Written by Dyami Millarson
Encyclopedia Britannica says in its entry on polytheism: “Polytheism characterizes virtually all religions other than Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, which share a common tradition of monotheism, the belief in one God.” Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are not really exceptions to the general rule that religions tend to be animistic-polytheistic; for the aforementioned religions include belief in angels and demons. Belief in a multitude of supernatural beings is endemic to all ancient religions. From the ancient polytheist perspective, angels and demons meet the definition of Gods, since they are supernatural beings. Followers of Judaism, Christianity and Islam even describe the Gods of polytheists as such beings, confirming that angels and demons are indeed what the ancient polytheists would consider Gods.
Moreover, these beings which followers of Judaism, Christianity and Islam believe in are, undoubtledly, supernatural beings and polytheism constitutes, ultimately, belief in a multitude of supernatural beings. Judaism, Christianity and Islam are not religions which claim there is only one supernatural being; it is not “monosupernaturalism,” i.e. belief in a single supernatural being. However, they claim there is a supreme supernatural being ruling over the other supernatural beings. It meets, without a doubt, the definition of animism-polytheism. Wondering about the definition of what Gods are helps us comprehend animism-polytheism. So what are Gods? What are Divine Beings? They are supernatural beings; simultaneously, They are spiritual beings. Likewise, if God is not supernatural, then that is not God; God is, by definition, a supernatural being. Polytheism has an inextricable relationship with animism; for, to the ancients, Gods are Spirits and vice versa. This overlap of the divine, spiritual, and supernatural can be clearly seen in the Chinese term 神 (shén) which means ‘God, Spirit, Soul, Supernatural Being, Magical Being,’ and which serves as a reflection of the nature of polytheism.
Artificial distinctions between the divine, spiritual, and supernatural can be attempted, but these distinctions are certainly not ancient. Furthermore, a definition of polytheism which does not accept the ancient overlap between the aforementioned three aspects is useless; because Gods in polytheistic religions are inherently spiritual and supernatural. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam cannot escape this either; for their Gods are inherently spiritual and supernatural as well. After all, the Gods of polytheistic religions can be identified with angels and demons, which are supernatural beings that Jews, Christians, and Muslims believe in, and the angels and demons of superficially “monotheistic” religions can be identified with the Gods of polytheistic religions, which, in conclusion, makes Judaism, Christianity, and Islam polytheistic as well, and therefore they are no exceptions.
The distinction between monotheism and polytheism is based on a false dichotomy; there is only theism, which embraces the plurality of the supernatural. Human religiosity is simply inherently polytheistic; there is no way to escape the notion that since ancient times, to be human is to be polytheistic. Not even monotheists can escape being human. After all, nobody believes in “monoanthropism,” i.e. that all humans are one, but everyone believes “polyanthropism,” i.e. that humans are many. There cannot be one soul underlying all humans, all humans are distinguished by soul according to human beliefs since ancient times, and thus plurality is linked with animism-polytheism. Furthermore, worshipping one supernatural being, as monotheists claim to be doing, may realistically also be made sense of as ultimately worshipping a collective, because humans can use grammatical singulars in their languages to refer to something that is actually plural in reality. We can likewise refer to languages as “language” even if we mean multiple languages. The reality of plurality is a rule of nature which religion must obey; for religion is but a reflection of nature. Consequently, religion simply cannot be mono-something but only poly-something, no matter how hard believers try otherwise; the universe simply forbids the mono-something because such is not congruent with the plurality of the universe. One can try worshipping only one God, but one will still always end up believing in multiple Gods, i.e. a plurality of supernatural beings. Worship of one suprrnatural being does not negate belief in multuple supernatural beings.
We can analyse stars in the universe as Creator Gods; for stars are magical objects associated with gravity. We can say there are countless creators since there are countless stars. If the Big Bang truly occurred, then it created countless Creator Gods, who would go on to create planets with gravity. Creation continues after the Big Bang because there are many stars. Only in the beginning could there perhaps be a mono-situation, but the further we get removed from the beginning, the more the poly-situation develops; we cannot return to the mono-situation and the poly-situation is an inevitability. Since such a poly-situation is inevitably created even if the starting point may be a mono-situation, plurality is apparently sacred; for if the plurality is created by a singularity, then the plurality is also divine, spiritual, and supernatural as it pertains to the singularity — the relationship between plurality and singularity, supposed in this case, makes it inevitably so. The aforementioned singularity can also be identified with fate, i.e. an inorganic force which created all beings including supernatural beings. But plurality can also be recursive; when we try tracing the origin of plurality, there may also be eternal plurality.
Life may have started with a single organism, but may also have started with a multitude of similar organisms which sprang into existence simultaneously, but either way, we cannot deny that life is synonymous with plurality today. No matter the origin of plurality, i.e. regardkess of whether the source of plurality is primordial singularity or recursive plurality, plurality is, without a doubt, the truth of the universe in which we now live, and this plurality must be linked with the divine, supernatural, and spiritual as it is linked with (continuing) creation. We can refer to all organisms with the collective noun life as a collective noun, and likewise we can refer to all human beings as man, mankind or humanity, each of which is a singulare tantum (= a grammatically singular-only form), and likewise we can refer to all supernatural beings as “God,” “Godkind” or “the Divine,” but such language tricks do not change the fact that there is underlying plurality. Gods will always be plural, so will humans and stars. Unless, of course, Gods, humans and stars die out; but as long as they continue to thrive, there will always be many and not just one. After all, plurality is a sign of success in our cosmos; Gods, humans, and stars multiply successfully. Since With each deviating definition of God, a new sectarian split is created in Christianity, for example, and since that a different definition of God means one is fundamentally not worshipping the same God, a new God is worshipped by the new sect; Judeo-Christianity keeps producing new Supreme Gods (see here), and therefore even at the higher level, it contributes to the inevitable further development of polytheism which is not unlike the inevitable expansion of our universe. Christianity moves forward in time like all religions, so it cannot help but create new Gods. The principle underlying animism-polytheism is that as time progresses, only more Gods spring into being; the totality of Gods ever known to man only keeps expanding with time.
Expansion is a recurring theme in the universe; in the end, everything either expands or dies, which is also why our terrestrial ecosystem must and should expand to other planets, and humans, as the deputies of the Gods and as protectors and leaders of all organisms on Earth, have a moral duty towards all life on Earth to help our terrestrial ecosystem expand to other planets in our solar system and beyond. We must expand the beauty of nature found on our Earth, i.e. the living kind of nature, to other barren wastelands; plants and animals must grow on distant plants everywhere. We have the moral duty to seed life everywhere; for expanding plurality is the rule of the universe. Nature, as we know it on Earth, should reach the furthest corners of the galaxy, and eventually expand to the rest of the entire universe. Nature must grow, and only if we spread the spirits of nature everywhere, we as humans will be rewarded by the Gods for our stewardship over all life, which mirrors the stewardship over nature by the Gods; in such manner, humans can live in harmony with all stars, Gods, and organisms of the cosmos, and that is why humans have a huge moral responsibility.