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clear picture The subtlety of the gods

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Whatever else may be asserted of the nature of the gods, it is certainly true that the stuff of which they might be made and the particular methods by which they might work their ways in this world are not perceptible through the instruments and the common vision of science, which has clarified this world in so many other regards in such wonderous detail and breadth. If gods were simple stuff, the devotees of Science would have found and catalogued them. As they are, I believe, complex and subtle and improbable, we must know them as something other than the stuff of Science.

The men of Science know all space and know that most of that has nothing in it, nothing perceptible. With all its vastness, up and down, space is still an accident, a byproduct of becoming, a property of matter. To the extent that the gods are imperceptible to the men of science in their scientific ways, perhaps the gods exist in all that seems empty to science -- the distances between the stars, the distances between atoms, the distances between the most elementary particles that science perceives or guesses to exist.

I find that notion appealing and helpful. An understanding of gods as beings which fill all distances not filled by other stuff explains the evident pervasiveness of the gods and their puzzling presentation as beings at one time immanent and transcendent at another. The admission at the outset that these beings are not to be proved by the methods of science relieves us of the need to analyze the gods, analysis being just such a method, and liberates us to discover them where we can and in what ways are given to us, and to make sense of what we discover without regard to its probability.

Now, if gods are so tenuous that they do not move such instruments as can detect the presence of one particle of light, then how can they move the world? If the answer that you wish involves conspicuous miracle, then you must count on your faith to deliver it; no event in the history of the world, viewed as miracle from any point of view, might not, at the same time and with equal clarity (and with better justification, if better will be judged by rules of evidence acceptable to science), from any other point of view be seen as fraud, hysteria, a trick of the light, coincidence, or an artifact of the method.

How then, do gods move the world, for there is no question but they do.

I believe that gods inform all things in this world which heed them, and that all involvement of the gods with things of this world is through communication. So god Mountain informs all great heights, giving each its distinctive personality and ways of responding to the approach of others -- other gods, as wind and sun and river; generated beings, as trees and beasts and people; other mountains, as the hot fluid earth moves through time.

So god Humanity informs each one of us; our distinctive personalities and ways of dealing with the tasks we're given in this life.

When a person approaches a mountain, the gods establish the communication: god Mountain, in this mountain; god Humanity in this person. It is more complex than that, of course; countless beings of every sort impinge on the event, perfused with their gods, and each must be honored so that the whole may proceed, down to the slightest shift of wind or huddled bodies in the cold high night, as it must in this instance proceed, inevitably, accountably. But planned and practiced though each day's events may be, the resonance in any hard effort is established through the communications of gods informing the effort.

What a person is, in my understanding, is a result of the gods that person sees, what welcome the gods are given and the place they hold in the person's life, and the complex colloquy that progresses, through that life, among the gods and between the gods and their host's particular personality -- what kind of woman is she; what kind of man -- the aspect in this one instance of god Humanity.

What kind of man are you? What kind of woman? Important questions each one must answer anyway, gods or no gods. If there be gods, there are then other important questions: how do I greet them, what do we have to say to one another, and how do we begin?

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