Theology, the definitions and descriptions of particular gods, is a subset of mythology. We may define mythology, in its broadest terms, as a collection of legends—fantastic events and superhuman characters—intended to explain why things are as they are.

Creating stories to explain the cosmos accomplishes two things: it provides a comfortable mental handle on complex realities, and it promotes a distorted understanding of reality. I think that the distortion is acceptable, as long as we realize how much that affects our image of the cosmos. We must bear in mind that our perception of reality is never completely accurate. With that perspective, we can take control of our legends and personifications. We can deliberately design them to illuminate aspects of reality.

We can define “the cosmos” as everything that exists, known and unknown, including other universes in the multiverse, other dimensions that we can’t perceive, and supernatural realms and spiritual beings, should such things exist (see Definitions). We need to stop using the term “God” to personify either the cosmos or some being within it. That usage invites inaccuracy, because not only is “God” burdened with a ton of baggage, but it is impossible to precisely define. That vagueness is used to avoid meaningful debate. We should use specific terminology—Allah, Heavenly Father, Krishna—when discussing the gods of particular religions.

Note that there is no being, divine or otherwise, apart from the cosmos. You may say that Elohim or Brahma created the world or the universe, but any gods are still part of the cosmos, by definition.

Let us define “gods” as personifications of large, complex parts of reality that provide a way to conceptualize mysteries of the cosmos. I propose three “gods of the cosmos” that help organize a hugely complex system:

Father Time, spacetime or the ground of being;

Mother Earth, matter/energy, the stuff that occupies and defines spacetime;

Sentient Life, the evolution of consciousness from self-replicating chemicals.

These gods are not individuals nor conscious, volitional beings, except to the extent that they comprise sentient beings like us. They are concepts that represent something bigger.

Featured image credit: Eurynome Creates the Cosmos, Elsie Russell.

One thought on “Mythology and the Cosmos

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