18

Gods are omnipresent in A Song of Ice and Fire, but do they exist?

  • The old gods have never listened to the Starks' prayers; the only time was when Arya was in Harrenhal and she heard voices. Was it the gods or just an illusion?
  • The sept does not exist for me because the concept is childish (the Mother, the Father..) and never listened.
  • The Lord of Light may or may not listen to his followers.

EDIT :
In the part where Stannis throws leeches into the fire and prays to Rh'llor, some of the processes are already engaged:

Walder Frey had been planning to kill Robb before. Can't say for sure when Baelish began planning to kill Joffrey, so this leech is hard to determine. Balon Greyjoy's freak accident (fall off a bridge) is the only incident that didn't seem to be a mortal's influence, and is the most likely candidate for being the work of R'hllor, but we'll never know.

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    I believe GRRM has stated that we will never know for sure whether Gods exist in ASOIAF. But we have seen that magic exists, and some attribute magic to the rebirth of dragons. – TLP Nov 2 '13 at 18:41
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    One interpretation is that there are certain spells that work, and that the religions have just taken them into their rites and pretend that they are coming from their god. And then you have the various types of magicians, such as pyromancer, alchemist, bloodmage, shadowbinder, warlock, etc. – TLP Nov 2 '13 at 19:14
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    why would you expect the gods to be proven to exist or not? In real life, there is no proof for or against the existence of gods. So why should GRRM's world - fantasy setting notwithstanding - be any different? Apart from the fantasy elements GRRM has created a realistic world, and the ambiguity of the gods' existence, for me, is a part of that. – The Giant of Lannister Nov 3 '13 at 10:51
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    @vinz243 - We don't know how much influence the leeches ceremony had on the death of the three kings. We know R'hllor does have manifested powers, but do they extend to this? We still don't know. – System Down Nov 7 '13 at 18:01
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    re: Edit: Ah, but Balon Greyjoy was perhaps murdered by a faceless man sent by Euron. Consider the ghost of high hearts prophecy: “I dreamt of a man without a face, waiting on a bridge that swayed and swung. On his shoulder perched a drowned crow with seaweed hanging from his wings.”. As for the leeches themselves, I think Melisandre simply saw these deaths in her fires and put on a show with the leeches to convince Stannis to sacrifice Edric Storm. – TLP Nov 8 '13 at 15:56
23

There is no hard evidence in the world of A Song of Ice and Fire that any gods actually exist.

There is plenty of evidence magic, or at least something magic-like, does exist: the Others, the wights, the greenseers, the wargs, the warlocks from Qarth, the Faceless Men, the "shadow babies" conjured by Melisandre, the resurrection powers shown by some red priests, and last but not least the actual, fire-breathing dragons.

But even if all those things exist, so far there is no evidence they are caused by any gods. Melisandre, who is an unreliable narrator, claims her powers were granted by the Lord of Light, but that's unclear. We never see her directly interacting with her god, and she may very well be lying or mistaken. We do know a few things about her: that she is not above using misdirection (some of her magical feats are shown to be tricks), and we know she is very likely mistaken about Stannis being the "chosen one" (and, like other characters notice, Stannis' flaming sword is evidently a cheap forgery). So who knows if the Lord of Light actually exists?

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    So, um, why the downvote? What is incorrect about my answer? – Andres F. Nov 2 '13 at 22:59
  • Perhaps stannis is just way to Melisandre to increase her power. But there is also the red priest Thoros of Myr, who said (in the serie, in the book i am not sure) that he didn't believe in the Lord of Light before he resurrect someone. Mightbe in TWOW, we could learn more. GRRM said we gonna know more in the next book about the others. – Vinz243 Nov 3 '13 at 9:19
  • If divine magic exists I would consider that reasonable evidence toward a source of that magic existing. And just saying a prayer to have someone come back to life seems like pretty divine magic (as opposed to something like with the Mountain where extensive arcane work was needed). Especially if it works only some of the time, implying that the one praying is not in control of it. – HamHamJ Dec 22 '16 at 18:59
  • @HamHamJ Maybe! Or maybe not if we -- and the irony of this doesn't escape me -- employ the scientific method. We do not know that someone praying and producing a magical effect actually is using divine magic. Melisandre certainly believes so (at the time I wrote this answer, we didn't have the clear-cut Meli POV from the TV show. We now know she truly believes), but we do not know whether she's right. We haven't seen direct evidence of the existence of any gods yet -- neither the Great Other, nor the Drowned God, nor the Lord of Light. We have seen evidence of magic, just that. – Andres F. Dec 22 '16 at 19:14
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    @BinaryWorrier Agreed. This is more or less what I'm arguing! There's plenty of evidence there's magic at play (either from Melisandre, other Red Priests, Jon Snow, the Targaryen blood, or whatever). However, there's little conclusive evidence the source of that magic is divine. Maybe it is, but we don't know yet. – Andres F. Aug 10 '17 at 14:11
5

There's no canon answer for any of the gods existing or not existing as physical beings.

However, the gods exist because people believe they exist even if they are not actual beings.

If a character appeared in the next book and called himself R'llor (spelling) and he liked setting things on fire and throwing flashy magic around, and he wouldn't die no matter how many times you stabbed him, some would call him a god, some would call him a powerful wizard and some would call him a demon from whatever hell they believe in and ultimately it wouldn't matter who was right.

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    just like real life, then. – The Giant of Lannister Nov 3 '13 at 11:01
  • It kinda comes down to what is the measure of a god, even in settings where people converse with gods the gods are merely beings that have a lot more power than normal mortals. Its all really very meta. – severa Nov 3 '13 at 12:13
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We have enough evidence to believe in the existence of the Lord of Light, if not the others. This is because we have at least one otherwise unexplainable phenomenon that can be explained by his existence: Thoros of Myr and Melisandre's ability to bring people back from the dead through prayer. Melisandre's other abilities can be questioned as tricks or blood magic or the like, but when something is as simple as dead body + prayer = alive person, the simplest explanation is in fact that there is some divine being responding. Especially when it only works for some people some of the time, seemingly with some kind of agency.

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