6
$\begingroup$

Following up on how-might-a-religion-be-used-to-help-maintain-a-generation-ship and what-society-might-survive-the-3-generation-rule.

Assume:

  • Your ship is a generation ship that has traveled to the stars.
  • The trip has taken ten generations (or more!) to complete.
  • Religion plays a crucial social engineering role in keeping the ship maintained for the flight (how it works is up to you).
  • The ship is nearing the end of its journey.

Do not feel you must accept my interpretation of what's happening but I'll layout a scenario for you to explore.

Do you begin explaining to the current crew exactly what is happening or has arriving at the destination and colonizing the planet always been part your religion?

If the answer is "begin explaining/reveal the religion as social engineering":

  1. When do you start?
  2. With whom do you start?
  3. Do you keep a portion of your religion or do you make the planetary colonization a "New Testament" addition to the original religion?
  4. How do you prevent schisms?

If you answer above was that this has always been part of your religion:

  1. How do you pass on the necessary sciences & engineering required to begin the new colony
  2. Do you plan for your religion to continue onward forever or do you plan to deconstruct it at some point with well placed hints or actual records?
  3. Do you think some of the first generation crew/colonists might have planted several social bombs designed to "blow-up" the religion at some point and reveal the truth?

If you think this question has become too broad, let me know what aspects bother you and I'll do some skillful pruning of the topic. If I need to prune too much, I'll cut out portions and ask another question.

I figure which ever way the engineers decide to go, some portion of the crew will elect to believe the religion is not real while others will continue to believe the religion and that the reveal is heresy. If you care to do so, expand on this schism.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Why would you want to reveal the whole thing to be somehow fake? As per my answer to your previous question (which incidently your link also point to...?), there are advantage in not disclosing the whole thing. $\endgroup$ – bilbo_pingouin Jul 20 '15 at 13:25
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ No matter what you do, not everyone will believe that the religion is fake. In fact, trying to disprove it will likely push a subset of the population towards a fundamentalist stance on the religion, instead. (Unless nobody really believed it in the first place, and it was always an elaborate "polite fiction", which seems unlikely.) $\endgroup$ – LindaJeanne Jul 20 '15 at 15:29
7
$\begingroup$

If you are using religion to hold your people to follow some rigid code, then the end game should be part of the religion. "We are headed toward... and when we get there... yada yada yada..."

Telling them it's all made up BS before you actually land is asking for a rebellion and you might not actually finish your trip. They might pick a new destination to keep the religion from ending or being fulfilled.

People really don't like to be told they've been wrong and even worse that they've been lied to for their whole lives.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ If you are good enough to develop a workable religion for the trip, you can work harder and have an endgame for the post landing era going forward. $\endgroup$ – Oldcat Jul 20 '15 at 23:28
  • $\begingroup$ @Oldcat exactly my point! $\endgroup$ – bowlturner Jul 21 '15 at 2:20
3
$\begingroup$

Do you begin explaining to the current crew exactly what is happening or has arriving at the destination and colonizing the planet always been part your religion?

No. It's simply too much of a risk.

Any planned unveiling increases the probability of an unplanned unveiling. If that happens say, halfway through the trip, it could endanger the entire generation ship and mission.

How do you pass on the necessary sciences & engineering required to begin the new colony

I would design the colony ship so that the operations include/require everything that the eventual colony will need. So if it gets there, they'll by definition have the required knowledge.

I don't think this is too much of a stretch. Now, maybe your farmers need to know new techniques rather than relying on hydroponics, or something of that nature. You should have that information available, and make sure the computer/AI keeps it so it doesn't get lost.

Trickiest parts will be things you simply can't do in a ship, like mining. For that I'd incorporate the techniques into religious rituals - sacred foundry for coming of age, re-smelting the same "rock" over and over, etc.

Do you plan for your religion to continue onward forever or do you plan to deconstruct it at some point with well placed hints or actual records?

Forever, for the same reason as my first part. It's just too risky, let it die naturally thousands of years in the future.

Do you think some of the first generation crew/colonists might have planted several social bombs designed to "blow-up" the religion at some point and reveal the truth?

This is possible, and should be designed against. I would make sure that the people who "write" the religion - the ones who author the books - don't go with the ship, and are called the Prophets. That would greatly limit the ability of any first generation crew/colonists to blow things up, since they wouldn't have the same moral authority as the original authors.

To hold off new prophets, make one of the original predictions be "No new prophets before the 5th generation" or something along that lines. You don't want to make your religion too rigid, but that will make it really difficult for anyone who knows it's fake to make major waves.

$\endgroup$
2
$\begingroup$

The question is how much help you think the colony will need as it stands up. If you think you can just abandon an infant to the woods and expect a wolf to raise it, then announcing that all they ever lived for is a lie is a totally effective approach.

Far more effective would be to attempt to craft their lives to where they are less dependent on the mystical portion of your religion, and then let them decide if they want to abandon it or not. More likely they will use it highly successfully to adapt to their new climate. It also may help to tie the human civilizations together as they reach out into space again a milinia from now.

As an example of a latent religion, consider Frank Herbert's Dune. The Bene Gesserit's Misionaria Protectiva seeded hundreds of planets with the barest threads of a religion. If one of their own was ever trapped on a planet, they could find protection by weaving themselves into this religion, knowing the Misionaria would provide the framework for belief.

$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.