How are atheistic people or people who just don't choose a temple treated in Tremont? Do people pretend not to notice or do they "discourage" would-be-unbelievers?
Mon, 02/09/2009 - 11:21am
when the Gods are so in-your-face. If Embodiments are constantly possessed and giving prophecies that come true, I can't imagine trying to be an atheist.
Mon, 02/09/2009 - 11:33am
I remember reading something in the first few chapters about the northern tribes being monotheists. As far as we/I know, there could be people like that in Tremont who refuse to acknowledge the gods of Tremont/Sairland.
Mon, 02/09/2009 - 12:20pm
I've spoken with a few people who have had religious experiences where they spoke to their deity, and in one case, this was on the order of being an embodiment, yet still left their religion for various reasons.
My favorite has to be the guy who became an atheist because God told him He did not exist.
Mon, 02/09/2009 - 12:45pm
What in the world do you do with that statement. It's right up there with "everything I say is a lie," in terms of mindboggling.
Well, I have a new favorite to run though semantic parsers. "I do not exist."
Mon, 02/09/2009 - 3:48pm
that's a good point. Having been one of those people at some point in my life, and being an atheist now, I should have considered the possibility. That being said, I still think of Temmin's experience, for instance, as far more concrete than my own, but I guess the majority haven't had his experiences. I guess I just think it's interesting to read a story where magic and gods are real...as an atheist, considering an atheist in a world where I know gods to exist is neat.
Mon, 02/09/2009 - 5:49pm
I know that's not meant to be funny, but that's just random as hell!!!
Mon, 02/09/2009 - 12:03pm
I've been thinking a lot about nonbelievers lately. They will appear in the story. I will say this: There is no organized atheistic movement in Tremont. To be "out" as an atheist is very socially unacceptable. However, there is a definite strain in intellectual thought that the Embodiments are either a) crazy people or b) faking it. Trendy pseudo-intellectuals in the upper classes often privately espouse this belief as well. It's the sort of thing one would say at a small soiree to epatée le bourgeoisie. There is skepticism throughout the classes, actually, but most at least try to believe. And the majority are somewhat to extremely devout.
Remember that the royal family has been discouraging the belief in magic since Macca's regency. Discouraging belief in magic also discourages belief in the gods.
Tue, 02/10/2009 - 2:59pm
always coming up with new ways/things to doubt :]
then again, I guess doubting is what makes one an intellectual. if you constantly believed everything you were told without questioning or thinking of better ways to do it, you couldn't call yourself an intellectual. I suppose you could, of course, but no one would believe you.
Edit: on a somewhat related note, are there people in Tremont who believe but don't find any of the temples appealing?
eDreamer (not verified)
Tue, 02/10/2009 - 3:39pm
As an atheist myself who's thought about what it would be like to live in a world where there were real beings who fit the usual description of "gods," I'd like to point out that atheism wouldn't necessarily require that the Embodiments are either crazy or "faking it." An atheist could easily believe that Naya, Harla et all are extremely powerful beings but not in point of fact gods. I've roleplayed a character in a D&D-inspired universe who took that tack -- somewhat inspired by the early Christians, such as Augustine, who insisted that the Roman gods were demons, since there was only one God and any others must be faking it. My character on the other hand thought that a legitimate deity was a logical impossibility (for reasons more deeply rooted in emotional trauma than in logic.)
Tue, 02/10/2009 - 11:15pm
that makes a lot of sense actually. There are a lot of cases in our history that have people claiming to be gods because they are extremely powerful, and their subjects believed them(mostly). there's no reason why, in a world where magic is indeed a legitimate and scientifically proven(!) force, an extremely powerful user of magic couldn't get a country or two full of people to believe they are a god. I mean, if you get enough people following you around yelling about how god-like you are, the masses are bound to jump on the bandwagon eventually. Just look at Life of Brian :]
Tue, 02/10/2009 - 11:26pm
Maybe it's just because I tend somewhat towards the antitheist group rather than the atheist group, but in general I think that all of the religious figures throughout history have been a combination of con-artists and schizophrenics. This is why my believing in god is contingent on one of two things: god appearing before me and violating a law of physics in a reproducible manner, or someone claiming to be the son/daughter of god, me putting a 0.50 round through the side of his/her head, and him/her getting up and surviving afterward. If either of these conditions is met I'm sure I'd find further criteria involving god proving that he/she is actually immortal
Tue, 02/10/2009 - 11:34pm
but if it works for you, hey!
Wed, 02/11/2009 - 11:38am
I know it's not a terribly popular belief, but as far as I'm concerned the belief in god is one of the most destructive beliefs in history. It's not that religion is to blame for all the wars and murder in history (all of these had secular roots), but without the pressure of "your god says support this", these wars would have had far fewer people willing to kill/die for them. On top of this, the concept of god is completely at odd with quantum physics; quantum says that observation collapses the wave function and you end up with a classical system. An omniscient being, by definition, would collapse the wave function, but since we still observe quantum effects...
Wed, 02/11/2009 - 4:09pm
I mean the conception of God as a being who incarnates in front of you etc. God isn't the least bit human, nor would it appear as human. My conception of God is in total agreement with quantum physics, because I believe that the creator is the created; we are living in God and are part of God. If string theory is to be believed, we really all ARE one. I know I am one with my chair...
Wed, 02/11/2009 - 4:48pm
that's pretty cool. I like that a lot. It fits better with how I see the world. I'm still not saying I believe in God, but that is a really freaking awesome way to put it.
All I know is that I want to invest my time and thoughts in the here and now. I don't often find religions or theistic ideas that focus on that...many of them have a "God in heaven" or a "being watching over us" or a "being that doesn't give a shit about our day to day lives but exists anyway and may have created us" and an afterlife/reincarnation/lack of reincarnation and afterlife/whatever. I just want to live my life and have the most meaningful relationships as I can and make the biggest difference in the lives of others, while doing the right thing to the best of my ability because it's right and it make me feel good. I like your view, Mei, it fits more with that than anything else I've ever heard.
Tue, 02/10/2009 - 11:38pm
that believing in God would actually be good for me. As it is, I try to do good things for other people because I like to and because I care about them. I would much rather do that than do good things for other people because I loved/feared some third party. I think that would suck the meaning out of it for me.
It would could also change the way I treat other people, because I would theoretically have some fear for their immortal souls. It could make me afraid of new experiences, because they might corrupt me. There are lots of other reasons I don't think it would be good for me to believe in God, not the least of which is that I used to (hardcore, born again, etc), and now that I don't anymore, I think I'm a happier, better, more well-adjusted person. I also think I know a lot more about myself, and that I have more self-respect.
I think for some people, believing in God does make them better, happier people. I'm just not one of them.
Honestly, Davik, I'm not even sure what you're describing would be enough to convince me. After all, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic...and God.
Wed, 02/11/2009 - 12:03am
Well, I figure after whatever pseudo-god figure had both violated the laws of physics in my presence, and survived a 50 caliber round to the head, I had better believe, because if a being of that power tells me to worship, failure to comply is probably going to be bad for me It's not that they're actually god, but I don't have the power to prove they aren't (well, I suppose I could make a couple dozen kilotons worth of nuke and try it again...)
Wed, 02/11/2009 - 1:33pm
I suppose I can't really argue with that. I'm not sure it would change my mind, but you can bet your ass I would be respectful.
Tue, 02/10/2009 - 11:59pm
Faith is essential to my spirituality; accepting that I cannot understand everything. That God is not tangible, or something I could ever fully grasp.
I'm not Christian so I don't believe 'in' Jesus or that any one can be a child of God more than any other human (or creature), and I also don't view God as any sort of being who/that could appear before me. My point is, there are many ways to define God, and it's unfair and inaccurate to lump all spiritual folk together.
I also disagree about religious figures being schizo con-artists; some, maybe - certain infamous cults come to mind - but many religious figures didn't WANT to be religious figures - they were simply trying to convey information they considered meaningful and important. And then many of the followers made it into religion, and warped the original teachings. Unfortunate, but it doesn't change the initial intent and message.
Wed, 02/11/2009 - 12:13am
See, right here in the first line you've hit my sticking point in all of this mess: I'm a physicist, as far as I'm concerned EVERYTHING can be understood. We may not have the ability or the reference frame at the moment to understand it, but how much has our reference frame changed in the last hundred years? Science progresses at an exponential rate; give it enough time and we WILL understand everything.
Wed, 02/11/2009 - 2:49pm
Whether you think everything can be understood or not is:
1. is separate from whether it can be EXPLAINED in scientific terms or not (such as infinity, which has a mathematical explanation but is still not truly something the human mind can grasp)
2. can be separate from your religious beliefs, as well - you can think either way and still accept a God or Gods
I'm a scientist, I married an atheist scientist and was raised by an atheist, and I certainly understand atheism (though I often find it just as annoying as blind faith; I respect any position that has been questioned thoroughly, and reject any that has been accepted without doubt). I am not sure that we will ever be able to explain anything - it's something I wonder about and have not reached a satisfactory conclusion. I do think that many things which now seem paranormal will turn out to have solid scientific explanations. But, I know that we will not ever UNDERSTAND everything, and that which is beyond human comprehension is understood by God, in my perception of the world.
Thu, 05/07/2009 - 8:41pm
I know this thread is already dead, but...
As a physicist, do you truly *understand* valance shell electron pair repulsion and molecular orbital theory? Or do you just imagine balloons tied together, as I did in high school chemistry? Particle physics seems to me a field in which a lot of ideas are just approximations and models rather than actual "grok."
Thu, 05/07/2009 - 11:26pm
There's a reason why I avoid all the particle physics seminars around here; I swear if I have to hear one more theorist tell me that the Higgs or supersymmetry definitely exists I'm going to feed him the black board one bite at a time while I beat him with the fischer scientific catalog (for those not in science, this is by far the largest book I can think of).
Had one scientist give a talk here where he claimed he would eat his hat if they didn't find the Higgs; I have a bottle of BBQ sauce, a knife, and a fork waiting for him It's not that I have any great disbelief in these things, I just get tired of listening to theorists make these claims along the lines of "X exists!" when there's no experimental evidence (I'm an experimentalist, can you tell?). Also, I still can't get past them drawing a linear fit out 40 ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE and claiming that all the forces coincide.
My ultimate dream, to have them turn on the LHC, have it run for a few minutes, have a little portal open up, a definitively alien hand come through with a sign saying "that's fucking loud, cut it out" and flick the off switch. I'd take many other scenarios, as long as it's something so utterly unexpected that they sit around scratching their heads for a couple of decades.
Fri, 05/08/2009 - 1:49am
Davik wrote: My ultimate dream, to have them turn on the LHC, have it run for a few minutes, have a little portal open up, a definitively alien hand come through with a sign saying "that's fucking loud, cut it out" and flick the off switch. I'd take many other scenarios, as long as it's something so utterly unexpected that they sit around scratching their heads for a couple of decades.
... fucking ROCK! As long as it doesn't turn into the Half Life computer game afterwards, that is...
Wed, 02/11/2009 - 1:39pm
that you cannot understand everything is one thing...faith in God is another. I don't think that they are necessarily related. I whole-heartedly believe that there are some things in the universe that I don't understand and will never be able to understand. That doesn't I believe in God. I even acknowledge that it is possible that that is a higher power or something else, but I don't think there is.
I also agree that it's unfair and inaccurate to lump all spiritual folk together. That being said, there must be some things that they have in common. They all believe that there is something out there...a higher power(s), or whatever you want to call it. I guess my question to you is, how does that belief affect your life? What has it changed? If it's nothing, then, what difference does it make what you believe in? If it's something, then you probably have something in common with all of the billions of people out there that believe in something that can't be proven. (Also, I really do want to know what it has changed for you, assuming it's something...I'm really curious about this stuff).
Wed, 02/11/2009 - 3:03pm
Oh, they can definitely be exclusive (accepting the incomprehensible and faith in God) - they are just very much linked for me, which is why I was careful to word my statement in a personal manner. Spirituality is above all, very, very personal.
Hmm, do all spiritual folk have something in common? I hadn't thought about it. Sometimes I feel a bond with other believers, and sometimes I don't; it really does depend. But I see what you are getting at, and I suppose belief in a greater power (however a person thinks it manifests) is that common ground - and I would wager that we all feel a sense of comfort from that. The universe is less lonely, perhaps. But I feel uncomfortable speaking for everyone who believes in a God of some sort, so I don't know how much we all share beyond that. Some people believe in an afterlife or afterlives, or reincarnation, or none of those...there is much more variation amongst those who believe than those do do not, I'd guess.
I am a 'naturally' religious and spiritual person; I grew up with religion, in fact, I was forbidden from exploring it as much as I wanted to, and I was so, so curious and drawn to all things religious from the time I could form words. I converted to Judaism in college, though converted isn't quite accurate, as I was merely nebulous before, not another religion. I feel like I solidified into what I'd always been from the start, and simply hadn't known. So what did I gain? I sense of coming home, a sense of belonging, and yes, a sense of community. I'm a social person and I enjoy communal worship; I find it enhances my sense of connection to God, and to others who share my beliefs. It makes me happy. Praying makes me happy. When bad things happen, I *do* find it comforting to believe that there is a larger plan, beyond my knowledge, which requires those bad things to happen. Pain isn't meaningless or empty, but purposeful, for me.
Wed, 02/11/2009 - 5:14pm
I really do think that tough times are part of something bigger, but I like to think of the bigger thing as my personal development. Challenges in life are what make you who you are. Sometimes tragic things happen, but I don't think it's God testing me, I think it's life testing me and making me be a better, stronger, more well-adjusted person (even if that growth isn't immediate...sometimes challenges make me a worse person for a while, but I like to think I come out better in the end). Or maybe I should say, shit happens, but my attitude toward it is what matters, not an overarching plan. Otherwise, shit could happen, and I could become a very bitter, angry person as a result, because life isn't fair. Or I could say, well, God did it, maybe I'll be angry at God for a while and come to terms with it eventually and go back to loving him. But in the end, I think taking responsibility for what I can and learning from what I can't works out better for me and personal growth than involving some third party that I think may be controlling what happens to me, and therefore must be controlling my interaction with other people in some way.
I think it's cool, though, that you find comfort and a sense of community in religion. If there's anything I miss about being deeply religious, it's the sense of belonging to a community. I was a Christian, and some Christians are really good, fun, and interesting people, and while the people I used to know would still spend time with me, they wouldn't take my thoughts seriously anymore since I didn't also believe in God. Something about being "in the world, and not of the world". It made those relationships a little pointless, since almost all conversations devolved into "why don't you come back to church?", and other conversations of faith where I was expected to listen to them, and not expect them to listen to me (except when they were trying to "understand me" better so they could "help me"). I've since become involved in other communities, but for a while there, it was pretty tough. I even missed prayer for a while there, but taking time for reflection and thought seems to work out pretty well for me.
I also think it's cool that you're open minded enough about this to talk about it. I know a lot of people that find this sort of conversation frustrating, or even angering, and I appreciate your thoughts.
Fri, 02/13/2009 - 12:38pm
Yeah, I rarely think pain is meaningless...unless it's menstrual pain.
I also agree with your 'hardships mold us' theory - which in my world view coexists with my 'God's plan' theory. This is akin to how I believe in both creation and evolution; I think God created the spark of life and the way that science works in our universe(s) and that then things evolved 'naturally' from there. I believe in predetermination but I don't think everything is predetermined -- there's lots of room for free will, and attitude especially. I agree that attitude matters - you can have everything most people would want and still be miserable, and that's up to the individual, I believe.
" But in the end, I think taking responsibility for what I can and learning from what I can't works out better for me and personal growth than involving some third party that I think may be controlling what happens to me, and therefore must be controlling my interaction with other people in some way."
I agree with this too and my conception of God requires that we take responsibility, as I alluded to above. I don't consider God controlling to the extent that you imply, either. I think God controls *some* events - things like birth and death and major relationships. But only the outlines, not the details. So when things occur and how can shift based on what we do. I hope I'm making some sense!
Modern society has lost so much of its sense of community and society; in some ways that's good (less judgement, less potential for exclusion), and in other ways it's alienating and lonely and empty and broken. It bothers me that people are so judgemental of others based on religion. I have friends from many faiths, and at least half are atheist, and then some agnostics...I can't imagine disregarding people because of a difference of spiritual opinion. If people respect my views and have examined their own, it's very likely we'll get along.
I can't handle fundamentalism or proselytizing, and it's a shame you've encountered so many like that - THEY ARE THE ONLY RIGHT ONES (grr). If you're happy now, that's great. More than many can say about their spiritual state or lack thereof or whatever.
I think it's cool you're open-minded (and calm!) enough, too. Like politics and sex, this is definitely a difficult topic to discuss, but potentially SO rewarding. So much to learn and share.
Wed, 02/11/2009 - 12:29pm
Wow, I just had a mental image of this shining guy appearing out of thin air in front of you and you just standing there, poking him, then going "Hey, that was neat, do it again!"
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