The Construction of Monotheism: Dever, Stavrakopoulou, and Theosophists’ Viewpoints

Prof. William G. Dever and Francesca Stavrakopoulou on monotheism.

The Construction of Monotheism

Prof. William G. Dever (Archaeologist, Anthropologist, University of Arizona) says the Torah is a “Minority Report”

“To understand Paul, we have to realize that in antiquity, all monotheists were polytheists by our modern definition. Everyone (…) acknowledged the existence of everybody else’s gods. Back then, not only were you born into cultic obligations to the gods of your ethnic group, people showed respect to each other’s gods. The reason for this was twofold. Firstly, this was the language of diplomacy. Secondly, any god was more powerful than any human, so you wanted to avoid getting on the wrong side of any god” (also see The Construction of Monotheism: A Cross Cultural Impediment).

Francesca Stavrakopoulou on the Construction of Monotheism

Francesca Stavrakopoulou speaks on how Yahweh became prioritized over and above all other deities, so much so that all the other deities were relegated to lesser roles. Humans were constructing this change.

If we studied the history of philosophy, many schools held these positions.

Here are some of those things T H E O S O P H Y holds:

  • “We believe in MATTER alone”
  • “we deny God both as philosophers and as Buddhists”
  • Rejects the “theistic theory”
  • Rejects “automatism” (or early epiphenomenalism).

In rejecting the theistic theory, K.H. says:

“then what do we believe?”

It can be answered affirmatively —

“The Parabrahm of the Vedantins is the Deity we accept and believe in.” (Blavatsky, The Key to Theosophy, pg. 222)

“Deity is not God. It is NOTHING, and DARKNESS. It is nameless, and therefore called Ain-Soph – “the word Ayin meaning nothing.”(Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1, pg. 350)

“It is to avoid such anthropomorphic conceptions that the Initiates never use the epithet “God” to designate the One and Secondless Principle in the Universe.” (Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 2, pg. 555)

You cannot fit the jealous god into the teaching. It would ruin it.

“Neither our philosophy nor ourselves believe in a God, least of all in one whose pronoun necessitates a capital H.”

A Gigantic Male God

“Theosophy objects to the masculine pronoun used in connection with the Self-existent Cause, or Deity. It says IT – inasmuch as that “cause” the rootless root of all – is neither male, female, nor anything to which an attribute – something always conditioned, finite, and limited – can be applied. The confession made by our esteemed correspondent that he “cannot think of anything of nature, Spirit (!) Soul or God (!!) without the ideas of size, form, number, and relation,” is a living example of the sad spirit of anthropomorphism in this age of ours. It is this theological and dogmatic anthropomorphism which has begotten and is the legitimate parent of materialism.” (Blavatsky, Theosophical Articles and Notes, pg. 196-197)

“We reject the idea of a personal, or an extra-cosmic and anthropomorphic God, who is but the gigantic shadow of man, and not of man at his best, either. The God of theology, we say – and prove it – is a bundle of contradictions and a logical impossibility. Therefore, we will have nothing to do with him. . . .” (Blavatsky, The Key to Theosophy, pg. 61)

This conception is entirely unlike the theological notions:

“…we believe in matter alone, in matter as visible nature and matter in its invisibility as the … omnipresent omnipotent Proteus.”

This Proteus is referred to as DEITY, but the term “God” is avoided.

Our doctrine knows no compromises. It either affirms or denies (…) The God of the Theologians is (…) an imaginary power.”

In other words, Theosophy is their philosophy.

As K.H. stated: ‘if we ask the Christians, is your god SPACE?

They will reply “no”’ in the affirmative.

Atheists and Theosophists think alike

When theosophists are at their best, they do think like atheists.

“It falls to the lot of Theosophy to enlighten our generation on the subject of God, and this the Fundamental Propositions of The Secret Doctrine do. There is no Personal God anywhere and that is why there is no miracle anywhere. Having indicated what God is not, let us resolve to discard this word [i.e. the word “God”] which through its usage has become a source of great confusion and a pitfall for the unwary whose name is legion.” (B.P. Wadia)

“The theologian has made such blasphemous mockery of the Divine Law which is God, by transforming It into a personal being, and then investing him with powers and faculties and belongings, that men of knowledge, even scanty knowledge, cannot but brush it all aside. Those who have some reverence left in their hearts in this twentieth-century civilization rightly look upon this God of the theologian as a rank and intolerable blasphemy.” (B.P. Wadia)

It is quite true that the origin of every religion is based on the dual powers, male and female, of abstract Nature, but these in their turn were the radiations or emanations of the sexless, infinite, absolute Principle, the only One to be worshipped in spirit and not with rites; whose immutable laws no words of prayer or propitiation can change, and whose sunny or shadowy, beneficent or maleficent influence, grace or curse, under the form of Karma, can be determined only by the actions – not by the empty supplications – of the devotee. This was the religion, the One Faith of the whole of primitive humanity, and was that of the “Sons of God,” the B’ne Elohim of old.” (Helena P. Blavatsky, Buddhism, Christianity and Phallicism)

“Get rid of the notion that some great God listens to your prayer and answers it or refuses to respond to it as the case may be. There is no such being; there is no God, no Allah, no Ahuramazda, no Jehovah, nor what some badly instructed theosophists call the Solar Logos, in the sense of a Personal creator outside of Nature, and Nature’s immutable laws, who can grant you special favours.” (B.P. Wadia)

The way Richard Dawkins speaks here about the value of true education is very much our same thinking, despite him being atheist.

But unlike Atheists, the Theosophists state —

“The great obstacle of the Personal-God-Notion in the mind of the aspirant to spiritual life has to be removed. One of the questions often asked is: ‘If I give up God what is the substitute?’ The answer of modern science is agnostical, that of Theosophy is gnostical. Theosophy rejects miracle, accident, chance; it also rejects the view that the ultimate mystery of Life, i.e., Spirit, Mind, Matter, cannot be solved.” (B.P. Wadia)

“Theosophy does not believe in miracles, and therefore in no era of miracles. It affirms, because it knows, the unerring working of Law, and therefore rejects the existence of miracle-workers and of their parent the Miracle-Worker named God. With us God is Law, and beings high and low, from Shining Lords and Super-Men to elementals and elementaries are creatures born under Law, live and serve by Law, change and unfold because of the Law. For Theosophy there are no unsolved mysteries.” (B.P. Wadia)

Helena P. Blavatsky speaks of Yahweh often, as if it was a lower aeon or fiend (like an astral vampire) feeding on people’s worship, but her actual view can be gathered whenever she speaks of the secret teaching concerning the name, Y H W H (with each letter placed on four spaces of a horizontal and vertical crossing line), i.e., the mystery of Macroprosopus and Microprosopus in Kabbalism. She states, that she holds to the mystery of the Macroprosopus, i.e., En or En Sof. Her teachers are even more insulting, stating, that the God of the Theologians is an imaginary being, a power that never manifested.

‘Faith in God is a Superstition’

M. speaks of the Hindu attitudes toward the Buddhists:

“What have we, the disciples of the true Arhats, of esoteric Buddhism and of Sang-gyas to do with the Shasters and Orthodox Brahmanism? (…) Their forefathers have driven away the followers of the only true philosophy upon earth away from India and now, it is not for the latter to come to them but to them to come to us if they want us. Which of them is ready to become a Buddhist, a Nastika [i.e., Atheist, or non-Vedic] as they call us? None. Those who have believed and followed us have had their reward.” (Morya, The Prayag Letter, The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in Barker ed., Letter No. 134, Dehra Dun. Friday. 4th)

M. equates Yahweh to a high class of demons in Tibetan tradition:

Faith in the Gods and God, and other superstitions attracts millions of foreign influences, living entities and powerful agents around them, with which we would have to use more than ordinary exercise of power to drive them away. We do not choose to do so. We do not find it either necessary or profitable to lose our time waging war to the unprogressed Planetaries who delight in personating gods and sometimes well known characters who have lived on earth. There are Dhyan-Chohans and “Chohans of Darkness,” not what they term devils but imperfect “Intelligences” who have never been born on this or any other earth or sphere no more than the “Dhyan Chohans” have and who will never belong to the “builders of the Universe,” the pure Planetary Intelligences, who preside at every Manvantara while the Dark Chohans preside at the Pralayas. Explain this to Mr. Sinnett (…) let him remember that as all in this universe is contrast (…) so the light of the Dhyan Chohans and their pure intelligence is contrasted by the “Ma-Mo Chohans” — and their destructive intelligence. These are the gods the Hindus and Christians and Mahomed and all others of bigoted religions and sects worship; and so long as their influence is upon their devotees we would no more think of associating with or counteracting them in their work than we do the Red-Caps on earth whose evil results we try to palliate but whose work we have no right to meddle with so long as they do not cross our path. (You will not understand this, I suppose. But think well over it and you will. M. means here, that they have no right or even power to go against the natural or that work which is prescribed to each class of beings or existing things by the law of nature. The Brothers, for instance could prolong life but they could not destroy death, not even for themselves. They can to a degree palliate evil and relieve suffering; they could not destroy evil. No more can the Dhyan Chohans impede the work of the Mamo Chohans, for their Law is darkness, ignorance, destruction etc., as that of the former is Light, knowledge and creation. The Dhyan Chohans answer to Buddh, Divine Wisdom and Life in blissful knowledge, and the Ma-mos are the personification in nature of Shiva, Jehovah and other invented monsters…)” (Morya, The Prayag Letter, The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in Barker ed., Letter No. 134, Dehra Dun. Friday. 4th)



  1. This is not to detract from the above thesis, thorough as it is. As Buddhists, we reject . . .

    God’s existence is not dependent on the belief, or lack thereof, of human beings. If people choose not to believe in God, that does not mean He does not exist. All the time that people believed the Earth was flat it was actually round.

    Setting aside “scientific religion” and “religious science” and other such nomenclature, faith and belief are strengthened by bhakti, or loving devotion and service to God.


    1. Thanks for commenting. Are you Buddhist? The idea that faith and belief is strengthened by bhakti (devotion) is not a Buddhist position. Your statement assumes God exists to begin with. These are snippets to absolutely demonstrate what their position is, and not points on why “God” doesn’t; but the theory is not only rejected, but ample arguments are given in the further contexts of those quotes why God is imaginary, or does not exist. So the disagreement of the Theosophist is not hedged on a mere belief there is no God. A Theosophist would say the opposite, that faith and belief is very low on the scale in the production of wisdom, and begets superstition, emotionalism, and draws around persons, delusions that enslave us. A loving devotion to God is not possible, except to manifested beings, or other Intelligences, which the devotee is directing their will and vital energy. I would advise against that. Doing that is the common practice of the public, the family, tribal, or state-official religions. It’s not our philosophy.


      1. No, I am not Buddhist. I merely point out that atheism, old or new, is itself an act of faith. Atheists cannot invoke science to support their premise as science is not competent to answer the question as to God’s existence. High sounding words used in arguments do not carry the day. There are people that have convinced themselves that God cannot exist, therefore He does not exist. Bhakti is from the Vedic philosophy of India. Jnana, the way of knowledge can only take one so far on the path. Bhakti, devotion and surrender, can take one further if one is open to it.

        You are a seeker and I wish you well on your journey.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That argument is the casuistry of theologians and persons really threatened by the atheists, that state, theirs is an act of faith, as if humans are born with the belief in, or acknowledgement of God, which is not the case. The arguments for God retain their strength upon the very fact that so many people just “believe” in it just like so many believe in as you stated, “that the earth was flat.” The belief in the West is waning, believe me. The belief will only retain its strength by birthing children and automatically slapping their religions onto them, before they can even think for themselves, and before then, they are already shoved with the belief that it is impossible for God not to exist. It is very simple, as stated for the Theosophists. The causes attributed to the God of the religions is not caused by such a being, or super-entity, and they are incorrect in their conclusions. Both Theosophists and Atheists may argue upon that basis, and this is why it is noted by Blavatsky and her teachers, why the Theosophists are Nastikas, rather than believers in the Personal God. It is very good, that outside of modern atheism, as we present, amongst the Europeans, or Westerners, has existed since antiquity in THEIR history, the grounds for Non-Abrahamic, Mosaic or Christological approaches to viewing the nature of reality. You may also like this article of David Reigle questioning even the belief in God in India:


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