"To be or not to be?" The Question of Worship in FR

A place to discuss the setting, rules and anything else Out of Character.

Moderator: Dungeon Masters

"To be or not to be?" The Question of Worship in FR

Postby Zach82 » Wed Jun 17, 2015 7:55 am

I hope I will be forgiven being an inveterate armchair philosopher here, but a character concept from a certain player on this chat has gotten me thinking about the philosophy of the divine in Forgotten realms.

It is clear to anyone in Faerun that the gods are real. Furthermore, anyone with a little Knowledge: Religion knows that gods can change and die. Serious philosophers of religion know full well that the gods actually do need to be worshiped, lest they fade away or be cast out of the pantheon by Ao. The God of Christianity is nothing like this. He is Jehovah, I AM, the Ancient of Days. He is eternal. He doesn't in any way need us or our worship at all, but as the Creator we owe it to Him all the same. In Faerun, on the other hand, gods and mortals alike are at the mercy of Fate, and there is a sort of community between Faerunian gods and their worshipers that simply cannot exist with such a God as the Christian God.

This is all to say that worship in Faerun is at its best a matter of the natural functioning of creation, and at worst an economic transaction. The gods need worship, and to be worshiped they need to offer spells and a proper afterlife. Mortals need spells and an afterlife, so they worship the gods.

Which, it seems to me, makes the worship of the gods much less a matter of existential dread. They might hope to get the servile, self sacrificing adoration that a Christian or a Jew offers his God, but it is very tenable to worship the gods without much of an existential commitment. Burn a little incense, get a spell. Simple as that—the gods get what they need and mortals get what they need, and their is little indication in the source materials that the good gods demand much more. And it's all empirically verifiable by anyone. In such a simple system, not worshiping the gods is simply, clearly, and beyond a doubt a mere matter of suicide. While an atheist here on earth can, existentially, escape God by not believing he exists, such a thing is impossible in Faerun. If such a cynic doesn't want to commit suicide, then why not just throw a copper in the offering plate every now and then, if it gets one a place in the afterlife?

So while disillusionment with the gods in Faerun might produce cynical worshipers, I can't see that it would produce a lot of people who simply refused to worship the gods without turning suicide into some sort of a virtue. So the Faithless have to answer one, big question. "Why is suicide better than worshiping the gods?"
User avatar
Posts: 28
Joined: Wed Nov 08, 2006 9:52 pm
Location: Boston, MA

Re: "To be or not to be?" The Question of Worship in FR

Postby tooitalian » Wed Jun 17, 2015 12:07 pm

I'm just going to throw my 2 cents in here and say it is not a good idea to compare real world religions vs religions in a fictional world. You will never get an equal comparison because one world is fictional where players use Magic like smart phones use apps. Furthermore, I respect your right to an opinion, however not everyone shares religious beliefs, and as such we generally refrain from broaching the subject to keep the peace and have fun. This is a game site, not a religious site, and to be frank your post read more like an evangelical message than an actual question. I do not mean to cause any offense, nor was any taken, but please bear in mind that this is a gaming site, and not everyone shares your beliefs, and using your beliefs as a basis for a question does not keep with what is, for me at least, the nature of our little community.
He who laughs last, laughs alone.
User avatar
Posts: 302
Joined: Sun Jul 22, 2012 10:08 pm

Re: "To be or not to be?" The Question of Worship in FR

Postby Rosemadder » Wed Jun 17, 2015 1:06 pm

To be or not to be is a highly complex question in FR because Timetravel, Planar Travel, Undeath, and the simple fact that those Mighty Souls who wrote this game were not one and all experts in Comparitive Religions. They did their best, and we have enjoyed their works. Where the game has polytheism, the system does not run nearly as efficiently as polytheism in our real world. Where it has monotheism, real world monotheists occasionally want to relate and sometimes find awkwardness.

Some of the nations on Toril actually were created irl with Earth-versions in part as models, but only in part, according to the writers. Bastardized versions--highly bastardized versions-- of real world pantheons and sacred creatures to some faiths are found in DnD and FR and the MMs. The Babylonian and Egyptian Pantheons, Isis (The Goddess, not the horrible criminal terrorist org) of which has had organized followers for recent centuries closer than previously thought according to some researchers, the Nagas, which are sacred to Vajrayana Buddhism and are nothing but evil nasties in this game. We could find many many examples of things taken out of context religious wise which will bother some people and others will not notice at all.

More or less, the DM staff would really appreciate those who have a yearning for deep religious and philosophical and comparative conversations (Including myself!) if we would please all be considerate of those around us with possibly very different life backgrounds, faiths, and cultures.

This site does not discriminate against oh.. Most Anything. Except discrimination. We are now a Welcoming and Reasonably Friendly site. In fact, you won't believe the shit we let people play as Characters. NO KIDDING. Kobolds. I thought we were supposed to KILL THEM. Who knew?? At least the GNOLLS can't get in yet.

Thanks for your time, our friends!
User avatar
Posts: 1170
Joined: Wed Nov 08, 2006 3:54 pm

Return to OOC Questions, Answers & Discussions

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests