The other night, Mrs. Ex and I sat down to a hot-weather dinner: a little chicken salad, a couple of dollops of potato salad, some green salad, three or four tablespoons of fruit salad, and even a few fistfuls of our beloved Crunchy Cheetos. She said, “When the weather’s like this, I love a big salad.”
“Well,” I said, “technically it’s not one big salad. It’s actually four different salads, all on one plate.” In case you didn’t already know this, I can be a tremendous pain-in-the-ass.
My wife can’t ever resist taking the bait. “It’s one big fucking salad,” she said.
“Ummm, no it’s not,” I insisted. “First of all, the stuff isn’t all mushed together. It’s separate, like the compartments in a TV dinner. There’s a chicken salad compartment, a potato salad ...”
“I can see what’s there.”
“And secondly, no one in his or her right mind would ever refer to Cheetos as salad. So why can’t you admit that it’s a bunch of different salads and some crunchies on the side? While we’re at it, there’s not enough of the potato kind, if you want my opinion.”
Anyway, we went back and forth a few times, at least until we’d both finished cleaning our plates, refilling them, and cleaning them again. Then we stopped arguing while we finished our meal with a sweets course: ice cream on top of baked apple pieces and pastry, which my wife unreasonably claimed was only one dessert called “pie a la mode.” I understand that traditionally this is considered a unitary dish; but since ice cream, baked apples, and pastry are all separable, and since their essences don’t change when combined, I’m fairly comfortable insisting that it’s actually a trio of different things, acting as a team, that's merely masquerading as a single entity. But I wisely kept my mouth shut while I chewed.
Here are some reasons why Christianity is, clearly, polytheistic.
1. Dad, Junior, and the Cosmic GooSo it sure looks as if Christianity is a polytheistic religion. Christians may not put any other gods before the leader of the club, but they sure throw in plenty of lesser gods as part of the holistic picture. Most of us would call that “polytheism.”
That’s three gods. If you challenge Christians to explain how 3 = 1, they’ll usually start spouting some nonsense about the “trinity”: The bible says this, Christian apologists say that. These explanations are, of course, a weasel-y cop-out on a grand scale. Atheists don’t believe in what the bible says, nor do we put any credence in the long, tedious, lying tradition of Christian apologetics.
We’ve got three entities here, not one. For Christians, though, it’s “pie-in-the-sky a la mode.”
But, look. Even according to the bible, when Jesus was on the cross, he cried out to his papa. So god and Jesus, at least, must be different beings — unless the “savior” was just talking to himself like a crazy man. Was the “savior” a lunatic? Are his followers?
And that third god is some vague entity used conveniently to plug the gaps into which neither Jesus nor the Big Guy fit: the “hole-y spirit.” Either he/she/it is an unnecessary concept, or we’re talking about another divine presence here.
Most reasonable people would call the Satan character a god. He may not be the king of the particular gods that the Christians believe in, but he’s clearly got the powers of a deity — albeit an evil one.
There’s no point in Christians arguing that a god can be a god only if he’s omnibenevolent, because even their guy doesn’t fit the bill. He condones ethnic cleansing, the murder of innocents, slavery, the subjugation of women — the list of atrocities goes on and on. And he’s egomaniacal, not a nice trait.
But let’s, for the moment, say that God and Satan are opposites in some way. In Christian belief, Satan has the power to challenge the divine personage they call “God” for people’s souls. He’s either immortal, or, if vanquishable at some future date, at very least unusually long-lived. He’s omnipresent, almost omnipotent, and omnimalevolent. If he were a member of some ancient pantheon, we’d all recognize him as the embodiment of wickedness, a “dark” god. And that’s what he is in the Christian scheme: a fellow god.3. The Demigods of Christianity
Some Christians —Orthodox and Roman Catholics, for example — address prayers to Mary and/or saints. These heavenly folks may not be full-fledged gods, but they’re certainly demigods. Some of them are acknowledged by scholars of all persuasions as being spin-offs of pagan deities. So if we were talking about a mythology other than Christianity, everyone would acknowledge that these characters are superhuman enough to be classed in the “gods” category.
But not certain Christians. For them, Mary is kind of a real woman, except kind of not. The saints are sort of dead people, but sort of not. But how can you pray to a corpse who isn’t a god; what’s the point? You might as well pray to a cat, or a tree, or a meteor. They’re just more gods.
Now, I’m going to diverge slightly from convention before I ask the following question. Usually, in this series, I’ve been freewheeling about accepting answers — even though no satisfactory ones have ever been provided. For this particular entry, though, I’m going to have to insist that no quotes, links, or historical references be used. I’m interested in responses that are phrased only in your very own words.
Isn’t Christianity a polytheistic religion? If not, how do you account for all those super-beings running around? Explain your response.