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"Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One." This is a common English translation of the Shema, a prayer considered by many to be the most important in Judaism, and one which proclaims a belief in one, and only one god, God. This belief within Islam (thanks, Wikipedia) , is called tawhid, and is contrasted with polytheism and idolatry, known as shirk. Christians of course also believe that there is one and only one God, but through the concept of circumincession (not to be confused with circumcision, which is a Jewish/Muslim thing) there are actually three persons in the one and only God, which three persons are known as the Trinity, which also happens to be the name given by J. Robert Oppenheimer to the first atomic bomb test which took place on July 16, 1945. (More about atomic bombs later.)
OK. so what? The idea that what is right and wrong applies to all humans everywhere, known to philosophers as moral universalism, has its foundation in monotheism, though also proclaimed by non-monotheists from the Stoics of Rome to Ayn Rand. I, for one, am leery about chucking moral universalism out the window. Otherwise, we end up believing that slavery and genocide are not OK in the USA, but perfectly acceptable in such places as Darfur. Yes, dear readers, I am a moral universalist. Got a problem with that?
Monotheism, on the other hand, raises some questions in my mind which I will hereby share with you. First of all, what is a god? Those of us raised in a monotheistic tradition automatically assume that a god can only be God, the one and only. If such a God doesn't exist, than we must be atheists. If we define a god, however, as an entity that is worshipped, then by mere observation of human behavior, there are a whole lot of them. Elsewhere I have mentioned the '60 T-bird as an object of worship, but one of my favorite gods is the Almighty Dollar, worshipped world-wide, but especially by Chinese Communists, who consider themselves to be atheists. It is not for nothing that in the Jewish Torah, God's first commandment was "thou shalt have no other gods before me." Let's be practical: if you spot one god, how can you be sure there aren't more of them? But let's be even more practical. That's where the atomic bombs come in. The US and some other nations have bombs, only one of which can kill millions of people. But we are all, all, living in a world where there are, and will continue to be, monotheists who believe that their one and only God has a monopoly on moral universalism. That's why I think that nukes and monotheism are a particularly potent cocktail. L'Chayyim.Permanent Link to This Entry | |Technorati Tag: Monotheism blog comments powered by Disqus Comments (View)
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