MONOTHEISM AND HISTORICAL DESTINY
“All history is myth. It is a pattern that men weave out of the materials of the past. The moment even (a true) fact enters into history it becomes mythical, because it has been taken and fitted into its place in a set of ordered relationships which is the creation of a human mind and not otherwise present in nature.” Enoch Powell.
We all live in myths
Neuroscientists, psychologists, sociologists and other behavioural scientists are realising more and more that all human beings live in narrative structures. Whether or not these narratives are based on true historical events or myths and prophecies makes no difference to the influence these narratives have on their actions.
If historical truth is valued highly enough then, in spite of losing cherished illusions, reforms of religious dogma can be carried out to preserve the vital functions of faith to teach men to value such things as loyalty to community and to distinguish love from indifference or hate and good from evil. Lessons that reductionist science, even when justified by tortured utilitarian rationalising, cannot teach us. Less extreme believers can still accept the basic humane values found in the Jewish scriptures and which have now been internalised by many Christians and Muslims. At this stage an alternative set of secular-state established values other than those of mechanistic social-darwinism has not been established. Reforms have been made in all three major monotheisms which have modified many of the primitive assumptions underlying these scriptures the bulk of which were written for a very simple monotheistic tribal society living in exile.
By monotheism I mean a religious belief in a single god where sacred and secular authority are combined, together with intolerance of any other gods and their priesthoods. This is inevitably accompanied by a drive to convert or eliminate other religious communities. Polytheistic religious systems which originated everywhere following the agricultural revolution often include a supreme deity but they are qualitatively different from monotheism which only emerges in exceptional circumstances in a previously polytheistic culture.