Why Monotheism Causes So Much Hatred

Religious fundamentalism came with monotheism. There were no holy wars before it. Sure, ancient times were cruel, wars between nations were raging, but they were motivated and justified by the economy not the ideology. 

Comparing to our era, those times had an enormous religious exchange and tolerance. Different cultures explored the known world and other cultures. E.G. Egyptian pantheon was known to and influenced the Greeks. And its followers were not treated as infidels. Now, what's so different about monotheism?

First of all, monotheism is a written religion. There is always some holy book, one that explains it all. One that (they want us to believe despite the historical facts) doesn't and shouldn't change because the holy words of god are in it. Yes, that is called dogma. 

hand of the godphoto by Esther Simpson

Against all the logic and even against common traditions of jews, christians and muslims, their dogmas differ. And they find it enough to kill each others for centuries. Sure, politics, territorial claims and plundering were, and still are, nice add-ons but the level of hatred based on the ideology alone was never seen before. 

Truth to be told, polytheistic people were not all nice and pretty. The old gods had their moments as well. They started wars and fought for domination. But never the size of later monotheistic campaigns, whether they were crusades or attempts of full extermination of the other side. Romans were very passionate about wiping out christians once the movement started to spread. Though, in that case we have monotheism involved once again. 

But, it's much more than just dogma, that makes monotheistic religions such troublemakers. 

Unlike polytheism, where gods and goddesses are representing the forces and principles of the nature, monotheism deals with one and only god. One that is everything. God with capital G. Note the words one and everything. While the Greeks could comprehend the existence of Isis, whether just as one of the Greek goddesses with a different name or as a completely different idea, in monotheism there is no space for something other than the one and only. So every other god must be fake or an usurpator. In either case – an enemy. 

Monotheistic religions are, by their nature and logic, monopolistic. They simply can't tolerate competition. If the God is everything, there's no room for anybody else. 


  • Good point, though quite a few believers of monotheistic religions take just the other side and say that all the other gods followed by other religions are merely different faces of the One And Only Who Has Many Names. So in essence no matter which religion you follow and how many gods you worship, you're still just following a different interpretation of the Only One, tailored to a different region, culture and people.

    Though of course this is not, as far as I know, official Church doctrine, but there do seem to be quite a few people who believe this.

    (I am an atheist, but having a long history of disputes with believers behind me, I thought I just mention this argument, since I've encountered it quite a few times before.)

  • World would be much better place if religious fanatics would use a bit of logic (even inside their own doctrine) and take a bit of effort to know the other people's beliefs then realize they are not so different after all. 
    But then, being different – and special – is what keeps them going, so I guess that official doctrine will do anything to discourage that kind of behaviour. After all, lots of their importance (and profits) would be jeopardized by if people started loving their neighbours. 

  • Indeed, though one of the hallmarks of fanaticism is the total unwillingness to question the own doctrine (or even just think about it; doctrine is there merely to be believed and not to be thought about).
    Being different and special is one thing as well, though it appears to me that the really devout believers only feel special and different from the others because they've grown into their own religion and have gotten accustomed to that. This is especially obvious with the many branches of Christianity: many of them are really so similar, that only the slightest differences put them apart, but otherwise, they are the same. Still, minusculity of the differences aside, their followers keep to them because for some reason they've either "found themselves" in that certain branch or have been raised into that from childhood, and it just became a part of them.
    So I guess what we would really need is some sort of… well, if not evidence, then at least some serious shock to believers that would force them to rethink and reevaluate their beliefs. Though I have no idea what could have such an effect.

  • Well, evidence and reason don't work, obviously. I can't think of a shock that would make them rethink. One more thing that comes to mind is finding out what need the fanatical standpoint gives to a particular person, then trying to fill that need in some less harmful way. I guess that in most of the cases it's all about security and need for acceptance. 

  • Chiefly yes, I guess. The really hard part is in getting a devout believer to at least question their faith and/or look at and think about it critically. Sadly I didn't ever see many examples for this at all – except for "habitually religious people", who didn't have too firm beliefs in the first place. But real believers with conviction… now that's a very hard nut to crack indeed.

  • True. But I wonder how much of that stubborness is actual belief and how much is church influence. 
    Sure, some people are firm in their beliefs, but I've seen much more of those whose beliefs lack internal logic and actually are not as much beliefs as they are blindly repeated church doctrine. 

  • Well, many believers I've debated with claim to be critical of the Church themselves, placing their own emphasis upon either the Bible and/or their own personal experiences (and "contact with God") instead. Of course belief lacks internal logic (otherwise it wouldn’t need to be believed, since it could simply just be understood :) ), but the cases I'm writing here about are that of those people who are so stubborn because of either their own personal choice (they _believe_ that "there must be someone…") and/or (what's even worse) because of them having "experienced God/Jesus/the Holy Spirit/anything suchlike" and "keeping a personal contact with God".

  • Oh, but even religion can have (and has) internal logic. As any system, there are basic assumptions (no matter if you, me and the rest of the world  find them dubious) and then the logical structure built upon the base. It is possible to make a fully logical system in which some higher being created the whole world just the same as the system in which the whole world came out of a huge explosion… just the same as the system in which the whole world is a disc on the backs of four elephants standing on a huge tortoise named A'Tuin (referring to Prattchet more than India here). Problem with the first one is that you hardly can't say "OK, I accept the premise and the rest of the story follows from it". 
    Anyway… stubbornness of the believers… thing is that people are not logical and reasonable creatures. It was a noble of Socrates to think so, but it's simply not true. Not a tin bit. I started writing this in a separate post but it's still somewhere in drafts folder. In essence, we (all of us) believe in something not because it's logical and reasonable (it wouldn't be belief then) but because we need to believe it. That's how our minds work. One of our basic psychological needs is to have a system, to depict the world to ourselves, as it makes sense. The next one is "that everything's gonna be ok in the end"… and so on. And no rational system will survive in one's mind if it can't support those needs. Sure, we all react differently and have different capabilities to employ some system to fulfill the needs, thus there are different systems. But it's always there. From elaborate christian eshatology to belief of bad poker player that the next hand will get him out of debt and make rich. 

  • Ah, yes, in this sense, there is of course a sort-of internal logic in religion, but even this internal framework tends to have its problems. For example, my favorite: if God is all-knowing then he should have known even before creation what problems there are going to be later on, and being all-powerful as well, he could have avoided all of them, and created a truly perfect world, without rebellion, original sin, etc. . That's one of the things I'm always astounded to see that believers just don't want to notice and think about.

    Regarding humans and human needs, yes, I wholly agree. That should be a (if not THE) reason why they don't (notice and think about the problem mentioned just above).

    (+1 for the Pratchett reference ;) )

  • Oh that one's easy. One could answer that any parent has a moment when s/he has to let the kids solve their own problems and deal with their own lives. Or something like that. Funny thing that no believer ever comes with an answer at least half-meaningful. :)
    I should start a business and take their money for solving simple logical (metaphorical?) problems like this. Or better, take their money not to ask more questions they can't answer. :D

  • Yes, that's a common answer – that again disregards a lot of factors. No matter what anyone says, somehow they always explain away everything.
    So I'm afraid your business idea wouldn't work, since usually they already have all the answers they need. They're believers, after all. :)

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