Sunday, 30 April 2017

Fictional Religions And Philosophies

In fictional works by Poul Anderson, we read about:

the Cosmic religion
Jerusalem Catholicism
the Ythrian New Faith
Ishtarian religion
Veleda's myth
the Johannine Church

SM Stirling presents the Anglo-Indian religion of the Angrezi Raj, the debased cult of the Peacock Angel (see here and here), a Theosophical "Church Universal and Triumphant" and a Wicca that is more neo- than pagan (see combox here).

Robert Heinlein presents the Angels of the Lord, the Fosterite Church of the New Revelation (for both of these, see here) and a new Martian religion.

In at least two of these cases, Cosmenosis and Wicca, it is possible to get into discussing whether these are viable world-views. Do the Wiccan Gods literally exist in this alternative history of Stirling's? A "Son of God" is a divine agent. "The Sword of the Lady" would be also.


  1. Paul:
    As part of the background for his *Hammer's Slammers* series, David Drake postulated a Christian variant called "The Church of the Lord's Universe." Its most characteristic tenet was:
    "The Church taught that Man must reach the stars and there, among infinite expanses, find room to live in peace. This temporal paradise was one which could be grasped by all men. It did not detract from spiritual hopes; but Heaven is in the hands of the Lord, while the stars were not beyond Man's own striving."
    "It was a naive doctrine, of course. Neither the stars nor anything else brought peace to Man; but realists did not bring men to the stars, either, while the hopeful romantics of the Universal Church certainly helped."
    "Thus, when Man did reach the stars, the ships were crewed in large measure by Universalists. Those who had prayed for, worked for, and even sworn by the Way of the Stars, *Via Stellarum*, were certain to be among the first treading it."
    "But the basic thrust of the Church, present peace and safety for Mankind, remained even when reality diluted it to lip service or less. Mercenaries were recruited mostly from rural cultures which were used to privation—and steeped in religion as well. Occasionally, a trooper might feel uneasy as he swore, 'Via!,' for the Way had been a way of peace."

  2. Kaor, DAVID!

    VERY interesting! I have read some of the Hammer's Slammers stories and vaguely recall things like the use of "Via." But your comments here gives me the most comprehensive summarizing of the Church of the Lord's Universe.

    That church taught a naive doctrine? I agree, but I have far more sympathy for its adherents than I do for most who advocate only a bleakly atheistic materialism. And I have only sympathy for those hopeful romantics, whether members of that church or not, who had prayed and worked and struggled to find a means of reaching the stars.

    I have even sometimes thought that Catholic contemplative monks might be natural choices, sometimes, as crew for really long, far reaching voyages to other stars. The Benedictines, with their stress on both work and prayer, came to mind. Their work would be doing scientific studies and research as well as manning star ships. And long voyages would give them time for contemplative prayer as well.

    And my recollection of David Drake's Hammer's Slammers also reminded me of Jerry Pournelle's Falkenberg's Legion. Albeit the former seemed somewhat grimmer and "grittier" than the latter. Because Alois Hammer was somewhat less successful than Col. Falkenberg at politics?


    1. Sean,
      Materialism is not bleak. Being has become conscious!

    2. Kaor, Paul!

      But I simply don't believe in materialism, as a philosophy. I sent you the link to John Wright's extensive arguments against materialism, which I found convincing.

      Also, atheism is bleak. It holds we came from Nothing and all we can hope for or expect is to become Nothing.