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    • CommentTimeJul 2nd 2008 edited
    Note: in this I am not suggesting talking about real-world religions which may or may not be valid. I'm talking about religions that exist in books (or film or music).

    I re-read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep last night, and I'd forgotten what a fascinating idea Mercerism was. The basic gist is this : after World War Terminus has wiped out most of the life on earth, empathy towards humans and animals becomes the most valued human aspect. In this, the use of a Mercer box becomes an almost mandatory experience. In addition, empathy distinguishes humans from androids.

    When one uses the box, they merge and can feel the emotions of all the other people using it at the same time. Together, they watch the struggle of a lone character climbing up a hill, being pelted with rocks. They themselves are only observers, but are hit by the rocks as well.

    What is interesting to me about this is that Mercerism has many disciples, but no fixed texts, churches, or priests. Ultimately, it seems to only serve to distinguish human from machine - but people gain great comfort from it. I can't think of an existing religion that works that way - essentially detached from organization.

    It isn't really a main focus of the book in and of itself, but a mechanism to illustrate various things... but it's neat and kind of a novel idea.

    There were other examples but they slipped my mind. What interesting fictitious religions (or belief systems) have you come across? Any that anyone you know of has adopted?
    • CommentTimeJul 2nd 2008
    Bokononism, from Vonnegut's "Cat's Cradle." I've known a few half-serious adherents.
  1.  (2810.3)
    Obviously, Dune with both the Bene Gesserit and the Fremen's more tribal worship of the worm-gods-monsters was fairly influential in its time.

    However, I imagine the Cthulhu Mythos, especially the Cult of Dagon in Shadow Over Innsmouth, may be the most "alive" of all fictional belief systems.
    • CommentTimeJul 2nd 2008 edited
    Cult of Dagon? Nothing in relation to the Philistine god Dagon? Then again, it wouldn't surprise me that Lovecraft would make use of mythology.
  2.  (2810.5)
    I've always been fond of Minbari mysticism and Foundationism from Babylon 5.
    • CommentTimeJul 2nd 2008
    The first thing that comes to mind is the Bene Gesserit from Frank Herbet's Dune.

    Dune's also got religions similar to Roman Catholicism and Islam (no idea what, if any, sect Herbert's is closest to).

    There's one in Ursula K. Le Guin's Left Hand of Darkness, but I cannot recall the details... I'll dig about and to see if I can find any thing more definitive re: Left Hand.
  3.  (2810.7)
    Yeah, Lovecraft used Dagon because of the half-fish version of the god. He was essentially the god of the "deep ones" a submarine branch of the human race that had joined with one of the alien beings from the ancient days. There are some who think that "Dagon" is actually just a human reference to "Cthulhu" but there is some evidence in the Mythos that actually the Deep Ones and the Old Ones are in conflict and Dagon is a separate entity. Technically, even though Cthulhu's ruined city Ry'Leh is described as being on the bottom of the ocean, it's there because it was submerged after the Old Ones were defeated so Cthulhu is not really an aquatic god.
      CommentAuthorAlan Tyson
    • CommentTimeJul 2nd 2008
    The various belief systems of Stephen King's Dark Tower, and the related novels, have really stuck with me ever since I read The Gunslinger. Though its influences are pretty obvious (ka = karma, et al), it does a good job of taking very "clean" concepts, like the one-ness of the universe and chosen destinies, and manages to dirty them up so that they're much more interesting, if less viable, than their real world origins.

    The forementioned Foundationism of Babylon 5 is probably the closest thing to my actual faith.
  4.  (2810.9)
    Iain M Banks books are riddled with different kinds of religions. I can't even recall them, they come so thick and fast.

  5.  (2810.10)
    Seems like Pratchett's Discworld series had about a billion different (and equally ridiculous) religions as well.

    Surely, the Cyberpunk novels threw out a few interesting cults, too.
      CommentAuthorJon Wake
    • CommentTimeJul 2nd 2008
    I'm a big fan of the Dunyain from R. Scott Bakker's The Darkness That Comes Before. I want to be the end product of centuries of selective breeding and training. The method they use to read people by deciphering all the thousands of little facial ticks people unconsciously do is real, and developed by a bloke named Dr. Paul Ekman.
  6.  (2810.12)
    @Johnny California: Woah that's great.

    The Sandman Series and American Gods don't really count as creating mythology in fiction (as the Endless are not gods really), but they are a fascinating look at it (and weaving it all together).
    • CommentTimeJul 2nd 2008
    In Steve Aylett's Slaughtermatic, a throwaway reference to a religious denomination called "fetish orthodox"
  7.  (2810.14)
    The Endless may not be gods, but as far as fictional religions, I bet Sandman "worship" is as close as any comic book writer is going to get to matching L. Ron Hubbard.
    • CommentTimeJul 2nd 2008 edited
    What would count as "worship" in regards to the Sandman series? Apparently there are rituals created for the Endless. But aside from that, I'm really not aware of much of anything aside from the usual fanboy/fangirl stuff.
    • CommentTimeJul 2nd 2008
    As long as we've made the inevitable shift to comics, there's:
    Moranists, from Neil Gaiman's stint on Miracleman (at least I think Gaiman originated them - I don't recall if Moore made a brief mention of them in his final chapter), who believed that all of existence was the misfiring synapses resulting from the death of Miracleman's alter ego.
    and let's not forget the many religions from that one issue of Our Esteemed Host's Transmetropolitan: Breatharians, and the Church of the Hole in the Ground. My favorite was the guy for whom trephining was a religion. It's the best definition of evangelism I've ever heard; if trephining is a religion, then drilling a hole in an unwilling victim's head is a sacrament.
  8.  (2810.17)
    Tragically, Breatharianism is quite, quite real. And has resulted in several deaths as acolytes starve themselves, hoping to find the special fluffy-bunny-light that will feed them forever.
  9.  (2810.18)
    It's been years since I read it and don't remember many details but didn't Stranger in a Strange Land have some Martian religion that was popular with the hippie-types?
    • CommentAuthorjayverni
    • CommentTimeJul 2nd 2008

    I Grok it!
    • CommentAuthorjayverni
    • CommentTimeJul 2nd 2008
    Damn, Stranger in a Strange Land had some really strange shit. There was communal families, and strange cannibalistic rituals, so you could "GROK" things better. It's all coming back, but still very hazy. I remember being quite taken aback by the ideas, even though I loved it at the time.