Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Review: The Case for Polytheism by Steven Dillon

There are only a few books presenting a philosophical case of polytheism, and we need more such works. The field of apologetics — laying out a reasoned argument in favor of certain theological ideas —  is a key part of the body of thought of any religion. 

There are a few works that fulfill this role for polytheism, with John Michael Greer’s A World Full of Gods probably the most emblematic such work. Steven Dillon's The Case for Polytheism, published in February by Iff Books, is another effort. 

At 75 pages of text (followed by notes and a bibliography), Dillion’s work is more of an expanded pamphlet, but he packs a lot of thought into those pages. Grappling first with what a god is, he then lays out a case for the existence of a god or gods, and then argues that a multiplicity of gods is more likely to exist than a single deity. 

Through all of these early chapters his case is well-argued. He draws on his training in philosophy at a Roman Catholic seminary, bringing weight to his logic and depth to his meticulous construction of a case. The work is somewhat dry and analytical — he lacks Greer’s conversational warmth — but still accessible. 

Dillon’s argument culminates in a conclusion that many polytheists will find troublesome and others will welcome: There is, Dillon concludes, a “God behind the gods,” an overarching divine power that he terms Aletheia. This power is goodness in essence and creator of the gods. As he has through all of the book, Dillon argues for this position with careful logic and reasoning, 

All in all, this is a worthy addition to the small but growing field of polytheist apologetics. It should be read alongside Greer, Jordan Paper and others rather than taken on its own, but Dillon adds an important perspective.