RELIGION: Death of a god and Deity Space

James Rogers (
Fri, 27 Dec 1996 17:24:57 -0800

I was involved in a lengthy discussion many years ago regarding whether or
not a god could die, which led to a discussion of what type of space a god
resides in. We came to some conclusions which I still hold today and I will
attempt to share and explain.

A deity's existence and mortality depends wholely upon human consciousness.
This could explain the lack of physical evidence for the existence of
deities, but it does not automatically exclude the influence of a deity as a
separate and real entity.

A deity exists as the net sum of the total consciousness of those that are
followers of that deity. Much like an ant colony, religions do not have any
central intelligence from which influence is derived, but a distributed
intelligence and consciousness scattered throughout its members. The highly
developed nature of many religions is an indicator of how evolved this
distributed consciousness is. In virtually all non-cultish religions,
tremendous influence is exerted by the deity without requiring a single
human consciousness to coordinate and force the exertion of this influence.
The influence exerted is distributed throughout the followers, potentially
to a huge net effect, without necessarily any personal gain for any
individual, but huge gain for influence of the deity involved. This
apparent third person direction of influence is the crux of deitic
existence. And I believe that you can logically address this apparent
deitic entity as though it were a god/entity (although without all the
powers normally associated with a god).

The fact that a deity can effectively die is evidence of this. Consider
some of the ancient powerful gods like Dagon, Marduk, et al. At times in
history, these deities exerted enormous amounts of influence on
civilizations, but today they do not exist other than as historical
references. They have no followers, hence no group consciousness, hence no
influence. Because these gods can exert no influence, they are dead. Just
the opposite can be said of some modern gods. Some modern religions can
exert *phenomenal* (god-like?) amounts of influence upon society and the
world due to enormous followings and highly evolved group consciousnesses.

When I look at these ideas today, it now becomes clear that deities are
actually complex, highly evolved, virulent memes. The fact that so many
gods have died throughout the history of man proves just how mortal *any*
god is. This would also imply that *any* meme can achieve deitic status if
it evolves to a certain level and in certain directions. A deity can be
killed, but this requires killing a meme which has evolved extensive
defenses against eradication.

On a side note, I wonder how hard it would be to artificially construct a
true deitic meme? We talk about memetic engineering, but constructing a
meme of this complexity and power would require significant thought and
intelligence. Most religious memes seem to evolve as offspring from older
now dead religious memes.

-James Rogers