Thursday, August 29, 2013

Pervasive?

I’ve been reading some Neil Gaiman books recently and started thinking about gods as depicted in fiction. 

When the god in question is one of the monos, he seems to be almost always the one true god, even if the author is an atheist.  There aren’t any other gods flitting around.

When there is a pantheon of gods involved, there usually seems to be other panthea as well.  If you find a Norse god in a novel, it seems to be the rule that you’ll find Greek gods as well.  And Hindu ones.  And maybe gods from no particular tradition that exist because people believe in them like Pratchett’s Anoia: the Goddess of Things That Get Stuck in Drawers.

In fact, neatly, there are examples from both Pratchett and Gaiman, since they have both written books with many panthea of gods and they co-wrote a book about a monotheistic god.

I’m sure there are loads of counter-examples.  Perhaps irreligious authors from a Hindu tradition write books featuring just the Hindu gods, I’ve no idea.  But I’d quite like to find out.

It just struck me as quite interesting.  Is this something to do with the pervasiveness of religion?  Do we cultural monotheists, even if we’re atheists, still on some level see pantheistic gods as somehow less real than the already unreal monos?  Or am I just reading too much into it?

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