A study from the University of Uppsala is asking an interesting question: what did the ancient Vikings actually think of their gods? Did they look to them for moral guidance, and ask them to correct injustice?
For a long time, it has generally been accepted that religions will believe in one omnipotent god that will play a large roll in shaping society and intervening when necessary. However, in this study, it is postulated that the Vikings were able to develop a strong society based on worshiping many gods – not just one omnipotent god.
And unlike other major religions such as Christianity, it seems that the Vikings did not believe their gods to be omnipotent or even immortal. Their behaviors could even be compared to what the average human might do. In addition, while the Vikings may have believed in supernatural creatures such as orcs, these bore little – if any – influence on how they lived their day-to-day life.
Based on how the Vikings acted, researchers claim that the belief in one single omnipotent god does not appear to have been necessary to create a complex, highly-functioning society.
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