A very common assertion that can be heard from some of the more moderate and accommodating believers is the ecumenical claim that all deities are essentially the same. The usual “explanation” for this is that the different names that different people’s gave these various deities only reflect cultural differences, not the existence of different deities. In fact, this argument sometimes continues to say, Isn’t this even more proof of how ubiquitous religion is and how all peoples managed to reach essentially the same conclusion?
In order to start debunking this rather nonsensical claim, why not ask your counterpart if he/she believes that the Olympian and Norse gods, or the Hindu and Shinto deities, are just different interpretations of what your counterpart might call Yahweh and Jesus? Is it not true therefore that Yahweh and Allah are simply different cultural interpretations of Poseidon, Vishnu, Odin and Quetzalcoatl? Is it not the case that Christianity and Scientology are just different names for the same thing, and that Lord Xenu is another name for Jesus?
The irony here is that far from solving the problem of why there are so many deities, the ecumenical claim, only makes this problem worse by adding yet another claim to the mix. It might sound very subjective for a Christian to claim that only the Christian god exists and for a Hindu to claim that only the Hindu gods exist, but there is absolutely nothing less subjective about claiming that the Christian god and the Hindu gods, and all other gods, are the same god. Hats off to the good intentions that might be behind this claim, but since it suffers from the same lack of supporting reason and evidence that all the other claims suffer from, it only complicates rather than simplifies things.
The political arena actually provides us with many examples of this simple principle. In all cases where two traditional political parties are in opposition to each other, a new centrist party that combines many of the more moderate parts of the two parties doesn’t end up uniting everyone into one big party, it simply creates a third political party – no less subjective than the two traditional ones. The same exact principle applies in religion.