Different religions exist because not everyone has the same spiritual needs or responds best to the same style of worship. Monotheism, the worship of one deity (www.jeremiahproject.com), appeals to one type of person, whereas polytheism, the worship of many deities (www.jeremiahproject.com), appeals to another, much like how different music styles appeal to different people.
The Revolutionary War was an enormous part of American history. The revolution in Russia, that sparked the overthrow of communism, was a huge part of Russian history. The revolution of Christianity, one of the monotheistic religions, from the concepts of Greek gods, one of the polytheistic religions, was also a large part of religious history.
There are only three modern religions that are monotheistic: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (Donceel 52). For comparison purposes, this paper will use the concepts and ideas brought forth by the Bible and Christianity. The book of Genisis begins by assuming that there is only one true God that created the Heavens and Earth and rules over it, and that assumption is maintained throughout the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. Christians believe that God gave His only son, Jesus.
“For God so loved the world, that gave is only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
John 3:16 (KJV)
When Jesus was put to death by humans, He told the people, He would die to forgive their sins. This shows that God and His son were both caring and forgiving beings. They are respected by the followers of Christianity. God helps humans. Humans pray to God for help and forgiveness. People also go to church, the place of worship, to learn more about the Christian religion, to pay their respects to God, and to maintain a personal relationship with Jesus (Deut. 4:35, 39; 5:7; 32:39; Exod. 20:3; Josh 24:15; 1 Kgs. 18:21; Hos. 4:12; Isa. 2:8, 20; 17:8; 31:7; 45:21; Jer. 10:5, 10; Acts 17:22-31; 1 Cor. 8:4).
An ancient religion that is polytheistic is Greek Mythology. Greek Mythology consists of beliefs and ritual observances of the ancient Greeks, who became the first Western civilization about 2000 BC. It consists mainly of a body of diverse stories and legends about a variety of gods. Greek mythology had become fully developed by about the 700s BC. Three classic collections of myths—Theogony by the poet Hesiod and the Iliad and the Odyssey by the poet Homer, which all appeared at about that time.
Greek mythology has several distinguishing characteristics. The Greek gods resembled humans in form and showed human feelings. Unlike ancient religions such as Hinduism or Judaism, Greek mythology did not involve special revelations or spiritual teachings. It also varied widely in practice and belief, with no formal structure, such as a church government, and no written code, such as a sacred book. The Greeks believed that the gods chose Mount Olympus, in a region of Greece called Thessaly (Thessalia), as their home. On Olympus, the gods formed a society that ranked them in terms of authority and powers. However, the gods could roam freely, and individual gods became associated with three main domains—the sky or heaven, the sea, and earth. The 12 chief gods, usually called the Olympians, were Zeus, Hera, Hephaestus, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Aphrodite, Hestia, Hermes, Demeter, and Poseidon.
Zeus was the head of the gods, and the spiritual father of gods and people. His wife, Hera, was the queen of heaven and the guardian of marriage. Other gods associated with heaven were Hephaestus, god of fire and metalworkers; Athena, goddess of wisdom and war; and Apollo, god of light, poetry, and music. Artemis, goddess of wildlife and the moon; Ares, god of war; and Aphrodite, goddess of love, were other gods of heaven. They were joined by Hestia, goddess of the hearth; and Hermes, messenger of the gods and ruler of science and invention.
Greek mythology emphasized the weakness of humans in contrast to the great and terrifying powers of nature. The Greeks believed that their gods, who were immortal, controlled all aspects of nature. So the Greeks acknowledged that their lives were completely dependent on the good will of the gods. In general, the relations between people and gods were considered friendly. But the gods delivered severe punishment to mortals who showed unacceptable behavior, such as indulgent pride, extreme ambition, or even excessive prosperity.
The mythology was interwoven with every aspect of Greek life. Each city devoted itself to a particular god or group of gods, for whom the citizens often built temples of worship. They regularly honored the gods in festivals, which high officials supervised. At festivals and other official gatherings, poets recited or sang great legends and stories. Many Greeks learned about the gods through the words of poets.
Greeks also learned about the gods by word of mouth at home, where worship was common. Different parts of the home were dedicated to certain gods, and people offered prayers to those gods at regular times. An altar of Zeus, for example, might be placed in the courtyard, while Hestia was ritually honored at the hearth.
Although the Greeks had no official church organization, they universally honored certain holy places. Delphi, for example, was a holy site dedicated to Apollo. A temple built at Delphi contained an oracle, or prophet, whom brave travelers questioned about the future. A group of priests represented each of the holy sites. These priests, who also might be community officials, interpreted the words of the gods but did not possess any special knowledge or power. In addition to prayers, the Greeks often offered sacrifices to the gods, usually of a domestic animal such as a goat (Hamilton chapters 1 and 2).
In conclusion, Christianity is monotheistic, with belief in only one true God. Greek Mythology is polytheistic with belief in several deities. Both are respectful religions that serve the need of their followers.
Donceel, Joseph F. The Searching Mind. Notre Dame, 1980.
Hamilton, Edith. Mythology. 1942.