Monotheism may have only one God but it has two humanities, the believers and the non-believers, the saved and the damned – who are eternally pitted against each other.
The first effect of this dualistic monotheism is not to unite but to divide humanity in the name of God, which is to cut humanity in two, to make believers distrustful, disrespectful and unkind to non-believers – not necessarily for anything they may have done, but for not bowing down to monotheistic beliefs.
The unfortunate result of the duality behind exclusive monotheism is a perpetual war, a continued conflict until all the non-believers are saved or eliminated, which we can still observe today in various forms.
Such monotheism becomes a theology of aggression, promoting a militant mentality, if not the attitude of a bully. This aggressive monotheism has been useful for kings and armies, crusades, jihads and colonial powers, providing justification to their often unprovoked attacks, domination, control, cultural subversion and even genocide – which is achieved more easily by labeling the enemies as non-believers and against God.
A tendency to violence is inherent in the philosophy, theology and modus operandi of exclusive monotheistic beliefs and their cruel division of humanity.
Monotheistic War against the Non-believers
The monotheistic war against the non-believers has occurred on several levels. First, it happens at the level of ideas and beliefs, denigrating non-believers as heathens, kafirs, idolaters and polytheists. It has resulted in all sorts of propaganda, both overt and subtle, from the burning of books in centuries past to poisoning the media against non-monotheists today. In recent times, the missionary onslaught, funded by foreign powers, has been the main form in which this war has been promoted from the Christian world.
Second, at an economic level, believers are made to feel justified in financially penalizing non-believers, extending to taking their wealth under the guise that as non-believers they have no divine right to own anything. To this can be added various forms of social and economic oppression that keep non-believers as second class citizens or dhimmis. Non-believers were often made into slaves in earlier centuries in both the Christiana and Islamic worlds, and may still be regarded as inferior human beings.
Third, is at the level of armed conflict, which has been overt and extensive up to recent times. In the colonial era, Christianizing the uncivilized, which included China and Bharat, became a moral justification for foreign rule and cultural subversion, rather than an overt religious war, but still resulted in extensive violence. In the Islamic world vestiges of the military war of domination and conversion continue as the depredations of Islamic State or as Pakistan’s ongoing Jihad against Bharat.
The War between Conflicting Forms of Monotheism
Monotheism does not only result in conflict with non-monotheists, it causes a conflict within monotheistic groups themselves. Different monotheistic religions, notably Christianity and Islam, have a long history of wars with each other as to which is the true faith. The hatred of monotheistic faiths for each other is sometimes greater than their hatred of non-monotheists. The Turkish Caliphate’s domination of Eastern Europe up to the nineteenth century, and the Crusades during the Middle Ages, are examples of this.
The War within Monotheistic Faiths
In addition, within monotheistic faiths like Christianity and Islam have been many schisms, heresies and civil wars, which similarly lead to extreme forms of violence. The wars between Catholics and Protestants devastated Europe, like the bloody Thirty Years War in the seventeenth century in which one-third of the German population perished.
Islam has its ongoing Sunni-Shia conflicts that continue with Saudi Arabia versus Iran and in the civil war in Syria. Notably, the Islamic State (ISIS) does not tolerate what it considers to be incorrect forms of Islam, and is quick to kill fellow Muslims who do not share its view of the faith.
Monotheism and Perpetual War
We see, therefore, that the divisive attitude inherent in exclusive monotheism ends up in perpetual war, whether with non-monotheists, with other monotheistic faiths, or within the particular monotheistic faith itself.
Such conflicts of belief may occur between members of the same family. The same person may internalize a religious based guilt and aggression. The tendency to violence seems endemic in monotheistic beliefs that set in motion a process of duality, division and destruction.
With such an inherent sense of division and tendency to aggression, we cannot expect monotheistic groups to bring about any enduring social unity, particularly in non-monotheistic countries and cultures. When they speak of defending human rights, they are hiding their own inhumane history, and lack of regard for non-monotheistic cultures and their social rights. If exclusive monotheistic faiths had their way, all other cultures and religions would be subordinated or eliminated.
Can Monotheism exist without Conflict?
Can monotheism exist without conflict? Certainly non-monotheists would like to see this. There have been periods of peace with monotheistic predominant countries, but these have usually ended up in new wars, or have allowed less lethal forms of missionary aggression to promote conversion. Of course, there are other causes for war than religion, though the monotheistic conversion urge has sometimes been part of these as well, used to justify plunder and genocide.
Unfortunately, in the world today, the hostility that monotheists have for non-monotheists continues, though it may try to hide itself. Monotheism is usually taught in schools throughout the world as the highest and perhaps most rational form of human religious belief, which causes people to look down upon non-monotheist approaches, extending to denigrating the profound meditation traditions of Hindu Dharma and Buddhism.
The Need for Monotheism to Repent of its Violent Past
For monotheism to truly let go of its violent baggage, it must modify its core views, like its idea of salvation by belief, condemnation of non-believers, or its contention that monotheism is the highest or only valid approach to the Divine. It would require doctrinal changes in monotheistic theology, including respecting a multiplicity of approaches to truth and embracing a higher spiritual oneness beyond any single prophet or savior.
More importantly, monotheists would have to sincerely apologize for their past violent behavior and make genuine amends for it. This is not merely to offer verbal apologies – such as the popes have done to Native Americans for the extensive Christian aggression against them. It must extend to tangible responses, like returning the land and holy sites to the non-monotheist groups that these were originally taken from.
Such a reform within monotheistic groups is perhaps possible, as there are movements in this direction with unity type churches and universal mystical approaches, as well as monotheistic groups that adopt beliefs and practices from native and dharmic traditions. But the mainstream and dominant monotheistic groups today still have not given up their conversion agendas, which they now veil under the guise of freedom of religion.
The multi-billion dollar international missionary conversion business and the international Jihad movement along with its terrorist links remain quite strong – and seem very proud of their religious aggression. Their arrogance must first be given up for monotheism to redeem itself. Otherwise we must regard most of what calls itself monotheism as a failed attempt at true spirituality – which rests upon recognizing the unity of all existence and the universality of consciousness, not promoting One God and one faith over all!