My main reason for putting this essay online is to have non-scriptural monotheism up where search engines can find the term. Other possible terms are: non-scriptural theism, non-scriptural Judaism, non-scriptural Christianity, nonscriptural monotheism, nonscriptural theism, nonscriptural Judaism, nonscriptural Christianity, ascriptural monotheism, ascriptural theism, ascriptural Judaism, ascriptural Christianity, non-dogmatic theism, non-dogmatic monotheism. I Googled these terms and found little more than my own writing in which they appear. If you are a non-scriptural monotheist or any of the above variants, please email me.
Though I have no right to propose an official definition of the term, this is how I understand it:
Non-scriptural monotheism can be one or both of the following:
- the belief (probability judgment) that a monotheistic God exists, but cannot be shown to be accurately represented by any form of scripture
- the decision to bet (regardless of probability judgment) that a monotheistic God exists, but cannot be shown to be accurately represented by any form of scripture
Sub-definitions immediately become necessary. e.g. What does "monotheistic God" mean? The term presupposes that the Supreme Being (that which created the first created thing) is a person. Therefore God can mean several things which may or may not be the same person. Some (but not all) of those possibilities include:
- the Person who created the first created thing
- the Person who created this universe
- the Person who created mankind
- the Person to whom mankind is accountable
If any (or any combination) of these Gods exist, the only one anyone need be concerned with is the God to whom mankind is accountable. Therefore the above two definitions must be repeated with a modification:
- the belief (probability judgment) that the God to whom mankind is accountable exists, but cannot be shown to be accurately represented by any form of scripture
- the decision to bet (regardless of probability judgment) that the God to whom mankind is accountable exists, but cannot be shown to be accurately represented by any form of scripture
Within non-scriptural monotheism are many possibilities including deism.
The social and political problems caused by monotheism (in whatever form) are not caused by a belief in, or decision to bet on a God, but by the belief in, or decision to bet on a particular version of that God as represented by a particular body of allegedly holy scripture. The problem is not monotheism (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, or otherwise), but scripturalism.
Whether a God exists or not, scripture would necessarily evolve because monotheism is philosophically, spiritually, and emotionally compelling. But even if a personal God to whom we are accountable does exist, there is no philosophical reason to assume he would necessarily communicate in human language. He could rightly judge every person by their effort to do good rather than evil, as each individual understands good and evil. If he were to communicate in human language, and allow that communication to be recorded as his divine "Word", a question arises as to why he would then allow counterfeit scripture to arise and deceive sincere people in their efforts to obey him. A further question arises as to why he would promise punishment to people who happen to believe the wrong scripture package.
Again assuming that a personal God to whom we are accountable exists, scripture itself should not be seen as detrimental to his purposes. As a record of man's efforts to relate to such a God, scripture has great value. We can all learn from those efforts. It is only the belief in scripture as divine revelation that causes its many spiritual and social detriments.
What good is non-scriptural monotheism?
Historically monotheism has produced a mixed bag of benefits and detriments to the welfare and happiness of humanity. On one hand, it offers the only possible criteria for objective morality. But then monotheism leaves itself open to hijacking by men who claim to know what that morality consists of. Even if some of those men have been perfectly right, that doesn't mean what God told them is universally applicable.
Until the Nuclear Age it was of relatively little importance if some people thought God wanted them to commit atrocities on other people - at least not important to the welfare of humanity as a whole. But now some of the most sincere God-believers pose the greatest threat to civilization.