I wondered what Brandon was up to in reviewing John Michael Greer’s World Full of Gods, bit the answer becomes very clear in his account of the book’s fifth chapter, which contains an absolutely marvelous argument for polytheism, which summarizes as:
It’s extraordinarily implausible, however, to suggest that an experience of the Risen Christ, an experience of Kali, and an experience of a buffalo spirit are just all experiences of one supernatural thing or amorphous divinity. If we just take the religious experiences at face value, then, the natural conclusion is polytheism.
What I love about the argument is that it’s the first time I’ve been able to see why (setting aside Eden) polytheism had to come before monotheism. Polytheism is the simplest account of the variety in religious experience. All of our knowledge has to be led back to some experience or another, and religious experience first suggests that we have our god and you guys have yours.
Both atheism and monotheism should recognize that they simply are not taking the variety of religious experience at face value. Both are in the dangerous position of taking an argument for granted that they have long forgotten; both could only grow after another more knowable theology had been critiqued or at least passed over. Irrespective whether the atheists or monotheists are right, their doctrines are secondary and can come only after a development.
I’m reminded that the some of the other ways in which the pagan world saw a greater diversity among peoples than we allow: there was no one calendar and so “world history” could only be seen as a self- contradiction. If it meant anything, could only mean the same thing as “world cuisine”, namely that there is a great diversity of foods that don’t reduce to some most fundamental meal.