Small Gods and One God

Who creates whom? Do gods create us or do we hold their existence in the palm of our hand with our belief?

Today the idea of the Greek and Egyptian Pantheons of gods seems quaint and naive. In it’s time, Judaism’s idea of one god was radical. This idea had been put forth by an Egyptian pharaoh once before. But he was viewed as insane and his ideas abandoned upon his death.

What gods need is belief, and what humans want is gods Terry Pratchett Small Gods quoteUntil this sudden shift across cultures there was a rich society of deities with personal lives to rival any reality show today. All those gods, goddesses, spirits and worshiped ancestors were replaced by one god. Crowned with a capital G.

Isn’t interesting that once we reduced the many squabbling gods to one that we began slaughtering each other the right way to worship that one god.

The two pieces that have my mind percolating on the how one god usurped so the others.

This NOVA episode explores the origins of the Hebrew Bible and the Israelites’ introduction of the belief in one god.

Terry Pratchett’s Small Gods, which chronicles the rise of a particularly enterprising small god, Om who takes the shape of a turtle, rose from obscurity in the desert to world wide fame.

In Pratchett’s world gods are very much like today’s start ups. They pop in and out of existence, there are thousands and thousands of them. People’s belief is their nourishment. To survive and grow they must gather believers.

Don’t read this book or watch this show if you don’t want your comfortable nest of delusions about the role of religion in our society challenged.

If you’d like to stay in the cocoon of complacency click here. (and be sure to keep clicking show me another cat)


Photo: flickr