LESSON Creating a Religion

Discussion in 'DEVELOPING CHARACTERS & CULTURES' started by Revision, May 16, 2012.

  1. Creating a Religion

    One of the major aspects of many cultures is religion. Whether it is organized in a strict hierarchy of clerics, a tribal shaman living on the edge of the village, or each person with their own ancestral shrine, religion is a concept that permeates humanity. As such, it is very likely to take a starring role in many worlds we as humans develop.

    Religion is theorized to have likely begun as a way to explain local geological and meteorological phenomena, as well as astronomical happenings and those silly bright stars that were later revealed to be planets. As time went on, a greater importance was attached to the deities that were thought to rule the worlds and weather and they were also given aspects of hearth and home. Eventually, the temple became the preferred place of worship, and with that came tithes and record keeping. It was not unusual for the religious leader and the leader of the town or country to be one and the same, and the temple often kept tabs on the harvest and the census.

    It is easy to assume that alien cultures, especially those similar to our own, would have religions of their own. The problem comes in when figuring out what sort of religious structure to use, how tied to the seat of power and culture as a whole it is, and how absolute moral law is. But before you tackle those rather hairy issues, here are some questions to ask about your fledgeling world’s faith.

    1) Are the gods real?

    2) Is there one god or a pantheon or several religions?

    3) If the gods are real and there are several religions, are they vying for control or are they all different ways of looking at one pantheon? Or something else entirely?

    4) Is there a living avatar of any of the gods?

    5) Where do nature spirits, ghosts, and ancestors fall when it comes to obtaining worship?

    6) Is nature important to your religion? In what way?

    7) How about manmade creations, money, politics, household, and warfare?

    8) This is a big one. Is(are) your deity(ies) malevolent, benevolent, neutral, or other?

    9) Is god a part of everything and everything a part of god?

    10) Are all deities aspects of one bigger deity?

    Once you answer these questions, you have the foundation for your deity. Once you have that, you can start to build the religion. You should now know how many gods, religions, and aspects you have, if you are monotheist, polytheist, pantheist, panentheist, or monolatrous, if you are nature worshipping, self worshipping, or god worshipping, and where non-godly powerful beings rank.

    Now that you know this, let’s look at the religion itself. First, you want to determine how structured your religion is.

    1)Is it centered around one figure?

    2) Is there a hierarchy or does everyone rank as equal?

    3) Are royalty considered of divine blood?

    4) Does the church control the law or have a separate set of their own moral laws?

    5) Is there such thing as excommunication?

    6) Is there a chosen people?

    Next, you want to figure out how primitive the religion is.

    1) Is it nature based with a lot of medicine magic and taboos?

    2) Is there a priestly caste that leads the worship?

    3) Is religion related to science and advancement?

    4) Have your people advanced and done away with their old religion altogether, with some still holding tight to superstitions and prayers, despite no evidence of an overbeing?

    5) Are your peoples trying to reclaim lost heritage and religious faiths of old?

    6) Or has the whole world reached enlightenment?

    By now, you should know a good deal about your religion and how it relates the world around it. Hopefully, through answering these questions, you have thought of and answered others. So, now that the religious survey is complete, you get to the fun part. It is time to build all those superstitions, buildings, hierarchies, fun religious gear and clothes, and figure out just who really is the power behind the throne. If you need more help, try researching some of the major world religions and their histories. I hope this has been helpful! As always, have fun!