6.10.2005

god stuff

Researching Greek and Roman mythology, I came upon this list of deities in Wikipedia.

Look at them all! To some, this multitude speaks of the universality of god - the many masks the supreme being wears, in Joseph Campbell parlance. To others (like me), it speaks of the universality of the need for gods, and the need for religion in human societies.

But one thing it's got to highlight is the utter gall of people who think their god is God, the one and only True God. Who don't realize that the stories of their god are just like everyone else's: stories. Not facts.

Just a thought. I notice I'm posting my ruminations a lot more these days. Ah well, back to ancient Athens.

10 comments:

G said...

If there is a God, s/he is most likely a combination of bits and pieces of all of mankind's historical deities.

Our stories come from somewhere, in all cultures, and if there is no God it would be interesting to trace where the stories all began and why they stuck for so long. Is hope, or the need for hope, so powerful as to sustain that belief (I'm talking about before the power of the church). In later years, church power had much to do with it ... but still, that belief had to be strong for some reason in order to keep people listening to the church. That would make for fascinating research, I think.

But, going back, IF the notion of a God IS true, the combination idea would (to the ever-agnostic me) be most sensible in my mind.

L-girl said...

"Our stories come from somewhere, in all cultures, and if there is no God it would be interesting to trace where the stories all began and why they stuck for so long."

There certainly does seem to be a human need for stories. Stories answer questions. They explain the world. The belief in higher powers makes people feel safe, and helps them explain what they can't control.

I know many people see the cross-cultural thing (the ubiquity of belief) as evidence of god, but I always find that so strange. As if the stories actually came from a god. But that's how it is to someone with no religious feelings.

G said...

Yeah ... I don't know if there is a God or not, but I too can understand how the stories would make it seem so. Interesting subject area ... glad you brought it up.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, G! You're so appreciative of my random thoughts.

I definitely don't know if there's a god. I just don't feel it. As one of my favorite atheists (Clarence Darrow) said, I don't pretend to know where others are so sure.

L-girl on iPAQ

RobfromAlberta said...

In physics, there are some two dozen fundamental constants, such as the mass of an electron, the fundamental charge, the gravitational constant, etc. One of the interesting mysteries of the universe is how well-tuned these constants are to allow the complex chemistry necessary to produce life. There is no clear understanding as to why this should be. Assuming no as yet unexplained means of setting these constants to the appropriate values exists, the likelihood of the particular conditions we need coming about by chance are beyond astronomically improbable.

I really don't know if there is a god or not, but if such an entity does exist, its hand is on the levers that set these precise physical constants.

G said...

That's a really nice of way of putting it Rob. I like that. Thanks!

L-Girl, of course I appreciate the random thoughts - after all, random thoughts are all I am! Half my own writing comes from whatever is spinning through my head at the moment ... little of it is preplanned at all. Which for me makes it more interesting to write as I can just "go with the flow" and have some fun with it.

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

I think I prefer the term agnostic to atheist for myself. I assume God (or Gods) is something unknowable.

There's a lot we don't understand. We don't understand why life exists, and on even why we're concious. I mean, physically we're just a big bag of chemicals, but why am I concious of that fact but the table beside me is not. What happens when I die? Some atheists might say I cease to exist, but even that's debatable, because we can't define what "I" am.

Anyway, people can't handle the unknowable, so they come up with something to explain it. Hence gods, ghosts, and magic.

L-girl said...

"Anyway, people can't handle the unknowable, so they come up with something to explain it. Hence gods, ghosts, and magic."

Oh yeah. Sometimes when a coincidence occurs, I think, whole religions have been started from this. There's a lightning storm, then a child's fever breaks. A man says a prayer, then narrowly escapes being hit by a bus...

A Red Sox fan wears a t-shirt, his favorite player hits a walk-off home run...

Anonymous said...

God is a universal human phenomenon. Some scientists think it's hardwired into our DNA and belief in God provides evolutionary advantages. See: http://www.time.com/time/covers/1101041025/

L-girl said...

If it were universal, all people would have it. They don't, so it ain't.

It may be a universal cultural phenomenon, but that's different.