While learning about classical mythology at school, I was taught that these pagan religions are "primitive" (compared to our modern monotheistic religions).
But are they?
This question has always kind of bugged me. It's my impression that the pagan polytheistic beliefs had a certain logic to them that was lost in the transition to monotheism.
Monotheism seems to go hand-in-hand with belief that God is omnipotent, so to simplify things I'll group monotheism and God's omnipotence as a single belief. Feel free to dispute this connection in the comments. :D
Right off the bat, true omnipotence is as self-contradictory as "the set of all sets" (in Mathematics). However, most believers agree that God doesn't really need to create an immovable object (that is so immovable that it can't even be moved by God). So I assume the solution to this conundrum is to say "it's not that God can do anything at all, just anything within reason..."
But even if we ignore this paradox, the idea that there might be a bunch of different supernatural beings -- with different spheres of influence and different goals -- seems to correspond to our chaotic world a lot better than the idea that the world is run by one guy who can do anything (within reason) and actually has some sort of plan...
Then there's the question of followers. If I understand correctly, the pagan gods liked to have followers give them sacrifices because, well, sacrifices are tasty and/or they increase the particular god's strength or something like that.
On the other hand, the unique, omnipotent God likes to have followers worshiping Him because...... ?????
(A tangent for the Christians: Why did God need to sacrifice Jesus in order to forgive His children/creations of the flaws He created in them? Did He just want to do it that way? If not, is He omnipotent or what?)
My goal here isn't to offend people or mock people's beliefs. I am completely serious when I say that as a Mathematician (sort of), I see more logic and internal consistency to a polytheistic system than to a monotheistic/omnipotent system. However it's very possible that it's just that I haven't heard or considered all of the arguments in monotheism's favor.
If any of you monotheists have an argument I haven't heard or an alternate take on any of what I've said above, please post a comment.
p.s. to LDS readers: I realize that Mormonism has a system that isn't quite monotheistic yet is also different from pagan-style polytheism. I am particularly interested in getting a (faithful) LDS perspective on monotheism-vs-polytheism, and not to mock it or shoot it down. I'm genuinely curious as to what is a typical current LDS take on this subject might be.