Here’s an odd thought: What if polytheism is better suited for our times than monotheism?
Monotheism isn’t just the belief in one abstract godhead; rather each monotheistic religion believes that its idea of God is the one true idea of God. The inherent exclusivity of monotheism makes it competitive and even violent, and thus, as Constantine realized, a far better tool for empire building than polytheism, which, by allowing for the legitimacy of many gods and ideas about God, has no need to defeat other gods or impose one homogeneous religious system.
Monotheists do better in a homogeneous world, but the 21st Century is anything but homogeneous, and it may be that polytheists are better suited for navigating the plethora of gods, truths, and realities that make up our postmodern global village than monotheists will ever be.
Abrahamic monotheists try to get around this problem through what might be called the Abrahamic Fiction: the idea that Jews, Christians, and Moslems worship the same God. Again, God, as we humans understand God, always exists within a theological frame. What we call God is simply our ideas and claims about God; and the theological claims of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are mutually incompatible. If any one of these religions is True, the other two are false.
The only way to prove which religion is true is global jihad. By definition, the True God always wins. Since this is inconvenient to say the least, most of us postpone this war to the mythic future, though all too many of us are currently working to make that future a reality here and now.
Polytheism doesn’t have this problem. Live and let live, believe and let believe, is its creed. This is much more suited to life in the global village than monotheism’s begrudging: your wrong and your damned, but I won’t kill you; I’ll let God deal with you later.
So, whereas the Second Commandment may have been a practical tool for consolidating the diverse Jewish tribes and their gods, it may be the wrong policy for our time. Perhaps we need a different revelation: “You shall recognize all gods as Me for I am Infinite and cannot be reduced to one form or idea or religion or theology. I manifest as all form even as I transcend all form.” Or as the 4000-year-old Rig Veda of the Hindus puts it, Ekam Sat Viprah Bahuda Vadanti: “Truth is One. Different people call it by different names.”