How many gods are there? Well, of course an atheist would say that number is zero, but there are those that worship a variety of deities, some, like in Hinduism, much older (depending on the scholarship) of either Judaism or of course Christianity. There are still practitioners of Zoroastrianism in the Middle East, which is over 3,000 years old. It seems that even in ancient Israel, the land of one god, in the 8th and 7th centuries BCE, people were still worshipping other gods, as have been found in archeological excavations and described in The Bible Unearthed.
That alone makes the bible an interesting perusal where in the Old Testament, there is only a single god and the people of Israel are commanded in the Ten Commandments that, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3, Deuteronomy 5:7). There are other references to the same command in Exodus (34:14) and Deuteronomy (6:14), as well as other places in the Old Testament including II Kings, Jeremiah, Psalms, Isaiah, and Hosea.
Why would a god, if there is only a single one, have to instruct his people, not to follow other gods? Of course we find out immediately, 2 verses past the Exodus 20:3 reference. Their god is a jealous god. Why would a supreme being be jealous of something we are taught does not, and never has existed (other gods)? It just seems strange that this would even be mentioned if in fact there were actually no other gods.
Christianity, in my opinion, has it’s own problems when they had to strain the limits of logic when they deified Jesus in the 4th century CE. And what about all of those Saints worshiped in the Catholic Church today that in another age would be described as demigods? Christians may claim to be monotheistic, but their practices do not support that claim.
We have the command to worship a god, (or gods as I see it) or else. We have examples of that jealous god in the Old Testament punishing his people because they dared question his authority over them. They sometimes decided to worship other gods as in Deuteronomy 29:26 (didn’t take long, did it?) or in Ezekiel 8.
Why would these people reject the god that brought them out of Egypt, or made their kingdom so prosperous, as described in the bible? Maybe because they realized that this god, in their minds, wasn’t actually the true and only god and that they were searching for something, anything, that would satisfy their spiritual need, as people do even today.
When even the bible shows us how the chosen people drifted away at times, is it a wonder today that people are doing the exact same thing?