There are immortal beings, of roughly the same intelligence of humans,but being immortal allows them to have more time to learn than us.

-biologically immortal which means not aging but still being able to die when heavily damaged.-

The immortals can decide to give up their immortality through a painful and life risking process, only 2 out of 3 can survive,the others die during the ritual or due to infections.

Is religion strong enough to convince immortals to adopt this habit in their societies? The immortals don't have to feel forced, they have to want to do this life risking ritual in which they lose their immortality and start to age normally and eventually die like terrestrial humans.

Usually humans on earth can do anything for religion, things like killing their family,chopping their limbs,burning themselves alive, eating other people while they are alive or causing the death of hundred innocent children are well accepted among some of the most brutal terrestrial religions and still practiced in modern days in some cultures.

But I have the suspect that all the power of religion comes from the concept of death,life has a short and limited time compared to an endless eternity in heaven. That's why (from my opinion) most religions consider life something meaningless that can be easily sacrificed for a superior good, Even the most well known and famous religion on earth is based entirely on human sacrifice.

This makes me think that if people were naturally immortal, religion would be somehow less powerful and people would not give up their lives this easily. Am I wrong or religion is capable to condition even an immortal being?

Also which religion would or is the most powerful at convincing people of anything?

Not the entire society has to be affected by this religion, like in our world there will be obviously people that simply don't understand religion or that don't believe in anything supernatural.


closed as off-topic by James, Frostfyre, TrEs-2b, cobaltduck, Charon Aug 17 '16 at 17:29

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    $\begingroup$ Couple comments, 1) I would suggest editing this bit: Usually humans on earth can do anything for religion, things like killing their family, chopping their limbs, burning themselves alive, eating other people while they are alive or causing the death of hundred innocent children are well accepted among the terrestrial religions and still practiced in modern days in many cultures. While those things have all happened they are not part of mainstream religion but rather perversions of the teachings of the religion and acceptance of those things is far from universal in any given religion. $\endgroup$ – James Aug 17 '16 at 15:43
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    $\begingroup$ 2) It sounds like the core of your question is: Would religion have enough impact on the psyche of my immortals to get them to give up their immortality. To me it sounds like you are trying to ask us how your characters should act in this scenario but that is probably best left for you to decide as the author. $\endgroup$ – James Aug 17 '16 at 15:44
  • $\begingroup$ it's not only one character, I'm trying to understand if religion can have the same effects on humans that don't die for age. $\endgroup$ – Charon Aug 17 '16 at 15:46
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    $\begingroup$ I would recommend you shorten the question, and try to clarify the context of immortality and its effect on the appeal of religion. Your question wanders too much, though I have provided an answer. $\endgroup$ – inappropriateCode Aug 17 '16 at 16:18
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    $\begingroup$ Most likely not. Once humans achieve immortality, you can expect religion to fade very quickly. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Future_of_an_Illusion $\endgroup$ – MichaelK Aug 17 '16 at 18:28

How are you portraying religion? Religion is a belief in a supernatural power bigger than yourself. Faith in the power is displayed by action, hoping the power has your best interest at heart. That's what faith is after all - hoping in something that can't be seen. Hope is the key here. Death means nothing if there is enough faith.

Religion provides purpose, not in and of itself, not in the ritual, but in the faith in the power. So you have to define the religion or religions in your story - who is being worshipped, are the worthy, can they kill the immortals, can they give immortals purpose? Another immortal, even one more powerful, wouldn't suffice. The deity would need to be truly immortal, a creator, a destoryer, standing outside this reality.

So your immortals would need a religion that provides something they are missing regardless of how long they live. Worthlessness, lack of purpose, hopelessness have all driven individuals to an early and sometimes creative grave. If the religion in your story is empty and contrived, the genuine seeker will see through it eventually. If the religion brings out the best in people and they are genuinely hopeful, the religion will spread and create converts out of the most likely people, even so-called immortals.

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    $\begingroup$ He does reference Biologically Immortal, which is a real thing in the real world with a very few, select creatures. Basically they don't 'die because of age' like most creatures do: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biological_immortality $\endgroup$ – Ranger Aug 17 '16 at 16:20
  • $\begingroup$ Understood - but the premise of the question(s) seems to be, from the OP's perspective, that religion is only for those fearing what occurs after death. Since his beings can die, they would still be interested in religion even if the flu won't get them. $\endgroup$ – Steve Mangiameli Aug 17 '16 at 16:23
  • $\begingroup$ Agreed to that. My comment was just concerning your opening statement. $\endgroup$ – Ranger Aug 17 '16 at 16:24
  • $\begingroup$ I guess it is redundant. Removed and modified accordingly. Thanks. $\endgroup$ – Steve Mangiameli Aug 17 '16 at 16:41

I'm just going to answer the title question, as it's a pretty big question.

If we are to say that all religions operate under the same premise, then that premise isn't immortality. Buddhism for one offers to release individuals from an endless cycle of suffering and to achieve non-existence - which is a somewhat different premise to the Abrahamic faiths offering eternal paradise.

Importantly, biological immortality does not guarantee you will be with your loved ones eternally; because they can still be killed through violence, accident, or illness. And so for many people the idea of heaven or non-existence will have great appeal, because death still happens. Keep in mind that life before the industrial revolution was decidedly more morbid than the present, without modern medicine, sanitation, and legal frameworks, death was far more common.

Biological immortality would just mean that the oldest people lived for much longer. But if people are not dying from old age, and not getting old at all... this will lead to population booms, which will lead to violence. It stands to reason that society will be much more violent and war will be more frequent; because it is populations with large numbers of idle young men that tend to be itching for a fight. Add to this a frequent collapse of resources owing to overpopulation, and things will be very violent indeed.

That leads us to an argument made by Sigmund Freud in one of his later publications, that religion emerged to control humanity's primitive sexual-aggressive impulses; forcing individuals to conform to laws, and to thus output culture. In this case immortality may actually be besides the point, as in a pre-scientific world religion is necessary to control how these immortals are endlessly horny and violent. Old people are decidedly more cautious and decidedly less violent than the young. An eternally young society will upset this elder counterbalance against rebellious youthful energy.

In conclusion: yes, religion will still be a powerful thing, psychologically and socially. Death still happens even with biological immortality as described, and society may very well be more violent than usual, needing aggressive impulses controlled somehow. Religion is a useful legal system.

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    $\begingroup$ I envision something like what happened to the Markovians as the premise behind the Well of Souls series (by Jack Chalker): An ancient race achieves both biological immortality and perfect material comfort, but after a few generations comes to realize that something ineffable is missing. $\endgroup$ – EvilSnack Aug 21 '16 at 18:58

Given the prevalence of suicide cults and suicide bombers, the answer would be yes. Your premise does not negate the "eternal life after death" part.

In practice, it wouldn't come to that.

The world has limited resources. Immortals not dying means that they are competing with their descendants for those same resources. If you think the current generation gap is bad, what you'll get is world war 3: young against old; country against country; race against race. Whatever excuse they may or may not make, it will all be about maximising access to resources and it will be justified as patriots against savages and the faithful against infidels.

As a matter of fact, every polytheistic religion starts of with the current generation of gods killing off their predecessors. Food for thought?


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