By Mitch Johnson
Fans of the TV show Battlestar Galactica are left to wonder why the humans are polytheists and the cylon robots are monotheists. Back on Earth, however, the motivations and outcome of the first experiment with monotheism in history are well documented. Amenhotep III, pharaoh of the 18th dynasty in Ancient Egypt, desired to wrest power back from the priests at Karnak, who as direct representatives of the various gods were collecting enough tribute and power to challenge the pharaoh. His son, Amenhotep IV, ultimately rejected the Amen, embraced the obscure sun god Aten (changing his name to Akhenaten), built a new holy city away from Karnak in Amarna, and introduced to the world both monotheism and religious oppression. Only he could worship the Aten, and all references to the Amen were to be destroyed. After the unexplained loss of his queen, Nefertiti; his mother; and one of his daughters, Akhenaten became fanatical, introverted, and self obsessed. He ignored the entreaties of allies and the growing threat of foreign enemies, notably the Hitites in the East, and soon the empire was on the verge of collapse. With his death, Egypt dispensed with this disastrous experiment and managed to survive long enough for Ramesses II to rise and restore glory. Monotheism, of course, would return with the much more successful religions of Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.