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Discussion is unfair, unargued, and unsourced[edit]

Original monotheism is obviously a topic on which it is easy to have a biased opinion, for either side, because members of theistic religious faiths such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam would have strong pre-theoretic reasons to embrace this view, while persons who do not believe in God, or in the God of monotheism, or in divine revelation, would have strong pre-theoretic reasons to reject this view.

I lean towards accepting the hypothesis of original monotheism myself. That said, here are some specific reasons why I think this article in its present for is unfairly biased against the view, and lacks argument or research to suport such a bias.

(1) Our knowledge of Assyrian and Semitic faiths are not the primary evidence for original monotheism. Schmidt introduced a set of independent anthropolgical criteria for determining the relative age of traditional cultures, and argued on this basis that the least developed cultures appeared to be closest to monotheistic beliefs. There are original creator/sky-god deities preserved in the cultural memory of almost every major religious tradition and traditional/tribal religion. Lang also saw evidence for original monotheism in the beliefs of various Australian aboriginal groups which were separated from one another and had not been in contact with Western Christian missionaries.

(2) Nothing about the hypothesis of original monotheism compels its proponents to endorse colonialism or the Westernization of cultures. Of course Christians believe that their religion is true, and this gives them enough motivation to spread their beliefs to other cultures, although many Christians would not endorse Westernization. The hypothesis of original monotheism, if true, does not imply that Christianity is true (although it is compatible with Christian beliefs), and it does not imply that Western monotheists have any ethical right or obligation to convert members of traditional religious cultures to a Western monotheistic faith.

(3) No support is given in this article, either in the form of argument or in the form of a citation for the claim that the hypothesis of original monotheism was effectively refuted by the 1950s. I am not aware myself of any such refutation, and I would like to be able to access the refutation(s) which is/are being referred to here. Please give more information, possibly a direct quote, or at least cite a source with page numbers for me to look up.

(4) Neither is any reference given for the claim that Christian apologists have changed their view on this subject. Surely some apologists believe one thing and others believe another. Names and references are needed here.

(5) No sources or quotations are given to support the claim that the hypothesis of original monotheism was abandoned by its original proponents. Which original proponents abandoned it. Schmidt? In what publication? What were his reasons?

(6) Of course Jews, Christians, and Muslims will believe that humanity was created to be in relationship to God and that humanity's knowledge of God has deteriorated in other religious traditions. This is what their scriptures teach. Pointing out the compatibility of original monotheism as an anthropological hypothesis with certain faith traditions or philosophical views does nothing to argue against it on anthropological grounds. So, in this sense, it is pointless to say that original monotheism is defended in "pious circles".

(7) There are of course scholars with monotheistic faith-commitments, such as evangelical Christian Norman Geisler, who argue for original monotheism. The fact that Geisler and others are Christians does not mean that their work is non-academic, or "outside of academic circles". Geisler has a Ph.D. in philosophy from Loyala University Chicago. He has taught at accredited schools and is a member (among other academic organizations) of the American Philosophical Society and American Academy of Religion, neither of which is a "pious", "non-academic" group of scholars. Again, anthropolgical evidence is used by proponents of original monotheism as an anthropolgical hypothesis. It is not just a matter of pointing to a scriptural text or a religious doctrine and saying: according to this, religion begins with God. SCPhilosopher (talk) 15:25, 28 November 2007 (UTC)

the article is a fair summary of Pettazzoni (1958) cited, which is itself a summary of the debate up to that date. I could not find any evidence of active debate of the topic after the 1950s outside of fundamentalist publications. That "monotheism was effectively refuted by the 1950s" is the entire point of this essay. You may argue that Pettazzoni is misrepresenting the case, but then the burden would lie on you to produce literature supporting this claim. It is by no means the case that all Christian apologists automatically embrace Urmonotheismus, as you seem to be implying. Mainstream Christianity operates with a notion of revelation, i.e. to Abraham and later patriarchs and prophets.
It is patently irrelevant whether Geisler has an academic degree. The question is whether his publications on the question appear in notable academic journals. If you have any more recent anthropological literature you can cite, by all means do that. The "Christian Apologetics Journal", self-declared "forum for the presentation of articles contributing to the defense of the historic Christian Faith" is certainly quotable as evidence that the topic is kept alive in religious circles, but it hardly qualifies as a source of current research in anthropology. Needless to say, any debate on the question must be informed by ethnological evidence, not by scriptural exegesis. Incidentially, if there was bona fide evidence for Urmonotheismus, there would be no reason even from an atheist position to deny that: after all, there is ample evidence for theism in prehistoric times, and no atheist would consider that a reason to change their outlook. The fact of the matter is that this question was brought forward in the 1910s, debated for 30 years, found to be completely without merit, and dropped. Again, if I am missing something, do cite the relevant anthropological literature. thanks, dab (𒁳) 20:35, 28 November 2007 (UTC)

One problem with the Pettazzoni book is that (I am assuming from the title) it is not in English. This doens't make it by any means an inferior work of scholarship, but it does not help me, or other insufficiently educated English-speaking users of Wikipedia to verify any of the information in the article. You do say that original monotheism was effectively refuted by the 1950s in the article, and I accept that Pettazzoni states this. I further accept that he makes an argument for this, giving reasons that refute the hypothesis. But the article is severely lacking in that it does not give any information regarding what these reasons or arguments might be. Providing them would be a great improvement to the article, and would allow users to make use of this article beyond as an appeal to authority. SCPhilosopher 15:57, 30 November 2007 (UTC)

well, the concept was mostly discussed in German (and Austrian) academia. I am not aware the topic has caused much of a stir in, say, Anglican theology. That said, by all means, the article should certainly be expanded. The present stage is just the best I could come up with after a brief literature search. I cordially invite you to research the topic in more detail and collect the relevant literature. The point is just that we need to find the literature first and expand the article later, informed by what we find. dab (𒁳) 22:43, 30 November 2007 (UTC)
after two years and no further sources brought forward, I assume the 1958 source can be taken as a conclusive summary of a historical avenue of scholarly speculation, which had been concluded by the time the account was given. --dab (𒁳) 20:29, 25 May 2010 (UTC)


I must admit I'm more than a little concerned about the sourcing for this article:

  • A fifty-year old German-language journal article is more than a tad inaccessible, making it problematical as a general reference -- as even if you could get your hands on it, a non-fluent-German reader would have difficulty browsing it to see where it says what.
  • I don't think an Biblically-inerrant Christian apologetics article, with a fairly partisan tone is a WP:RS for what should be an anthropological article.

HrafnTalkStalk(P) 14:53, 1 December 2010 (UTC)

well, it's a topic of historical, 19th-century, German scholarship. As such it is mostly of historical interest, and most sources will naturally be 19th-century German language publications. The 1958 article is just a handy summary of that literature, of course there is much room for expansion, if anyone feels like descending into the actual literature summarized there.

That said, if you feel current coverage is too slim, this can always be merged to become a section at Urreligion until more substantial material is brought up. --dab (𒁳) 11:51, 3 December 2010 (UTC)

Taking a closer look, I don't think the available coverage is too slim (see e.g. this, which has some good material). The questions would seem to be (i) whether to call this article 'Urmonotheismus' or 'Primitive Monotheism'. Both seem to have usage, so I'd favour the latter as being English-language. (ii) Whether to base it primarily on the 1958 German article, or on more accessible, but perhaps less authoritative, English sources (again, I'm Anglophile). (iii) Whether to retain the Geisler material (I'm against it, as being too obviously partisan, without a secondary source to analyse it). HrafnTalkStalk(P) 12:23, 3 December 2010 (UTC)

I have no objection to either a move or a merge. It's a case where the German term is current in English because it's a topic from the heyday of German scholarship (like ablaut, or sprachbund, etc.) but of course you can also call it "primitive monotheism". This won't do much for the naive reader, because, if they cannot understand Urmonotheismus, they will be almost certain to misunderstand "primitive". --dab (𒁳) 12:28, 3 December 2010 (UTC)

q.v. prim[edit]

from the Narmer pallette (c. 5,000-4,000 bc) to most all temple designs from stonehenge (2,500 BC to first Indonesia major temples and those in Europe, Egypt, China, Yucatan (Maya), Camboddian, and so he whole globe is the same overall patterns, designs written in stone for all to see, q.v. and those establish firmly monotheism from the earliest days and so primitive monotheism as the global norm, which did then degenerate to be reformed again; and of course, the decades of "now proven" refutation of this norm is all the drivel which reps as academe ... 's' snake eye sigurd xXx (talk) 22:52, 11 June 2011 (UTC)

and add a footnote and of course, those patterns rep not only that ancient clear understanding of monotheism from those earliest days, THEY also rep the THEN (5,000 BC plus) clear understanding of astro -physics of all creation, the creation model / machine (and note no present day understanding yet of any of this but those 7,000 ancients KNEW all that THEN) q.v. (note the source for these accurate conclusions are all those temples in stone and their patterns which have always had all that info preserved for all mankind but never understood at all by those hi scholars of that academe, aris totil joans IIIIII 7 tils now 23:03, 11 June 2011 (UTC)~~ — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

Minor wording issue[edit]

In History section it says "It was first defended by Wilhelm Schmidt (1868–1954), in his". First? were there others because I can only see him mentioned in the article. Defended? from who, there is no info on anyone challenging it before this statement, so maybe supporting (Primitive Monotheism, while opposing the Revolutionary Monotheism) would be better. --PLNR (talk) 03:40, 22 January 2014 (UTC)