[LMB] BD: Hallowed Hunt - 12, summing up

Lois McMaster Bujold lbujold at myinfmail.com
Fri Apr 8 05:24:24 BST 2011

[LMB] BD: Hallowed Hunt - 12, summing up
Tel teldreaming at gmail.com
Thu Apr 7 21:43:50 BST 2011

 > On Wed, Apr 6, 2011 at 11:40 PM, Lois McMaster Bujold
 > LMB:  Yes, all of them.
 > The optical illusion that the gods may be, temporarily, on one "side" or
 > another is something like a stopped clock being right twice a day.  In
 > pursuit of their goals, the gods' aims may occasionally coincide with 
 > of groups of humans, but will pass in and out of same in ways that won't
 > seem at all logical to the aforesaid frustrated humans.

Tel:  This begs the question of 'what does the cult of the gods among the
living have to offer the living',

LMB:  The same things that religions offer to people in our world.

Gods don't even have to exist for people to make up religions about 
them, to serve the social and psychological needs of said people.  As we 
repeatedly observe, in our world.  (An atheist with no supernatural 
beliefs would say "always observe".  A pantheist, I suppose, would go 
into amazing intellectual contortions trying to save the theory.)

The reality of the gods of Chalion at least provide a check upon the 
wilder proliferations of such invention, there.  Albeit an imperfect 
one, as humans are amazingly pig-headed.

I take you mean "the cult of the gods" to equal the various sorts of 
Temples or other formal rites and organizations and legends and theories 
that people in the various cultures devise to meet their needs.  Which 
would, indeed, partake of all the dreary political froo-fraws that every 
other group of humans larger than one manages to inflict upon itself.  
Mistaken theologies are just as possible to the people of Chalion as the 
theories of phlogiston, the humours of the body, or the planets turning 
on crystalline spheres were to us.  As Michael Shermer points out 
somewhere, really smart people are capable of fooling themselves in 
_really smart_ ways.  They have to be.

What the gods Themselves have to offer people is life *after* death, for 
which they are the only game in town.  Take it or leave it; but one 
doesn't get another choice.  And nor do the gods.

TEL:  though. I suppose there would be two
strategies for 'playing the odds'  -  the first being to make your
society produce tastier morsels than your competition in hopes that
the gods will smile on it and have it spread (might backfire though),

LMB:  This would require human beings to be able to imagine what the 
gods value, in the souls that pass through death to their new birth.  
This would be approximately as easy as a four-month fetus imagining 
their life as a grown adult.

Tel:  the second, a la Horseriver, to enforce consequences for turning
against you.

LMB:  I'm sure you know the legend of King Canute... both versions...

Tel:  It comes to mind that if the gods take no penalty for intervening in
matters like Holytree, there is no reason for them to cease doing so -

LMB:   This seems a mechanistic way of looking at things.  I don't think 
one can fit the gods of Chalion into Skinner-boxes.

Heisenberg's box might have more possibilities... the gods being 
fractally complex.  As are, not coincidentally, human beings.

Tel: no consequences for doing things that humans would understand as
breaking faith. More, anyone that becomes a part of them will take
part in their future actions along those lines. The risk of humans
finding their behavior unacceptable and rejecting them seems to be the
only potential check on that kind of behavior.

LMB:   You seem to be constructing the gods of Chalion as some kind of 
human-like super-politicians.  They are instead more like a force of 
nature (except, of course, without the force.)  Already several billion 
years old in their particularities (and as old as the universe, in their 
underlying substrate) when we first meet them.

Tel (who wonders what would have happened if the worshipers of the Old
Weald had understood generations in advance that serving/joining the
gods would mean taking part in the destruction of their people)

LMB:  It would doubtless have been quite helpful if anyone had decided 
earlier that, actually, mass-producing human sacrifice wasn't going to 
be all that great a way to charm the gods... or their neighbors.

But it wouldn't have changed the underlying demographic pressures 
operating between the Weald and Darthaca, since those come from the 
world and not the gods.

Rejecting the gods, which anyone is perfectly free to do, means one's 
own fairly immediate personal destruction, upon death, as entropy picks 
one apart.  Upon which, from the individual's point of view, the 
universe winks out of existence.  And a pocket universe of great 
potential complexity is forever lost to the gods.

Time waits for no one, and no One.

Ta, L.  Now wondering if Tel would be a child of the Father, in 
Chalion.  Intense concern with perceived justice, check, lots of 
rules-based thinking, check... how are you at math?  Should someone ship 
you along some virtual black robes with red shoulder braid?

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