Today’s question on the Ethical Witches list asks about the nature of the gods. In particular:
Are the gods are more or less immortal? Are they so much vaster than we can conceive? Or are the gods a reflection of the culture and people who worship them? Are they in some way dependent on us, or are we dependent upon them? So do they shape us or do we shape them?
I’ve heard it said that when belief in a god dies, the god dies. It’s something to think about.
My answer is below.
Priests, philosophers, and theologians around the world have contemplated this question and others like it and have come up with countless answers, none of which can be proved right or wrong. All I can say with any certainty is what I’ve experienced.
I have experienced ancient gods whose formal worship ended millennia ago, and they were certainly not dead. I wouldn’t say they’re weaker than they were, or at least, what I experienced was far from weak. But since they have comparatively few worshippers, perhaps their influence is much less than it was during their Golden Ages.
Are we dependent on the gods? Strictly speaking, humans aren’t dependent on other humans, but I know few people who want to live in isolation. Likewise, much of contemporary Western society – including many who are nominally religious – live without gods. But my life is much richer with them. And it stands to reason that the reverse is also true: the gods don’t need us, but their lives are fuller (and certainly more interesting) with us in them.
Beyond this is speculation. Reasonable speculation, perhaps, but still more guesswork than observation or deduction. Are the gods immortal? Are they vaster than we can conceive? Are they an aspect of Ultimate Reality?
Yes, and so are we. The gods just understand this better than we do.