17
$\begingroup$

In my setting there is a religion of giants (gaians) who believe magic/the supernatural are an affront to nature and must be exterminated by any means necessary.

For magic users this isn't to much of an issue. Simply execute anyone you believe is practicing magic, but gods/divine beings are a whole other story.

Gods in my world are the personifications of abstractions given life and form through the innate magic and thoughts and beliefs of mortals and with enough worship can affect their region.

The simplest solution to kill a god or at least suppress their power would simply be to not believe in them, but there in lies the problem, as your average gaian has a fanatical hatred of gods and seek to teach any groups they conquer to hate their gods as well which. This can in effect lead to a positive feedback loop where a god is believed in, but due to being seen as evil, it will slowly warp into becoming evil, harming their former followers, causing more people to fear and hate them and so on.

With that all being said, how could a misotheistic society "kill" gods powered by belief?

Edit: To add some more clarification to how my gods work. for the mainly affect the regions they're believed in through means like floods, droughts visions to devout followers and occasionally making physical appearances if they're powerful enough. As for what happens if they're contradictory/diverging beliefs of a god at the same time, eventually those beliefs would lead to the creation of separate gods.

$\endgroup$
1
  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Commented Dec 2, 2022 at 4:18

17 Answers 17

30
$\begingroup$

Convert gods into natural things.

Your gaians are Deists.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deism

Or more simply stated, Deism is the belief in the existence of God solely based on rational thought without any reliance on revealed religions or religious authority. Deism emphasizes the concept of natural theology (that is, God's existence is revealed through nature)

Gods so converted are no longer an affront to nature. They are nature. For example: the Pug Dog God. Credulous believers think the supernatural pug dog god can fly, and glow, and shoot eye beams. Your gaians believe in the pug dog god, but the pug dog god is a pug dog, and in fact might be any pug dog, and in fact is every pug dog. Pug dogs are the god. Godliness is the natural.

The belief of the gaians counts as much as anyone else. And pug dogs are pretty great, and the gaians appreciate them and teach others to appreciate them for their dogly godly selves. The god becomes the thing, and is no longer supernatural. Nature prevails.

Gods are not exterminated by hate of the unnatural, but subsumed by love of the natural.

$\endgroup$
2
  • 8
    $\begingroup$ I don't think this is deism but rather more like pantheism or panentheism, i.e. that gods are (part of) nature. Deism asserts that God, the creator of the universe, is revealed through nature, but not that he/they are part of nature. You might be thinking of pandeism (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pandeism). $\endgroup$
    – LarsH
    Commented Nov 29, 2022 at 22:07
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Either way, seems like a clever tactic - shift the nature of the gods towards what you'd get without any gods, until they disappear. Presumably the last stage would be to convince people that the idea that there's a "pug dog god" other than just pug dogs was a poetic figure of speech. Seems similar to how the Christian church apparently dealt with people being attached to pagan beliefs by co-opting said pagan beliefs - only in this case you'd be co-opting the beliefs into atheism rather than into a different religion. $\endgroup$
    – A. B.
    Commented Dec 1, 2022 at 4:53
14
$\begingroup$

Establish that gods can be permanently killed via physical combat.

Much like the viking gods of today, the higher ups can establish propaganda stating that the gods are real, evil, and can be beaten up and killed in physical combat, permanently killing them.

You can also establish key weaknesses that make killing them easier, like mistletoe for Baldur, or snake poison for Thor. This will let your most potent warriors slay them.

Establish other gods as self hating murderers of gods.

Much like Kratos from god of war or Hercules, you can establish backstories where some gods had their families killed via being mind controlled by a god to do it, and so decided to murder all gods. This means you have powerful beings who are seeking to kill all gods, and who will hopefully kill themselves when it's all said and done.

$\endgroup$
2
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ If you believe they can die, it is so... nice $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Commented Nov 29, 2022 at 17:07
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Or just a mythical invention someone came up with that nobody is sure how it worked, but boy did it, like in The Divine Cities. (Extra bonus, once you've shown that you can kill a god, probably easier to convince people that the gods aren't actually gods, too!) $\endgroup$
    – neminem
    Commented Dec 1, 2022 at 21:18
11
$\begingroup$

Simple atheism.

Belief in gods sustains them, whether positive or negative, so a complete lack of belief is the only way to make them not exist at all.

Educate believers that their gods don't exist, that they're the products of long-dead clergy who were at best mistaken, and at worst cynical manipulators of the ignorant masses for personal gain, and come up with rational explanations for everything that used to be explained by gods... or at least say that it's not known yet, but through rational investigation, it will be eventually.

When people don't believe in the gods at all, they'll vanish.

$\endgroup$
4
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ if that doesn't work in a world like ours, where gods do not exist, small chance it'll work in a world where they actually manifest. $\endgroup$
    – ths
    Commented Nov 29, 2022 at 16:45
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ @ths Or maybe it works exactly like this in our world, you just have not noticed it because you believe gods do not exist ;D $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Commented Nov 29, 2022 at 17:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It might be some use if the gods were also being mistakenly given credit for some things that were natural, as they might be if the other civilisations hadn't developed science very far yet. That might at least cut it down. Convincing people that the gods weren't doing things that the gods were doing would mean a disinformation campaign which might or might not work. $\endgroup$
    – A. B.
    Commented Dec 1, 2022 at 4:57
  • $\begingroup$ +1 and if you're feeling really evil, use the technique for this from A Calculated Magic (I'll avoid spoilers here, it's worth reading unspoilt). $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 6, 2022 at 2:49
8
$\begingroup$

The Crusade against the Mind-Virus.

The goal is to kill the Gods, and killing the Gods requires that nobody believe in them.
Here's a five-step program to ridding your world of Gods.

  1. Change your own doctrine. Gods are not affronts to nature, they are lies, or misconceptions at best. In this way, your own people do not fuel the Gods with hatred. You will need to maintain an inner-circle of knowledge of the truth, but this should not fuel the Gods substantially. They should be matter-of-fact about the existence of Gods, not Belief, or strong emotion. Gods are real, and they must be destroyed.
  2. Spread your doctrine. Believers must be educated otherwise. If possible, become iconoclasts and crusaders, destroying holy books and symbols of Gods. If necessary, exterminate believers en-masse until no true-believers remain.
  3. Once the majority of the religious-extermination is done, shift your crusade into a more subtle form. The "lies and misconceptions" are now a sickness of the mind. Something to be quarantined. Something that people should be vigilant against and fearful of. Send assassins rather than armies. Send teachers rather than inquisitors. Isolate communities so that religion cannot spread amongst the common-folk. Your people should be thinking small and in small ways. If anyone escapes your purge with old-ways then they should not be able to spread it further than a small town.
  4. Maintain vigilance. If you see signs of religion, be ruthless, but have a different framing-device. You're not hunting religion or true-believers anymore, you're cleansing a mind-virus. Something infectious of the mind, spread by word and deed. You may even be able to garner help from the people if they believe you. Make "faith" and "religion" taboo words if you can. Add social penalties for religious behaviours, guide communities to shun believers like lepers.
  5. When you are confident that the only people who know the truth of the Gods are your own inner-circle, destroy your own records and vow to never speak of them again until the day you die.

Congratulations. You did it. Nobody remains who remembers the gods, and if there's anything left, it's a few people being shunned as sick and mentally unwell.

If the Gods can come back from that, they deserve it.

$\endgroup$
7
$\begingroup$

They love GOD. But they hate gods.

enter image description here

There is only one god. The Gaians believe in a single non-personified diety that is unified with the will of the universe. See Eastern Religion.

Since we all carry a spark of the divine, we can shape reality with our will alone.

The ignorant Small Peoples have abused this power. The true nature of God cannot be fathomed by a mortal. It can only be experienced by ascending to reunite with the godhead.

The Small peoples have instead used their collective belief to tear down and shackle God. They have shattered God into easily digestible chunks with names and personalities. See Western Religion.

Worst of all, with God in this desecrated state, the cycle of reincarnation is halted and there is no way for the Gaians to ascend to godhead.

The true God has no personality, any more than the wind or rain or gravity has a personality. Once we have eliminated the Small Peoples, and erased their false belief, God will return to its primordial state. The cycle of worlds will be at peace once more.

$\endgroup$
3
$\begingroup$

Establish a new, false religion

I used to know a guy who was very fond of the Buddhist (?) saying:

Pushing away is the same as grasping.

Regardless of its true provenance, it neatly summarizes your problem: enmity directed towards these gods is just as effective for sustaining them as worship.

This means you can only eradicate them by consigning them to the forgotten past. I'd do this in two stages:

  1. Establish a new, false religion

    The state should establish a new religion that worships things which are not real gods. Not fake gods (which might have the perverse effect of creating new gods), but something else which does exist but can't be a god. Make them worship physical objects, like the hearth, or the road, or the knife (chef or warrior). Choose common things that exist in most homes, so that each individual's belief will likely be directed at their own unique item rather than a centralized one.

    The state should formally establish and support the new religion. Establish new holidays, erect new places of worship, and establish legal benefits for organizations that spread the faith. Wherever possible, impose religious tests on everybody, not with the goal of rooting out adherents of the old religion, but to make sure that everybody has diligently learned the new religion. Make sure everybody is forced to load the new religion into their mind and keep it there indefinitely.

  2. Outlaw all manifestations of the old religion

    The state should also suppress worship of the old gods, but they don't need to completely eradicate it -- just remove all the biggest and most widespread symbols of that faith, outlaw its high holy days, and legally ban all their icons and other paraphernalia. If somebody is caught with an ankh (or whatever), just confiscate it and melt it down. Burn all their writings. The goal is not total eradication of the old religion, but just to remove all the concrete (and permanent) manifestations of the old religions, so that it must persist only in memory.

Then wait. It will take a generation or two. Take heart in the fact that civilization is never truly established, but rather must re-invent itself every generation. Time is on your side.

One more trick: create a new name for each of the old gods, and only refer to the old gods by their new names in all the new laws.

$\endgroup$
3
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Reminds me of the "Culte de l'Être Suprême" during the French revolution > en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cult_of_the_Supreme_Being Also beware that the old religion will eventually take more than one or two generations to disappear, if you take the USSR example it is quite clear that even more generations isn't necessarily enough to make people forget about their religion. Religion is a matter of tradition and traditions never just disappear $\endgroup$
    – atrefeu
    Commented Nov 29, 2022 at 2:01
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It takes far more than one or two generations. The old religions stay around in the form of "folk tales". We still have the stories of elves and trolls that predate the Viking religions of Odin and Thor. People who live on the "heath" will keep their religions (which is why they are called "heathen") even when the people in cities have switched. $\endgroup$
    – David R
    Commented Nov 29, 2022 at 16:59
  • $\begingroup$ If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill the Buddha. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Commented Nov 29, 2022 at 20:40
3
$\begingroup$

... there is a religion of giants (gaians) who believe magic/the supernatural are an affront to nature... This can in effect lead to a positive feedback loop where a god is believed in, but due to being seen as evil, it will slowly warp into becoming evil, harming their former followers, causing more people to fear and hate them and so on. ... what happens if they're contradictory/diverging beliefs of a god at the same time, eventually those beliefs would lead to the creation of separate gods.

You've already established that there is a religion of the giants that believes in a collection of unnatural, bizarro, mirror-world gods, and that since they believe in these gods, they have become real. This should be effecting the giant's lands, even before they travel to conquer a new land. The giants should be constantly plagued by unnatural catastrophes due to the Hate Gods they've created. The more new gods they encounter, the more their pantheon would grow - to their detriment. I think it's a fascinating story element that deals with the downsides of spreading hate.

With that all being said, how could a misotheistic society "kill" gods powered by belief?

So if the giants really want to get rid of all gods - both "natural" and "unnatural" - then they need a rigid code of atheism. Speaking a god's name could be punishable by death, and all religious items and texts should be destroyed. The giants would want to adopt a calm, rational attitude towards the gods, so as to not give them any more power. They might have a mythology that explains how the gods were once alive, but have since died; and anyone believing in them still is irrational.

Personally I think having giants be Vulcan-like atheists is less interesting than having giants be a hate-filled cautionary tale, plagued by their own intolerance.

$\endgroup$
1
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Since the gods seem to be localised, the giants might get away with it if they don't create gods in their own lands and are only worried about gods in other lands, but they'd still be strengthening those other gods from a distance. It might be interesting if that was the case and then a god got loose in the giants' lands somehow, unnatural catastrophes ensue like you say, with being surrounded by angry giants ensuring that the god has the strength to be all they expect it to be! Tolstoy's white bear, only the bear is real and can eat you. $\endgroup$
    – A. B.
    Commented Dec 1, 2022 at 5:32
2
$\begingroup$

This isn't a battle, it is a war.

Your first goal is to weaken the Gods, then eliminate them.

  1. Gods are magical spirit Charlatans powered by Worship (not belief). They promise rewards for Worship, but always lie or cheat about it.

This first step is to weaken the religions. Your Charlatan-spirit-gods are consistent with existing religions, but always cheat eventually. This turns every "deal with God" into a "deal with the Devil". You might think you got something out of the deal, but in the end the God will turn on you.

Believed enough, this will render religious magic into a trap for your opponents, as the belief that it always backfires will allow it being initially useful, followed by it actually not working.

  1. Religious magic is a trick produced by the churches. They suck the souls of the believers to power it. "Gods" are just illusions put forward by the Churches. Souls realize they have been duped, and warp Religious magic into self-sabotage, which is why using it is always a Devil's bargain.

After #1 is well known, #2 now removes the self-ness of the God. The Church is now the thing that is manipulating the people, and that your dearly loved and departed relatives are being enslaved by the Church.

It is now morally correct to oppose the Churches. Their magic is now just foul necromancy.

  1. Physically destroy the apparatus of the Church. The religions are now underground necromancer cults and their patsies.

We have now reduced the problem to the killing other, pretty standard, magic users. Except these magic users suck up the the souls of innocents by fooling them with god-based stories.

In each step, you can truly believe in it and still advance to the next step. So the eliminators of the Gods are actually trying to believe the thing that will help eliminate the Gods. And the arguments for why these beings need to be eliminated is reasonable, once you buy into the premise. The more people buy into the premise, the more true it is.

$\endgroup$
2
$\begingroup$

simple answer "kill" the gods
step 1: Establish a "Hero" to kill the gods. Our goal isn't to actually kill the gods, but rather put on a show to fool others into thinking they are dead.
step 2: Establish trust in this "Hero". This could potentially even give this "Hero" godlike power.
step 3: Limit spectators. The fewer people see the less the chance of being found out you could create a "Heros party" and have the members in on it.
step 4: "Kill" the gods. Engage in combat and have members of the party bring back epic tales of heroism and victory if the people believe the gods are dead they will die.

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

Law is as abstract yet natural as gods, but more concrete and useful. If outlawing gods is too hard, just make godlike stuff not worth it using government red tape.

In China, reincarnation needs government approval.

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

It depends... are these gods real? Do we know if they are real, or are they like the gods of the real world in which nobody can know for sure if they are real or not?

Is magic really part of the religion? That sounds more like natural phenomena that happens to exist in this world than religion and don't necessarily need to cease for the religion to die.

If they are established reality, that will depend on how much the gods themselves can consciously affect this world.

If they are like the human gods, all you need is atheist governments all over this world and if these giants are mentally anything like humans, over the course of 500, maybe 1k years of "propaganda" in schools showing how everything can be explained through science, lots of educational programme on this world's equivalent to TV/radio/internet, it could kill all religions these giants have without even being aggressive against religious people.

On a side note... if everybody is a giant, are they really giants?

$\endgroup$
1
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ To tag along with this, look at Pratchett's Discworld (especially The Hogfather and Small Gods). Of course the witches and wizards believe in the gods, they've met a few of them. But they don't Believe. There is a difference.... $\endgroup$
    – ivanivan
    Commented Nov 30, 2022 at 14:28
1
$\begingroup$

I did something like this in my D&D world of Empéa, where mortals were created by Lovecraftian horrors. To destroy these Old Ones, the mortals destroyed all their lore, idols, and signs of existence, then wrote them out of history, all while creating a new pantheon. The Old Ones, since they had nothing left to validate their existence, simply stopped being, because if something can’t affect anything, it doesn’t exist. So your gaians just need to write these gods out of history, until nothing they do is known or cared about. Even if they still exist, they can’t affect the gaians. Hooray for ignorance!

$\endgroup$
1
  • $\begingroup$ That's an interesting approach, given that the universe is all a dream of Azathoth. He can't be removed from existence by forgetting about him, but we can be removed from existence by him waking up. $\endgroup$
    – Brian
    Commented Nov 30, 2022 at 20:36
1
$\begingroup$

The Gaians Can Only Win by Losing

If you want to wipe out belief in something, you cannot simply tell people it is not so. Not, at least, if it is something they can see. See the sun, up there in the sky? It isn't real. Good luck with that.

The sun hates you, it's evil. Perhaps you can convince people that the sun is bad, and in your world, apparently, persuading people of that can make it true. But it doesn't make the sun disappear.

So how do you make the sun disappear, if everyone can see it, if everyone believes in it, and it will go on being real because they believe? You can try to eliminate all references to the sun. But where did the sun come from in the first place, if people's initial beliefs called it into being? You'll eventually end up with a new sun, even if you could make everyone forget about the sun that was there (if they could not simply look up and see it, and believe again).

The only thing that might work is for people to just not care. If you stop thinking about the sun (or the gods), if you make your own light, if you live indoors, and it doesn't really matter whether there is a sun or not, then it is forgettable. And if no sun is needed, dreamed of, wished for, then no one will begin to believe in the future.

But the Gaians, actively trying to wage war against the gods, aggressively pushing people to think ill of the gods, can't make people indifferent on the subject. It is perhaps the only thing they can't do. Only if the Gaians lose the battle can they win their war.

Who needs a sun when you have coal-powered plants and electric lightbulbs? Does it even matter if there's a sun?

$\endgroup$
0
$\begingroup$

I feel like the forgetfulness approach is difficult: If too many misotheists forget the gods, then the gods may make a resurgence once some missed artifact is found. Thus, this tends to cause belief cycles instead of belief destruction. So, the misotheists avoid this approach entirely.

Instead, the misotheists believe that gods will weaken/die if enough misotheists believe it to be so. This belief is accurate, since belief that a God is dead influences the nature of the god towards deadness.

The goal of the misotheists is to spread their anti-faith to others, teaching everyone this belief (and killing anyone who refuses). In the same way that believing in a god creates/empowers that god, believing in a god's death kills the god. Their perspective is that all gods are dead or should be dead. Any evidence to the contrary indicates that there are more believers who need to be killed (or converted).

$\endgroup$
0
$\begingroup$

It sounds like thoughtforms from Buddhism. You could work on the fact that hating a "god" with an unconscious feeling of impotence establishes that god's supremacy, but actually despising such god would inhabilitate it. Evil thoughtforms are not fought back by stating that they are not real, instead the person self-trains to exude positivity, and thus it becomes damaging to the originally evil-born thoughtform. Take modern society for example: the belief of a believer in an actually-intervening god would be more upset/damaged by destroying a god's statue (with obvious no retaliation from such nonexistent god) than by being an isolated atheist. Some beliefs are to be ignored, others must be insulted to have their strength demolished. That's why Russians wanted to expose the body of Hitler, to prove he was a just a (dead) man, to crack his aura of glory. Hating a god is admitting he hovers over you, despising that god could actually decrease its power, in your worldbuilding.

$\endgroup$
0
$\begingroup$

Discovered by accident; a person with severe psychosis/schizophrenia starts believing that one of the lesser-believed-in Gods is actually a figment of their imagination, or possibly of collective imagination. Perhaps an attack on this person's village sparks the psychotic episode, and as a result that God is physically weakened, which scares it off. This strengthens the psychotic individual's negative faith in this God as well as the others, and another member of this community, perhaps this person's close friend, happens to be a researcher/sorcerer/academic who catches onto the possibility. Whether this character is a genius and master-orator who can convince the region overnight that, at the very least, their belief in the Gods actively affects their existence, or it takes several generations, a tiny hole is suddenly poked into the absoluteness of the Gods' existence, and human nature does as it always does and plunges its fist into the hole with curiosity and resolve. A lot of new characters and variables I could be adding to your story but that's sort of what you get for coming to a Worldbuilding forum ¯_ (ツ)_/¯

$\endgroup$
0
$\begingroup$

Your god's are powered by belief. In a way streams of believe of each person are conglomerating into a regional blob. For me that makes abstract entities about "There is no god,divine..." possible. If everyone share the same believe this one god will be all powerful.

In my opinion to kill the gods you have to disperse and bind as much of the belief energy as possible. This could be done by

  • having no people(not advisable)
  • having personal gods for each individual
  • learn conscious control of this energy
  • devise technology to capture the power for use in all sort of things

The second point about creating so many gods, none of them are gods is my favourite because you need nothing new and just have to convert people. Going about doing this would encompass crating a traditional wherin each individual creates a pendant/figure of a personal god that is wholly individual due to stipulations of the tradition. Now you will only believe in this one own deity, which has enough energy to be as sentient as a cat and a little helpful in warding accidents, but nothing more that lifting a 10kg rock a day. With this strategy, inherently selfish, people will only use their belief power for themselves and never let the formation of bigger gods happen. Now to kill the old ones you need a good old indoctrination/missionary mission and time.

$\endgroup$

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .