Gods are interesting, aren’t they. Peoples makes them according to their own needs and outlook.
Primitive societies create animist gods. They see a thing they don’t understand or can’t control – an enormous, gnarled tree, the wind; and they give it a god in order to wrap their heads around it. There’s usually not much deep theology to it. The Shinto indicate where their heads are at by attributing gods to turnips.
As societies develop agriculture and writing they are able to invent more complex spiritual landscapes. They give gods to the most important things in their world – for the Greeks, these were grain and wine. Sure, Zeus had thunder, but I get the feeling he got worshiped as a polite afterthought. The Greek gods are very human. They are sometimes cruel, jealous and capricious but they expect much better behaviour from mortals. The Greeks knew that life isn’t fair.
We can see how nutso the Vikings were through their gods. Odin et al. had defeated the evil giants but knew that one day the giants would come back and win and the world would be destroyed. Old Odin was just holding them off for as long as he could. Mortals could only get to Valhalla by dying in battle. This was back in the days when Swedish men pissed standing up.
The Zoroasters had a single, almighty god who insisted on obedience and he got taken up in various forms throughout Europe and the Middle East. I am not the first to suggest that perhaps kings and emperors saw him as a good way of uniting their peoples and getting them to behave themselves.
If I were to invent gods, what would they be like?
I’d want to include some kind of god of learning, like Confucius. A god who expects you to read and think.
Perhaps there could be an overall god of the multiverse. All those traditional gods are too limited in their scope. The Rainbow Serpent created the Earth . . . well, that’s super but what about the rest of the cosmos? That makes me wonder, why do all the gods pay so much attention to little old Earth? Doctor Who does that, too. Aren’t there more important things going on out there?
I would have need for gods of agriculture or fertility because we now understand these things through science.
I could do with a god of resilience or perseverance, some stern bastard I can imagine sneering down at me when I’m whining and who is pleased when I get a new PB.
A god of cleanliness and bloody well picking up after yourself. That one’s more for the commoners than myself.
A god of beauty – hoochimamas, sunsets, art, anything. This one can be a goddess. I think I’ll call her Sally. You know what, I’m going to keep Aphrodite, too. She’s important.
Oh, I got one! A god of humour. He makes us see the funny side of things and softens the hard edges of our lives. And on that note I reckon I’ll keep Dionysus along for the ride – we still need him. Grumpy old no-fun Yahweh can go jump in the lake.
Bookmark this post because one day historians will be dusting it off like the Dead Sea Scrolls as they realize that this was the turning point when all the world’s religious zealots agreed to chill out, get drunk together and nuke the holy land to stop everyone fighting over it. Soon afterwards the inherent social libertarianism of my religion causes society to collapse but that’s after my time and therefore someone else’s problem.