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Assume we are living in a world in which there are immortal people living among us.

According to some religions the gods are eternal, and according to logic, everything with a start must have an end.

So, if we think there are human beings with a start, but without an end...like the gods do. Should they have a religion? I mean should they have a god?

Because sometimes, the religion could be a way to think everything will be OK after-life. But in this case, there won't be an after-life for these human beings.

  • These immortals are 100% humans.
  • These immortals were born on the earth naturally, but because of a mutation their DNA they are immortals.
  • These immortals are immortal-invulnerable.
  • There immortals stop aging at 25 years old.

Why will be a god be acceptable in a world like that, and why not?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Aify, James, kingledion, Thucydides, AndreiROM Dec 21 '16 at 19:04

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Dec 21 '16 at 21:41
  • $\begingroup$ they're obviously not 100% human ... $\endgroup$ – ell Dec 21 '16 at 22:50
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Religion is organized affirmation of faith

You are kind of mincing concepts here... let us make a little vocabulary first:

  • Belief: a thought, an idea, a statement in your mind that asserts something

Example: "a god is a supernatural, immortal being"

  • Faith: the conviction that a belief is true

Example: "I think there is a god"

  • Religion: organized affirmation of faith

Example: "We gather here today to celebrate our faith that there is a god"

  • A god: a supernatural person that is significant within a religion

Example: Jesus, Krishna, Allah, Ra, Zeus, Odin, Jupiter

Nothing in this says that immortal humans may not have religion. The established world religions may perhaps not fit them very well since those religions mostly deal with what happens to a human after they die. But never the less any person — immortal or not — may find a religion that suits them.

However...

As people have pointed out — among them Sigmund Frued and Christopher Hitchens — it can be assumed that much religion comes from our fear of dying. The very thought that one day our consciousness will be eradicated, and the world will go on without us being in it, is a frightening one. And for that reason, mankind has made religion as to try to soothe the sting of that thought.

But what if you are immortal and/or have no such fear of dying? I would say this takes away one of the main forces that drive people towards religion.

But then again: the living will always be very concerned with how to act upon one another while alive. And religions usually do offer a nice package of morals to use for that; a neat set of Do's & Don'ts. So there is nothing to say that the immortals will not be drawn to this just as the mortals are.

And the immortals will have mortal friends and loved ones. These people will age and die. The love and grief that immortals have for mortals may very well cause them seek the same kind of solace in religion as mortals do.

As for the concept of a god/many gods, I find your question kind of odd. It is not a matter of these people should have faith in a god or not, but rather will they have faith in a god. Some most likely will. Why would they not? In fact, they may even be more inclined than mortal humans to believe in it. After all: they share a trait — immortality — with that kind of person.

Will the immortals themselves be seen as gods? Well it all depends. They may choose to see themselves as gods. And some others are likely to see them as such. There may even be cults forming around them. But will that turn into religions?! Eh, not very likely... because these immortals are much too material.

A "god" will lose much of their splendor and awe-inspiring qualities when seen unshaven, hung over and in dire need of a wee on a Sunday morning.

In conclusion: there is nothing that will say the immortals will not be just as religious — even as deistically / theistically religious — as the rest of us.

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Your immortal and invulnerable people are gods for all practical purposes. However, there can be a hierarchy of gods. For example, in the Greek mythology some gods were more powerful than others -- Zeus himself could not take back an oath once it was written on the tablets of Moira (Faith/Destiny).

  1. Is their religion important for the plot? If yes, then give them a religion.

    Questions to answer: do they have a moral code based on sacred teachings? do they practice religion by fasting, attending celebrations, avoiding certain words, making certain gestures in certain situation, praying, etc.? are there important religious institutions? buildings? is there a mythology supposedly known to all?

  2. Do their gods intervene directly in the plot, like in the Illiad or the Odyssey? If yes, there must be gods, either known or unknown to the characters.

    Questions to answer: are there characters which have incomparably greater power(s) -- they can shapeshift, they can defeat any other character in combat, they can read minds etc.? do such characters appear as unexplained entities, or as entities with an entirely different history? do such characters intervene in the plot? are there essential miracles?

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Where did we come from?

A lot of religions center around the concept that a higher being created us. Since your immortals will probably have just as much of an idea of where they came from as any other human, they could still certainly believe in a God that created them.

Do immortals believe in another plane of existence?

Most religions today believe in some sort of afterlife. People who die go there. If your human immortals discovered they were immortal overnight, would this cause them to stop believing in the afterlife that many of the people who died before them went to? I would think that your immortals would want to believe that their deceased loved ones went to a better place, rather than ceasing to exist altogether. At least the ones that were religious before they became immortal would probably still feel this way.

Eternity can be horrifying

You claim that these immortals are invulnerable and therefore are unable to die. The idea of eternity is perplexing and horrifying to many individuals, and since you claim that these are humans, I would think that many people would go mad with the idea of no end. They might be horrified that they never get to be reunited with loved ones that died long ago, and could end up with a very inverted concept of God - a God that will eventually allow them to die and put an end to this horrific eternity.

Any desire to believe in something that can't be seen or obtained within ones life is considered faith, and where there is faith, there is religion.

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First, let's address the problems of a world full of immortals--because that ties in with gods.

1) If they all stop aging at 25, then they will all be fertile and can continue to have children. If they do, the resources of their planet will be stretched to beyond the breaking point. Unless, of course, they don't have to eat or drink, ever. Even if they stop eating at 25, children will probably have to as they develop. This will still be a strain on resources. Time to pray to the gods for a better crop. If they are invulnerable, then medicine will never develop and birth control might not either. I'd be praying not to have yet another kid.

2) Eventually, you'll get trapped somewhere, forever. See #1 on this cracked article. You'd definitely pray for that not to happen. In a world of immortals, clearing out a building collapse would be of higher priority, but what happens when the immortal mafia gives you a pair of concrete overshoes and shoves you in the water? What happens if you are out alone and a rock slide occurs? At this time, belief in a higher power may be called for...

3) Insanity. How do their brains work? How can they store all the info of thousands of years? And if a person does go insane, what can you possibly do with them? If they are trapped somewhere, insanity is definitely a thing that might happen. Meditation and religion might be the only thing keeping the oldest of them together.

4) Illness. Limb loss. Drowning. This really depends on what you mean by invulnerable. If they just heal, then they can lose a limb. Those limbs may grow back over time or not as you please. If they can't be hurt by anything, then...there's a lot of other problems that develop. For instance, you gain muscle by pushing yourself beyond what you can do--you tear cells apart, and the healing process is what makes you stronger and more ripped. As to illness--are they completely unable to get sick? Does that kick in at 25? Can only children get ill? Can children die before they hit the age? If there is any illness on the planet, at all, that's something you would pray not to happen.

As Alex P pointed out, it really depends on how the Gods work, but I also think it's quite dependant on how your immortals work as well, and what they might want, that they can't get as a result of that. Being immortal means that you are static--so gaining strength for instance--that might only be something that can be bestowed by the Gods.

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  • $\begingroup$ I like the point about illness, limb loss, and general decay. There's a movie with Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn called Death Becomes Her, where both women become immortal, but their bodies can still be damaged. In the movie, it's humorous watching them try to keep themselves together, but in reality this would be very morbid. $\endgroup$ – Faulkner Dec 21 '16 at 18:08
  • $\begingroup$ @Faulkner Exactly! How the invulnerability works will have an impact certainly on what they need/want, which will have an impact on what they might pray for, which will shape the gods. $\endgroup$ – Erin Thursby Dec 22 '16 at 4:20
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Most answers and comments, and indeed the question itself, seem to be approaching the concept of religion from the point of view of what the adherents get out of it. But there is another perspective to consider: following a religion, not because it brings you hope or comfort or purpose, but because it's true.

If Gods Exist, So Will Religion

Did we create the gods in our image, or did they create us in theirs? In the real world, that's an unanswerable question, a point of philosophy. But within your fiction, you can decide one way or the other.

And while the existence of religion doesn't logically require the existence of "the divine", the converse is true: if the divine exists, religions will exist. (I should probably specify that this assumes the divine is somehow knowable, and perhaps also personal and interested in a relationship with humans. But deciding that your fictional world has distant and unknowable gods is tantamount to saying that it doesn't have any, so the distinction seems overly fine.)

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  • $\begingroup$ "If Gods Exist, So Will Religion." I'd argue it's more accurate to say "If people exist, so will religion" $\endgroup$ – Kevin Dec 21 '16 at 17:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Kevin: Certainly, people as we know them have always had religions. But this question looks at a group of people who are decidedly not as we know them, and who are lacking some of the major reasons to "invent" gods. My answer is meant to look at the possibility that the gods objectively do exist. $\endgroup$ – Tim Pederick Dec 21 '16 at 17:51
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Consider that maybe Gods will spring up from the immortal people themselves.

With staying alive no longer a problem people are going to have totally new problems. Problems like:

  • Overpopulation (unless they stop breeding)
  • Confusion/Befuddlement in elders (a 100% human person can only remember so much)
  • Lack of purpose: You no longer need to breed to stay immortal (in a genetic sense breeding could be seen as a type of immortility), you don't need to ever worry about having enough time, you don't need to make safety precautions as you cannot die.

People who come up with answers and grab power could be totalitarian leaders who over the decades convince people of their higher status.

They will never die and may never become infirm, with years of terror and no new uprising generations, they can institute themselves as a possible god.

Especially if you consider that some of the main characteristic's of a god are that of a powerful immortal leader of a group of people.

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Why not? Even if they are immortal they're not unkillable so they can die. If they can die then they must ask where am I going? Even if they can't die they still need a purpose for life so they can still as the question why am I here? Trying to answer these questions could easily bring them to religion.

Also some religions which include an afterlife, put a large focus on developing a personal relationship with your creator. This might be something that an immortal might want to develop. After all if everyone they know is going to die it makes sense to seek out someone or something that you know always be there that will never leave you.

Another thing to consider is that the Immortals do not know they're are Immortals while they're growing up, even if it were impossible ( I don't see why) for an immortal to develop religion they could easily be converted as a child or young adult and continue on in that religion throughout their immortality.

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You only need God if you're going to live forever. Those who tend to not believe in life after death tend to not believe in God. In other words, I am arguing the opposite cause and effect: belief in existing forever leads to a belief in God, belief in a temporary existence tends to lead to atheism.

Let me explain:

People don't want to just experience things, people want to have happiness and meaning.

The horror of immortality with no meaning was captured well by Douglas Adams in his Hitchhiker's Guide series, in which an immortal character gets so bored of everything that he decides to insult everything in the universe in alphabetical order. Eventually, every pleasure we can event for ourselves gets old and stale.

Someone who is confident that their existence will be relatively short hopes they will die before they can no longer get happiness from pleasure. I think this is what is really meant by the attitude "eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die, and it shall be well with us" attitude. In other words, "Yes, eating, drinking, and partying only bring temporary happiness, but that's okay because it will all be over soon."

If you know that you will live forever, that's a scary thought, because you know that eventually the things that bring you happiness now will run out. You're not confident that you will always be able to find things that will bring you joy, so it is comforting to believe in deity who promises peace, fulness of joy, happiness without end, Eternal Life (meaning really Living, not just existing), enlightenment, true freedom, etc.

We don't need God to ensure our continued existence, we need God because we humans are terrible at making ourselves happy.

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Why will be a god acceptable in a world like that, and why not?

Of course there is a God. I've met Him.

The earliest Immortals were around in the days of creation, so they've spoken directly with the Creator. God isn't an element of faith to them but rather a childhood memory.

God? No, that's just one of Old Grandpa Methuselah's tall tales.

Later Immortals have no special advantages compared to normal humans in this arena. They'll hear stories from the oldest Immortals, true, but whether they believe the stories of "that crazy Uncle" is another thing altogether.

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