My name is Mark and this is Amazing Gaming Productions.
Today’s topic is about religion and philosophy in world building.
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While the previous two blogs on ancient history focused on religion and how it builds culture for sapients seeking to find meaning, today’s blog is about what religion and philosophy means today.
Sapients, even today, will want to find meaning in their lives. Our minds cannot stand chaos, so we want to organize the world and make some kind of sense to it. Whether something is God’s plan, or Fate, Destiny, or there’s a cosmic consciousness, we all believe in those or we accept nihilism. This leads to religious and philosophical pursuits – seeking meaning of what has happened in our lives and the in the universe.
That is why we need to think about the kinds of religions and philosophies in our world.
Sure, in Sci-fi, religion takes a back seat sometimes. It is still important to remember there is a yearning in every sapient’s heart to find their origin. As Captain Kirk says, God’s proper place is in our hearts. That quote was about the only good part of the Star Trek 5.
In fantasy writing, gods, religions, philosophies are going to become much more important. They will drive stories in profound ways.
For many people, religion is an important part of community building. People meet with each other every single week, sometimes many times per week. They start gathering together. These partitioners build the next generation of families, holding shared stories and values.
Also, churches provide charity for those who are less fortunate. They help with homeless shelters, soup kitchens and food banks, even hospitals. They can help change a person’s life with a warm bed and a nice bowl of soup and the right passages to provide some meaning of the chaos of suffering.
Every religion has important stories – origins of the world, origins of the sapients, rules to live by, and the best way to live. Do they love their neighbour like they love themselves? Do they want to be holy as their God is holy? Do they live by and eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth?
Religions can be wide and varied. Even with one sapient species, there is 10s of thousands of religions in our world. What about a world with many sapient species? What is their idea of the creator? Are there similar rules in all the religions? What rules are different in each of these religions? What manifestations has the creator show themselves in the world? Is there written codexes for believers – like the Bible, Torah, Qu’ran? Are the stories an oral tradition? What activities does the religion promote? What activities will get you banished/ex-communicated? What gender roles does each promote? Are they open to social change? Are they catalysts for social change? Who are the religious leaders of these religions?
The Orcs in the Human/Orc World have shamans who seek the will of the creator, but most of the tribes only have oral traditions. They pass the stories from one generation to the next because they don’t have a written language yet. There are tribes that do work with their human neighbours to write the stories in the human language. But it is far from the norm, and most Orcs are hostile towards this practice. Humans don’t understand what it is to be an Orc.
While Religions and Churches are an extroverted activity for seeking meaning, philosophies are the introverted way. One could say, there is billions of philosophies in the world – because we all have our own way of seeing life.
While there are teachers of a philosophy, it is up to the practitioners to determine what each teaching means to them. Some philosophies are neutral when it comes to a creator, and some are hostile to it, and some are very pro.
For Instance, Buddhists tend to be an agonist pursuit towards the idea of God – saying they don’t know whether there is one or not.
Also, someone could take the teachings from a religion and develop their own personal philosophy around them. After all, they’re on an individual pursuit and not an organized pursuit.
How many philosophies are there in your world? What do they teach? What things do they have in common? What things do they have in common with different religions? What practices do they promote? Are there organized places for practice? Or is it all in the privacy of your home?
Beliefs often bring people into conflict. With religious overtones in war, to online battles on social media – you can say people will debate religion and philosophies forever.
In Tales from Trinity City, much of the religious thought is a mixture of organized and philosophical thought. While Shaperists will have meetings where a preacher will give a sermon, the Temple on Three Rivers have rooms for private contemplation. The leaders tailor their outreach for individual needs. Some want and desire corporate worship (extroverts) and some want peace and quiet to read the scrolls and ponder the meanings in their own life.
At the same time, there is a competing philosophy – Objectivism. It’s a secular ideal based upon the Trinitoian citizen promoted by the Merasians. You can believe whatever you want, but most Merasians don’t believe in the Shaper. It’s based upon the idea that you need to live based upon the philosophies of the past and living to do what is best for the world and the people.
This leads to some very interesting conflicts between the two groups. Since there is only one city to live in, the objectivists live to make the city as great as possible, but Shaperists still feel like they should explore and figure out the meaning of their lives.
But Shaperism brings all kinds of problems in of itself. With the Friends of the Shaper cult, they keep pushing the city to destroy the Gifted. The Prophet Li Chou says the only way to save the city is to exterminate people with super powers.
And that’s only ‘modern’ conflicts!
Organized religions have gone to war in the past. One religion, offended by the teachings of another, goes to war. Which conflicts were they? What was it about? Who won? What kind of conflicts exist for your religions right now? Is there a religious Cold War right now? What are the religions doing to undermine the other? Are there infiltrators causing problems in the different religions?
Religions and philosophies come from each sapient’s need to know the meaning of their lives.
As a result, you should have a good number of religions and philosophies in your world. Each of these should have conflicts between them – the more conflict the better.
And look at how religion and philosophies do to help people.
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