The Rise of Monotheism

Monotheism is the belief in one god in a certain religion. Monotheism is the most widely practiced religion on our planet, but how did it become so widespread? A big factor in this spread was a need for unity in groups. In a podcast interview with Azim Shariff who is a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia, interviewer Shankar Vedantim states that they will be taking a look at Shariffs work on a psychological look on the spread of religion. Shariff talks about how in the past humans were together in small groups, this was because bigger groups caused conflicts within themselves due to a lack of unity. Shariff says this is when religion becomes the unifying factor that these expanding groups needed when he states “It needed a cultural idea. It needed a cultural innovation to allow us to succeed in these larger groups. And so one of the things that I and my colleagues have been arguing is that religion was one of these cultural innovations.” This need for a cultural idea shaped monotheism, this is due to the need for something to bring many people together and if you have everyone believing in the same singular god so that the people could focus on succeeding as a group then as individuals. I believe this prioritization of religion is the main factor in the spread of monotheism, this is because there are many small groups and to grow they need to focus on the benefits of the groups to become stronger.


Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store