the God of Electricity

Way long time ago, even before there was TV, cavemen looked up at the sky at lightning, and thunder, and would have peed their pants except they didn't have pants yet, but they were scared, and they wondered what caused it. No one knew, so they all just looked at each other. Some people said, “there must be big invisible dudes up there making that happen”, and everybody laughed at them and said, “Well, that's really stupid.” But nobody knew; maybe it wasn't.

Then along came a jerk who somehow convinced everybody he did know, and they all followed him when he said “It is a “god” with a mighty forge, and the sparks from his hammer are the lightning”, until some other guy came along to kick his ass, and say “It's a “god” driving a fiery chariot”, and they all followed him for a while. As time went on, the descriptions of what this “god” thing was got stupider and stupider, but everybody all agreed that the thing that caused lightning, whatever it was, was a “god”. A lot of people died arguing over the details of what that god was like.

After a few thousand years of this, somebody got the idea to actually test god, the cause of lightning, and when they did they found out that the god of lightning wasn't a fiery chariot or a heavenly forge or a the cigarette butts of invisible critters at all, it was positive and negative charges on …. oh, whatever, the details are all technical and boring. Thing is, this was a new description of “god” that had never been proposed before.

Nothing new there, but it was one that couldn't be dismissed by killing the guys who proposed it—that was new. The “electromagnetism” description of the god of lightning held up no matter how many people you burned at the stake, plus you got electric lights, so the priestly caste had to come up with a new strategy to hold on to all the loot they'd conned out of the peasants over the centuries.

They did it by separating things into natural and supernatural. Up till then you could look at lightning and say “OMG, it's an ineffably beautiful expression of the immutable laws of nature at work that fills me with humility, awe and gratitude and makes me want to express my overwhelming feelings in praise and glorification”. After that you could only say “Meh, it's just a natural phenomena, electric charges, no big deal.
They'd changed the rules.

For hundreds of thousands of years we'd wondered what was up there causing lightning, that we were calling god, and when we finally found out we should have been shouting it from the rooftops “Yay. We finally figured out what god is!
Instead of being honest about it, though, they changed the definition. “God” was no longer the whatever-it-was that caused lightning, all of a sudden it was some convoluted phantasm that didn't make any sense unless you were one of the priests, and boy would they charge you to explain it.

Natural is just another word for real, so anything that was real, all of a sudden they had to disrespect it. You could only use respectful language, full of awe and reverence, when you talked about their new “super”-natural that they called sacred. Everything else was just boring, even evil, natural stuff that they called profane. It was wrong, they said, to use sacred language to talk about the profane natural world.

This worked for a couple thousand years, but it's getting to where nobody buys it anymore. As we watch their sad little “super”-natural god retreat into the gaps, we know too much about how ineffably beautiful, complex and awesome the natural gods are, and how worthy of our reverence, just as we thought all along, back in those caves, about the god of electricity.

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