• Welcome to the new COTI server. We've moved the Citizens to a new server. Please let us know in the COTI Website issue forum if you find any problems.

Yuletide time


SOC-14 5K
With the approach of the Yuletide and today being the Winter Solace comes the question of religion. As many have argued fevered against religion in the Far Future and others for. This is not point of this thread but to ask what sort of combinations of religions will exist in the Far Future.

Such as in Riddick, Islam & Christianity form one religion.

Or in Dune, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam are combined.

Or there has been the mass speculation of the return of paganism or entities that return us to a polythesestic society but it would be interesting how this combines with monotheisism. Eg. the increasing trend in Hinduism to make their lead diety God or the Egyptians selection of Ra. How did the combine in alien savage environments that also were turned upside down by the events in Human history such as the Long Night.
I would think that traditional religions would dissolve into the overall philosophy of Science as Religion.

Once worlds with different species are discovered, Genesis pretty much goes out the window, I would think. Of course, some future Pope might order the Bible rewritten, but eventually it comes down to the majority of colonists / people travelling off world will be in science-based professions.

And this from a person that studied World Religions for 5 years in a state university.

Fundamentalists there might be. I feel they will be in the minority, OR When some type of alien first contact happens it will shake the foundations of religion so hard, it will cause a local Long Night on planet Earth.

Of course, it's complicated by degrees more than I am suggesting, but ah. boiled down, that's my general thought on the matter.
Merxiless, I think your 5 yrs in a state university studying world religions is part of the problem. ;) (No offense meant by any of this, BTW, and I will try to avoid Political Pulpit territory.) Genesis is not as confining as you might think. It is narrow, but not confining - a common misconception among "secularists" is that Genesis would deny the existence of aliens or life on other celestial bodies. This is not the case - the Hebrew Bible also doesn't mention the rise of the Chinese empire, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen, it was just irrelevant to the revelation intended. (I will admit some proponents have interpreted it otherwise in the past and present.)

Now, how this works in Traveller... I think you will see some fusion going on (particularly because many folks who haven't thought out their belief systems thoroughly will be jolted by drastic changes in the observed universe). I think you will also see some portion of those original religions remain in their previous state (this will only happen with non-wishy-washy religious groups, though). Some will react strongly and become more "fundamentalist". Some religions will become more wishy-washy and lose everything but their ritualism. And, of course, this will happen to the religions on those other planets, as well.

One thing about this question, though, is the assumption it makes: that religion is merely worldview/paradigm/superstition. I'm not going to argue whether it is or not (that would go in the Political Pulpit), but it is important to think about how that assumption impacts the question. If you take the opposite assumption and say that there is a true religion somewhere, you can ask the question differently (and get some interesting campaign seeds from it, IMHO):
"When the culture goes out into the universe and discovers aliens/other religions/facts about the universe that seemingly (to us, anyway) contradict its religious views, how will that be incorporated to confirm their views or lead them to truer revelation?"
Another problem in looking at religion is the presumption that religions assume their religious texts are exact truth. That is not always the case (although it is the case of several subsets of american christianity).

Catholic teaching, for example, says that the books are the divinely inspired writings of men, and that they teach fundamental truths about God, but not about the universe. In other words, Genesis (book of) is about the sinful nature of mankind, not about the literal truths of the first man and woman's life.

Many religions will continue to use parables to teach and inform; belief in higher powers is unlikely to go away, especially as we approach the point where people no longer understand the reasons why their tools work.
(First forgive my spelling as I am working without a spellcheck)

When talking of religions, (and that subject is a very indepth, varied and confusing topic unto itself) and combining it with speculation on the future, you walk a very narrow line, where the narrow'ness is all in your mind.

The other day, my wife said it all comes down to 'faith' but, I remembered that 'faith' is a relative new comer to religions, as there are still some theolgical groupings that do not base their teachings on faith.
Other groups call themselves monotheists, when they are patently patheonistic.
Most relate antitheistic (atheists) as being agnostic (not believing in the unknowable, or not believing in the spiritual aspect of the universe).
The truth is, most adherents to modern religions do not even understand the philiospical differences between a baptist, mormon, catholic or any one of a thousand other sub-sects of christianity.

Now, when you look at Zorasterism (predates christianity by a few thousand years and is still around) or the old nordic faith (Thor is still worshipped in iceland) you begin to understand that religion, spirituality and the understanding of the individual who believes in those two principals are as varied as there are moments in a day.

So, how do you deal, as a referee, with futuristic religions? It depends. You can either put your own personal belief systems out there, or you can portray religions generated from some random system. You can state a series of practises that the players must adhere to, or you have the players act like 'Stranger in a Strange Land' and encounter the religion like some alien culture (which it is).

It comes down to your play group, the diversity of that group (we have b'hai, born agains, catholics, athiests, agnostics, jews and one buddist monk (he also is helping me edit my game rules)).

Now, if you are looking for historical precident for religion, or why an advanced society would revert to what appears to be a dogmatic belief system, now, that is a conversation I would love to get into.

Any takers? (just to warn you guys, I argue for the trinity with mormons while arguing against it with chistians - I am a natuaral born a$$h### and proud of it)

Best regards

How about:

A combination of the people of earth (believing whatever, from pre-spaceflight days), against whatever is met in the stars, whose prime directive is "Kill anything not from your planet." (whether the directive is from a religion or not.)

If God / Allah / Jesus / Yahweh / you name it is the main target of a belief of faith, and Earth gets wiped out, what was the grand plan for the Monotheistic Center of All-that-is, all along?


Postulate some future religion of the year 2106, or whatever year colonists settle on Mars, no aliens out there. "Okay, we are here on Mars, but really the race was created by the Almighty on Earth, X Million miles away. People were not meant to live on Mars, because there's no air, it's too cold, there's not enough water. But here's this book / scripture / bible / analects / we believe in, because it's the TRUTH. We have not discovered any alien life anywhere else, because there is none.

For some reason, the almighty chose specifically to create Earth, place it 30,000 LY from Galactic Center, and make sure the place had ice ages, tsunamis, all kind of volcanic activity and electrical storms, that are somehow related to solar radiation, except when you blaspheme, people look up to the sky. well we look towards Earth's sky. ...

This is The Book. It's the truth. Subject closed. Kill anyone that doesn't believe it. Or, after they attack you first for not believing what they want you to, kill them. It's okay, we're allowed by the book to defend ourselves. Whoever wins, is justified.

"Well, you see honey, they weren't satisfied when we left their countries of the Middle East... that's a region on Earth. Now most of the planet is radioactive, so great grandpa stole a ship, and we moved here."


"Jane-2, it's time for you to read your ancient religious texts. I've uploaded them into your cortex scanner. Process at whatever speed you find comfortable with a 90% comprehension rate. The AI auto-teacher will assist, if you have questions."

"Jane-Prime, why must I read this?"

"It's only proper, since these beliefs were the foundation of early culture, before we won the Genetics war. It was the foundation of their divisiveness. We study this to never allow such weakness to develop in The Unity."

Possibly, a combination of fragments of all of the above. Or none. YMMV IYTU. That's the beauty of Science Fiction.
What I have done to this point is just ignore the whole thing, and focus on the mission at hand, for the player group, and most characters generated are usually of the science-based belief system / worldview.

If any character has a religion, they have it, but it doesn't impact the storyline, usually.

The majority of the time, a scenario with religious overtones is a situation where the religions that are encountered by the ship crew are strange and unusual sort of cults, to contrast with what we have seen here on earth.

Either that, or old religious writings by scholars, which are a target for treasure hunters to turn over to adherents of the faith, or for antagonistic groups to prevent same.
I think most folks have gone the "triumphant humanism" (Gorkin's daughter would be all over that phrase...) route when playing Traveller. Most religious encounters are of the cult variety, with few (if any) non-wacky, serious belief systems used. I really think you will always find the full spectrum - though in a universe that has drifted largely into empiricism I would think there would be a lot of superstition (cf. Aramis' comment understanding our tools) at a minimum.

Check out Fading Suns (or the d20 version) for one interesting take on religion in the far future.
IMTU (a non-OTU universe set in 2401 AD) religions are still around, though typically with some variations. There are still Jews, Christians, Muslims and Buddhists around, though not as common as in 2005; there are also several new or semi-new religions, such as Wicca (exists IRL but is almost as common as Christianity IMTU), Viriditism (inspired by Kim Stanely Robinson, the semi-Gnostic belief that the Universe tends towards life and that the sacred duty of any sentient lifeform is to spread life further by terraformatioin), Matriarchal Judaism (in which Jehova, or more accurately, the Schina, is female, a radical evolution of today's "Women of the Wall"), Marianism (Inspired by the Hyperion series; a sect of Christianity which worships Maria first and Jesus a distant second), Gaianism (the worship of a world's - usually Earth's - "Gaia" or planetary conscoiusness), Transhumanism (not exactly a religion but could get quite close to one in the Matriarchate) and One Mother worship (a sect of Wicca who worship only the Goddess and not the God) and even Reform Islam (the Muslim version of Reform Judaism - still believes in Allah, but is modernized in various respects and quite tolerant).

Ofcourse, there are also cults around. There always were, there always will be.

And Atheists and Gnostists too of various kinds (from mechanical materialism through empiricism and dialectic materialism to antroposophy to PSI-inspired godless spiritualism).

IRL I'm an atheist of Jewish nationality; but I see religion as a Human phenomena with deep psychological and social roots, namely an important part of almost every culture. And I have no problem playing with religious players or playing religious characters.
All personal beliefs aside, here's how I'd see it: Most current religions, in their current form, will probably survive to some small degree. By small, of course, I mean there may be 254 billion catholics in the OTU, but they'd still be a very small minority. I'd imagine most religions would keep their core faith, and periodically spin off slightly (Or, sometimes, drastically) different branch religions (Like christianity and the various forms of protestantism).

Additionally, as we see occasionally now, you'll probably see people trying to revive ancient religions, now that tolerance (At least, in some areas) of new/different/strange religions is up.

And, as several people have pointed out, you'll probably get lots of wierd marriages of religions.

Also, as for science folk not being religious, that's just bunk. I know plenty of very science-minded people who still hold strongly to their faith. Each has to make their own peace with it, I suppose. Doesn't mean the "Science as religion" model won't be there; just that it won't always be the norm.

As for religious structure in the OTU, I'd imagine that the travel-time and communications lag would limit a church's ability to operate around a central ruling figure (Like a pope or similiar person) beyond the single-system level, so you'd probably wind up with a lot of religions not being so rigidly structured, like many of our earth religions, ona large scale. Also, with people travelling such vast distances, you'll probably get lots of mixes of faiths wherever you go. Especially on/around starports.

As for single-world religions, it's perfectly feasable (And a great adventure seed) to have a world colonized as a religious colony or even retreat, or with religious governments, or whathaveyou. That might limit a world to a single faith, or perhaps there's some underground organization of folk who believe differently...

There's also the matter of degrees. There's a difference, after all, between the guy who wears a small crucifix around his neck and prays silently to himself each evening, and the guy who runs around preaching to anybody who will stand still and has "Jesus saves" tatooed on his forehead. I'd imagine in the OTU, much like in real life now, you get all kinds, both extremes from the fanatic to the closet Aetheist, and everything in between.
Like all BITS products, they are great for those filler moments just when the ship emerges into a brand new system and the referee has come up some nuggets before presenting the main plot of the adventure.

The approach kinda reminds me of Star Trek rather the traditional way of doing Traveller but for someone who prefers Campaigns rather than one shot Epics (although, concievably they would be perfect for those as well)...all the BITS products are fantastic.
Originally posted by Fritz88:
One thing about this question, though, is the assumption it makes: that religion is merely worldview/paradigm/superstition.
Another assumption that seems to be running through this thread is that the impact of religion will decline as a consequence of mankind moving into space. Why? Religion passed through the Enlightenment without fading from the scene, and regardless of one's personal feelings on the matter, religion still plays a prominent role in the lives of the majority of humans. So how exactly will space travel cause a withering of religious belief in a species that has been religious for its entire recorded history?
I would also add to the discussion that several Traveller-inspiring authors (Jerry Pournelle, David Weber & H. Beam Piper come to mind) included religion in their works with no apparent feeling of discord or marginalization. Others did not, of course, but the concept of religion in space is established.
I don’t think that any religions of importance will merge per se, but a lot of the traditions and practices will probably do so. Much like if everyone would start celebrating Yule …naah, Jul - all over the world. Less people would probably do it in remembrance of Jesus though, but rather to buy stuff for gifts … well, to buy stuff at least.

So IMO, in the future there will be more religions but fewer and more all-encompassing traditions.

But the again, just because it hasn’t happened already, there is nothing to say that major religious cults cannot share the same house in the future.

(I know that’s not entirely true, the Church of Nativity springs to mind.)
Originally posted by Andrew Boulton:
"today being the Winter Solace"

Ah yes, the happiest day of the year...
Tomorrow is a brighter day... also longer.

Good point, Mr. Weaver. I think that assumption is there because we see around ourselves a lessening of the "mystical" (for lack of a better term, at the moment) ever since the Enlightenment. It's a natural assumption (though still an assumption, as you point out) that this trend will continue into the future. Personally, I think "tech"ization of civilization will increase the likelihood that people will tend to humanism. But, that need for something greater will drive many folks to more (and more varied) forms of ritualism. I guess it comes down to not a "withering of religious belief", but a tendency to place ourselves into that position of deity when we are feeling our oats.

Originally posted by Gnusam Netor:
Much like if everyone would start celebrating Yule …naah, Jul - all over the world.
That's kinda my point about ritualism. The need (at least, the human need) for something greater to believe in will lead to superstitions, holidays without their original meanings, churches that exist with millenia-old liturgies that don't actually have any beliefs (think Catholic rituals with Unitarian beliefs), etc.

I don't think this is what will happen - I just think it's a good angle from which to view the question asked in this thread.
As I said, religion is an aspect of culture and could add alot of color to an imaginary (sci-fi) culture.