Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mortals And Gods And The Games They Play

I know in some stories it's been established that gods only have power as long as mortals belive in them. The DC Universe works that way, at least according to Wonder Woman, I think. The more followers they have (and probably the more devout they are) the more powerful the gods can be. If they have no followers, they fade away.

So here's what I was wondering, and I think it's a bit of an inversion of that. Have you seen a story where a god attempts to aid, harm, or interfere with a mortal, only to be unable to do so because the mortal doesn't believe in the god in question? It isn't a case of the god being completely impotent, they would work on a believer, just not on someone who doesn't believe. Granted, there's a chance of the god coming off as useless, but I think you could show the god using a believer to accomplish their wishes. You know, the god appears to them in their morning coffee and tell them they're needed, or gives them a power boost so they can do what needs to be done.


Matthew said...

It's a bit of a tangent, but your question reminds me somewhat of the old animated film 'A Flight of Dragons'. At the finale of that film, the main bad guy tries to kill our plucky Earth-originating hero with magic, only to be foiled when the hero recites scientific facts and equations at the villain, ensuring magic cannot affect him as he doesn't 'believe' in it.

SallyP said...

Whether or not a person believes in a specific pantheon or religion, I think that all Gods, currently worshipped or not have a certain degree of power, that taps into that deep well of faith and superstition that exists in everyone.

That said, I did read an excellent story where a Catholic priest tried to perform an exorcism that backfired because the ghost in question was a rabid 18th century Protestant.

Seangreyson said...

Backup by Jim Butcher touches a little on this subject with the Oblivion War. Here the characters are trying to ensure that an ancient god's existence is kept forgotton in order to ensure that it no longer has any power.

But it's not really a great example because the god itself isn't trying to take an action, only its pawns are.