Deducing the Nature of the Gods, Part II

Deducing the Nature of the Gods, Part II February 29, 2016

Interestingly, the problem of good and evil exhibits the same structure as the problem of understanding the infinite. Augustine’s conversion from Manichaeism to orthodox Christianity was inspired, in part, by his realization that the Manichaean concept of deities that were absolute logical opposites was logically untenable. Logical opposites must be opposite in every detail. However, if evil exists, then it shares the fact that it exists with the good, since existence itself is good. Hence the absolute opposite of anything and everything is nothing, the absolutely nonexistent.

Augustine therefore proposed that the correct theological equation is not that that

good = (+ 1), evil = (-1), and the sum of good and evil = 0,

but that

good = (+1), whereas evil -> 0.

That is, evil, like darkness, has no ontological existence of its own; evil is merely the absence of good, as darkness is merely the absence of light. Darkness is not a black fog that rolls in to obliterate the light; evil is also not a black something that overwhelms goodness (even though the “evil that lurks in the hearts of men” often feels to us like an “evil spirit”). Augustine had some genuinely harmful ideas, like his concept that original sin is transmitted by sex (he had a son, Deodatus, and therefore must have had sex at least once, but apparently he did not much like it), which greatly contributed to the scourge of Aphrodiphobia, but his concept that evil à 0 was one of his better ideas. It is why, in Dante’s Inferno, Satan is frozen solid in the center of the Earth, frozen just short of nonexistence. Hence the comic-book depiction of the war between good and evil as being hand-to-hand combat between Jesus and Satan is Manichaean theology, not Chtistian. Satan is frozen; he cannot roam the Earth. Evil is real, of course, but, as Scott Peck argues, only as a human mental illness. The concept of an “evil deity” is therefore an oxymoron with no real referent, as meaningless as the concept of a finite deity, a square circle, or a green sound. No real deity would purposely harm a human unnecessarily, by, for example, tormenting them forever. Any being, physical or spiritual, who is willing to harm, or not even try to prevent unnecessary harm, would be an enemy, not a god.

One might ask, if there is an infinite number of gods, which god is the ultimate one? But that is not the right question. The answer is that each deity is infinite, unique, and ultimate, for the following reasons.

Every set must have unique elements. Two sets containing five rocks each are distinct, because, no matter how similar the rocks are, they differ in location. Concepts and immaterial entities (that is, ones not consisting of physical matter) have no location. A set consisting of the concepts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 is not duplicated by a set also containing those five concepts; they are the same set. Any two finite sets containing identical elements are the same set.

The set of all cardinal numbers and the set of all even cardinal numbers can be described using different words. However, all the elements of the latter are included among the elements of the former, and, by an ordinary rule of logic, since each set = A0, they are equal to each other.

The form of the general rule for nonphysical sets is that if all the elements in two sets are identical to each other, then there is only one set, not two. This rule can be generalized as follows.

For Wolfgang Pauli’s Exclusion Principle: if two particles are identical in every detail, then they are the same particle.

As Thomas Aquinas deduced about angels, two angels that are identical in every detail are just one angel. He suggested that angels differ in their order of magnitude, much like the increasingly larger transfinite sets, endlessly increasing toward the infinite magnitude of the Divine

Likewise, two deities that were identical in every way would be the same deity. However, given an infinity of distinct transfinite numbers, there is also an infinity of deities, each unique, an unending sequence of Gods and Goddesses.

But isn’t there just one ultimate deity who includes all the others? I don’t think so.

The Allegory of the Diamond

Consider the infinite Divinity to be like a spherical diamond of infinite diameter, with each of its facets (as on Hera’s faceted throne, in Sappho’s verse—let’s posit them as hexagonal, just to have a neat surface) being the base of a pyramid that extends infinitely toward the center of the sphere; each pyramid is then infinite in volume and is itself a unique, infinite deity. Since the diamond is immaterial, the facets do not have fixed locations relative to one another. The facets themselves are finite and we experience them as the Guardian Angels who are each person’s interface with the infinite. (Is an angel the same as or different from the infinite deity? Yes, both. The infinite is infinitely paradoxical to finite beings.)

Whichever facet you focus on, pray to, worship, will manifest to you as the Ultimate Reality. Those who focus on the same concept of divinity will be bound together into a sodality of greater spiritual power than the sum of that of the individuals.

The Gods have no pride; that’s a human failing. The Gods will come by whatever name they are called, as long as you call them.

As Blake said, “If the doors of perception were cleansed,” we would see the Gods walking among us, healing our wounds, protecting us from accidents and folly, if we let them do so. The Gods do not dwell elsewhere, in the sky, in another, nonphysical universe, at some other time or place. The diamond dwells within us, not elsewhere. The Gods are always here among us, in the only universe there is.

Religion is not abstract. It is personal. Religion, religious beliefs, do not exist outside of human consciousness. (Can you see why Gods would not have religious beliefs?) One can obviously describe religions as social structures, but it is equally true that there are as many religions as there are living human beings. That is, one cannot speak of religion impersonally.

You may rightly suppose that my predilection for such an explanation is conditioned by my Awakening experience at age 14, because what I felt was a Person, not a force. Having experienced what felt to me like their infinitude gives me a certain advantage or perspective or perhaps merely an assumption. As a result, I find it intuitively obvious that the Gods must be infinite, and I find it puzzling why their infinitude would not be obvious to everyone else.

The preceding Allegory of the Diamond is not intended to be a logical proof, any more than Plato’s allegories were. I know it will not make sense to a person who has never felt the presence of the Gods or who has never had to do the Twelve Steps (or some equivalent) in order to save his or her life. There cannot be an abstract argument that would prove that the Gods are infinite, or even that the Gods exist. There can be instead only a personal argument, because knowledge of the divine is always personal and experiential, not abstract.

The Allegory is not intended to convert or Awaken anyone. It is intended, like the Gnostic cosmologies, to explain Awakening to those who have already Awakened, or who have already felt a touch of that ecstasy and who are looking for more of it. Christian missionaries seem rarely to understand that the gospels were not written to serve as tools for converting people; they were written to be read on Sunday mornings to those who were already faithful, in order to explain the how and why of their faith to them..

Gnostic scholars generally seem to think that the cosmologies were what the Gnostics knew—and then they wonder why each Gnostic teacher created a different cosmology. Not even my late, brilliant friend Marvin Meyer ever seemed to grasp that what the Gnostics knew was the experience of Awakening, the experience of being enfolded within divine compassion. The Gnostic cosmologies were written as attempts to explain how and why the Awakening had happened and what it meant. The only two writers I have found so far who have clearly grasped that concept are Richard Smoley, in his Forbidden Faith, and Stephan Hoeller, in his The Gnostic Jung and the Seven Sermons to the Dead.[1]

The Passion of the Gods

The Persons known to us only by revelation must be more than human, not less. We are sexual beings, and so must they be, especially if, as one myth says, they made us to be just like them. At least there must be a God who is perfectly male and a Goddess who is perfectly female. (There are lots of other options, many myths about gods who are androgynous, but I’m not going to explore that here.) I think the mystery of gender, unlike time, space, matter, or energy, must also be an ultimate reality. The divine love between the God and the Goddess, the passion of their sexual embrace, is the source of all creation.

Hence sex is not optional; it is essential. Sex is not opposed to faith; it is the heart of faith and revelation, not its enemy. It is a true path to salvation, both holy and fragile. It is like fire: beautiful in itself, neither morally good nor morally bad in itself. Only the way in which people use it can be called good or bad. As She has told us, “All acts of love and pleasure are my rituals.” All pleasure is therefore good in itself, as trees, water, air, light, and earth are good in themselves, for they are. To be is a good in itself. Sex is, as the Gods are. The more sex, the more love, the more pleasure there is, the more divinity there is, and the more we become the Gods.

The passion of the Gods is not a calm and boring bliss. It is a sensual riot. The joy of our orgasm at its best, if compared to the passion of the Gods, is like a gentle breeze compared to a hurricane. The Gods want us to be with them in their ecstasy; they want to make love to us: they want us to make love to them. Only our ignorance keeps us from ecstasy. We learn through pleasure, and joyful knowledge raises our divinity. Only pain and misery are repeated over and over; wisdom and ecstasy raise us into communion with the Godhead, and allow us to participate in the infinity of creation.

[1] I hope someone else interested in theology but better at math might attempt continuing my inquiry here. I have merely an impression of what some possible hybrids might look like. These include Boolean theology, Euclidean theology, non-Euclidean theology, multidimensional theology, ordered theological structures, probability theology, quantum theology, relativity and gravitational theology, symbolic theology, theological invariants, theological space, and theotopology.

You can find my books on Amazon:

A Tapestry of Witches: A History of the Craft in America, Vol. I, to the Mid-1970s.Tacoma, WA: Hierophant Wordsmith Press, 2015.

Aradia and the Books of the Sacred Marriage: A Tale of Love, Witches, and Gnostics. Tacoma, WA: Hierophant Wordsmith Press, 2016.

Hippie Commie Beatnik Witches: A Social History of the New Reformed Orthodox Order of the Golden Dawn. Tacoma, WA: Hierophant Wordsmith Press, 2011.

Theodyssies and Paradoxologies: Collected Poetry. Tacoma, WA: Hierophant Wordsmith Press, 2012.

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