Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fantasy for Atheists

Atheism has really won a major victory when fantasy is being written for atheists. Witness,

The psychologically defining trait of atheism isn't the disbelief in all powerful aliens, it's the refusal to accord them any special status. What else is Humanism but the capacity to judge gods' actions by human standards and their existence by human reason.

Note that Babylon 5's Lorien functioned as a higher god to whom the mortals appealed the angels' and demons' misdeeds. B5 was incredibly medieval in its philosophy - not unexpected from an American.

Honourable mention is made to Magestic where the protagonist refuses to accept or bow down to the all powerful remorseless force of Destiny.


Alrenous said...

I like Dark Materials and Narnia, though I find Dark Materials to be the deeper work.

Specifically, writing more Narnia would hit harsh decreasing returns. There's far, far more one could do with Material's mythos.

Richard Kulisz said...

This is a direct consequence of Dark Materials being atheist / humanist and Narnia being theist / christian.

There are only so many stories you can write in a world where only a single character (a god) and his appointed cronies matters.

Allowing for killing the god automatically doubles the number of stories and opens the field to a billion more post-god stories.

This is all clearly seen in Harry Potter where only so many stories can be written where HP is the most important character. Just by questioning whether or not HP is the most important character, you double the number of stories.

JKR wrote HP as a loser non-hero who "triumphs" through self-sacrifice and sheer luck. That's a rather narrow motivation. Change that motivation to something more realistic and you have an entirely different story. There's probably 10x as many stories you can write by varying HP's motivation away from 'stupid patsy'.

Writing Dumbledore as an evil overlord that manipulates HP as a stupid brainless lackwitted lazy patsy also doubles the number of stories. And each of those factors combine to produce a combinatorial explosion of stories.

When all you have is "God says so, and God is infinite power", there's not much room for variation.