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Real Life poses these and other heavy, unanswerable questions, and fiction sets out to answer them. One trope that attempts to answer all four questions is the idea that everyone and everything has a Soul, and each is a piece of God. Consciousness/physics is just God attempting to reform itself into one coherent mass again.
Which raises the question, why is God in pieces? The answer might never be revealed, but if it is, it usually has to do with God wanting to imbue a piece of him/herself (in these stories, God is unlikely to be described with a gender) in creation. This divine spark allows people to use magic, gives free will and access to an afterlife, and allows for a creative spark in all beings. By sacrificing its individual self, God becomes a Prometheus bringing life to all. Another possibility is that God wants to use a cycle of Reincarnation and afterlives to "level up" by gaining the accumulated wisdom of humanity, and in the process make the soul-fragments wiser and kinder.
Of course, God might not have intended this at all. If there is a God of Evil, it may have "slain" God while weak after making creation, and/or imprisoned it in Plot Coupons and Cosmic Keystones. Reuniting these fragments may unleash the Sealed Good in a Can and fix any flaws Inherent in the System. But if God Is Evil, it may cause very bad things to happen.
This cosmic set up can get very morally gray if God intends to forcibly reunite all of itself, ending all individuality. The protagonists won't know if it will cause everyone to turn into a Hive Mind, or end all suffering by making every soul aware of the pain it causes others, without subsuming self.
Fair warning: This is a SPOILER trope.
Anime & Manga
- ROD the TV Series has The absurdly powerful British Library which is lead by The Gentleman, a Reality Warper of considerable power. Even he ages, though, and in desperation to keep him alive, they transfer his essence into multiple books (which get scattered) until they can find a host body capable of containing his mind.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion, where humanity actually started out as a primordial soup derived from an Eldritch Abomination named Lilith. God can be constructed and an Assimilation Plot can be initiated by fusing Lilith with another eldritch horror named Adam. Said Assimilation Plot involves the God, which takes the form of a Giant Naked Rei, reducing humanity into Tang and collecting their souls through spacetime-transcending replicas of herself. Also, according to Seele's Secret Dead Sea Scrolls, Lilith and Adam were separate creations of a mysterious "First Ancestral Race".
- Slayers has the world's equivalent of Satan, Ruby-Eye Shabranigdo, split into seven pieces and sealed away into human souls; one is sealed in a Grim Up North, and another was destroyed during the series by Lina and her allies twice. A third piece was destroyed in the final book of the original light novel series as well. The God equivalent Ceifeed is allegedly gone for good, but fragments of him occasionally are born in others, branding them his knights, including Lina's sister Luna. How this works is unknown.
- In what has been compared heavily to the Instrumentality plot from Evangelion, pretty much everything related to the World of C in Code Geass fits with this trope. The show goes so far as to have a "collective unconsciousness" referred to as "God" which is capable of killing immortals.
- The Arm Of Kannon series revolves around the pieces of a godlike being that ended up on Earth and the various people that want to exploit them or seal them away.
- In Futari wa Pretty Cure MaX Heart, The Queen of Light is forced to split herself into twelve fairy-like creatures called Heartiels that represents the will of herself, And one part of the Queen manifests as a young girl called Hikari.
- In the Fullmetal Alchemist-verse, it's revealed that humans hold a piece of the Gate of Truth as part of their soul, with Alchemists' being particularly potent and allowing them access to Alchemy. Ed uses this to his benefit in the climax when he willingly gives up his piece of the Gate (and thus his ability to perform Alchemy) in return for Alphonse, which Truth accepts as Equivalent Exchange.
- Out of all things, this is how Fragments works in NEEDLESS: each Fragment is a piece of power of a person named "Christ Second". There are two characters whose Fragment, whose goal in life is Mega Manning all the Fragments, and each of them has certain degree of A God Am I. Unlike most other examples in this page (which are DEEP or at least trying to pose themselves as so), this is generally Played for Laughs (and not the Black Humor kind).
- In Bloody Cross, God's Inheritences are artifacts that contain pieces/fragments of God's power, and various "God candidates" are trying to gather them so they can use that power to become the next God.
- Promethea brings about The End of the World as We Know It and causes every human to merge their divine soul. The result? People are still individuals, but the spiritual reunification brings everyone to change their perspectives and make the world a better place.
- Something vaguely analogous happens in Earth X, where the various alternate universes are fragments of the one original creation. The Elders of the Universe are trying to re-merge them back into a single universe, ignoring the fact that the inhabitants of the existing universes will lose their individuality in the process. However, there were clearly many different beings in the original universe as well.
- The DC Universe (well, multiverse) is the same way; originally one universe that got split due to a very ill-advised experiment to observe creation.
- In one Defenders story, Eternity, a Cosmic Entity who embodies the universe, decided to send pieces of itself to Earth, in human forms and with no memories, to "experience" humanity. Later he returned their memories and most of them re-merged with him, thus giving him humanity by proxy. However, three of the pieces were missing, and he had The Defenders find out who had stolen them. The heroes find out that nobody had stolen them- they were hiding because they loved being human too much and didn't want to merge with Eternity again. However the Defender Nighthawk called them on how selfish they were being, since an incomplete Eternity would cause chaos on Earth eventually, meaning they hadn't really learned to care after all. Realizing their error, the fragments then rejoined Eternity.
- In Justice League: Heaven's Ladder, godlike aliens who have no religious beliefs of their own send "sleeper agents" to various planets -including Earth- so they can learn about Faith; then they collect them and use their collective beliefs to... create their own afterlife!
- The Infinity Gems in the Marvel Universe are the remnants of a god that committed suicide after its own attempts to create life failed miserably.
- In Avatar, this overlaps with the concept of Gaia: Everyone is connected to the web of life. Thanks to Phlebotinum and ponytail nerve clusters!
"All life on Pandora is tied together via nerve-like connections, making the entire ecosystem one giant living entity... or god, if you like. "
- Tron universe: the closest we get to an explanation of the computer world's resemblance to the human one is when Encom founder Walter Gibbs rants at Dillinger. An odd example, as humans are the Gods in question.
Gibbs: You can remove men like Alan and me from the system, but we helped create it, and our spirit remains in every program we design!"
- Gaia in Foundation's Edge
- The appropriately named Gods Debris
- His Dark Materials uses this. The Authority is actually not the creator but the first manifestation of Dust which turns out to be the source of all consciousness.
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy mentioned a race that believes that the universe is the result of the Great Green Arkleseizure sneezing and lives in fear of the time they call the Coming of the Great White Handkerchief.
- In The Sundering, the universe is the broken body of the primordial deity.
- In Brandon Sanderson's multiverse, all the gods are actually originally-human minds bound to pieces of something else ( the pieces are called Shards) that was destroyed millennia ago (though whether Adonalsium was a god or something more like The Force is unclear). At the end of the Mistborn trilogy, two opposing Shards get combined together into a single deity.
- Also, Word of God has revealed that the Returned of Warbreaker are empowered by Splinters of power from another Shard, called Endowment. Yes, they're pieces of a god that is a piece of a god.
- Word of God has also revealed that the Seons and the Skaze from Elantris are also splinters (or something very close) of two Shards called Aona (who holds Devotion or one similarly named) and Skai (who held Dominion) respectively. They are also the Source of the Aon Dor and the other magic systems in Elantris. They were splintered when Odium, another Shard, came to the planet they were on, defeated them both and splintered them
- Edgar Allan Poe wrote this in a philosophical piece called "Mesmeric Revelation". Unusually, Poe proposed that the reunification of God would be a bad thing--since creation is good, and reunification would render it a wasted effort.
- White Apples by Johnathan Carrol is a perfect example of this trope, the gist being that God Asplode to make the universe, and when we die we become part of "the mosaic" which is God, who then promptly asplode again when the mosaic is complete.
- Bruce Coville's My Teacher Is an Alien series has a variation on this. Apparently humans aren't pieces of God, exactly, but they are pieces of a Hive Mind planetwide intelligence. Humans were poised to become the smartest, generally greatest race in the known universe until the telepathic din became unbearable and early humans unconsciously lobotomized themselves to shut each other out.
- Adherents of the Circle in The Shattered World believe that mortals' souls are fragments of a single Oversoul, which split apart much like the planet itself. Unlike most examples, this isn't actually implied to be true, just a theological notion based on how the world was broken up.
- Though it's never quite stated explicitly, Unity in the Galactic Milieu Trilogy is rather deific- a sort of gestalt conciousness formed of all the metapsychics in existence, which they can commune with.
- Harlan Ellison's The Region Between proposes that we all subconsciously know that we were once part of God, so we all lust after power and control as a means of trying to recreate the feeling of omnipotence. God himself is still present in crippled form, but he's hopelessly insane, and ends it all in a Suicidal Cosmic Temper Tantrum.
- In the book Cats Have No Lord, the creator split into the gods of all aspects of the world to create the world, and planned to reunite (destroying the world in doing so) but the God of Cats is missing, and thus the world continues to exist. One of the heroes is sworn to serve and rescue the Cat God, and is being manipulated by a cult that believes they are obligated to allow God's plan to continue, even at the cost of the end of all existence. In the end, the heroes Take a Third Option by replacing the Cat God in his exile with the Wolf God (who was trying to kill them).
- In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, the Mandalorians believe that all who follow the way of their culture are part of the manda' or oversoul. To turn one's back on the Mandalorian culture is to lose contact with this greater, shared bond and is considered less than nothing.
- To an extent, The Force could also be considered this, with every living being being part of the Force (jury's out on whether the Vong were really an exception).
- In Babylon 5, Delenn said something similar; paraphrasing here but it was something like 'All sentient life is the universe trying to understand itself.'
Delenn: Then I will tell you a great secret, Captain. Perhaps the greatest of all time. The molecules of your body are the same molecules that make up this station and the nebula outside, that burn inside the stars themselves. We are starstuff, we are the universe made manifest, trying to figure itself out. As we have both learned, sometimes the universe requires a change of perspective.
- Which is a paraphrase of something Carl Sagan said in Cosmos.
- One possible Object Origin in The Lost Room.
Philosophy & Religion
- The Adam Kadmon theory literally says we are Pieces of God.
- Carl Jung's idea of a "collective unconscious". Basically, the collective unconscious is an Akashic Record-like entity which takes the form of a Freudian Unconscious on a cosmic, impersonal, universal scale. It brings forth our conscious psychic experience through trope-like archetypes. Although your mileage may vary, if you consider the collective unconscious as "God", since it's after all a Mind Screw to fully explain here on This Very Wiki.
- Other religions have things like God is a giant bird who laid the universe as an egg.
- In Chinese mythology, everything between the sky and earth is parts of the body of the first god, Pangu, who was formed from primordial chaos, and in turn split the sky and earth from each other over thousands of years.
- Pantheism, monism are the basis of many mainstream philosophies including Buddhism.
- Deism sometimes believes in God as a metaphor for the nature of the universe. Pandeism is a subset of both Deism and Pantheism which explicitly believes this.
- Stoicism (not necessarily that one) maintained that everyone in the world had a spark of Divine Fire in them, which after death went back to rejoin the almighty World Soul.
- Quakers believe that God, Jesus, or the Light is in everyone, and so they preach nonviolence (would you kill God?), equality (well, if God's in everyone...), and integrity (would you lie to God?).
- This is part of the Backstory for the White Wolf's Mage: The Ascension. All human beings have a tiny spark of the divine in them (called the Avatar). Those who are Awakened are called Mages and can use it to manipulate reality.
- Fascinating in that a Soul is not in itself divine. Mages can make souls, but these lack the divine aspect even the lowliest Muggle's soul carries. Of course, all this means is they can never Awaken and become Mages.
- That same spark of the divine makes humans valuable to demons - humans have Faith, which demons need to fuel their powers. Faith can be shared or taken, the demon's choice. The Karma Meter would prefer they have it shared.
- Mummy used this too. Osiris has been scattered around the world, and there's a bunch of Amenti trying to put him back together.
- Mage: The Awakening has it that many mages believe that souls are fragments of the Supernal World that descended to the Material World and that return to the Supernal upon death, bringing their experiences back with them. Speculated reasons for this include the universe trying to understand itself, a punishment levied by mad or cruel gods, or a kind of self-imposed challenge. In terms of this model, the Awakening is merely the soul recalling its divine origin. The status of this cycle following the Fall is a subject of concern for some mages.
- Warhammer 40000 has an Eldar war god literally in pieces. The Avatars of Khaine are an example.
- In some way, this also applies to the Immortal Emperor. There are implications - and in one The Inquisition War novels it was explicitly though unreliably stated - that this is what's happened to his conscious remnant, having split into dozens if not hundreds of personalities and fragments. There's the part that feeds the Astronomican, the fragments which influence the Emperor's Tarot, the parts that speak and give visions to his people, the tiny portions which are imbued within Astropaths during the Soul Binding, not to mention the vast amounts of effort needed to fight the Warp as a whole, and in the broken Webway gate, with the Golden Throne itself serving as a psychic barrier. If the Emperor's body were to fully die, it's believed he may be reborn as the Star Child, a new god of the Warp loyal to Mankind... We hope. Or, he may be reincarnated. Or there might be a psychic apocalypse which destroys all life in the galaxy. Or perhaps the gibbering madness and incomparable evil of the Chaos gods might be able to flow freely into the material world, creating a new galaxy-sized Hell. Understandably, there is rather considerable in-universe controversy over whether the Emperor's death would be a good thing..
- Speaking of the God-Emperor in Astronomican, thousands of psykers are sacrificed to him daily to reinforce his withering self. One can imagine those poor fellas being indoctrinated into believing that they are pieces of God-Emperor about to unite with him.
- The C'tan, the oldest known beings in the universe, got their asses handed to them by the Necrons and were shattered into dozens of Shards. The Shards are autonomous, acting as what are basically demigods, and the Necrons are trying to capture and tame them.
- Apparently this is the true form of the Transformers' god Primus in some continuities. Each Transformer houses a tiny fragment of him known as a "spark" that returns to the collective known as the "All Spark" upon death to share knowledge and experience as part of his incomprehensibly complex plan to deal with his Evil Counterpart Unicron.
- Then there are the Alternity, Autobots and Maximals who have evolved to a point where not only are they powerful and transcendent, they're actually connected to every other alternate version of themselves or something. Even more, they can actually induct said alternate selves into a semi-Instrumentality, retaining their individuality while becoming an avatar for their Alternity.
- In Bionicle, the robot body of the Great Spirit Mata Nui was a universe in itself, with many different races living on the continents inside, unwittingly maintaining him -- keeping him alive. In return, he kept the basic forces of nature under check, and made their environment inhabitable, thus they (well, most of them) revered him as a god. Word of God compared it to a human and his internal organs, all part of the same being. However to his creators, the Great Beings, Mata Nui was simply an instrument in their plans, and the beings inside him were only meant to keep him functioning as nanotech, not have conscience and build up a religion around him.
- In Lusternia, this is how most of the mortal races were created. The Elder Gods faced a Hopeless War against The Soulless Ones, and some chose to fragment their consciousness, creating "children" which retained qualities of their parent god. (Some Gods chose to flee into the Void rather than suffer this, however.) Though mortals can ascend to become Demigods themselves, it's made clear that their progenitors are for all intents and purposes dead, and can never be remade by reuniting their fragments.
- Though since mortals can proliferate endlessly through procreation, and can all (potentially) become Demigods, they're collectively stronger than their "progenitor" God could be.
- All the realms in Mortal Kombat are created from the shattered consciousness (and maybe body) of the One Being, and if allowed to merge back into him, will result in The End of the World as We Know It. So, why was he split, and why is he trying to get himself back together? Turns out, he and the Elder Gods were the only creatures to exist before the beginning of the multiverse, and the Elder Gods were getting tired of the One Being feasting on their energies. Splitting him up, transforming his consciousness/body into the multiple realms, and assigning a protector god for each is all to ensure he can't harm them, anymore.
- Xenogears. In a profoundly dark and twisted way.
- You want more? Fine: The 'God' in this game is really just a huge Biological Weapon that created Humans as parts to repair his body and basically manipulates them to live then die jsut so they can be pieces of him, all while under the guise in legends and religious texts to literally be God.
- According to the Creation Myth in Brutal Legend, everything in the Age of Metal consists of four elements: Blood, Fire, Noise, and Metal. And those four are the remains of Ormagoden, an Eldritch Abomination-slash-Creator Diety: namely, his blood, spirit, roar, and flesh (all very tangible things in a world of Heavy Metal). In other words, pretty much everything you see in the game (including Eddie) is a piece of Ormagoden.
- The True Runes in the Suikoden series.
- After beating Dragon Quest IX, the almighty god Zenus is nowhere to be found, but ten of the twelve postgame grotto bosses either state or imply that they are fragments of him.
- In the two NG+ missions for Strange Journey the Angel Metatron reveals that both him and the Demiurge are pieces of God. Who was broken into pieces by the Mother Goddesses of Old after losing his love for humans and humanity losing faith in him. Depending on your choice you can let him be sealed again or let him go. Just don't let him be free unless you're law aligned.
- In the Warlords and Warlords Battlecry series, Lord Sartek, god of the minotaurs, was betrayed, murdered, and dismembered by fellow Horseman Lord Bane. Minotaurs like to collect bits of Sartek with the eventual goal of putting him back together again. In WBC 2 and 3, the Skull of Sartek is the minotaur titan. In the WBC 3 campaign, collecting the five fingers of the Hand of Sartek earns you the allegiance of the minotaurs and a bonus to your hero's combat power.
- Several SCPs are mentioned as (possibly) being divine in nature, there's even a Church of the Broken God cult the Foundation has to fight over them.
- This is one possible explanation of the Objects in The Holders Series.
- In the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, the Church of the Ascendant is a cult that believes superhumans came about because God split his own essence up into millions of tiny pieces and spread it all around the world, and that its only been recently, when the human population approached a certain critical number, that the "power of God" (represented by the various superpowers possesed by the heroes and villains) has been able to manifest again, if only in a limited way. They believe that the higher the human population, the greater the power will manifest until eventually, God himself (herself? itself?) will manifest physically on the Earth and the human species will ascend into the next stage of being. Most people in the GGU think they're kooks.