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Monotheism and Polytheism: A Choice between Dictatorship and Democracy

The relationship between religion and politics has always been a controversial issue. All secular countries denounce the use of religion for political purposes. Yet in reality, most of the politicians use religion in politics successfully. Religion was quite important in the politics of Gandhi that he was popularly known as Mahatma (Great Soul).  He used to start every day with prayer. Religion played very important role in the politics of Mohammad Ali Jinnah that finally lead to the creation of Pakistan on the religious basis.  In the recent times, George Bush attacked Afghanistan as God asked him to do so.

 

Does the politics of a country really depend on the religion of the citizens? The answer seems to be in affirmative. Use of religion in politics may be decried, called immoral or illegal yet it continues to play very important in most of the countries. The emergence of science in the fifteenth century gave the hope that religion would perhaps be weakened if not eradicated from the world once people develop scientific temper. Yet even after five centuries, religion continues to rule the world. Even in America more than 90 percent people believe in God. In Middle East the percentage may be close to 100 percent.

 

Faith is synonymous with religion and both are synonymous to belief. Interestingly, the people who claim to be unbeliever or atheist are actually not without faith or belief. They have unconsciously developed faith in science in place of religion and scientists have become their gods. So the people, who are atheist, are actually those who believe in Science instead of God.  Science is like a monotheistic religion as a true believer of science can’t have faith in (any other) God.

 

Monotheism and Polytheism  

Faith is an essential requirement of any society. No society can exist, if its members do not share a common belief and culture. Religion is the oldest form of faith in the world. From ancient times, people used the concept for God to explain many things and follow discipline in the society. God provided them explanation to all the questions that could not be explained by logic or the limited knowledge of the ancient people. For them God was behind every thing. Yet God and the concept of God are different in every religion.

 

There are numerous religions in this world and each religion has its own Gods and deities. However, some religions believe that God is only one. These are called the monotheistic religions. The principle religions in this category are Christianity, Islam and Judaism. These religion believes that there is no other God except the God described in their religion.

 

Some religions like Hinduism believe in the concept of many gods. Though, some Hindu scholars may argue that all these gods are reflections of the same God, yet in popular perception, people worship many gods. Philosophically, Hindus believe that all gods are the refection of one God only. 

 

There are still some religions like Buddhism and Sikhism, which do not believe in the concept of deities or God. Yet these religions believe in the spirit that pervades the world. These faiths are quite similar to other religions as these have guidelines, rituals and code of conduct for their followers which are quite similar to any other theistic religions.

 

Atheism and Science

The emergence of science or material knowledge in fifteenth century challenged many “truths” of religion. The first truth that was revealed by science was the heliocentric concept of solar system (Sun being in the center of the solar system) given by Galileo, which contradicted the truth of the established religion that earth is in the center of the universe. It proved that it is not sun that revolves around earth but it is earth that revolves around sun. Subsequently, science challenged many findings of religions successfully. However, science could not explain some basic concepts of universe like the creation of universe or life. It also fails to control the behavior of the people. Yet the jolt of science was strong enough to challenge many concepts of holy books. Many people lost faith on religions as they could negate many established facts of these books.  They called themselves atheists as they do not believe in the concept of personal God.

 

Yet, the atheists are not necessarily as non-believer or the persons without faith. They often believe in all pervading spirit but do not take the words of the scriptures as the gospel truth. The believe system of an atheists hinges over science, which they found the best source of truth and knowledge. They seek answer of all their question from science and try to solve all their problems by application of scientific principles Thus science has gradually become a faith in itself, which have only one Truth at any given point of time viz. the one that is found by the latest scientific investigation.

 

God and Polity

It is wisely said that “You are what you think you are”. What is true on individual is also true for the society. A society too has a common thought or belief. Belief is an organic entity that can not have two facets, one for the religion and one for the polity. Therefore, each country’s government is often the reflection of the type of religion of the society or the type of God the people believe in. 

 

Dictatorships  

The single party government includes the states which are ruled by one party, one King or one dictator. A close scrutiny of the countries, which have such government, may reveal that such countries are either theocratic states based on the monotheistic religions (Christian, Islam or Judaism) or the countries, where states do not recognize any religion i.e. they are governed by a single ideology like communism. A state without religion needs a belief system that can keep the society together. Such gaps are often filled by an ideology like communism. These countries are suited only for dictatorships. The reason is also simple. If you believe that there is only one Truth and all other statements are false, and you punish the people for giving an alternative idea, the country can have only dictatorships. This is precisely the reason why multiparty democracies can’t be successful in these countries.

 

Bi-Party Government

In many states, particularly in the western world, most of the states have two-party system. There are also those states where most of the people believe in two religions. One is the religion, in which they are born and other is science. People are always balancing these two faiths in their life. The people who are only theist or atheists are in minority in such countries. Hence, most of the people are used to the concept of two types of Truth. One that is present in religion and the other that is discovered by science. Thus in those countries, we have two Gods hence two-party system of polity.

 

Multi-party System

In some religions like Hinduism, there are a numerous Gods. There are other societies where people are predominantly agnostics, philosophical or artist who does not believe in any man-made truths. People choose their own God without facing the ire of state or society. If the society is not dominated by a particular religion but consists of fair representation of many religions, it is again likely to have multi-party system. Typical example could be India, Italy

 

Conclusion

Faith and religion are very important aspect of polity. Every country gets the government they want and deserve. Belief is very similar to an organism that many have multiple organs but have a single soul. Thus religion and faith affects the most fundamental thoughts of the person. The DNA of the ruler and the ruled has to be same for stable society. Therefore, it is no surprise that the countries dominated by monotheistic religions are the one who find it very difficult to implement democracy. Unless the faith or believe of these people are changed, it would be futile to implement democracies there.

Author:Awdhesh K Singh

Date:11/24/2007

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