This is a religion i am creating for a possible book in progress. It takes place in a world created by gods. This is a world of humans, dwarves, elves, and magic. I would like to create a religion which all three races follow, but which is based on a lie. My three gods are as follows:


  • "The Destroyer"
  • He created* the dwarves and based them on himself. Their natural instinct to mine into the earth and to create things by chiseling into stone comes from his destructive tendancies.
  • He gifted the world with Destructive magic: spells related to fire and lightning and the ability to raise and control the dead.
  • He seeks to destroy the world and its inhabitants out of jealousy. He is angry because Leda took the dwarves away from him to protect them from his wrath.


  • "The Holy Judge"
  • He created the humans, based on his own desire to learn. Humans are more changeable than the other races and are curious, seeking new knowledge instead of sticking to old ways.
  • He gave the world Control magic. The ability to move objects, to predict events, and to scry to obtain knowledge.
  • He judges the dead, deciding whether they should go to Leda's heaven or be cast into the abyss where Appolyon is imprisoned. He also rewards his followers with knowledge and, with that, wisdom.


  • "The Creator"
  • She created the world as a barrier to protect the three races from Appolyon, and to stop him from returning. She created the elves as a graceful and long-lived race. The elves revel in life and creation, and refer to their god as "Leda-Aurora" - Creator of Light.
  • She gave the world Creation magic to grow and heal. Only the god herself has the power to create matter, however her followers can use her magic to heal wounds and to encourage growth in living things (the elves use this magic to enchant trees to grow into houses, and to sustain vibrant life in their woodlands).

With these three gods, there comes a religion in the world. There are few who doubt the existence of these gods, since without them magic would not be possible. Any person studying the arts of magic can learn basic spells, but it takes true loyalty and devotion to be able to use the magic gifted by a particular god. Training mages can choose to follow either Dusan or Leda and spent years in study in wizard towers. The religion is based purely on these two gods, since anyone found to follow the ways of dark magic is punished with execution. Dwarves rarely use magic, since their affinity to destruction constricts their abilities with other types of magic. They despise Appolyon and worship Leda, their saviour, however few Dwarves have the ability to become true mages.

Here's the catch

Everything you have read so far is what is believed by the elves, dwarves, and humans. It is in fact only half-true. The truth goes as follows:

  • Appolyon seeks to destroy the world not to seek revenge, but to free the races from their prison. He wants them to return to their home and re-populate the abyss with life and matter.
  • Leda created the world out of selfishness. It is a prison to contain the three races for herself and Dusan to share.
  • There is no heaven. When a soul dies it simply wanders the world, imprisoned there forever.
  • Dusan is the one with true control. He whispers to people in their dreams and influences events in the world. He also manipulates the gods themselves, pitting Leda and Appolyon against each other for his own amusement.

What affect does this have?

Mages worship gods, the people follow the mages. If the gods are corrupt, what effect does this have? Leda and Dusan are both evil, imprisoning the races on earth while Appolyon is attempting to free them. The higher you get in the church, the better you get to know your god. Since the gods can choose who to bestow their magic onto, this means that the most powerful mages of creation and Control are corrupt people. people who sympathize with their respective gods. The leaders of the church lie to the people to gain favour. How can i represent this?

The actual question, finally

How can a corrupt religion such as this control so many people? How do you appear benevolent and holy and mislead people at the same time? What sort of political systems would be best suited to this religion? How can I lie to literally everyone, and still have complete control over them?

*On the subject of creating races. Yes, i am aware that a god of destruction does not simply create Dwarves. My answer to this is that the three gods worked together. The universe contained energy and matter. Leda created life, Dusan formed bodies to contain it, and Appolyon added death to make the races precious. With this prototype, the individual gods then put some of their own characteristics in to create the three races.

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    $\begingroup$ Wait, what's the problem? You have a god who can interact with minds of every mortal. So why wouldn't he be able to set them to believe what he seems fit? $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    Commented Oct 15, 2016 at 17:34
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    $\begingroup$ Aric, you appear to have a perspective problem, but I don't see how this is off-topic or too broad. $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Commented Oct 15, 2016 at 19:04
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    $\begingroup$ It could be debatable that all religions are corrupt... [He says, whilst opening a giant Can of Worms]. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 17, 2016 at 5:33
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    $\begingroup$ All religions are corrupt except for Satanism and Pastafarianism, Out of more than 5000 religions only those two have some respect for humanity. $\endgroup$
    – user27795
    Commented Oct 17, 2016 at 7:14
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    $\begingroup$ So your gods are arbitrarily the gods of their element. They are not really the God's of Destruction, Justice, Creation. Those are just the roles they have chosen. For example you have shown the god of destruction creating the dwarves, and becoming destructive in vengeance. But in 100 years this god could choose to be the god of something else? So this is more a case of them choosing a sphere of influence, rather than being primordial forces of their element. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 19:28

3 Answers 3


Disclaimer: Unfortunately I suspect any answer to this is going to be quite provocative about the nature of religion, that is not my intent, merely a side effect.

Let's start with a question: What is religion? With the answer simply being: What people believe to be true. Actual truth has no bearing on this, otherwise how could a world like ours support so many contradictory religions. The vast majority of people have to be wrong, following something that isn't true while believing, often wholeheartedly, that it is.

Let's simplify your model. You have a world with a choice of three gods.

  1. A god of destruction
  2. A god of justice
  3. A god of creation

Which of these do you choose to follow?

This is the choice as far as the normal illiterate peasant in your population sees the world. There are no subtleties as there are in the descriptions you give. You argue of course, that a god of destruction is required for the normal order of things, to ensure that the circle of life is complete. However not many people are going to choose destruction as their way of life, and those who do possibly aren't the most sane anyway. On the whole, the credulous are going to choose between justice and creation.

As with any large group, people at the top of the pile aren't necessarily there because of how dedicated they are to the cause, but often how dedicated they are to having power over others.

Your world is no different from ours, power corrupts, the people who seek and gain power are corrupt. They find as they rise that everyone is corrupt, all the way to the top, gods included, what's new?

  • $\begingroup$ My thinking as well; I just didn't want to be the one to open the religious can of worms. You also phrased it better than I would have. $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Commented Oct 15, 2016 at 20:45

Why do the God's motives matter at all in this case?

Think about these questions answer these questions:

  • Leda gave the 'mortals' them the world that they exist in and the world that is all they know. What has she taken from them? In what sense is she selfish?

  • Leda gave the mortals their entire existence, but 'trapped' them inside this existence she made for them. How is it relevant that there is more universe out there that they can't exist in? Does it make someone selfish if they give you a million dollars for free instead of 10 million dollars?

  • Apollyon wants to 'free' mortals by destroying them. Do they want to be destroyed? This is the same problem from the Matrix, except instead of offering someone the choice of red pill/blue pill, you are forcing them to take the red pill and wake up to some nighmarish existence that they probably aren't interested in. Did Apollyon ask them if they wanted their world destroyed? How does this make Apollyon the good guy?

  • Dusan incites people to evil or violence by pitting Apollyon and Leda against one another. Apollyon on the other hand, wants to destroy the world. Given the choice, would you rather have a high murder rate, or a high genocide rate? Living in a violent world sucks, but it beats not living at all.

  • Who on god's green earth would believe a guy (Apollyon) that says he wants to destroy the world so he cane move you to another world that he made? To any rational person, that would sound like a lie; to any fearful person that would sound like a threat.

From the perspective of the 'mortals', there is one god trying to destroy them, and two other gods trying to protect them. Which one would you worship?

While Apollyon may seem to be corrupt to a third person omnipresent viewer, when taken from the perspective of an actual person (or elf, or dwarf) living in this world, there is no doubt that, even given all the information in this post, those persons would conclude that Leda and Dusan are in fact the good guys. They protect all creation from utter destuction even if they have some personality flaws.

Your religion isn't corrupt at all.

  • $\begingroup$ ''Does it make someone selfish if they give you a million dollars for free instead of 10 million dollars?'' Bringing someone in existence is literally the same thing as taking random people and putting them into jail for their entire life without a reason.... They didn't ask to exist in this world, they were forced to and jailed there. $\endgroup$
    – user27795
    Commented Oct 17, 2016 at 7:06
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    $\begingroup$ @user30785 I say this with not a hint of snark, but I'm sorry your life is so bad that you think that way. I think the world and the people in it are amazing and beautiful. I wish I had more than a few decades left to explore this miraculous place. $\endgroup$
    – kingledion
    Commented Oct 17, 2016 at 12:30

To answer your first question yes I think that's top members of the mages/ priest would be corrupt but that doesn't mean that all the Mages/ priest would be. Fact I believe many would be very sincere. After all too much corruption in the ranks will make the organization uneffective. I don't think the gods want that.

As for how to religion would be able to put control people same as my above answer. While the leaders may be corrupt the lower and middle ranks are very sincere in their beliefs, they are the ones that people have the most contact with and then since they know if they're not lying to them they believe their representation of the gods. Would be actually very easily as long as the evil gods don't do anything to evil, the occasional atrocity could always be blamed on the God of destruction.

As for how you lie to everyone and still maintain control over them look at Adolf Hitler, he said once tell a lie big enough often enough and loud enough and the people will believe it. As long as you live isn't mixed with just enough truth as to appear viable and discovering the truth on their own is difficult or impossible for the people, there will be very easy to control them and yet continue on them. governments do this all the time


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