The fallacy of monotheism


One of the most entertaining parts of debating the religious is taking a religious argument that was posed by your counterpart and using it against them. You can then sit back and watch your counterpart shuffle uncomfortably; trying to decide if he should repudiate his previous argument or contradict his current one.
Case in point is the question of monotheism.
What makes this argument so funny is that having taken monotheism for granted for so long, many religious people are shocked to find this assumption questioned, and then tend to come up with laughably self contradictory answers in response to it.
Here is an example of how this plays out.
The debate might begin conventionally enough with some argument about the evidence for god’s existence, or lack thereof (as detailed in some of my previous articles). Pay close attention to your counterpart’s predictable argument that no proof is necessary to establish the existence of god. You can all but expect this argument to take the form of “I don’t need evidence, I have faith” or “God is outside of the realm of mere human evidence” or the all time favorite “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”, etc.
Whatever form this statement takes, stow it in the back of your mind, as it will play the part of Chekhov’s gun on the mantelpiece later on. Then allow the debate to continue normally.
Sooner rather than later, your counterpart will issue some type of question or statement about god doing this or creating that. At this point, lay down the bait by asking your counterpart “Which god?” Your counterpart will almost always take this bait and reply with some version of “there is only one god”. At this point, challenge his claim and ask your counterpart how he knows there aren’t three gods, or sixteen of them, or seven hundred of them. The sharper theists will realize, at this stage, that they are about to fall into their own trap, but most will keep confidently trudging on with some assertion about how it doesn’t make any sense for there to be more gods, or that there is no reason to believe that there is more than one god, etc.
And this is when you know you’ve got them.
At this point you spring the trap and play back to your counterpart some of his own claims in the form of: “I don’t need evidence to show there are many gods, I have faith”, “The other gods are outside of the realm of mere human evidence”, and of course “Absence of evidence for other gods is not evidence of their absence”.
Your counterpart might or might not admit that he had contradicted himself, but If your theist counterpart is foolish enough, he might actually attempt to counter this with a biblical argument. This is a big mistake.
It just so happens that the bible not only never claims there is only one god, it literally admits that there are others.
Yes, you read correctly – the Judeo-Christian bible admits there are more gods than just Yahweh.
Go back and read the full text of the first two commandments in Exodus 20:2-4. In the first commandment, Yahweh introduces himself as the god who brought the Hebrews out of Egypt. In other words, he doesn’t introduce himself as the one and only god, but simply as the deity who happened to have lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Yahweh then tells the Israelites that they should have no OTHER GODS before him. He never says that there are no other gods in existence, just that he – Yahweh – is the only one deserving of the Israelites’ worship. If this isn’t convincing enough, Yahweh continues to admit that he is a jealous god. Jealous of what? If no other gods existed, jealousy would make no sense. Yahweh never even once claims that he – and only he – is the one and only deity, he simply implies that among the plethora of deities in existence, he happens to be the strongest and most worthy of propitiation.
In general, it is best to stay out of biblical arguments that are open to many interpretations, and simply point out that the bible is no more than an ill carpentered collection of bronze and iron age tribal middle eastern writings. Similarly, it is usually best not to get drawn into pseudo philosophical religious arguments, and simply point out that epistemological word games cannot establish the existence of supernatural beings. And yet, every so often, you are presented with such delicious foot-in-mouth arguments that one cannot resist having a bit of fun with them.
The argument for monotheism is one such.

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