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Meditation 209
Many gods to one God

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It has been suggested to me that the evidence for the existence of God is strong because all human cultures from the dawn of recorded history believed.

I suggest this is not a strength in the argument for God, but a weakness.

If we look at early belief, we do not find belief in a single eternal omnipotent omniscient creator of everything as a deity. Early people had quite a different view of god. They did not worship a single deity, they worshipped pantheons of them. As often as not the early gods did not create the universe, rather they arose out of creation. And as far as acts of creation are concerned, the work was shared, over generations of gods. Their powers were not limitless. While they might be immortal, they were not eternal - they were born, and could be killed even if not subject to death through ageing.

The gods that early civilizations worshipped were more like today's comic book superheroes with special powers, rather than the versions of god today's monotheistic religions follow. Their models were human behaviour.

There is no record of a single all powerful god until about 1350 BC when the pharaoh Amenhotep IV renamed himself Akhenaten and imposed the worship of Aten on Egypt. After his death, and that of his wife Nefertiti, Egypt reverted to the traditional pantheon. They were not ready for the concept of one true god.

The Israelites were the first that history records as permanently adopting the worship of a single god in the first millennium BC. But initially, as the first commandment makes clear, their god was initially only first among many. And he was god only of the Jews. Others had their own gods.

It took a long time to turn the original Jehovah into the single omnipotent omniscient god followed by Jews, Christians and Muslims today. And that god is quite different from the gods worshiped by early humankind. The fact they believed in their various gods provides no reason to believe in a single god.