Cosmology Alteration: Mythic Europe without God

For the next two upcoming sagas, I'm changing the Ars Magica cosmology in a major way (a major enough secret within the setting, in fact, that the threat of it being revealed kickstarts the ultimate war between Hell and Heaven), and I'd like you guys to help me iron out the details I'm certain to overlook.

Namely, Mythic Europe has no God, or at the very least, not in the sense everyone understands.

In the beginning, there were only two Realms: Magic and Faerie. (Actually, in the beginnig beginning there was probably just Magic, but as soon as there were humans there were Faeries.) Originally, both accepted their division, with Magic representing the natural progression towards perfection, and Faerie representing perfection from the perspective of humans, using emotions and stories to idealize their forms. The existence of Magic spirits of emotions caused pause in some, but for the longest time none gave serious thought to the idea that any link existed between the primary power of the Faeries, emotions and beliefs, and the natural power of Magic beings. There were hints; some people had love or faith that could overcome the great beings' powers, but these were thought at the time to simply be anomolously powerful people.

This all changed when a group of extremely powerful spirits, mostly displaced Kosmokrators and even two Protogonoi, were using their power to tunnel to the deepest bowels of the Magic Realm... And found Heaven.

Present in this then-tiny patch of paradise were the weak spirits of a small number of people, one of whom a spirit recognized as a recently deceased person. They initially suspected they had powered straight through to Arcadia and were seeing story representations of these people, but upon inspection the place, they realized its power was neither simply Magic nor simply Faerie, almost like both combined, but nearly unrecognizable compared to either in its overbearing greatness. It was not long before they spoke to the other spirits, realizing what set them apart from the rest of the humans in the world below: strong faith in a perfect and good singular deity. The sudden emergence of these great beings had driven these beings to awe, and they declared that the incredible beings before them must be the direct messengers of their God. Before the spirits could deign to respond, they felt themselves changing... Slightly, but surely, they felt the power of the place well into themselves.

Seeing an opportunity here, they declared themselves angels of God, and returned to the mundane world, using their own Aspects and their servants to spread the primitive forms of this new religion for their own benefit, growing more Divine as the pool of worshippers of the "one true God" deepened. They began to oust the Faerie religions and Magical cults predominant in humans at the time with the overpowering nature of the Dominion. They even discovered that enough faithful praying directed towards certain objectives allowed the spirits to channel the power of that faith to affect things through any amount of Magic Resistance, giving them even more power against their former brethren. However, as the Faith grew and the new archangels came into themselves as Divine, something changed in these spirits... Their desire for power gave way to a deep passion for helping their subjects, both in dealing with the sufferings of life and in helping them to stay faithful and reach Heaven. At this time, other lesser spirits were flooding into Heaven as well with the help of the archangels, and transforming, having similar epiphanies. At first, this moral evolution happened all in one direction, but eventually, there was a division... One that shook the worlds, created a new Realm, and was told to the humans in heavily mangled form for the sake of the Angels' plans.

This event is known to theologians as the Fall, but it might be more accurate to refer to it as the Darkening.

One of the great archangels, the one known as Lucifer, witnessed a young girl of incredibly powerful faith trying to speak to God. His original intention was to send fake omens and a vision in response to the girl's intense devotion, but she was so strong that when he tried to affect her mind, she ended up dominating him instead, compelling him to reveal the truth to her. The young girl's psyche was shattered, and she died almost immediately after... With no spirit showing up anywhere, seemingly destroyed by the utter crushing of her faith. Lucifer was filled with shame and remorse, and turned to view the rest of the faithful on earth for comfort... But in his emotionally damaged state, he was startled in a way he never had been by the amount people were letting the faith dominate their existences. They would hurt others and each other over differences in belief, sit around praying to solve every problem they came across rather than attempting to deal with it themselves, and even use their faith to justify murder, rape, torture... People had a moral center in their faith, or so he had come to believe, but they seemed even worse than before the coming of the Divine!

So he tried to stop everything. He spoke to the other angels about the destructive nature of the peoples' faith, both for themselves and others, and about the fact that the humans deserved the right to believe the way they felt they should, rather than being almost forced into it with the expansive conquest of the monotheistic religions. The angels split nearly down the middle in their beliefs; almost half of the angels agreed with Lucifer that continuing to deceive the humans was wrong, while just over half held that the deception was worth the good that it caused, in that it gave angels the power of miracles to help the people and allowed them to reach the incredible paradise of the ever-expanding Heaven, as well as pointing out that humans were still destructive before, if not quite as much.

Still, while the current position had the majority belief in Heaven, nearly half of the angels opposing the current system was too large to simply let go, especially with Lucifer's strong feelings on the issue. Fearing betrayal by Lucifer in the form of him telling the truth to living people, they ambushed him and those following his beliefs, kickstarting the war in Heaven. Though it was close, Lucifer being caught off guard and the greater number of archangels opposing him allowed the angels in support of the current system to win.

The angels did recognize that Lucifer's group had good intentions, but they could not let their differences destroy the system... So after much fierce debate, the archangels enacted their ultimate solution. They used a great miracle to bind the holiness within Lucifer and his followers, disconnecting them from the Divine power and removing their ability to express virtue, and created Hell to be a prison for them, branding them demons. They considered this ideal for many reasons: it allowed them to use the threat of Hell, proven by the interference of demons in mortal life, to even more strongly push humanity towards the Faith; it removed the former angels' desires to help humanity by telling them the truth, and caused the demons to gain a (rightful) reputation as liars so that any who did spill the beans wouldn't be believed; and it gave them some absolution from the guilt they would have felt simply eradicating the fallen angels from existence. Many felt guilty about it for some time, but eventually these feelings waned, as the angels focused on continuing to pursue their goal. Over time, human beliefs were shaped into what they are in current Mythic Europe, with none but the angels above, demons below, and some of the oldest Magic beings who didn't originally join the angels aware of the truth...

There it is, basically. Most of this has big setting implications, but very little in the way of mechanical implications. What do you guys think of it, and what do you think would be the larger effects on the setting, if any, of this being true, compared to the regular cosmology where God>everything?

My first question. Does the Divine still have absolute trump-card status, such as through the Limit of the Divine (and Limit of the Infernal, for that matter)? That's going to color a lot of the future answers - if the power of the highest angels is still absolute, then in some sense it really doesn't matter whether capital-G still exists. If not, then there'll need to be some tweaking and mechanical ripple effects that you'll want to deal with: the Limit of the Infernal, the possibility of summoning and commanding angels, and Divine Realm Interaction to name three.

On a more fluffy level, how much control do angels have over holy men's powers? Is a holy character able to draw upon the Divine Realm and use it as he wills, is behavior enforced automatically, or is the power subject to the arbitrary will of the angels involved?

The issues I would have is that the idea of devils and demons predate monotheism, so the cosmology wouldn't make sense to me. Of course to be fair the current cosmology doesn't make sense to me either, which has been discussed ad naseum. What it does make me wonder is that if the real source of the divine power is human faith then what happens if people believe in something else, like Buddhism, or a pagan pantheon...

I was rather specific about the faith; I suppose if the character believed in a pantheon of beings who were all omnipotent and pure good, that'd fly, but I've never seen such a thing. That could be a limit of my learning rather than a limit of what religions exist, though.

EDIT: I suppose people who truly genuinely considered themselves the One Special Chosen of All the Gods Ever[sup]TM[/sup] could also qualify. The main requirement in this case is utter certainty, both that your best interests are what are ultimately at the thing you have faith in's heart (thus removing morally conflicted gods or morally neutral forces) and that there is no force in the entire cosmos that can stop that thing from making what it wants to be reality a reality (most pagan deities have opposing forces of nearly equal, equal, or even greater power that could decide to get in the deity's way of making their plan for you come to fruition).

As for the devils and demons predating monotheism thing, I imagine that like pretty much every being covered heavily in stories, many were/are Faeries, not Infernal beings.

In some middle eastern early mythologies the gods were prepared to offer man immortality and a literal seat at their dining table, but Yam after giving humans the meh of good and evil tricked them into giving up this gift that the rest of the pantheon was willing to give them, so that comes pretty close to an entire pantheon of benign beings...

If you have Faeries and stories of God, then you have God.

Furthermore, if you start with Faeries and stories of God, when manifests God, you have had God all along.