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Author Topic: Where Have All The Gods Gone?  (Read 6430 times)
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« Topic Start: October 14, 2008, 10:51:30 am »

It seems like back in the olden days, the gods were always hanging around. Whether it was cavorting with mortals, making miracles, or just a good old-fashioned smiting, the older myths are full of the clear and obvious presence of the Divine. Nowadays, the deities seem more subtle, to say the least.

What do you think there is such a big difference between the ancient stories and most modern religions? Is it because the things people used to attribute to Divinity have been explained by science? Is it because the Divine has withdrawn from the earth? Is it because most people just don't know how to listen any more? Is is all of these; is it something else? What do you think?
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« Reply #1: October 14, 2008, 11:06:46 am »

It seems like back in the olden days, the gods were always hanging around. Whether it was cavorting with mortals, making miracles, or just a good old-fashioned smiting, the older myths are full of the clear and obvious presence of the Divine. Nowadays, the deities seem more subtle, to say the least.

What do you think there is such a big difference between the ancient stories and most modern religions? Is it because the things people used to attribute to Divinity have been explained by science? Is it because the Divine has withdrawn from the earth? Is it because most people just don't know how to listen any more? Is is all of these; is it something else? What do you think?

I think gods make good story characters and plot hooks.

"Why does Fred go do this?"  "Um .. there's a god pissed at him?"  "sweet, I'll run with that!"

I mean, really - the Oddessy wouldn't make ANY sense without gods meddling all over the place.  In a lot of ways, I think gods fit the same fiction niche that conspiracies do now - a force outside of your control doing stuff you have to cope with for reasons you just can't comprehend.

So I don't think it's so much a change of the gods as it is of storytelling.
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« Reply #2: October 14, 2008, 11:16:24 am »

What do you think there is such a big difference between the ancient stories and most modern religions? Is it because the things people used to attribute to Divinity have been explained by science? Is it because the Divine has withdrawn from the earth? Is it because most people just don't know how to listen any more? Is is all of these; is it something else? What do you think?

Well, in the first place, I think that the myths are...  well, myths.  They aren't history.  Stories about smitings don't necessarily indicate that a smiting happened, really for factual-real, historically, etc.  They exist to tell us, "This sort of behaviour is not OK."  I'm not convinced that the Gods were necessarily more prone to direct interference in the world in ancient times than they are now.
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« Reply #3: October 14, 2008, 11:35:41 am »


I'm going to second what Star and Shad said.

Another thing could be that we now understand what gods were said to do (create earthquakes and throw lightning bolts f/x) through scientific terms.
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« Reply #4: October 14, 2008, 01:05:22 pm »



Even in ancient times, stories about the gods were often considered to take place in a lost golden age.  All over Greek literature, you find lamentations about the boring, prosaic world where humans are no longer Proper Heroes like they were in the Good Old Days.  People in *Homer's* day were mourning the passing of the age of the great heroes who walked with the gods.  And it's certainly not just the Greeks; there's actually a term, which is escaping me, for the "mourning for the heroic/more god-filled past" in Anglo-Saxon literature.

The time when the gods interacted regularly with mortals is, in many Western contexts, almost *always* figured as long past.  And it's not just gods:  Carole Silver remarks that "the fairies have been leaving England since the fourteenth century."
 
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« Reply #5: October 14, 2008, 03:41:28 pm »


Another thing could be that we now understand what gods were said to do (create earthquakes and throw lightning bolts f/x) through scientific terms.

I agree with this.  Things just aren't as mysterious as they once were.  And because we can explain things like the plague, and acts of nature using science, we're more likely to look to science for things that we can't really explain - like cancer, AIDS, autism.  Those things all exist just because we've not found a way to prevent them.  Whereas back in the old days, we'd attribute them to the Gods being pissed at us.
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« Reply #6: October 14, 2008, 07:20:39 pm »

And because we can explain things like the plague, and acts of nature using science, we're more likely to look to science for things that we can't really explain - like cancer, AIDS, autism.  Those things all exist just because we've not found a way to prevent them.  Whereas back in the old days, we'd attribute them to the Gods being pissed at us.
As an autistic person (Asperger syndrome, to be specific), I have to ask, why you consider autism similar to cancer and AIDS. Autism is just brain functioning differently. Sometimes it is impractical. People with early childhood autism are famous from learning to speak years later than other people do. But sometimes un-autism aka neurotypicality is impractical, too. For instance, neurotypicals don't remember details so well as autistic people do!

I think my life has been more difficult than average, but autism has been a minor reason for that. The major reason are lots of other people: their unbending and intolerant attitudes. My peers bullied me and isolated me at school. That isn't my autism's fault but their fault. At universities and job market people rely a lot on social relationships and unofficial, you-heard-it-from-your-pal knowledge. This is an invisible obstacle for people with autism, who are typically socially clumsy. And again, these kind of structures are not autism's fault.

An autistic person typically needs more help in practical things like learning unwritten social rules or walking in places they haven't been before. But there are also other people that need more help than an average person. There are very young people, old people, sick people, people with disabilities. Should we *cough* "prevent" them too?
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« Reply #7: October 14, 2008, 07:28:03 pm »

As an autistic person (Asperger syndrome, to be specific), I have to ask, why you consider autism similar to cancer and AIDS. Autism is just brain functioning differently. Sometimes it is impractical. People with early childhood autism are famous from learning to speak years later than other people do. But sometimes un-autism aka neurotypicality is impractical, too. For instance, neurotypicals don't remember details so well as autistic people do!

I think my life has been more difficult than average, but autism has been a minor reason for that. The major reason are lots of other people: their unbending and intolerant attitudes. My peers bullied me and isolated me at school. That isn't my autism's fault but their fault. At universities and job market people rely a lot on social relationships and unofficial, you-heard-it-from-your-pal knowledge. This is an invisible obstacle for people with autism, who are typically socially clumsy. And again, these kind of structures are not autism's fault.

An autistic person typically needs more help in practical things like learning unwritten social rules or walking in places they haven't been before. But there are also other people that need more help than an average person. There are very young people, old people, sick people, people with disabilities. Should we *cough* "prevent" them too?

I don't want this thread to get off on a tangent, so if you would like to discuss this further, please PM me.

I will say that no, I don't consider Autism to be a death sentence, however, there are varying degrees of the disease.  While you may be highly functioning, there are plenty of people who are not.  And no, I do not think we should aim to "prevent" people, but the prevention of conditions that affect people negatively?  Of course.
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« Reply #8: October 14, 2008, 09:06:32 pm »

It seems like back in the olden days, the gods were always hanging around. Whether it was cavorting with mortals, making miracles, or just a good old-fashioned smiting, the older myths are full of the clear and obvious presence of the Divine. Nowadays, the deities seem more subtle, to say the least.

What do you think there is such a big difference between the ancient stories and most modern religions? Is it because the things people used to attribute to Divinity have been explained by science? Is it because the Divine has withdrawn from the earth? Is it because most people just don't know how to listen any more? Is is all of these; is it something else? What do you think?

The gods are still around. Some of us get hit rather hard by them.
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« Reply #9: October 14, 2008, 09:12:33 pm »

As an autistic person (Asperger syndrome, to be specific), I have to ask, why you consider autism similar to cancer and AIDS.

I'm not sure that she meant that they were similar beyond all being examples of conditions we don't yet know enough about to completely prevent and/or cure. I think they were just meant to be examples of things that might have been blamed on the ill will of the Gods in the days when medical science was less advanced.
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« Reply #10: October 15, 2008, 04:39:19 am »



I don't think anything has changed.  If there are gods being subtle today, they were probably subtle back then.

That said, what I actually believe is this: There are no gods, and there never were.
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« Reply #11: October 15, 2008, 09:31:44 am »

It seems like back in the olden days, the gods were always hanging around. Whether it was cavorting with mortals, making miracles, or just a good old-fashioned smiting, the older myths are full of the clear and obvious presence of the Divine. Nowadays, the deities seem more subtle, to say the least.

What do you think there is such a big difference between the ancient stories and most modern religions? Is it because the things people used to attribute to Divinity have been explained by science?

Yes, I do tend to think we see less "physical manifestation" of a "god presence"  because we have more scientific explanations for many if not MOST of the things that occur in the natural world. People aren't as ignorant or superstitious, so the propensity to blame a sneeze on an escaping spirit, or the rain on a certain god/goddess- is going to be much less.

Also, I tend to think each person feels the presence of the gods in their own particular way. The myths sometimes seem to me to be the author's representation of the how's and why's of god form/ human interaction- since some of us here in the modern world study these myths as a precursor to practice, many of us will take the myth and translate it literally into our faith- believing that the way a god converses with one person, or a certain set of players on a certain stage- is the way they'll converse with every single individual. That probably made no sense, but no coffee plus early morning waking make semper...something something...

So even if we do want to say that God A- sent Person B Gift or Curse D in time F- who's to say Person G in time F had the same kind of experience?

That's if we're going for literal interaction.
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« Reply #12: October 15, 2008, 04:57:41 pm »



The time when the gods interacted regularly with mortals is, in many Western contexts, almost *always* figured as long past.  And it's not just gods:  Carole Silver remarks that "the fairies have been leaving England since the fourteenth century."
 

I heard somewhere that Gods and Goddesses were not to be fornicating with mortals, but did it anyway and got punished and thus this made a species of half human and half Gods,somehow they disapeared too.
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« Reply #13: October 15, 2008, 05:04:45 pm »

I heard somewhere that Gods and Goddesses were not to be fornicating with mortals, but did it anyway and got punished and thus this made a species of half human and half Gods,somehow they disapeared too.

Which Gods and Goddesses, and where did you hear this, out of curiosity?
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« Reply #14: October 15, 2008, 05:20:25 pm »

Which Gods and Goddesses, and where did you hear this, out of curiosity?

 I can't for the life of me remember,maybe they were just angelic beings-could have been from the Bible,but I doubt it.
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