I agree that the question is compelling, though I might rephrase to say “distinct from us” rather than outside of us. But beyond and greater than us? Well at least complimentary to us and possibly completing us. An essential part of being human is to recognize that much of what we become aware is preselected and preprocessed before we become consciously aware of it. What is it which takes care of so many details so that we can seemingly float above the mundane, capable of analyzing what we observe and speculating what might have significance for us? In trying to understand what we observe we intuitively project aspects of our own nature into the environment. So the spirit of the animals we kill to survive can be placated and venerated for its gifts.
But the most provocative mystery is what it is which preselects and processes so much of our experience. Just as people have projected their own nature onto other creatures in their transactions with them, so I think people have projected their own nature onto that which supports us and makes our nature possible. And as you say, there clearly is something distinct from us which makes our way of being possible. Addressing this being that is beyond us is felt to be every bit as important for us as our ancestors who felt compelled to thank and venerate the spirits of the creatures which gave themselves up for our survival. When something is essential and it is beyond your power to provide it yourself, veneration and gratitude is evoked.
Unlike the spirits of other animals the mystery of what supports us and essentially made us possible is something that continues to demand our veneration. This far I can travel with you. But I don’t literally place it outside my body and the rest of the world. It is a mystery deserving of respect and gratitude, but I don’t assume any tradition has gotten it completely right, which I see you also concede:
I appreciate your modesty in regard to your own faith, refraining from claiming a privileged place. We are all in the same boat when it comes to the mystery of what makes us possible. So I can’t give myself over to displacing my own uncertainty onto you and other believers, and I certainly see nothing to get angry about. At least you are not in denial regarding the mystery, waving it away as some future accomplishment for science to dispatch in due time, as seemingly are so many non-believers. Anyone who takes the mystery seriously and feels the tug of veneration is at risk of looking silly, but at least they haven’t surrendered their humanity.