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Everything starts somewhere ... and intention of gods (from my fantasy world) to teach people to not ask them for help should start somewhere too. Something, some kind of accident or event, should bring them to thought of teaching humans not to ask them for help.

My current ideas are:

  • Disappointment from behavior of people living to the west of the Cloudy mountains. These people ask the gods for help with even in the most stupid, unnecessary, and simplest things. Meanwhile, the people living inside the Cloudy mountains and to the east of the Cloudy mountains are fully self-dependent.

  • Consternation from the existence of a church using the name of one of gods and false or very stupid teachings. For example, the clerics of this church could be teaching people to sacrifice animals to buy forgiveness of sins.

What events could convince the gods to teach people to not ask them for help?

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    $\begingroup$ What if they just had something better to do, and couldn't and didn't want to intercede in everything? $\endgroup$ – Imperator Mar 12 '17 at 23:03
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    $\begingroup$ I think this digs pretty deeply into what any particular deity wants. The answer would be that they stop helping when they feel like the cessation of helping benefits their needs, whatever they are. Baccus would probably draw a very different line than Aphroditie would. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Mar 13 '17 at 0:44
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah. Good question, but for a think tank or room full of blocked writers. You need to flesh out your world first, then ask for assistance resolving the why — or, the how. $\endgroup$ – can-ned_food Mar 13 '17 at 1:28
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    $\begingroup$ If you have children, you will know the answer to this question. $\endgroup$ – Cyrus Mar 13 '17 at 9:07
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    $\begingroup$ There was a similar episode in the cartoon named power puff girls , the girls initially used to defeat all the monsters when people called there helpline number for help, but later it became trend and people use to ask them for childish things that does not require superhuman intervention. Later the refused to pickup the call anymore and slowly people learn on their own not only how to do small tasks but even how to defeat big monsters on their own. $\endgroup$ – Friendy Mar 13 '17 at 9:27

22 Answers 22

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Because they want humans to grow up?

Gods see humans as their children. First gods will directly guide humans. Then they will be present and intervene as needed. Then they will take distance and trust humans will remember what they have learned, make their own mistakes and their own choices.

Humans with gods constantly guiding them are little more than puppets or pets. That is not how most people want their children to grow up. Reasonably then some gods would see humans less benevolently and be just fine keeping them dependent forever. Similarly some people seem to prefer having gods bear all responsibility and indeed think that atheism would lead to some emptiness of morality or values. So there would be a wide spectrum of opinion among both gods and humans, I think. Just like their are many kinds of relationships between parents and children.

Because gods want humans to make a choice of their own free will?

The choice could be something as simple as choosing themselves which god to follow. In any case direct interference by gods would leave mortals dependent on their superior power and human choices would be reduced to side effects of divine action. This would make free will problematic and any concept gods judging humans a no go. If gods are directly intervening in human lives any human sin would essentially be reduced to gods having failed in their guidance. So if human free will and responsibility is desired gods need to give some space for it.

So the actual event would be more along the lines of gods recognizing the signs and realizing it is the time to move to the next stage of human development. Humans no longer being content to be gods puppets and rebelling in some fairly childish and silly form. Humans showing signs of being stifled by gods will and failing to use their own judgement. There are lots of possible signs and it would be a combination of several minor things happening, not one big event. You can use event humans have then becoming independent from their parents as models with some adjustment.

I doubt gods would make the change all at once, either. And there probably would be some prophets or such preaching the end of times coming near or the time of prophecy or time of miracles coming to a close. A major change in the relationship between gods and humans would probably cause lots of religious upheaval. New religions rising. Religious persecution. Religious dogma being codified. Sacred texts being collected and canonized. All that stuff.

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    $\begingroup$ They say failure is good for you, and that "hard times make strong men". Generally, Pain and suffering cause people to grow up. War pushed humans to make breakthroughs in technology. The atom bomb research is turning into fusion and fission reactors, which could be the future of power. Certainly a reliance on Gods to prevent such things is preferred, but a child who is pampered has a distorted view of reality. $\endgroup$ – Ryan Mar 13 '17 at 17:35
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The gods agreed not to fight among themselves. Intervening with their side would mean the opposing god had a right to do so too, escalating things back to how they were.

It sounds like there are several gods in your story, perhaps even different religions. I propose that the gods were, at one point, fighting among themselves but the power involved could destroy everything but, upon realising this, a truce was called. The gods now compete through the number of followers and there are rules against direct intervention (else things could escalate once again).

This means that the two sides must have no physical intervention and the gods can only advise their people through laws, traditions and philosophies.

Because of this competition each god wants his people to be better than the other god's people - a competition they can't directly intervene with. Because of this the god that loses out would be the one whose people aren't self-reliant and progress on their own.

As such we end up with both gods being in a position where they want their people to do as much for themselves as they can.

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  • $\begingroup$ I know I just edited the question on you, but I think the point was, "what makes the gods teach people that they should not ask for help?" I think your answer explains why the gods don't intervene, but not why they would teach people to be more self-reliant. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Mar 13 '17 at 0:17
  • $\begingroup$ @kingledion I had sort of tried to put that in. The gods are competing but they can't intervene physically so they have to teach the people to be better than their rivals off their own backs. This way the one god can beat the other. I'll try an edit to make this clearer. $\endgroup$ – Lio Elbammalf Mar 13 '17 at 0:30
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Why would gods want people to rely on them?

Say that you're playing a video game where you're building a world. To the simulated people in that game, you're effectively a god.

When you leave for work, do you want text alerts on your cell phone with the personal drama of each simulated being in that video game, demanding action of you every second of the day?

Your exact reasons for creating this little pocket universe that views you as a god are your own; maybe it's fun for you, or maybe you're doing research on how it evolves, or something else. But whatever the case, it seems unlikely that you, or any other god, would create a world just to be a slave to its inhabitants.

tl;dr- Most gods would would their wards to be self-sufficient. It's kinda hard to imagine a god that'd create people for the sole purpose of having to deal with their drama.

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  • $\begingroup$ A very great answer indeed. I agree with this. The deity might just be lazy or too busy. $\endgroup$ – The Great Duck Mar 14 '17 at 17:44
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Events that could cause "teach people to not ask them for help"? Well, there were many in TV/books like:

Because of free will / curiosity

Stargate ("Because, there is a chance they will be worshipped like the Ori when interfering, and they already saw what happens when that happens (i.e. the Ori and how they got corrupted even though they started with the best of intentions). And the Ancients believe in not interfering partially out of belief in free will, but also because they were more in line with science so perhaps they observe what happens")

Because they are "lazy" to lead every step of humanity

Foundation series - Asimov (Book: Second Foundation - Part II - when second foundation "sacrificed" themself, so they stop "rotting in place" for many years. First group instead of progress - focused on search for "gods" = second group.)

Because god stopped to be interested

Supernatural (U.S. TV series) - (God focused on writing his own book about world)

Because God is not god at all

  • any story where is superior civilization with some backward civilization like Superman or Thor story. But in the end he realized something about "they don't deserve me" "they don't want me" "I'm dangerous" or something like that.

Or simply - there was no God, only good reasons

Nightfall - Asimov (who really believed in god - survived, only thanks to "faith"), and some Outer limits (TV series) stories

People decide: "You are no god for us!"

Batman vs Superman, Foundation (first book)

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    $\begingroup$ There's also the "Godfellas" episode of Futurama, which was the first thing I thought of when I read the question title. It ends with Bender saving a group of trapped monks rather than relying on God to do it, except that getting Bender to save the monks was God's plan the whole time. "When you do things right, people won't be sure you've done anything at all." $\endgroup$ – F1Krazy Mar 13 '17 at 9:08
  • $\begingroup$ Hello and welcome to WorldBuilding.SE! Interesting answer. I am looking forward to other answers and questions from you. If you have questions take the tour or visit the help center. Have fun! $\endgroup$ – Secespitus Mar 13 '17 at 9:14
  • $\begingroup$ The Vorlons versus the Shadows in Babylon 5 - the Vorlons are agents of Law and the Shadows are agents of Chaos. The Shadows believe that causing lots of wars will prompt the survival of the fittest; the Vorlons believe that sentient species need to obey them and their laws. $\endgroup$ – Yvonne Aburrow Mar 13 '17 at 15:55
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The gods are dying

The gods aren't truly immortal, just extremely long-lived. Now they can tell they're in the latter parts of their life and are trying to prepare the people for when they're no longer around. Maybe they used to have a way to increase their lifespan or propagate but something happened to prevent it, or maybe this is just how things were always eventually going to be. Either way, they know there will be a time when they won't be around for humanity anymore and want humans to be ready for that.

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  • $\begingroup$ The Norse gods have Iduna's apples of immortality to keep them young... what if those apples ran out? $\endgroup$ – Yvonne Aburrow Mar 13 '17 at 15:53
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The gods want to do something else.

They are sick and tired of this Earth. Maybe they think that we broke it beyond their abilities to fix, between nuclear bombs, global warming, and Donald Trump (or something else if it isn't the modern Earth), and are now trying again to try to create a species that does not destroy its homeworld beyond repair.

Therefore, they decided to abandon humanity to fail on its own and are now directing their efforts towards making a new species that would do a better job at maintaining its world.

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Maybe your gods feel like overworked parents... "I just cleaned this mess up! No I'm not going to do it for you. I don't care how much you whine, you are handling it yourself this time."

Gods can get frustrated too.

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A more selfish reason: the Gods have limited reserves of power. Affecting the material world drains them of a little bit of their power. Perhaps this power takes a long to regenerate, or perhaps they have a total amount for their existence and they die when it runs out. So they teach humans not to rely on them so that they either have power when they need it, or so they can extend their own lives.

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Both of your ideas sound good I would recommend a combination of the two.

Some ideas of my own.

  1. The gods realize that if they stop helping Humanity they have grown so dependent on them if they would die within a month since you don't even know how to find food on their own without the help of the gods. This causes to slowly wean Humanity off of their dependency on them.

  2. Dispute between gods spill over into Humanity causing Wars that almost lead to Humanities Extinction. This causes the gods to pass rules designed to separate humans from gods including forbidding gods from helping humans and instead encouraging humans to help themselves.

  3. Maybe the humans start to complain that with the gods constantly helping everyone there's no way for people to shine and stand out from Humanity because of their skill dedication or Talent. This causes the gods to rethink their treatment of humanity.

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    $\begingroup$ Number 2 is basically what happens in Greek mythology. $\endgroup$ – Yvonne Aburrow Mar 13 '17 at 15:52
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The Gods need to rely on the Humans

There could be something that the Gods are lacking knowledge of (maybe they're dying or they themselves don't understand how their existence came to be and they can't figure out why or how).

Not unlike a Neural Network can find patterns that the human who coded it cannot see, the Gods are relying on the humans to solve questions that are seemingly unsolvable to the Gods. If the Gods were to intervene with the humans' learning too much, the humans would have a biased knowledge and possibility come up with nothing as the Gods have. Thus, the Gods have taught the humans how to survive and how to communicate, but beyond that they want to intervene as little as possible.

It could lead to some big moment of "Now it is your turn to teach us...". That's probably cliche, but everyone likes when characters have purposes larger than themselves, right?

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For shits'n giggles?

"Oh oh oh, Zeus! I got this awesome idea! Let's just do nothing at all and see the look on their faces! It'll be sooooo funny!"

"Yo, that idea's whack! Let's do this, bro!"

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to WorldBuilding! This does not provide an adequate answer to the question raised. Please edit your question to elaborate what your idea is and improve the quality of the answer. $\endgroup$ – Secespitus Mar 13 '17 at 12:05
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    $\begingroup$ This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post. - From Review $\endgroup$ – Mrkvička Mar 13 '17 at 12:16
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    $\begingroup$ @Mrkvička I disagree. It does answer the question. It's not the most complete answer, but it may be the most complete it needs to be in this particular context. A legitimate answer to "Why would gods to X?" is "Caprice." $\endgroup$ – SRM Mar 13 '17 at 14:47
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    $\begingroup$ @SRM: Exactly. It doesn't need to be more than that. It may not be useful within the context OP had in mind, but he didn't mention the context, so a valid answer can just be: "Cause they're nitwitted assholes, the kind who would put a cat in a microwave just to see what happens." $\endgroup$ – Raf Mar 13 '17 at 16:07
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Perhaps god had a long day at work, and really just needs a drink.

Personally, I like my gods having shallow, petty reasons for acting the way they do. It's really so much more fun than ineffable wisdom of the ages.

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    $\begingroup$ Hello and welcome to WorldBuilding.SE! While this looks like a valid answer we like longer answers. Short answers always look like they would be better off as a comment and can therefore get deleted if they are not edited. Could you edit your answer to provide some more information? For example other reasons that could be used or why using petty reasons would be a more interesting way of picturing gods for a reader? $\endgroup$ – Secespitus Mar 13 '17 at 19:09
  • $\begingroup$ What did that hoomans do for us, anyways? They are just entertaining at best... (warning: link to TVTropes) $\endgroup$ – xDaizu Mar 14 '17 at 8:26
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A god that limits his creation to what he could create, in the end limits itself. The exact intent of creating something intelligent/evolving can be to transcend the limits of the creator.

Even an almighty being could lack the power that only comes from subtraction: The difference between a big block of marble and a statue is the LACK of marble in places where it makes the whole thing rather un-statue-like....

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  • $\begingroup$ Gods don't have to be creators. They may be emergent properties (epiphenomena) of the physical universe. $\endgroup$ – Yvonne Aburrow Mar 14 '17 at 14:07
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In many stories, the gods' power is in some respects linked to the worship of their followers. The more followers a god has, the stronger (or at least the more able to influence the world, perhaps through those followers) that god is. It is common in such stories for Man to outgrow the need for gods, and so the gods, deprived of their worship, can no longer act in the world.

Petty gods might have an attitude of "well, fine then, if they won't worship me I'll take my ball and go home." But assuming truly benevolent gods who want the best for the world, if people—maybe because of increased reliance on technology, or in cynical response to all the times their gods didn't help them out—fall away from worshipping, those well-meaning gods might realize that their time of influence is coming to an end. In such a scenario, they would best serve their loyal following by teaching humanity how to get along without them, as they know their power is fading and soon they'll be unable to help even their most devout worshippers.

In the face of waning faith and reliance on the gods, benevolent gods would not want to cling to the last remnants of the faithful, dooming those followers to continue relying on them and worshipping them in vain. Those gods might instead help their followers learn how to be self-reliant, to ensure an orderly transition to life without the gods' guardianship. And, perhaps, the gods might then use their last powers to bestow powers or gifts upon their most devout adherents.

Those gods could then fade from the human sphere of influence knowing they'd left behind people who could make it on their own, and who would not remember the gods for having abandoned them, but would instead remember them fondly as the teachers and guides who led them beyond themselves and showed them how to stand on their own.

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What is a god?

This question needs to be central to this discussion.

If a god can be an ascended mortal, there may be some unwillingness to having taken the role.

The goal may be to protect mortals from other gods' influence by sacrificing their own.

Good example from fiction: Guthix (Runescape). He did exactly this.

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  • $\begingroup$ This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post. - From Review $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Apr 10 '17 at 12:31
  • $\begingroup$ The third line and on are in fact an answer. $\endgroup$ – Weckar E. Apr 10 '17 at 12:52
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Well, gentlemen this sounds interesting so I'm going to explain you through a very basic example.

There is nothing in this world in this universe which God haven't given us from strength in our body to a sharp mind. From air to water, from food to alcohol from bed to pillow. Well whatever is around us is given by God and there is nothing left in this world which is not a gift of God so even after giving so many things to us he wants us to evolve so that we should become a better person.

We shall not be dependent on anyone because if we strive by ourselves without any help or without any dependency, a true adorable human with a great personality will rise who will change the world.

He has already given us all the things which are vital for a living. Still if you're dependent on him then we don't deserve to be here on this earth.

Because a diamond never gets its shine until and unless it has been through a rigourous shaping. Also, a rolling stone gathers no moss.

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  • $\begingroup$ the question was about gods plural, not God singular. The theology is different when there are many gods. $\endgroup$ – Yvonne Aburrow Mar 13 '17 at 15:50
  • $\begingroup$ @YvonneAburrow: also in case if any religion has only one god, god may have any real name - it means thart god may be not only God. $\endgroup$ – Václav Mar 14 '17 at 13:45
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, that's correct. But I read the above answer as being written from a monotheist perspective. $\endgroup$ – Yvonne Aburrow Mar 14 '17 at 14:06
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Everybody wants to win the lottery:

Suppose you are a god and each time there is an event in which luck or "god's favor" is involved you will get a ton of request to win and each of those is incompatible with the rest...

Edit:

Even if you are a god you just can't please everybody because there will be many times where helping someone implies prejudice others, for example in business what do you do when two companies are competing an both ask for divine help to overrun the other,both are good (insert cult name) so you just don't help or do you?. In the end anything you do or don't will annoy someone so the only options you have are:

A:not more request rule.

B:any request that may prejudice another of my followers will be unheard.

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  • $\begingroup$ @Secespitus answer extended. $\endgroup$ – Westside Tony Mar 13 '17 at 16:45
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In many mythologies, special humans(prophets) are necessary instruments for gods to perform miracles through, but more importantly that the gods can/are able to initiate conversation with them, as opposed to the rest of the population.

This could be for example because the gods live in a separate dimension, and most humans are simply too weak to be sensed by them(except for the prophets), unless they actively pray. However, an evil god/gods/outsider is able to intercept these communications and twist the message into something that they know will lead to corruption of the human, and destruction to the world.

In order to limit the destruction to the mortal plane, the gods decide to withdraw from their worshippers. They instruct them to stay silent and never pray again. Soon, the only ones left praying are your typical cultists who want to bring about the apocalypse.

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The gods are hiding

The gods are powerful, but they have powerful enemies, including other gods. The gods are immortal, which means that know that they won't die peacefully asleep amongst their loved ones. Even the gods of murder and mayhem are terrified of their own demise.

The only reason they gods would put themselves at any real risk would be to put a permanent end to their enemies. For thousands of years, the gods have been watching each others actions, finding hints as to how to find and kill their enemies before their enemies do the same.

For this reason the gods almost never intercede in this doings of humans. If the need of their worshippers are great enough, they might help very indirectly, by showing their worshippers how to solve their problems for themselves. Any more direct show of divine power might be traced back to their realm and allow their enemies to assassinate them in a time of weakness.

This might be seen as cowardly. However, gods' lives are very important. If say you are god of Hope, you could directly solve many of your followers problems. However, you have promised your followers that one day you will put an end to the god of Suffering once and for all. Even if you never actually do anything, just the knowledge that you are still out there, gives hope to your followers, and ensures that the god of Suffering will not be too bold in his depredations. Of course, the actual god of Cowardice is still round somewhere, but praying isn't much use.

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Truly omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent Deities, would need to have a far higher level of consciousness than that of a human. We wrongly see the Gods as made in our image, thinking they think like us. The Gods do not decide anything, they just created a Universe with established rules. Even us humans, must live by them.

It is in fact us, who teach ourselves, by exploring these rules. Those who get closest, will bathe in enlightenment and those who stray, will linger in the darkness. We learn these rules, in the same way we learn everything, by trial and error.

We live in strange times, where "not relying upon the Gods" is, what more and more believe to be the best religion. Humans have been very superstitious and have always adored some deity since the dawn of their age; we need a religion. Luckily we now have football players, pop stars and other wild things as substitutes for our lost faiths... And those who do not rely upon Gods, do rely on these things.

Religion is for us a framework that can be filled with anything and it cannot be void (the Gods forbid it). We fill it with something consciously or unconsciously and we then must rely on whatever we filled it with. For is relying on something greater than ourselves, were it just for spiritual comfort, not the essence of religion? How much we must consciously rely on it, is determined, either by the personal experience of trials and errors, or by the rules of an organised religion.

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There are too many people for the gods to micro-manage

The gods are powerful, but they are few, and humanity are many. They don’t have the resources to micro-manage all of humanity (at least not without harming themselves in the process). So they want humanity to be able to take care of themselves. After all, they didn’t create an entire planet from nothing – they just created a species of sapient life to live on it.

The gods don’t know the answer

When they created humanity on the pre-existing world, they did not have full knowledge of what they were creating. They never imagined that humans would grow to be as powerful and as technologically advanced as they have today. In fact, modern technology is so advanced that the gods (who are not engineers or scientists) don’t really understand how it works. The gods are genuinely stumped by some of the questions that are being asked of them. So they need humans to answer the questions themselves.

The gods need humanity to be strong

The gods are not all of the deities out there. There are other such beings. Evil ones. The gods need humanity to be strong, so they can fight even when their divine commanders are not directly present.

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I think Ville Niemi's answer is perfect, but I wanted to add a specific case of "the gods want us to grow up" which has very different ramifications: what if the gods want us to grow up to be gods? What if the line between a god and a person is more muddled than we've been lead to believe. What if the only thing separating us from them is simply maturity and experience?

The gods may stop helping us because the only way for us to ascend, ourselves, is to find our own voice. Once we can sing under our own power, then the gods may teach us how to sing in the upper register, as masters of our realm.

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protected by Serban Tanasa Mar 14 '17 at 17:26

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