Let's suppose that at the inception of our world the creator god creates a set of rules for pantheons and minor gods, places divine rulership in the hands of a couple underlings he makes, then packs it in for the day (read effectively eternity to everyone else).

The rules are simple enough.

All gods are omniscience at point of ascension or when they pop into existence however they may only disclose knowledge a mortal could concievably know, and when it is knowledge the mortal may not know it must be obfuscated. This can be summarised to No Spoilers unless Riddled. Or the Prophecy Conundrum.

Gods may converse will believers at will, however not directly with non-believers though intermediaries are acceptable. Nor may they directly interfere with the lives of non-believers. (Belief and worship are used separately.)

Belief is defined as an individual choosing to accept the existence of said god AND follow them via explicit verbal agreement. Generally speaking a prayer is considered a temporary form of belief contract. Ultimately this definition is more for mortals though as gods are omniscient and completely aware of mortal beliefs.

A god's power is defined by the number and fervour of their believers.

A god may never lie.

Edit: A god's power is established by their eminent domain. There is a minimum power thresh-hold which is high enough for major works of power but only in a small area. Their eminent domain is established by what people believe they are. For instance a god may wish to be a god of fishermen, but if sailors call on them for help, their eminent domain will move to being for sailors. In terms of localisation, a small god may be able to heal a follower, or protect them from a storm (the follow is considered the local point) but will not be able to change the weather <- eminent domain not large enough to influence that of the local weather god. This example brings up the point that where eminent domains overlap, the god with greater power will have authority.

Breaking the rules is to risk banishment or annihilation. Which are automatically triggered once a proclamation is made by the greater gods.

There's a myriad other rules that were made over time like how afterlives were governed, good behaviour around prophets, and morality but those were the major ones.

I've always been curious. How do you think religion would develop in this world? Do you think it would be widespread -> religion as service/business transaction. Or something else? Could we draw parallels to history on our own planet?

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    $\begingroup$ Check out Terry Pratchett's Small Gods. The DiscWorld gods work on a similar principle to those you described, except they are created as soon as someone believes in them (As humans tend to do when they can't explain things). Which brings me to a very interesting point. All the gods in your world will start off powerless, and will have to resort to the "burning bush" to establish a foothold for themselves, while not yet being able to do any great miracles until they have enough followers. Also will they (or their followers) turn on each other - My god is better than yours. $\endgroup$ – Lu22 Dec 1 '16 at 5:29
  • $\begingroup$ Is there any benefit for deity to answer the prayer? $\endgroup$ – Mołot Dec 1 '16 at 6:04
  • $\begingroup$ To my mind a system like this would disincentivise lazy gods. If you don't answer prayers, people will go to a god who does. $\endgroup$ – Mugluck Dec 1 '16 at 6:07
  • $\begingroup$ Is it god or gods? A hierarchy? If the god's power comes from the amount of offering from their worshippers, great power comes great responsibility and I must have everyone under my care... mua haha haha... ehem excuse me. $\endgroup$ – user6760 Dec 1 '16 at 7:06
  • $\begingroup$ Lol. There are multiple gods, and yes. You can in theory have everyone under your care if you can convince them to believe in you and give offerings. :P $\endgroup$ – Mugluck Dec 1 '16 at 7:12

I would say religions would be as ubiquitous as a belief in science is today. They would have the exact same behaviors. Both would be trying to work with something that is real (because your gods can interact with the mortal realm, they qualify as "real"). Both have a pattern where the innermost group of priests can make claims about the universe.

Consider this. When was the last time you saw a gravity wave? When was the last time you saw a Higgs Boson greet you on the street? Never. Never in your life will you interact with these things. However, because a group of scientists used a massive device you will never see to generate data, and crunched that data using theories you will never understand, we believe gravity waves occur. We believe the Higgs Boson exists. We believe this because the priesthood of science says they exist, and because that priesthood has a pretty sharp track record of saying things that turn out to be true.

Compare that with a priest of Neptune telling a scared group of sailors that they must pray to calm the seas because Neptune spoke to the priest (and, since your gods are real, the prayers being answered), and the similarities abound.

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  • $\begingroup$ This would require the priests to be able to actually calm the seas. The main reason people "believe" scientists is because of the artifacts produced. We believe that our cars and tvs work, so we'll believe the people who say it's because of gasoline and electricity. I'll believe the guy who says it's the gods, if he's the only one who has a 100% guaranteed calm sea for the same reason. $\endgroup$ – Erik Dec 1 '16 at 14:22
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    $\begingroup$ @Erik The priest does not calm the seas, the god does. And the OP states that the gods can actually influence the world in this exact way. That being said, be careful with the idea of 100% guarantees. Science actually doesn't provide them, despite what we teach in most science classes. We can give 99.999...% with a lot of nines, but that's as far as it goes, and even that comes with some caveats. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Dec 1 '16 at 14:35
  • $\begingroup$ Cort makes a valid point. Whether a god answers a prayer is entirely up to the god. $\endgroup$ – Mugluck Dec 2 '16 at 0:29

There wouldn't be a religion (like what we have right now) at all. As you will accept the gods like you accept your government.

Then again your gods would likely to act like our political leader too. They will do everything they can do (maybe include abusing a loophole of the rules created by higher gods) to gather as much believers as they can, since a broad range of believers will expand their domain of power.

The situation would be like the myth that had been depicted on many ancient civilization, where gods seduce, even tricks human beings. And some human trickster may even bargain/tricks the gods since it is possible to communicates directly.

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This really depends on what you mean when YOU say "religion".

If the gods actually exist, and operate by consistent rules, then studying the gods is the realm of science, not religion. Or, put another way, "religion" would become equivalent to biology, geology, physics and chemistry - the study of the forces which shape our world.

Religion as we know it can only exist when the object of worship is ineffable, omnipresent yet undetectable, unbound by the laws of cause and effect, and therefore unstudyable by the scientific method.

What you MIGHT get is religion related to the "higher gods" who have packed up and left, asserting that they haven't actually gone anywhere, and with the right fancy costume and bowl of incense your local religious guru can reach one of the REAL gods and get them to intercede on your behalf. These intercessions would be effective just about as often as prayer in our world, ie, often enough to gather millions of believers.

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You never defined what gods can do / may do other than being omnicient.

So, people know of the existence of one or more omnicient beings, and may talk with them. But tbey can’t tell us anything we don’t already know, except as riddles which have some chance of being understood.

So, do you beleive he’s really omnicient? Well, if the riddles are tractable, experts will emerge to make some advantage of it.

Is knowing that about the world what you call “religion”? Having someone you can interact with in person and get riddles from does not require “Belief”: it is as real as the governer or other public figure.

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  • $\begingroup$ Updated that matter in OP. Technically infinite given an infinite number of followers, and with a high baseline (when compared to mortals) as they are not beholden to physical laws. And yes, you bring up my exact thoughts. Would religion be a matter for consideration if gods are more like public figures with great powers. $\endgroup$ – Mugluck Dec 1 '16 at 5:45

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