Elves as evidence for theism

There have been exchanges between P.Z. Myers and Jerry Coyne on the question of what evidence, if any, would persuade them of the existence of God. It came to me recently that an excellent bit of evidence on the side of theism would be if Tolkien’s Elves were real: a race of beings very like humans, but not subject to death from old age.

I have never lost my deep affection for The Lord of the Rings, which I have read countless times since early adolescence. The mythology concerning mortality, whereby endless life was the gift of the creator god to the Elves, while death was, in intention, the corresponding gift to humans (a gift that we failed to appreciate, causing much woe) made a big impression on me.

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3 Responses to Elves as evidence for theism

  1. I have often wondered about this too. But then, over the past year, I have come to love transience more than I thought possible or conceivable. I wonder why endless life would be appealing to us finite beings, if it would at all. Could it not be said that a divine being (I mention this only as a thought experiment) could love us so plentifully, so wholly that he’d want us to experience everything, including death? (It is as though he would not want to keep this from us.) On this understanding, the full plenitude of human experience would be a gift, a greater gift than the desire for persistence.

    I do not say that I have made my peace with the thought. I do say that that the thought does have its allure.

    • dysangelist says:

      Thanks for the comment, Andrew.

      Could it not be said that a divine being (I mention this only as a thought experiment) could love us so plentifully, so wholly that he’d want us to experience everything, including death?)

      A nice formulation, to which the next step would be the experiencing of death and rebirth. And of course intertwined with this worldview is the idea that the sentient beings of the world are only masks that god wears, with an implication that god wants to experience everything, but can do so only by entering the world as all of the many beings.

      Another lovely mythology, and more appealing to my mind than the Christian mythology around life after death.

  2. “And of course intertwined with this worldview is the idea that the sentient beings of the world are only masks that god wears, with an implication that god wants to experience everything, but can do so only by entering the world as all of the many beings.”

    Also a beautiful formulation to which the only appropriate reply, in a single breath, is: Hegel. For Hegel also thought that man must die and be reborn in this-worldly ways, time and again, but–ah! he thought–not without the idea of learning and–ah! he essayed–with the end of coming to a higher state of being in the world that he called ‘absolute knowing.’

    A third lovely mythology, then, to set beside the other two.

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