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Atheist... or Worshipper?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by SaltyDog, Aug 25, 2016.

  1. SaltyDog

    SaltyDog Sage

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    I'm just curious about this topic, so I decided to see what other writers have decided to put in their own worlds.

    Do you have magical immortal beings called gods? Or do you only have one god? Or none at all?

    I have a land of almost all atheists. Why? I don't know, I need to put in a backstory for that. Only a few power hungry false prophets preaching nonsense are my religions, if they can even be called that. There are no gods. I didn't want to get into the big mess of religion, building history, laws and etc. And I think it's adds a little difference and spice, no gods, only people controlling their own or others fate, not a god doing it.

    Thanks,
    Salty
     
  2. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    Depends on the story.

    In Winter's Queen, the MCs are humans from 21st century Earth, and they all are Christians; the Fae are basically demigods themselves, and don't worship their forefathers as such.

    In Tenth Realm, the humans are Viking Age pagans (some worship the Norse gods, others worship the Celtic ones); same rules as above apply to the Fae.

    In Low Road, the humans and vampires are mostly pagan, worshiping the Celtic gods; vampires typically revere Morrighan.

    In Bellringer, there are varied beliefs. The humans and a few of the werewolves are Christian; other werewolves are pagan, worshiping either Luna, Hecate, or Diana/Artemis. Religious conflict is a huge part of the story.

    In Song of the Sea, the merfolk worship a sea goddess, while the main (formerly) human character is Jewish.

    In Moonhunter, the intelligent wolves worship the Moon, who blessed them with reason and speech. The Sun and the Night, also deities, are antagonistic to the wolves.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2016
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  3. This is a good question to bring up. I think authors often avoid tackling religion because it's such a sensitive subject in the real world, and inventing religions can get complicated. The scenario you're describing (where everyone is atheist) is pretty common.

    My world is mainly dominated by a totalitarian theocracy, so religion is quite a large part of it, though the religion was invented to control the masses.

    Outside of that, there's many various viewpoints on God or a god. there is this figure that is supposed to be the source of magic, usually depicted as feminine, but ideas on what she is like vary tremendously. Some believe in the vague idea of a creator God, others have stricter ideas of what said God is like, but there aren't any 'God-inspired' religious texts of any sort, or official doctrines. Most people suppose the world would need to have been created, but it doesn't go beyond that for many. There are also some outspoken atheists. On the other hand, there are some extremely strict cults and such, though not necessarily religious (mainly just a cult believing magic is evil).

    Personally I'm intrigued by all the different ideas and beliefs that exist in the world and like to explore different religions and philosophies. I would like to carry some of that over into my stories. A story where characters actually ponder and debate religion would be refreshing and different.
     
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  4. Reaver

    Reaver Kwisatz Haderach Moderator

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    Before this thread goes anywhere, I want to give all participants this friendly reminder:

    I'll be checking this thread from time to time to ensure this guideline is followed to the letter.
     
  5. SaltyDog

    SaltyDog Sage

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    I meant no disrespect in this post, that's why I didn't even mention any religions of our world. I was only curious of what the fantasy religions were. I hope everyone only posts religions of fantasy and keeps it that way.
     
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  6. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I think societies without religion can be done well. They always raise questions in my mind in terms of how the situation arose, which I like to see addressed. In human history, religion, belief in magic and supernatural explanations, etc., often arose as a means of controlling those things that were not well-understood or subject to human control. As society progressed and our understanding grew, those things which could not be explained or at least placed in a general framework of understand shrank, and the role of religion, magic, mysticism, and what have you also shrank from those areas.

    Doesn't mean a fantasy society would have to evolve the same way, but I'd be interested in the author's framing of her society in a way that gives me some idea of why they didn't look at things that way in the distant, pre-technological past, and why society didn't evolve with the same sort of differentiation between the sphere of science or empiricism and the sphere of mysticism.
     
  7. SaltyDog

    SaltyDog Sage

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    Both you guys,( DragonOfTheAerie and Ireth) Have some thought out religions, even if some are of our world, so thanks. I only have one main religion, and it was created by one of my races from a different continent, and my story takes place in the other known continent, so there is knowledge of that religion, except it's not enough to play a big role in the story. I have several characters make offhand remarks about gods, as if one had just controlled fate for or against the characters, but then they always say afterward that of course, they are just stories and there are no such things as gods. (For them at least.)

    Which so far, no activity with an immortal being has taken place, and I might choose that the only religion be false. It seems to me I could have fun working on that subject, building history and other stuff like that, whether the god is real or not.
     
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  8. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    This is an interesting topic!

    I'm fascinated with world religions and love including a variety of beliefs in my work. I feel that religion and superstitions add a lot of spice to a world.
     
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  9. SaltyDog

    SaltyDog Sage

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    As do I, but in my book, I have twelve different races, and so that's a lot of religions! I went only with one though, as I have never created one before, and wanted to see how it would turn out. Let's just say it needs more work.
     
  10. Reaver

    Reaver Kwisatz Haderach Moderator

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    You're doing just fine. My post wasn't directed at any one participant. It's a reminder for everyone participating in this thread.
     
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  11. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    Odd. We must be reading some different books. I can't remember the last one I read where the majority of the population was atheist.

    My WIP has a great deal of religion in it. Part of that conflict (between religions) drives one of the major subplots.
     
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  12. SaltyDog

    SaltyDog Sage

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    Lol ok, I was just like "Oh crap, I started this! What should I do?"
    thanks
     
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  13. SaltyDog

    SaltyDog Sage

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    Mistborn? Wheel of Time? Eragon? Lord of the Rings? Correct me on that one I'm not so sure about it, haven't read it an ages. Just a few I could think of the top of my head. A lot I have read do have gods and the like, but a lot don't have it as well. But it does show everyone does have different ideas and opinions for this discussion and how they incorporate religion into their stories, or if they even have it at all.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2016
  14. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    I've got the opposite of all atheists, all peoples believe in gods because... they're real, and they don't like each other very much, LOL. Not that everything their followers teach is correct! heh heh. And the gods have been banished from the world, physically, but they can make spiritual contact. While every religion has its own creation myth, there is one true one for the world, it's just almost nobody knows this truth. And there is no religion with an omniscient/omnipotent god... per se. Any similarity between these religions and those of Earth are coincidental, which of course can present some issues... such as the use of virgin in a religious context will have an immediate connection to Mary for any Christian, or any familiar with that tradition. This can set one's nerves on edge when varied cultures use virgin in conjunction with derogatory words, LOL. But the goddess linked to the word virgin is one nasty lady, who murdered her father and his mortal lover, before killing her step-mom.

    Religion is a prime player in all stories set in this world.

    This gets insanely complicated, I have the basic premise for each culture's religion, but I only flesh out each as I need them.

    Also, not all religions are equal or of the same style... but that all get complicated too.
     
  15. Reaver

    Reaver Kwisatz Haderach Moderator

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    What if within that particular fantasy world there is no creation mythos or even a curiosity of why anything exists? I'm talking about the absence of scientific and philosophical thought. In my opinion, it's not too far fetched (especially in fantasy fiction) to have a race of beings who simply don't think about existence the way we do.

    In other words, they and all the other things that make up their world simply exist because they just do.
     
  16. Holoman

    Holoman Troubadour

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    I'm not sure if my story is "original" or not, but I took a slightly different take on religion than what I've read before in fantasy.

    In my world there is no real religion to start. The powerful magicians are worshipped as gods but they aren't immortal. There are many superstitions but not actual god figures like Zeus or Thor that are worshipped, just people that believe in a sort of "mother nature" religion.

    Anyway, that is how it starts, but as my series progresses, it actually focuses somewhat on a monotheistic religion that spreads from the grass roots, by a prophet and his sons and daughters that spreads the word, all done without violence, similar to the rise of early Christianity (although none of it is really described in detail in the story, that would be a bit boring). My main characters use it at points in the story and some are devout followers of it.

    There is no religious establishment, or church per se, beyond the prophet and people that are teacher figures in communities.

    It isn't really a central component of the story but is interlinked in a lot of the characters' motivations and beliefs. And the prophet becomes an important character in one of the books.

    The closest mirror in the real world I think would be Christianity pre-Constantine, except they aren't persecuted as there are no other religions really.
     
  17. Hmm...Well...

    I think when fantasy writers use religion in their stories, they tend to use polytheism or animism or a very vague monotheistic religion. Everyone seems to stay well away from anything resembling major world religions, or developing morality and theology too deeply. Typically the focus in fiction is on rituals and such rather than on actual beliefs.

    At least, that's what I seem to be seeing.
     
  18. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    LOTR's characters are not atheists. They (especially elves) revere the Valar, powerful angelic spirits serving under Iluvatar, the Creator. This is expanded upon mostly in the Silmarillion, but LOTR does have several mentions of Elbereth (one of the chief Valar) as a figure of reverence.
     
  19. SaltyDog

    SaltyDog Sage

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    That would make sense, or I would take it as an explanation for why there are only atheists in a story. That's a good point.
     
  20. SaltyDog

    SaltyDog Sage

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    lol knew it. Sorry everybody, I'm more of a Wheel of Time fan.

    With that, they do refer to the Dark one, and the creator. That could actually be taken as gods, so my argument there kinda falls apart. Bu the characters don't believe in a god, gods, so I'm half right?
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2016

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