.

      On Sat, Jul 20, 2019 at 6:20 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Liked by 4 people

      Comment by Steve Ruis — July 20, 2019 @ 9:02 am | Reply

      • egads, how could I forget Satan? He is often credited with having abilities nearly equal to god himself. He certainly would qualify as at least a demigod.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by grouchyfarmer — July 20, 2019 @ 1:20 pm | Reply

  7. The vying between the polytheists and monotheists eventually won out in favour of the latter, maybe because it fostered group identity, and a sense of divinely ordained exclusivity for the nascent Israelite population(s).

    Even today, evangelicals — the Christian and Moslem inheritors of this Judaic thinking — flatter themselves that monotheism confers some special uniqueness upon them, to the exclusion of outsiders.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by chris schilling — July 20, 2019 @ 8:56 pm | Reply

    • Rather, I think the Roman empire had something to do with Christianities success. Otherwise, if you look at Christianities monotheistic parent religion, it is rather small, consisting of only a few million people. Similarly Islam, created state power to expand, through conquest, not superiority of ideas.

      On Sat, Jul 20, 2019 at 8:56 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — July 21, 2019 @ 11:13 am | Reply


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