What Was One Important Effect of the Development of Monotheism?

February 14, 2024

The word monotheism is often used as a synonym for religion and its polar opposite, polytheism (belief in many gods). However, there are many different types of monotheism. The type that characterizes Judaism, Christianity and Islam is called the Abrahamic monotheism which believes in one god who created the world, oversees it and intervenes in human events. This god is omnipotent, omniscient and transcendent.

It is difficult to prove, but it is possible that the development of monotheism was an important step forward for humanity in many ways. It certainly helped to bring about a great deal of social stability. The reason for this is that a belief in one deity naturally creates a sociopolitical institution. The one deity demands that all other gods be relegated to a subordinate status and that its followers follow the commandments and laws of this deity exclusively. It is likely that this was one of the main reasons that Jews became a monotheistic people.

It is a difficult task to determine whether this monotheism was influenced by Akhenaten's revolution in Egypt or whether the Hebrews came up with it on their own. However, it is also very possible that the ancient Israelites developed monotheism independently of Akhenaten, just as other human civilizations developed things like writing and theater without contacting each other. Nevertheless, the religion of Israel did have some features that are unique in the ancient world: the idea that God has a special covenant with the Jewish people; repeated affirmations that Yahweh is the creator of heaven and earth; and a requirement that all other gods be rejected as idols.

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