Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 11 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 7/7/15

God or gods, a Train of Thought That Ends Up Illuminating What We Need Illuminated

By       (Page 1 of 3 pages)   27 comments
Follow Me on Twitter     Message Andrew Schmookler
Become a Fan
  (31 fans)

God Despairs
God Despairs
(Image by Waiting For The Word)
  Details   DMCA
I found myself wondering today about something regarding the idea of God. It grew out of my noticing the strangeness of the contrast between two important cultures in the millennium before the birth of Jesus: the culture of the ancient Greeks and that of the ancient Hebrews.

Here's the thing. These two peoples/cultures inhabited basically the same world - empires, metals, lots of war, slavery, annihilation--but despite that sameness they came to very different conclusions about a matter most fundamental to a culture's worldview: the question of whether to place one God or many gods at the center of the cosmic order

Wouldn't there have to be some fundamental difference between the cultures to account for such different ways of seeing the fundamental order of the world?

The Greeks saw the world of the divine beings as consisting of a whole diversity of gods having dealings (not always admirable) among each other. A many-ness, and a strong flavor of amorality.

The Hebrews saw the world of the divine as inhabited by ONE GOD -- and indeed from Abraham onward that was THE defining feature of the Hebrew religion. It is still at the center of the basic Jewish prayer, the Shema Yisarel: "Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one"

So we can presume that at least to the Hebrews, the difference between believing in One God or in many gods was of the utmost importance.

Which leads me to wonder:

Is that issue truly fundamental in terms of how a culture perceives reality? And if so, what can account for these two cultures choosing so differently on this matter despite inhabiting the same basic world?

Did their cultures give them basically different ways of thinking? If so, what was that difference?

Or did they come to have different needs, or different senses of the nature of life, growing perhaps out of different historical experiences?

For example, the Greeks had a pretty good won-loss record in the cruel intersocietal game, the brutal struggle for power that accompanied the rise of civilization. It is a Greek (Thucydides, whom I have quoted in just about every one of my books and in many of my public lectures), who put these words into the mouths of the Athenians, describing the way of the world:

"The strong do what they can, while the weak suffer what they must."

The Greeks were feeling like winners in that game. The Greeks had themselves overpowered another group of human beings to possess the land we call Greece (if I remember correctly the narrative about the spread of Aryan peoples out from a central area in the Eurasian landmass).

One might think of the Greeks as the kind of "We're # 1" rowdy group in the locker-room, boasting and spraying champagne around.

For them, there was not a lot of reason to question whether the world is good the way it is or in need of moral improvement through a power that can restrain the brutal consequences of intersocietal anarchy. For the Greeks, there had been considerable rewards for indulging the impulse to come out on top in a contest for dominance.

It was rather otherwise for the Hebrews.

Next Page  1  |  2  |  3

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

Must Read 2   Valuable 2   Well Said 1  
Rate It | View Ratings

Andrew Schmookler Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. His new book -- written to have an impact on the central political battle of our time -- is (more...)
Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Follow Me on Twitter     Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Why Do Conservatives Like Colbert? Article Plus Critique

Mel Gibson's Rant as Profound Clue

To Anti-Obamite Lefties: It Doesn't Matter If You're Right

How Important is the Loss of Friendship?

# 8 Beliefs that Make Liberal America Weak: Barriers to the Source of Moral and Spiritual Passions

Power and Corruption: Just What Is Their Relationship?

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend