Did any Christian philosopher explain why monotheism is better than polytheism as they rejected polytheism and accepted monotheism?

  • Monotheism tends towards unequality. – kgw Jun 20 at 16:12
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    What do you mean by "better"? Because they generally argued, in my experience, that it was true. – Mary Jun 21 at 2:41
  • @Mary That is why they think its better. – Deschele Schilder Jun 21 at 16:13

Xenophanes criticized polytheism. In his view, there could exist only one god in one reality, independently of us human beings. It was the time that the existence of such a reality became popular. This was carried on to the reality of the world of the gods. It was driven to the extreme by Xenophanes. Not only was there one such reality but there could be only one god also. And it couldn't be imagined, for who knew what he/she/it was like (an attitude as seen nowadays by most scientists). His god was an omnipotent and omniscient superbeing.

This idea moved on to Christian religion. There is one god and it's forbidden to picture him (there is a taboo on this at least, contrary to Islam, where it is forbidden explicitly). He sees everything and knows everything. That's the absolute truth. I don't think there are any Christian philosophers who disagree. Christianity is better because it corresponds to the Truth. They wouldn't be true Christians!

Of course, it depends on the philosopher, and there are a lot of them. Look here. They may not argue that monotheism is better than polytheism, but they certainly deny the reality of the gods in question. If they think it's better then the reason would be the reality of monotheism. It's for your own good to adhere to monotheism. People representing the Christian church of Christianity (so not the philosophers) don't forbid people believing in more gods. But they will try to get them to their side (not the other way round, maybe because God is one of their gods already, where "God" is a name of the entity and "gods" are the (God-like) entities themselves).

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    @Methadont That's not at all true. Idols aren't allowed, but artistic works depicting God are; images of Jesus and or the Holy Spirit (in the form of a dove) are quite common. Some Protestant Christian denominations even incorporate the latter into their logos. – nick012000 Jun 20 at 14:30
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    @Methadont "The only image of god I have seen is a man with a long beard." You've never seen a church with a dove logo? That dove is a form taken by the Holy Spirit - it's an image of God. "If he created man in his own image, then does he look like Adam?" God (the Son) took the form of a man when He descended to become Jesus. God (the Father) doesn't have a material body, but He's described in a one of the visions of one of the Old Testament prophets as appearing as a man made of light from the waist up, and a vortex of fire from the waist down, surrounded by rainbow light. – nick012000 Jun 20 at 14:43
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    @Methadont I wouldn't recommend relying on modern filmography like that for an accurate depiction of Christian beliefs. ;) – nick012000 Jun 20 at 14:55
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    To be clear: I know of no major Christian tradition, denomination nor sect that forbids the depiction of God. If you know differently, please cite that specifically. – RBarryYoung Jun 20 at 16:36
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    @Methadont What I said above is not considered idolatry in the vast majority of christianity. Formally, idolatry is the worship of graven images. I suggested no such thing. Specifically, depiction is NOT worship. I you have evidence to the contrary, that Christianity or some major part of it in general forbids the depiction of God, then please provide a source. – RBarryYoung Jun 20 at 16:47

The best and earliest example of a historical figure who argued for monotheism and against polytheism, was Paul of Tarsus-(i.e. Saint Paul). The entire second half of The New Testament-(i.e. Acts and Epistles), was authored-(as well as co-edited), by Paul.

During his lengthy travels throughout the Middle East, Asia Minor, Greece-(and even during his final days in Rome), Saint Paul preached the Christian message to the pagan populations of these lands and countries. Part of his sermonizing language included aggressive critiques against polytheism, especially, idolatry. While Saint Paul did persuade many audiences in these lands, he upset and even angered many audiences as well, including the Greek and Roman Theatergoers in the city of Ephesus, the Magistrates in Athens and the Emperor Nero...who had him executed.

The Second half of The New Testament, is perhaps the best and earliest example of a Moral Messenger who argued in favor of Monotheism, while equally criticizing the falsity of pagan idolatry and piety....to largely pagan audiences.

  • Nice answer! But why was mono better than poly according to Paul? What were his arguments (reasons)? – Deschele Schilder Jun 22 at 9:29
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    Good question. The main answer...is Jesus. After his "Road to Damascus" experience, Paul went from being the chief persecutor of Christians, to becoming Christianity's most dedicated proselytizer. It is unclear from the Acts or the Epistles as to whether or not Saint Paul actually believed that Jesus was the incarnation of God; though what is clear is that he believed that Jesus was the son of God and the Messiah. This fervid belief in Jesus' spiritual nature literally inspired Paul to spread this message to the pagan populations throughout the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions. – Alex Jun 22 at 13:51
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    For Saint Paul, the presence of God was not limited to the land and people of Israel. God, was essentially borderless and followable by all who wished to do so....through the presence and teachings of Jesus. This, according to Paul, was a profound and important message for the world to know about. As for his views on polytheism, Paul originally came from a religiously Jewish background, which, according to the Laws of Moses, requires belief in a single and invisible God. While it is true that Paul was one of Christianity's earliest Founders, he did, throughout his life, retain.....Con't.. – Alex Jun 22 at 14:02
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    some aspects of Old Testament Monotheism, which include, a forbiddance of depicting God with any type of imagery, as well as recognizing God's unchanging and undisputable singularity. – Alex Jun 22 at 14:08

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