Faith

Poison in The Well

Mouse flipped the page over, read through the verses, and then flipped it back to start again.
She closed her eyes, rubbing her temples as she tried to figure out what it meant. At first, she felt it was an account of the end of Earth, but the more she read, the less sure she was. She knew she'd need help, and If anyone could help, it would be The Archivist. She left immediately, and when she entered the archive, the archivist greeted her with boisterous laughter, "Rhey, it's good to see you. Welcome home, and thank you for bringing back such a spectacular specimen. The sample was a delight to study, though I will need to requisition a larger container."
Mouse nodded and smiled, "I'm glad it could brighten your day. I was wondering if I could ask you something, but I'm not sure how you'll react."
"What do you mean?" he asked.
She held out a piece of paper, the page found on their boarding of The UEN Azrael. "Can you tell me anything about this?"
The archivist took the page, moving with a natural flow and grace. When he scanned the page, his body stiffened, as if suddenly remembering he was a machine. "A page from an old religious text from earth, The Book of Revelation. Why are you seeking information about this? I didn't know you kept it."
Mouse gasped, her grin widening. She spoke as fast as the words would form, "No one knows what it is, except you. I've asked everyone on my crew and even my parents. "
"Rhey, I..." the archivist began, pausing as if in deep contemplation. He shook his head. "I see."
Mouse cocked her head, the smile fading. "What?"
He tore the page in half, and continued tearing despite Mouse's attempts to take them back. He spoke clearly, "I'm sorry, but I can not seem to find any information regarding your previous query."
"I don't think so. Force query-"
The Archivist let out a groan and held his hands out as he spoke as if the gesture would make her stop, "Please, Rhey. This information should stay buried."
"Why?"
The archivist stood silent for several moments, the red lenses casting light on Mouse. She knew he was seeking a way out, but she was never one to give in so easily. After a long moment of silence, he nooded and began his lecture...
       
Religion and spirituality remain a complicated subject for humanity. Most of our theological history lingers in the depths of The Archives, buried under countless bits of data. It is exactly as it should be. Faith is a dangerous weapon and not just to those who find themselves on the receiving end, but to the wielder, as well.   The old faiths died off, or faded away during the earth's final years. Those who kept to the old ways tend to be secretive in their worship. They fear persecution, they fear hatred, and most of all, they fear being wrong. To have faith is to acknowledge a lack of proof. Belief cannot exist in the presence of truth. knowing and believing are two entirely different things.   Imagine the shock these people experienced when confronted with intelligent life beyond Earth. With faith as our weapon, we likely would have gone extinct in some ridiculous crusade, believing ourselves to be chosen. Such ideas exist among other species, and holy wars have occurred throughout galactic history, but the others are not as few in numbers as humanity.

Keep it secret

On Safeharbor, it's encouraged to refuse any discussion on religion. While there are several factors, the main reason is to avoid impacting impressionable youths. We felt they should choose for themselves. When we arrived at Safeharbor, it was agreed to let the old faiths die. Most earth-born humans are agnostic, and fear our troubled history regarding the subject of religion.   There may be some among us who still practice the more resilient of Earth's many faiths, particularly the Abrahamic religions, Buddhism, and Hinduism. Be this as it may, they would never admit to it. To do so would make them pariahs in the eyes of their peers.   It;s bes not to ask. Asking could make them rather upset, regardless of what they believe. Just the thought of being viewed as a person of faith is enough to instill panic in the accused, and yes, the question will certainly feel like an accusation.
   

Murky Origins

You will find names of many figures pulled from old earth religions in Safeharbor's culture. We name ships after gods and monsters of myth and legend. While Stargazing, we tell stories passed down after countless generations, painting their protagonists in the stars above us.   This was intentional. Many believed that presenting these figures as mere stories would impact their religious value, painting them as fiction despite our ancestors belief in their authenticity. The practice is surprisingly effective. It also acts as a form of catharsis for those who still believe in secret, allowing them to express their faiths under the guise of fiction without fear of persecution.   In this way, we buried our gods, for we no longer needed them. I imagine most abandoned their faiths when presented with the current state of our species. How could a god let such horrors occur? How could a god exist, and value humanity above all when there were so many other candidates to choose from? Regardless, religion is an artifact of our past, and has no place in our future.

A need for comfort

I understand why religion exists, even on Safeharbor. Now more than ever, we need comfort. It makes sense that many would find solace in believing they are here for a reason and something watches over them. It makes sense that they would hold to these ideals regardless of evidence to the contrary.   Do not fault them. Our universe is cold, and unwelcoming. We sit, isolated on a lonely rock, floating in the void with little hope of progress. Even I ponder the existence of a life beyond this one from time to time. It's okay to not know what can't be known.   Perhaps, one day we will learn of it, and negate the need for belief. Perhaps pur technology will reveal the truth, the dangers of faith pacified once and for all. Until such a time, we must remain cautious of indulging our desire for warmth when lost in the cold.
Mouse felt anger rising, and struggled to keep it contained. "It's not like im converting. I just want to read it."
"Why?" The Archivist asked.
"It's a little dense, but I want to know what happens next," Mouse said with a shrug. "I honestly just want to hear the rest of the story."
"The story?"
"This details the end of the earth-"
The archivist let out a laugh, the sound blending with static from the speaker that served as the archivist's mouth. "It's completely fictional, written millennia before the fall."
Mouse scoffed and shook her head. "Then why is it so dangerous? Some of it sounded beautiful."
"That right there. That is why it is dangerous."

 
 

Religion at home and abroad

A Cult of Logic

In the earliest days of Safeharbor, back when Juliet was our only colony, a religious group gained traction among those that made planet-fall. They called themselves The Church of Logic, and worshiped the technology found in the depths of our planet wide city.   They were fervently evangelical to the point of threatening others if they refused to join. They mounted expeditions into the depths, but never brought anything of worth back with them. Instead, they brought back objects they believed to be holy, despite having no merit. They claimed that it was beautiful, and felt the holy power radiating from them.   Statues, containers, and what appeared to be household objects were placed on altars and worshiped by the faithful. They have since been exiled from the colonies, and fled into the depths of Safeharbor. If you ask me, they simply went mad. They may have latched onto anything that could explain the horrible state of humanity, the truth far too much to bear.

The Eden Somnihein

Religious systems are remarkably few among the others. The species that populate the galaxy often shed such primitive notions. The Eden are a noteworthy exception. Each ethnic group of the eden maintains its own religious doctrine, and the matriarchy are the most zealous.   Heat Management share a warlike faith centered around Somnihein, or "The Faith of Gods." They believe in an unnamed entity, a god-like being that all gods worship. This allows them to incorporate faiths of other species into theirs, posing that all gods are gods under a single pantheon. These other gods, saints, and holy beings are given their own place in the faith, assumed to have power in their own right.   The Eden center their own pantheon around the oldest ships in their navy, believing the vessels to be avatars of their gods in physical form. It is baffling how such an advanced species, one of the most advanced in the galaxy, would maintain such a system of belief for reasons other than personal gain. Perhaps syncretism improves interspecies relations.
   

"Fine," Mouse said, turning to leave. "Thanks for nothing."
"The book of revelation was one of several texts compiled into a single book, The Bible. This religious text caused just as much harm as it did good."
"Then it's a crucial part of our culture," Mouse said, crossing her arms. "That means you have a copy."
"Of course I do, but I don't allow access, and you can't force it out of me either."
Mouse raised her voice, something she never did before, at least to him, "Is your stance on religion not also a belief? You don't do much to prove your point. You talk a lot about us being the last hope for humanity. Is that not taken on faith?"
The archivist fell silent, then chuckled. "Maybe so, but my answer remains the same."
"So, I'm just stuck then?" The archivist Nodded and Mouse stormed out of the archive, fuming. Her hands stayed tightly clenched the entire way home. While she understood his reasoning, it was insulting. She was capable of making her own decisions. She wasn't a child.
Walking into her quarters, she jumped at the sight of her father sitting in a chair on the far side of the room. "Dad? What are you-"
"Sorry, I thought you'd be here and the door was unlocked."
"Is something wrong?" she asked, eyeing a box in her father's hands.
He stood up, and took a deep breath before speaking, "I shouldn't be doing this. Keep it between us." He handed her the box and crossed his arms as she opened it. "When you mentioned it on the shuttle…" he paused and rubbed the back of his head before continuing, "I don't know. I guess I just wanted us to have something in common, something to bond over."
Mouse pulled out a book, the pages worn and faded. Small drops of blood stained the white cover, and Tucked beside the book was some form of jewelry, a necklace of beads.
He smiled as she gazed in both wonder and confusion, "I used to be a priest, but the church closed its doors before the end. That's when I moved on to chemistry, which got me on the ark."
Mouse narrowed her eyes, lifting the necklace from the box and marveling at how long it was.
"It's a rosary. Don't worry about it, it's confusing. You wanted to know more about that page? There you go. Don't go showing it off. You can get into a lot of trouble."
"I know. Thank you." She replied, her fingers drifting down the rosary. She studied the cross swaying on the end, eyed the man with arms stretched out and a pained look on his face. "Who is-"
"Just read it. It'll make sense. If it doesn't…" he stopped and sighed before continuing, ''Well, then it may be for the best."
She opened the first page, reading through the words under his watchful gaze. "Seven days?"
"Never made sense to me either." He replied.
She read further, occasionally scoffing after reading various passages that didn't add up. "I mean, perhaps days for a god would be different to us? Surely no one could take this literally."
He laughed. "You'd be surprised. I don't know though," her father said, pausing as he walked toward the door. "I mean, 'Let there be light' is spot on."


Cover image: by Amaury Gutierrez

Comments

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19 Mar, 2021 21:37

A fascinating article as always! I hadn't considered how religion would fit in on Safeharbor. It apparently doesn't! I am loving the intricacies of this universe; it's so fascinating.

~TimeBender~
Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
22 Mar, 2021 14:10

Thanks so much my friend! It's something I really wanted to touch on as I dont know of many sci fi settings that delve into it. Like I can name two, and it's such a huge deal for humanity as a whole, it always surprises me.

20 Mar, 2021 05:34

I think I've had a minor conversation with you about how religion plays in the world after the fall of Earth, so this article should be an interesting read. Also, it's great timing for me to procrastinate my story for "Breaking into Heaven" :)   Let's start with the mega quotes again. Technically, my previous comments apply here(especially to the ending one however, the more relevant comment I have is that you should either use a double ENTER or a double [br] to spread out the lines a little bit more.   "She left immediately, and when she entered the archive, the archivist greeted her with boisterous laughter, "Rhey, it's good to see you. Welcome home, and thank you for bringing back such a spectacular specimen. The sample was a delight to study, though I will need to requisition a larger container.""
This is a really long sentence (I've included the full dialogue, but that's not really significant). Presently, your use of "and" would have a comma before and after it, which gets really annoying. I'd suggest split it up more like "She left immediately for the Archives. Upon her entrance, the Archivist greeted her with boisterous laughter..." It has both of the key elements but removes the need to have a wrapped "and".   "Mouse nodded and smiled, "I'm glad it could brighten your day. I was wondering if I could ask you something, but I'm not sure how you'll react.""
Firstly, how does Mouse smile? Such adverbs can reveal a lot about characterization. For that reason, it should probably be either restrained or genuine to suggest both tone and character. As for the actual dialogue, I included it for a reason this time: the ", but" removes all hesitance from the quote. If someone were to realistically state "But I'm not sure how you'll feel about it," they'd naturally hesitate from their previous clause. For that reason, you should probably either make it an ellipsis or a full stop so it doesn't flow.   ""What do you mean?" he asked."
The dialogue tag here isn't necessary. If it's an isolated tag and doesn't use a character's name to specify when in complex scenes, you don't need to include a tag for every line.   "pausing as if in deep contemplation"
The following bit isn't a simile or metaphor so you don't need to say "as if." Is the Archivist not in deep contemplation?   Oooooh. Is this the first time that you transition like that? I'm probably just being dumb and forgetting or didn't pay enough attention, but I really like the inclusion of the archivist's query being the transition between the quote and article. | Speaking of the Archivist's queries, you've kind of stopped using them in headers, if I recall. Again, I'm probably totally wrong, but something that kind of just struck me.   Any grammar errors you have in the body are inconsequential so I've not found any I felt were necessary to point out at this point. I've not really found any. However, there is a lore bit I can add to the ending paragraph of the opening: would it be relevant to mention the danger of possessing blind faith when exploring a new frontier in which gritty reality is a tool for survival? Not sure, but it might be something interesting to include.   "It;s bes not to ask."
Double typo. "It's best" would be the correction.   "accused, and yes, the question will certainly feel like an accusation."
The same thing with the and as before. Since both of the clauses are independent, it needs the comma before. However, the implication of not having a comma after is that "yes" is the conjoined clause. Rather, it's the semi-prepositionary phrase. Because of that, you're supposed to open with a comma: "accused, and, yes, the question will certainly feel like an accusation." It also reads way smoother.   "im converting"
Typo here, "I'm" not "im"   ""Why?" The Archivist asked."
Typo and stylistic note here: The question mark serves the same function as a comma so you don't capitalize the first letter of the dialogue tag; removing the tag as a whole would make it sound a lot more stark, kind of harsh and critical, which could help the reader's tone of the phrase.   "That right there"
There should be a comma after "that."   "The archivist Nodded"
I think you capitalized the wrong words there. a - A and N - n.   "''Well, then"
I think you used two apostrophes instead of a quotation here.   "her father said, pausing as he walked toward the door."
Did he pause for the first bit(as presently implied) or for the second bit? If it's the second bit, you need to include the action halted so that it appears the first action correlates to the first phrase and the pausing relates to the second. Presently, you have it backward.   --   Hopefully, this makes up for the lackluster comments on your previous two articles. I definitely didn't give them the full critique. Anyway, super interesting and detailed article. Wonderful work, as always.

Give me a visit at my current project(s): Aesontis
Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
22 Mar, 2021 14:17

I shall fix those errors and thank you once again for fishing them out. Also technically it's the second time. Invicta transitioned this way too but not as directly. This one is very much a blatant transition.   It was indeed an excellent comment but your comments are seldom lackluster, lol. Dont worry about that. I appreciate the kind words and do hope you enjoyed it!

20 Mar, 2021 08:32

I think that this article perfectly captures your goal of using biased narrators to tell a story. In this way, we can see that the archivist certainly thinks in one way, and Mouse clearly thinks in the other. As a religious person myself, I greatly appreciated all the nods you put toward "maybe it's not as ridiculous as it seems" sort of stuff.   Mouse's relationship to the archivist and to her father are growing more complex and I love it.   I also love how my own theory of "earth is now heaven" is gaining some depth to it. maybe it's not widespread simply because folks don't want to say it out loud...   'cult of logic' reminds me of angels and demons and all the stuff I learned about the illuminati from that movie. Also seems like a great addition to the diverse underdark-like ecosystem of Safeharbor's outer reaches. Of course, their actions don't seem extremely 'logical', but then again I don't know all the tenets of their faith.

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
22 Mar, 2021 14:26

Oooo yessss of all things I really wante this one to be obvious when it comes to bias.   The archivist is. In many ways, every kids cool uncle if that makes sense. Alot of Safeharbor youth found themselves in the archive once it was officially made public, and he developed a lasting friendship with most of them, especially the wayfarers. I'm glad it kind of shows through and equally so for her father.   I love the theories behind earth, and they are just really cool to read. I definitely want everyone's theory to be equally possible and so I'll be throwing little bits to back up or even to call it into question from time to time. I'm glad its appreciated!   The cult of logic and the depths of Safeharbor are coming soon! They are actually part of the next step for Mouse.

25 Mar, 2021 12:27

This is such an interesting article. I really love the story for this one. It makes sense that faith has kind of fallen by the wayside a little bit.

Sage Timepool
Garrett Lewis
29 Mar, 2021 02:08

Prose is great as usual, more character building stuff that works well. The bit about mythology and belief carrying on as pure fiction is a nice touch, too!  

I imagine most abandoned their faiths when presented with the current state of our species. How could a god let such horrors occur?
  Now, I get the Archivist has a bias here, but considering how the dropping of religion seems to be a fact in this world I can't help but see this reasoning as also fact.   As a formerly pious person I can tell you with absolute certainty that the opposite would have happened after the collapse. It's really, really easy to make up an excuse to answer that question. Simply say "god is testing us." and BAMMO done, faith perseveres. Especially since faith offers answers and comfort, folk will turn to it in trying times. The rise of astrology now, for example. Not to mention the whole selfishness and greed bit. A time like this would be PERFECT for greedy, morally bankrupt people to attempt to gain a foothold in the future by founding a new religion.   Now, I TOTALLY UNDERSTAND the want to wipe the slate clean, as it were, since diving into religion can get messy. I've got 0 beef here, the world is still Cool As Hell, this is just one minor bit that sticks out to me, is all. I think systematic bans would be more believable, or perhaps it being the result of a cultural battle that took years to play out. Either way, I think an outside force or some sort of altercation would be more likely than everyone at once just deciding to lose their faiths.   I'm looking forward to how things play out, regardless!

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
30 Mar, 2021 01:32

Ohhhh ok so this actually points a little detail that really needs to be here that would explain everything: 90% of the people who survived earth's fall on the arks were part of the scientific community. Biologists, physicists, etc. The reasoning I had was that since humanity is now composed of a group that was more non-religious than religious, religions would falter and such a reaction as being tested by god wouldnt work. You wouldnt say we're being tested unless you believed in the first place.   Idk if that really helps cause I do see your point but hopefully it makes it more believable or shows where my head was at. I hadn't really considered it cause of world blindness but that really does need to be in there. Thanks and I'm glad you're enjoying things thus far!

Sage Timepool
Garrett Lewis
30 Mar, 2021 03:02

That would considerably change things, yes! Definitely put that in haha

4 Apr, 2021 20:42

This is really interesting. I went the opposite way for my scifi universe, so seeing the reasoning why humans shed their religions is pretty fascinating. Makes perfect sense, too, in these circumstances.

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
5 Apr, 2021 14:57

Faith is one of the more interesting themes in the background of the setting. It's something I really wanted to play with. I think it's facinating as well and I'm excited to dip into it more. Thanks so much!

Sage Rynn19
Wendy Vlemings (Rynn19)
23 Apr, 2021 12:19

I continue to enjoy the mix of prose and information. I know I have only a few articles left but I'm not ready for it to end. I want to keep reading, have been reading for hours now. Anyway, I mostly just wanted to note down a few typos I spotted. I know you appreciate it.   Under Keep it a Secret: It;s bes not to ask. I assume this has to be: It's best not to ask. Under A need for Comfort, last paragraph: Perhaps pur technology ... . With pur being our I think.

Author of Ealdwyll, a fantasy world full of mystery.
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