Misotheism is the "hatred of God" or "hatred of the gods" (from the Greek adjective μισόθεος "hating the gods", a compound of μῖσος "hatred" and θεός "god"). In some varieties of polytheism, it was considered possible to inflict punishment on gods by ceasing to worship them. Thus, Hrafnkell, protagonist of the eponymous Icelandic saga set in the 10th century, as his temple to Freyr is burnt and he is enslaved states that "I think it is folly to have faith in gods", never performing another sacrifice, a position described in the sagas as goðlauss "godless". Jacob Grimm in his Teutonic Mythology observes that:
In monotheism, the sentiment arises in the context of theodicy (the problem of evil, the Euthyphro dilemma). A famous literary expression of misotheistic sentiment is Goethe's Prometheus, composed in the 1770s, not coincidentally contemporary to the first modern expressions of atheism.
A related concept is dystheism (Greek δύσθεος "ungodly"), the belief that a god is not wholly good, and is possibly evil. Trickster gods found in polytheistic belief systems often have a dystheistic nature. One example is Eshu, a trickster god from Yoruba mythology who deliberately fostered violence between groups of people for his own amusement, saying that "causing strife is my greatest joy."
Some Dualist interpretations of Christianity would conclude that demons are gods in those subsets of religions. In that context, misotheism is encouraged for one half of all deities but not the other half. The concept of the Demiurge in some versions of ancient Gnosticism also often portrayed the Demiurge as a generally evil entity.
Many polytheistic deities since prehistoric times have been assumed to be neither good nor evil (or to have both qualities). Thus dystheism is normally used in reference to God. In conceptions of God as the summum bonum, the proposition of God not being wholly good would of course be a contradiction in terms.
A historical proposition close to "dystheism" is the deus deceptor (dieu trompeur) of Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy, which has been interpreted by Protestant critics as the blasphemous proposition that God exhibits malevolent intent. But Kennington states that Descartes never declared his "evil genius" to be omnipotent, but merely no less powerful than he is deceitful, and thus not explicitly an equivalent to God, the singular omnipotent deity.
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