worship of or belief in multiple deities
Polytheism is the worship of or belief in multiple deities, which are usually assembled into a pantheon of gods and goddesses, along with their own religions and rituals.
- Gods are called many by the error of some who worshipped many deities, thinking as they did the planets and other stars were gods, and also the separate parts of the world.
- Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, First Part, Question 11 (1265–1274).
- Indian religion founded itself on the conception of a timeless, nameless and formless Supreme, but it did not feel called upon like the narrower and more ignorant monotheisms of the younger races, to deny or abolish all intermediary forms and names and powers and personalities of the Eternal and Infinite. A colourless monism or a pale vague transcendental Theism was not its beginning, its middle and its end. The one Godhead is worshipped as the All, for all in the universe is he, or made out of his being or his nature … Indian polytheism is not the popular polytheism of ancient Europe; for here the worshipper of many gods still knows that all his divinities are forms, names, personalities and powers of the One; his gods proceed from the one Purusha , his goddesses are energies of the one divine Force … Indian image-worship is not the idolatry of a barbaric or undeveloped mind, for even the most ignorant know that the image is a symbol and support and can throw it away when its use is over.
- Aurobindo, Collected Works of Sri Aurobindo: The Renaissance in India 1997, 192). in Malhotra, R., & Infinity Foundation (Princeton, N.J.). (2018). Being different: An Indian challenge to western universalism.
- Comparative theology is a two-edged weapon, and has so proved itself. But the Christian advocates, unabashed by evidence, force comparison in the serenest way; Christian legends and dogmas, they say, do somewhat resemble the heathen, it is true; but see, while the one teaches us the existence, powers, and attributes of an all-wise, all-good Father-God, Brahmanism gives us a multitude of minor gods, and Buddhism none whatever; one is fetishism and polytheism, the other bald atheism. Jehovah is the one true God, and the Pope and Martin Luther are His prophets! This is one edge of the sword, and this the other: Despite missions, despite armies, despite enforced commercial intercourse, the "heathen" find nothing in the teachings of Jesus -- sublime though some are -- that Christna and Gautama had not taught them before. And so, to gain over any new converts, and keep the few already won by centuries of cunning, the Christians give the "heathen" dogmas more absurd than their own, and cheat them by adopting the habit of their native priests, and practicing the very "idolatry and fetishism" which they so disparage in the "heathens." Comparative theology works both ways.
- Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled (1877), Volume II, Chapter XI.
- When you come down to it, has there ever been a genuine polytheism? Even Homer supposes a sort of fundamental unity of the divine that permits the gods to identify themselves as gods, even when they dwell far from one another (Odyssey 5.79ff). What the [monotheistic] revelations bring is, rather, the end of a "cosmotheism" that makes no radical distinction between the divine and the physical.
- Rémi Brague, interviewed by Christophe Cervellon and Kristell Trego, from Rémi Brague, The Legend of the Middle Ages, University of Chicago Press, 2009, pp. 1–22.
- The remote dwellers upon the Ganges distinctly made known that future life about which Moses is silent or obscure, and that unity and Omnipotence of the Creator which were unknown to the polytheism of the Greek and Roman multitude, and to the dualism of Mithraic legislators, while Vyasa perhaps surpassed Plato in keeping the people tremblingly alive to the punishment which awaited evil deeds.
- General Joseph Davey Cunningham, (1812-1851) author of A history of the Sikhs, from the origin of the nation to the battles of the Sutlej.
- The wise call the One Being by many names.
- Rgveda 1:164:46. Quoted from Elst, Koenraad (2002). Who is a Hindu?: Hindu revivalist views of Animism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and other offshoots of Hinduism. ISBN 978-8185990743
- Even the most humane and compassionate of the monotheisms and polytheisms are complicit in this quiet and irrational authoritarianism: they proclaim us, in Fulke Greville's unforgettable line, "Created sick — Commanded to be well." And there are totalitarian insinuations to back this up if its appeal should fail.
- Christopher Hitchens, Letter to a Young Contrarian (2001).
- Not at all similar are the race of the immortal gods and the race of men who walk upon the earth.
- Homer, Iliad, Book V. This is the "research quote" for Polytheism in Civilization IV.
- It must appear impossible, that theism could, from reasoning, have been the primary religion of human race, and have afterwards, by its corruption, given birth to polytheism and to all the various superstitions of the heathen world. Reason, when obvious, prevents these corruptions: When abstruse, it keeps the principles entirely from the knowledge of the vulgar, who are alone liable to corrupt any principle or opinion.
- David Hume, The Natural History of Religion, sect. 1, p. 312 (1898).
- The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.
- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia (1781-1785), Query 17.
- For atheism and polytheism there is no special problem of suffering, nor need there be for every kind of monotheism.
- Walter Kaufmann, The Faith of a Heretic (1961), Chapter 6.
- The deepest difference between religions is not that between polytheism and monotheism.
- Walter Kaufmann, The Faith of a Heretic (1961), Chapter 6.
- It is impossible to imagine the universe run by a wise, just and omnipotent God, but it is quite easy to imagine it run by a board of gods.
- H. L. Mencken in: Donald M Simanek, John. Holden Science Askew: A Light-hearted Look at the Scientific World, CRC Press, Oct 1, 2001,
- כִּ֤י ׀ כָּל־אֱלֹהֵ֣י הָעַמִּ֣ים אֱלִילִ֑ים וַֽ֝יהוָ֗ה שָׁמַ֥יִם עָשָֽׂה׃
- لَوۡ كَانَ فِيهِمَاۤ ءَالِهَةٌ إِلَّا ٱللَّهُ لَفَسَدَتَا ۚ فَسُبۡحَـٰنَ ٱللَّهِ رَبِّ ٱلۡعَرۡشِ عَمَّا يَصِفُونَ
- The Vedic approach, is perhaps the best. It gives unity without sacrificing diversity. In fact, it gives a deeper unity and a deeper diversity beyond the power of ordinary monotheism and polytheism. It is one with the yogic and the mystic approach... In this deeper approach, the distinction is not between a true One God and false Many Gods; it is between a true way of worship and a false way of worship. Wherever there is sincerity, truth and self-giving in worship, that worship goes to the true altar by whatever name we may designate it and in whatever way we may conceive it. But if it is not desireless, if it has ego, falsehood, conceit and deceit in it, then it is unavailing though it may be offered to the most true God, theologically speaking.
- Ram Swarup, The World As Revelation: Names of Gods.
- Polytheism. Polytheism.net.