Tuesday, October 02, 2012

The Problem of Greek Monotheism for the Atheist Narrative

In a common atheist narrative, religion was a means of social control. Societies developed their own priesthoods, and those priesthoods promoted whatever views of the gods that would maintain them in power. When confronted with cases of brilliant, original thinkers who were theists, such as Augustine, Aquinas, Averroes, Maimonides, Descartes, Leibniz, and so on, these people are likely to respond, "As brilliant as these folks were, they just weren't quite able to escape their cultural milieu."

But the Greek monotheists utterly discombobulate this narrative. Heraclitus, Xenophanes, Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle were clearly brilliant, innovative thinkers. But by independent thought they developed a monotheism, remarkably consonant (although certainly not identical) to the one developing in Israel, in direct opposition to their cultural milieu. Socrates even went to his death for calling into question the old gods.

So, naturally, this bit of history is simply ignored in that common atheist narrative.


  1. That consistency is somewhat overstated, not least because many of the key parts of Aristotle came to Latin Christendom via highly monotheist Arabic-language commentary.

    And there were severe consequences for not upholding monotheism from about 320 to about 1720. But there is still something to what you say.

  2. With independent thought, it is possible to reach any direction we can conceive.

    After all, a lot of people independently came to the conclusion that 9/11 was an inside job and some of them independently came to the same ideas about how 9/11 was arranged as a false flag.

    That is not enough to validate the idea of 9/11 being an inside job.

    1. Prateek, perhaps you should re-read the above post. Somewhere in it, did I say it provided a proof of, or even evidence for, monotheism?

      No; you simply inserted that yourself.


Current review queue

Pearce: British Journal for the History of Philosophy Deneen: The American Conservative Chao-Reiss: Computing Reviews