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It is clear now that before there was all this, there must have been a kind of pointless timelessness. What was there, then, that birthed all this?

Three, in this vision:

  • uncertainty
    Before all time, between universes, in all that is fathomless, in nothing: there is uncertainty. Will there be anything, will there be ever again? And when?

  • purpose
    There is, in all uncertainty, the possibility of purpose, the certainty of purpose. There will be; there must be. But how? And when?

  • imagination
    Beyond all necessity and any expectation, what was not becomes, now, thus...
And so, at that point, it was, and so it eventually became, and here we are, in this universe filled with stuff and spirit, with gods and stones and fellow creatures, with an infinitude of worlds we'll never know, and inexorable time: all that we have to make sense of. For our kind, it is important to make sense.

As others make sense of other stuff, so I try to make sense of the gods.

First are the three, no longer pointless, here still, beyond time, essential to the rest. As worlds and weather, as every individual life, as sense itself, so gods are made of accident and purpose and imagination. Worship these; heed them in your life and in the sense you make of gods.

Closer than these, in this universe now, and on this earth, with its whirling winds and giddy life, and in our families and tribes and nations, and in our songs and stories and constant thinking, we can discover a multitude of gods.

We can know these gods, it seems, in three ways: in stories from earlier times, when gods and humankind were more familiar; through the revelation of those who seem to us inspired and whose vision we trust; and from personal experience. In all those modes, for me, emerges an understanding of gods as...

  • beings which are subtle in essence, if they can be said to exist at all, and in action, if they ever act;

  • beings which are not constrained as we must be by time and circumstance and which may even be eternal and pervasive, but which may not, for all that, in this universe, be yet entirely unconstrained;

  • beings which are not wholly different from us, as we are not wholly different from apes and oceans, but which are like us in ways that are hard to figure;

  • beings with whom it may be possible to establish communication.
In rivers and trees, in sun and thunder and deep mountains, in love and laughter and all sensible things, we may see gods. And a universe filled with gods in every perceptible part and any particular moment makes sense to me, much more sense than a universe created by a single god, who is then separate from his creation and unconstrained by its laws, but who is still concerned with every tiny detail of its operation, and who reserves his special love and miraculous assistance only to one limited group of earth-dwellers known, in various incompatible platforms, as faithful Christians or observant Jews or devout Moslems.

That vision makes no sense at all.

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