Saturday, September 1, 2012

Why I'm polytheistic

With so much of the world's population following monotheistic religions, it might seem strange to some that I would choose to be polytheistic. Today I'm going to explain why I did. Why do you care? Frankly, maybe you don't. But as I've said before, I can't speak for all people and all times. All I can do is share my own personal perspectives. Maybe they will resonate with you; maybe they won't. So today I'm going to share my personal journey toward polytheism. Enjoy (or not - it's up to you!)

This could be a really long story, but I'm going to shorten it considerably by condensing the first part of it. I was raised as a monotheist, I became an atheist/agnostic, then discovered that try as I might to reason it away, there was a spiritual facet to my identity that I just couldn't ignore anymore. So I accepted myself as a spiritual being. There, long story made short.

Once I had accepted myself as a spiritual being, I was left with the question of what exactly I was going to do with that. Now, this is going to be one of many posts in which you get to see the scientific and mystical parts of me intersect. I was guided by the concept of entropy.

Entropy is a concept that encompasses many things, and trying to define it is a great way to fire up a debate with anyone with any exposure to physics. But I'll just briefly and simply explain entropy as a "lack of directedness." For example, in a collection of gas molecules you'll have about as many molecules going one direction as there are going the opposite direction. That system has a lot of entropy. It is a property of the universe that entropy increases, which means that every system gradually loses its ability to make a directed change to the universe. And as far as I know there's no way around it; entropy has a very interesting relationship with probability. If you sit down and do some fun mathematical exercises, you will reach the conclusion that entropy is maximized when the most probable event occurs.

Now let's look at this from a spiritual perspective. We all exist in a system that is gradually running out of "steam". From a monotheistic perspective I would have to look at God at this point as say, "What the fuck? You made all this; was the expiration date really necessary?"

From a polytheistic perspective, there's no other way the universe could work. If there are multiple gods or spirits that created this existence, no one of them could exert her will perfectly on it. With every event that occurs, each one leaves his mark but also yields to others who leave their marks. That yielding of complete autonomy becomes the price of admission for participating in this great endeavor that is the universe. Entropy increases.

PS: A lot of bloggers make a point of posting once a week on the same day. I understand why they do that; people are more likely to read your blog if they know when to expect the next post. Checking a blog takes time and attention, so why check it if you don't know whether there's anything to see? The problem with that is I really don't like doing the same thing on the same day of the week. It drives me nuts. So I'm going to compromise, and every time I post something I'm going to decide when the next post will come out and let you guys know when that is. You guys get some reliability, and I get to mix things up a little. So here you go - I will post again on Friday, September 7th.

This has the added benefit of motivating me to write. I've made a commitment now, so I'm much more likely to follow through!

PPS: I can't do the same for Noel; I do not control when he posts here.