Personal Response To "God Against The Gods"

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Whether one is a detractor of organized faith or a supporter, almost everyone can agree that religion is a double-edged sword: while it provides solace to some, it starts the most violent conflicts for others. Jonathan Kirsch, a Biblical scholar, attorney, and a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, attempts to explore this intriguing paradox that is religion in his book, God Against the Gods: The History of the War Between Monotheism and Polytheism. This book itself is very simply written, meaning that the reader is not required to have any previous knowledge on the subject to get an ample understanding of it. Before the book’s first chapter, the reader encounters several pages explaining the topic of discussion. This “pre-chapter” introduces the notion that with the advent of monotheism, it “turned out to inspire a ferocity and even a fanaticism that are mostly absent from polytheism” (Kirsch 2). Although the book does not really begin at that point, it already introduces an uncommon truth: polytheism is not the religion of barbarians. For centuries, paganism was the accepted practice in Rome. And along with paganism came the right to worship in whichever way one would prefer. In other words, there was religious tolerance. To me, this was certainly a novel idea because as a follower of a monotheistic religion, polytheism not only seems out of the norm but monotheism just seems so righteous and pure. To be exposed to such a dark history of monotheism and a bright side to polytheism is certainly surprising. Nevertheless, while it holds meaning for me in a different sense, from the surface this book is about the social evolution from polytheism to monotheism in the West and how two human beings, acting out of their personal passions, literally changed the history of the world. Kirsch masterfully tells the story of this change by centralizing his book around the actions

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