This settings' world is united by a world religion that all countries pay homage to. It is controlled by a priesthood who, as well as fulfilling traditional religious roles, keeps the peace between nations to prevent destabilizing wars from breaking out. This religion has seven gods, with each of them representing various aspects of humanity that connect with each other. For example, the god of war represents honor, courage, battle prowess, etc. Above them is a creator god, who is viewed by the population as the mother of the seven gods as well as the world itself.

All nations pay homage to the seven gods differently. Some worship all of them equally. Others hold one above the others, but still acknowledge them in some way. However, they do not worship the creator directly, despite recognizing it as the parent of the gods. The priesthood only pays homage to the creator deity. How or why would this be the case?

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    "without acknowledging the others". Standing up in the temple in front of all those laymen and not acknowledging their gods is impossible. Do you really mean, "The priesthood only pays homage to the creator deity"? – RonJohn Sep 9 at 6:45
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    Why would you have a God of War and then use religion to keep Peace? – Sulthan Sep 10 at 6:34
  • This exact situation is in the video game Final Fantasy XIII. In it, the gods are called Fal'Cie. Above them are the gods Etro, Bhunivelze, Pulse, and Lindzei. The humans do not worship those four - they worship the Fal'Cie who have an active role in controlling the humans. Control and manipulation are very vital to them. The four gods above allow that control to be maintained and don't intervene. The religions of the world are designed to keep the humans in line, so they stay afraid of the Fal'Cie. It's a good story. – The Anathema Sep 10 at 17:42
  • Is this a fantasy world, one were the gods openly and directly impact the lives of mortals? Or are they more mysterious, indirect, and possibly fictitious? – Xavon_Wrentaile Oct 1 at 22:58

10 Answers 10

There's a longstanding tradition in religions of having an "outer mystery" and an "inner mystery." The gnostics were famous for this. Anyone is invited to learn about the outer mystery, and enjoy those rites, but only the privileged are inducted to learn the inner mysteries. These inner mysteries are subtle enough that even if you were told them, you wouldn't realize they were important until you were ready.

As such, the seven gods may be seen as simply caricatures of the many faces of the one true god. To teach the citizens of the nations, it is effective to provide them with all seven faces, but once you enter the priesthood, you realize you only need one.

As an example, a Chinese martial arts teacher may teach based on the 5 elements: water, wood, fire, earth, and metal. Much of natural phenomena can be described like this, and it is quite easy to understand. I can teach someone the rudiments of it in about 30 minutes.

The Chinese also have a concept of yin and yang. These two polar opposites are constantly interplaying. Despite there being only two concepts, yin and yang, they are much harder to truly capture. I might give a good hearty try at trying to teach yin and yang. After a few weeks I might feel like I got some where.

Deeper still is the concept of wuji - without a ridgepole or without bounds. Wuji is a concept of emptyness and nothingness. The concept of wuji is fundamental to much of the Daoist ideals which lie at the root of their philosophy and martial arts. I would not try to teach wuji. An understanding of it comes with time. If one understands wuji and several of its related concepts like wu wei, in 10 years time, it is a stellar accomplishment.

As such, if the priesthood taught lessons along these lines, there is no point in teaching wuji to the citizens. They simply will not understand it, and it really would not help them in their daily lives. Teaching the 5 elements is far more valuable. Yin and yang may be useful. Let them merely play lip service to wuji. The priesthood, on the other hand, may live and breathe yin and yang, and be on a path to wuji.

We see this in many walks of life where mastery is called for. For example, a jazz musician might teach chords, talking about V7 chords and diminished chords, and all that jazz. But when you look at what they really play, what they practice, the chords fall away. They just play music. It's one thing, and it's all they do. If you ask them what chords they played, they may be able to put together some chord progression for you. If you ask them what chords they will play, they'll just shrug and say "I'll play the music."

  • "To teach the citizens of the nations, it is effective to provide them with all seven faces". But according to the Question, the priesthood does not acknowledge the seven others. – RonJohn Sep 9 at 8:38
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    @RonJohn: Can you truly acknowledge something as a separate entity if you know it to part of a more complex whole? I might teach Newtonian physics without acknowledging it as a truth on it’s own. – Joe Bloggs Sep 9 at 11:46
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    @RonJohn The question was edited to remove that contradiction. – Bobson Sep 9 at 14:06

It might be a sign of prestige to be allowed to honor the creator god himself.

The general hierarchy in this religion is:

  • Creator god supervising 7 gods

  • 7 gods supervising humans

  • Priests supervising general population

  • General population

The priests need a justification to be in power, so they create a mirror image of the godly world in our human world. Of course they put themselves in the position of utmost power and claim to be the only humans the creator god deems worthy to even recognize.

To defend their power against any worldly ruler wanting to create a new war or making the priest superflous, they create an artificial barrier for anyone wanting to interact with the creator god. They claim that only a priest, choosen by the Creator himself, can pray to and receive messages from the Creator. Eveyone else is simply ignored. You can even go one step further and let them punish any unworthy person who dares to bother the Creator with their insignificant problems.

  • I'm no catholic, but that's what I was taught back in school... The Pope is the messanger of God and claims to interact directly with God, whereelse God never interacts with "normal" humans and sends angels as messagers instead. Please correct me if I'm completely wrong – Elmy Sep 9 at 8:44
  • That sounds like pre "Vatican II" doctrine. – RonJohn Sep 9 at 9:14
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    @RonJohn, it's not pre Vatican II doctrine either. Vatican II didn't have major doctrinal developments in the same way some older councils did. Catholics believe that God can answer anyone's prayers. In Catholic beliefs, the difference between the pope and the rest of us is that the pope's statements about faith and morals are infallible under a certain limited circumstances (and even that difference wasn't universally accepted before Vatican I in the 1800s). – Jetpack Sep 10 at 0:29

Everyone could worship the god which is most relevant to their profession. Merchants pray to the god of commerce, artisans pray to the god of creativity, soldiers pray to the god of war, etc. And priests pray to the god of priesthood.

The idea could be that a god will only recognize those with skills in a profession they are associated with and will only grant favors and insights related to their domain. So unless you have a deep knowledge of the holy scriptures and how to preach them to others, the god of priesthood won't hear your prayers. And unless you want something like insight for holding an inspiring sermon or pray for more donations to your temple, the god of priesthood won't be able to help you anyway.

For example, imagine you are a priest of the god of war who is tasked with providing religious inspiration to an army. And you have a typical priests problem: The soldiers fall asleep during your sermons. If you ask the god of war for advise, he will only give you advise within the limited view of his domain, like "If anyone dares to yawn during your sermon, challenge them to a duel to the death" or "They will respect you more if you acquire honor in battle". The god of priesthood, on the other hand, might offer some more practical advise, like "don't hold sermons at 6 o'clock in the morning when everyone is still half sleeping" or "Address the everyday problems of soldiers, like blisters on your feet and missing your family".

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    This was a fun answer to read. – Mad Physicist Sep 10 at 12:50

This question is actually more realistic than you may think of, it is an exact scenario of Hinduism.

In Hinduism, "Bramha" is considered as the creator god, however, he is never worshiped, out of the millions of temples in India dedicated to thousands of Gods, there is only a single temple, in a very small city named "Pushkar", where "Bramha" is worshiped.

There are primary 2 stories, about why:

  1. He became more involved in the created than in the creation, that he was cursed because of his unholiness and not performing his duties well.
  2. To prove his supremacy over other gods, he cheated, then he was cursed because of being a cheater.

In Both the cases, he was cursed to not to be worshiped by anyone else, other than a selected few.

Another more logical reason could be – Lord Brahma (Creator) is exhausted energy. Lord Brahma`s work is done, he(the creation) is the past now. People care for the present and the future, not the past. This psychology of people makes Lord Brahma to be ignored.

Worshipping the mother goddess means dedicating your life to her, and renouncing worldly ties, including other ways of supporting yourself. This is something only priests and perhaps ascetics can do.

One of their obligations is to serve and honor all her children, so they perform rituals to other gods on behalf of the laity. However, they themselves do not ask for the blessing the war god because they are not supposed to be warriors, nor likewise farmers, merchants, and so on.

The people are not worthy to worship the creator god.

Only the priests are allowed to worship the creator god because only they can speak to the creator. If anyone else tries to speak to the creator through worship, the seven other gods will become jealous and strike the person dead and bring bad luck upon the harvest.

For that reason, the priests have banned worship of the creator god. Worship of this god is blasphemy, and when someone is suspected of this crime, they are sacrificed to the gods before misfortune can come upon the populace.

  1. Are we assuming that the motives of the priests are pure? If not, perhaps the priests "know" that the seven gods are false gods, and the creator goddess is the one true god. But they fear that if the people worship the creator goddess that she will give the people the same blessings and power that the priests get, and the priests want to be able to lord it over the people.

  2. Somewhat like Philipp suggested, perhaps the people relate more to the god of their occupation or lifestyle. Soldiers worship the god of war because they understand a god of war and see a need for a god of war to favor them in battle. Farmers worship a god of the harvest because they understand a god of the harvest and need such a god to cause their crops to be plentiful. Etc. The priests are more intellectual than the common people and so worship a god of more "root causes". By that reasoning a few others might worship the creator goddess, like philosophers and artists, but they'd be a tiny minority.

  3. The priests believe that the people are not worthy to worship the creator goddess and so they teach them a lower-level worship. Only they are sufficiently holy to worship the creator goddess.

The religion of the Seven Gods is useful to people in their daily lives.

More importantly, understanding the Seven is a prerequisite to even begin to understand the true religion. Anyone who tried to comprehend or worship the Mother Goddess without fully coming to terms with the Seven Gods would be driven insane.

So, the priests lead in the worship of the Seven, and teach it to the masses, and even teach it to their own initiates as the first stage in joining the priesthood, even though they don't actually believe in the reality of the Seven except as a pale shadow of the truth.

In fact, even "they worship the Creator Goddess" is just an oversimplified summary of only the first of 23 inner levels of the true religion. But it's all anyone would know before deciding to become an initiate, and all a priest would explain to anyone outside.


This is a relatively common idea in many religions, both historical and modern.

According to Valentinian,1 learning the true Christ/Sophia nature is the second step to true worship—but if you haven't taken the first step and learned of the earthly Jesus first, you will at best fail to learn anything, and more likely be driven to insanity and maybe even head-aspodely death.

According to the Church of Scientology, learning OT III (that's the one about Xenu and the DC-8 spaceships) is the most important step in going beyond the Wall of Fire that keeps you from being your true godlike self—but if you haven't thoroughly processed OT II first, upon hearing even the briefest sketch of OT III, you will catch pneumonia, and possibly suffer neurological damage and death.2

For a less extreme example, according to most schools of Taoism, trying to understand wuji without understanding yin-yang isn't going to make you cough yourself to death—but it is going to be a complete waste of your time, and make it harder for you to understand yin-yang.


1. Well, he probably didn't say this, but we didn't know that until the discovery of the Nag Hammadi codices. Most of the neo-gnostic, occult, etc. traditions that developed from the Renaissance to the 1940s were basing everything on what the Greco-Christian gnostics' enemies claimed the gnostics believed, especially Tertullian's attacks on Valentinian.

2. Apologies to anyone who died of pneumonia when I said "that's the one about Xenu and the DC-8 spaceships" above.

Our God is a Tired God

The act of creation exhausted the Creator God. So she formed the lesser Seven Gods to manage the various aspects of creation going forth. This probably exhausted her more. She now has only the patience and power to deal with a very select group of individuals. The clergy that worship her principally or entirely contains this select group of individuals, and are picked and promoted specifically for their suitability as acceptable worshipers of and burdens upon the Creator God.

She ignores everyone else. This works well if the gods have explicit effects upon the world and worshipers, including but not necessarily limited to blessings. Because in this case the Seven Gods may bestow blessings and other things upon their worshipers, whereas no one, except maybe the priests, ever receive anything from the Creator God. Therefore, most people have no benefit in her worship, and so duly prioritize the worship of the Seven Gods, especially those of immediate relevance to their needs and lifestyle.

However this can probably still be made to work in a world where there are not explicitly divine acts. In our own world we know that many people in many cultures had (and have) no issues with focusing on one or two gods out of an entire pantheon, including pantheons with Creators or precursor gods (Chronos for the Greeks, for example). Sailors may worships gods of the sea not because they are the most powerful god, nor the original god, but solely because they are the most (immediately) relevant god.

Bonus possibility: One or more of the Seven gods, or various groups of mortals, may actively seek to capitalize on the Creator God's diminution, perhaps even to go so far as to seek to usurp the Creator God's mantle. Her worshipers may actively seek to thwart such efforts, actively encouraging the non-worship of the Creator God so as to limit knowledge of, interest in, and potential access to her.

The creator God is All-Time.

It's a complex process to connect with All-Time. When handled inappropriately, as novices usually do, the side effects are difficult to handle at best, and indeterminate at worst (because they disappear into time, so it's hard to really say what the worst ((best??)) side effects may be).

Long ago (or possibly yesterday), some really intuitive folks (eventually become the priests) decided to limit access to All-Time. They created a system to provide stability for the novices. This system happens to contain this world which easily mathematically has Still-Time. Still-Time, contains repeating years months, seasons, etc.

They also have seven days in a week, which the novices over time cheerfully anthropomorphized into what became their seven gods, based upon themselves.

This system gives the novices opportunity to understand Still-Time in order to someday advance to other Times, which also contain sects of the priests who worship the Creator. Most novices have even forgotten that they are there trying to understand Still-Time, much less All-Time. With time, luck and/or effort, they remember and are given the opportunity to join the priesthood and also worship All-Time.

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