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Old May 7 2005, 12:32 AM   #1
Levallia
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Default Another big, unanswered question

I've been wracking my brain for a while now to find a deep, meaningful question about Pern. Then it hit me. How can an entire planet, and according to statements made in Dragonsdawn, the entire human race have no religion? I'm not trying to start a holy war or anything, I just think it would be an interesting topic to debate (debate, not argue). In Dragonsdawn, they talk about "the age of religions", so I assume humans have put all forms of religion behind them. AIVAS mentions something about the Pernese not being religious in All the Weyrs of Pern. How could all of humanity have abandoned religion? Did they all, or are there some small groups remaining? What could have possibly happened to cause such a thing? Did they really abandon religion, or was it just Anne's clever way to not offend anyone.

In the opening chapters of Dragonsdawn, they talk about terrible wars and hard times; usually, things like that bring people back to religion. Pern is a medieval style society and most of them on earth were actually governed by their religions (not allways for the best though). All civillizations throughout history have looked to a higher power of some sort, some of them deified everything they could think of. I've studied a lot of ancient cultures and all of them had that one thing in common. I find it odd that no one on Pern thought to ask the question, "Where did we all come from?". It's just hard to believe that the entire race could agree to have no religion at all. Anyone else have any thoughts?
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Old May 7 2005, 02:34 AM   #2
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Default Re: Another big, unanswered question

It is possible to have a secular society even if there are religions coexistant with it. For the most part, modern western democracies are assumed to be secular, divorced from any religious influence (which is not necessarily true).

With Pern, we could argue that the secular ideals and orientation was absorbed by the wider culture, and that, on the whole, there was no-one ready to look towards a transcendental answer to life's questions. On the whole, also, the Pernese appear as a pragmatic culture, looking towards the here and now, life, rather than some mythical notion of an afterlife.

Of course, I am deliberately ignoring the ramifications of "Beyond Between".
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Old May 7 2005, 06:20 AM   #3
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Default Re: Another big, unanswered question

The original colonists were also deliberately selected to exclude any religious fanatics. Religious texts were brought along by AIVAS, but they were regarded as historic myths rather than religious texts, much as most of us might view the Greek, Roman, Celtic and Scandinavian myths, which all originated as a basis for faith.
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Old May 7 2005, 10:18 AM   #4
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Default Re: Another big, unanswered question

i also think that the dragons, at one point (or mabey a few) became like a semi-worship item. just like how people are all "ooh its a dragon!" and they think its a major thing if a dragon talks to them, even though dragons will talk to whoever, but thiy're really just pretty shy to people other than thier riders.
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Old May 7 2005, 11:36 AM   #5
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Default Re: Another big, unanswered question

I think that with the rigours necessary for survival from Thread did not allow for any form of religion to really develop, as survival is always top priority. Also, the fact that there was no religiousness on the original colonists mean that there was little in the way of lore to pass down through the ages to form a 'religion'. And even through the 2500 years, they have not deteoriated massively in terms of a social structure, meaning that they can still be seen as 'civilised'.

The dragons are probably the nearest thing to a form of religion that exists on Pern, being large fire-breathing beasts, bonded with just one individual. Just the awe they inspire would remove religion.
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Old May 7 2005, 08:35 PM   #6
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Default Re: Another big, unanswered question

Honestly, the lack of any religion, especially a native-born one, struck me as one of the least realistic aspects of the Pern books. I understand why Anne left it out, as it's a complicating issue, but it does make the Pernese seem...rather stupid, really. Utterly lacking in any sort of higher-order curiosity about the universe. It's not like even the most basic subsistence-level societies don't have one form of spiritual belief or another. In fact generally the lower the tech, the more interest in/focus on the supernatural. Do the Pernese lack ANY curiosity about life after death, what makes a human (or dragon) of more inherent value than a cow, why rocks aren't alive and animals are...?

I agree that the dragons are sort of a quasi-religion, but I can see another one forming: AIVAS-worship. AIVAS is the quintessential 'deus ex machina', the god in the machine, and he even has godlike abilities--he grants knowledge, he instructs, he then 'dies', but manages to defend himself post-death. And those who follow him are fanatical about it--AIVAS is good, anyone who disagrees can only be acting out of evil motivations and must be banished or killed.
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Old May 8 2005, 04:04 PM   #7
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Default Re: Another big, unanswered question

If you remember the end of ATWOP AVIS shut him/itself down to prevent the Pernese from worshiping him/it in the furture, because he/it help stop Thread.
Perhaps I reading in to this to must, I stop follow conventionable religion. Then
again maybe they chose to follow wiccan. Which has only one rule: Do As You Will But Harm To None. Or they follow the golden rule what goes around will come around. Like you do something wrong something bad happens to you, you do something right good things happen.
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Old May 8 2005, 09:54 PM   #8
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Default Re: Another big, unanswered question

My thoughts exactly, Anareth. The only mention of any kind of afterlife I've seen in DoP is in "Dragonsong" where Menolly is wondering about it at Petiron's funeral. I'd have thought that they would have had time for religious development during an interval, especially 1 of the 2 long intervals. It does make some sense for Anne not to have included a religion because using an existing 1 might offend some people and inventing 1 would be very complicated.
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Old May 9 2005, 11:09 AM   #9
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Default Re: Another big, unanswered question

well, what about thier beliefs about turnover ghost? maybe thier religon is like what my friends are trying to form: a mix of all religons. As for the Wiccan thing, i don't think they follow that, or the three-fold path. A society that allows duels to the death really doesn't cut it.




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Old May 9 2005, 11:39 AM   #10
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Default Re: Another big, unanswered question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Levallia
My thoughts exactly, Anareth. The only mention of any kind of afterlife I've seen in DoP is in "Dragonsong" where Menolly is wondering about it at Petiron's funeral. I'd have thought that they would have had time for religious development during an interval, especially 1 of the 2 long intervals. It does make some sense for Anne not to have included a religion because using an existing 1 might offend some people and inventing 1 would be very complicated.
In AtWoP, Menolly sings a new song by harper Elimona and herself, which ends with:

Get up, take heart - go make a start
Sing out the truth you came for
That, when you die, your heart may fly
To Halls we have no name for.
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Old May 9 2005, 12:45 PM   #11
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Default Re: Another big, unanswered question

i love that song, but menolly doesn't sing it. robinton and piemur do.
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Old May 9 2005, 09:12 PM   #12
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Default Re: Another big, unanswered question

I only recently got ATWoP, and I'm only in about the first quarter of it so I haven't gotten that far yet.
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Old May 10 2005, 05:22 PM   #13
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Default Re: Another big, unanswered question

You're right, Menolly sends the song to them at Cove Hold and Robinton and Piemur sing it there. THAT IS NOT THE POINT.



Get up, take heart - go make a start
Sing out the truth you came for
That, when you die, your heart may fly
To Halls we have no name for.
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Old Dec 7 2006, 02:44 PM   #14
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Default Re: Another big, unanswered question

I hesitate to dive in, but it is fascinating - I was pretty sure that the original colonists where of a like mind concerning, God, Santa Clause and holy wars... And it's that way because Anne wanted it that way. - Jeff
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Old Dec 7 2006, 03:10 PM   #15
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Default Re: Another big, unanswered question

The Pernese are very pragmatic, as has been stated earlier. The original colonists were also selected from non-religious people. If you don't have religion, it's unlikely you'll pass any to your descendants. A majority of humans probably find consolation in some sort of conception of afterlife, but I have a feeling the Pernese don't. Of course, Beyond Between suggests something different, but on the whole I tend to consider only the first two trilogies, as well as Moreta truly canon, and tend to ignore anything written later which contradicts something written in the former.
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Old Dec 7 2006, 03:50 PM   #16
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Default Re: Another big, unanswered question

I just found this quote " I also don't have organized religion on Pern. I figured - since there were four holy wars going on at the time of writing - that religion was one problem Pern didn't need. " - Jeff
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Old Dec 7 2006, 04:52 PM   #17
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Default Re: Another big, unanswered question

If you want a writer who CAN get religion and science fiction to meet, read Orson Scott Card. His Mormon belief comes over quite strongly in some stories.
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Old Dec 7 2006, 05:36 PM   #18
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Default Re: Another big, unanswered question

I think that the dragons and their riders are definately not a form of religion--but they do fill many of the roles that religion does, without actually creating the "phenomenon" of religion.

@ P'ter: I have read many of Card's books, and you couldn't be more right about his incorporation of Moromon themes! Sometimes I'm confused about whether I'm reading a sci-fi novel, or a religion's doctrine!!
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Old Dec 9 2006, 07:39 AM   #19
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Default Re: Another big, unanswered question

Discussion of Orson Scott Card split to a new topic in Beyond Anne McCaffrey. Feel free to go continue it there!

As for religion on Pern, Anne has stated many times that she deliberately left it out, because it does so often seem to lead to holy ward. One place to find an explanation is the introduction to The Girl Who Heard Dragons. Another place is in the FAQ on her website, where she explains the story logic for not having religion on Pern:
Quote:
22) Q: Why are the people of Pern not religious?

A: As you probably realize, during a terrible war situation people either cling as their last hope to the religion of their choice, or they become agnostic, losing their belief in a Good, Kindly Wise Deity who has allowed such atrocities to happen to innocent people.

The colonists who went with Admiral Benden and Governor Boll were of the second type, especially from groups who had suffered from atrocities committed BECAUSE of religion: notice what's happening in Kosovo and Iran. What happened to the Mormons in the USA? So no ORGANIZED religion was brought to Pern and none was set up. There is however, a strong ethical code among the colonists and by this they govern their lives and interactions. Not even thread was allowed to alter these precepts.
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Old Dec 9 2006, 08:45 PM   #20
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Default Re: Another big, unanswered question

That explains why the ORIGINAL people of Pern were not religious in any way, but that doesn't mean that people in later generations, especially thousands of years later when they have no knowledge of those past events, could not develop some sort of belief in something. It's not like belief/lack of belief is genetic, everyone makes their own choices of what train of thought to follow. It seems like basic human nature to develop some sort of religious or spiritual beliefs. Some circumstances in Pern make widespread religion unlikely, but having Pern completely devoid of anything seems even more unlikely.
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Old Dec 10 2006, 08:03 AM   #21
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You'll have to live with it, Spiff. Pern has NO religion, none whatsoever, nada, niente, obsolete.

Superstition yeah but no religion of any kind.
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Old Dec 10 2006, 08:18 AM   #22
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Default Re: Another big, unanswered question

How many earth religions developed in total isolation, that is from a group of people not having any previous religious beliefs at all? Religions seem to spawn other religions, but that's different from a belief system emerging from nothing.

I don't find it unreasonable that, having started with no religion on Pern, that it has stayed that way in their 2500 year history.
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Old Dec 10 2006, 09:34 AM   #23
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Default Re: Another big, unanswered question

Shinto (Japan's native religion) developed before any other cultures entered Japan, they didn't even have a name for it until they needed to differentiate it from others. But you're right about it being pretty hard to develop a religion where nothing of the sort previously existed. They MUST have had religious beliefs before formalized religion appeared. I can't really think of any instance where there were no belief systems and religion formed, simply because there seems to have been some religiosity everywhere on earth for as far back as anyone can tell. So who's to say there couldn't be a complete lack of religion if they started out that way? There's no evidence against it.
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Old Dec 10 2006, 10:52 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hans View Post
You'll have to live with it, Spiff. Pern has NO religion, none whatsoever, nada, niente, obsolete.

Superstition yeah but no religion of any kind.
I know, there are a great many things that irritate me that I have to live with Doesn't stop me from loving it though

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheryl View Post
How many earth religions developed in total isolation, that is from a group of people not having any previous religious beliefs at all? Religions seem to spawn other religions, but that's different from a belief system emerging from nothing.

I don't find it unreasonable that, having started with no religion on Pern, that it has stayed that way in their 2500 year history.
If only religion can spawn religion, then how come it exists now at all? People had to come up with something at some point on their own! But I'm not saying Pern should have organized religion by any means, I just find it confuddling at how it seems that the people as a whole have developed no sort of spiritual beliefs or practices whatsoever in any corner of Pern. 'Beyond Between' is about as close as we get, I suppose.
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Old Dec 10 2006, 11:13 AM   #25
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Default Re: Another big, unanswered question

Tarvi Andiyar has some sort of Earth religion- though thats extremelyt personal!
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Old Dec 10 2006, 11:24 AM   #26
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[QUOTE=If only religion can spawn religion, then how come it exists now at all? [/QUOTE]


The people of Pern aren't in the dark of wonder and terror and at the night. They are a space faring people who have chosen this agrarian life.

I don't think only religion can spawn religion - but many other circumstances do, which I don't think Pern has. And Pern is a Science Fictional world, not fantasy. Doesn't mean religion can't be there, but it's not inherant either. - Jeff

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Old Dec 10 2006, 11:29 AM   #27
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I agree, Jeff.
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Old Dec 10 2006, 01:18 PM   #28
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Quote:
people had to come up with something at some point...
Oh Spiff, how true
people in a predicament of difficult situation just have to!

Though I suppose if you really believe, you don't have to "come up with something"... It'll just be there, won't it?
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Old Dec 11 2006, 07:39 AM   #29
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Default Re: Another big, unanswered question

I'm not saying only religion can spawn religion, just that it makes it much more likely and better explains the state of things on earth at present -- where humans have had hundreds of thousands of years to develop all the current religious varations. Two thousands years on Pern is a mere pittance by comparison.

There are clearly some spiritual beliefs (eg young Robinton's notion of ghosts at Fort Weyr), but they haven't leant to any sort of organized practices. Spirituality is different from organized religion, though in time (much much time I would expect) it could lead there.
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Old Dec 12 2006, 06:09 PM   #30
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Default Re: Another big, unanswered question

I am so glad that religion wasn't taken to Pern, and that the colonist didn't develop it over the years and many life trials. I loved the fact that they looked to themselves for help and answers. I do agree that about as close as they come is there total awe of the dragons and their riders. Look how long it takes the Lord Holders to muster a force to go and demand that the Dragonriders stop asking for their traditional support from the Holds.
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Old Dec 13 2006, 08:22 AM   #31
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Default Re: Another big, unanswered question

I've always found the lack of religion an attractive feature about Pern. Here finally are a group of people who take responsibilty for themselves, and aren't waiting on a "deity" to come and sort all there problems out, or blaiming a demon when it all goes wrong.

IF religion had developed on Pern, then you can guarentee that one would have sprung up that saw thread as "devine judgement" on the population, and the dragons as evil for interfearing in such "devine" plans, and no doubt that would have led to some sort of "holy" war, and thousands dying...

Pern's better off without it, good call by Anne on the subject.
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Old Dec 14 2006, 05:33 PM   #32
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Default Re: Another big, unanswered question

"J", looks like we are of like minds once again my friend... yes if there would have been a religion develop on Pern, I think it would certainly have had something to do with the thread falling...and probably a slew of innocent victims offered up to the slaughter in one way or other to try and stop it. I differ though with the dragons being thought of as evil...I think that maybe they would have been thought of more like avenging angels fighting back the evil of thread.

I think Anne's lack of religion on Pern, was one of the reasons that it was so universally excepted. I don't think people see any conflict with what they do or don't believe in the real world and that from her created world of Pern.



P.S. I see it didn't take you very long to get back into the thick of things...
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Old Dec 18 2006, 03:41 AM   #33
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Default Re: Another big, unanswered question

Hiya "L"

When it comes to religion, you're always going to get some sort of extremist take on it, be it that the dragons are holy, to the idea of thread being some sort of devine retrebution... I don't think that only the one faith would spring up on Pern if the madness that is religion were to take hold. Various religions tend to have little in common (except maybe where homosexuality is concerned, but then they need someone to throw stones at) - which is, historically, one of the reasons why there have been so many wars on our planet. And, of course, they all claim to be the one true faith, and all others are sinful and wrong... LOL, people are going to think I'm anti-religon!
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Old Sep 20 2015, 04:12 PM   #34
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Don't the Abominators in Skies of Pern feel a bit like religious extremists?
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Old Sep 20 2015, 09:53 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by Eriflor View Post
Don't the Abominators in Skies of Pern feel a bit like religious extremists?
Nope just traditional ways and not from a 'talking wall'.
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Old Sep 21 2015, 10:45 PM   #36
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Default Re: Another big, unanswered question

I'm of the opinion that over time, the dragons and their riders are seen as semi-religious figures, given the awe- and ire -they inspire in common folk and Lord Holders, and even among the riders themselves, dragon eggs and the golden queens (especially Faranth) are held in high reverence by their use of the oaths "By the First Egg" and "By the egg of Faranth", "By the shard of my dragon's egg", "By the golden shell of the queen" and so on. And also by the mention in Skies of Pern about the Turn's End comets formerly being thought of as the ghosts of dead dragons gone Between.

I also remember in The Masterharper of Pern, where Robinton's father sees him playing with a stuffed doll, and Petiron asks if it's a dragon. Robinton's mother reassures him that the toy is a firelizard. Found the quote:

Quote:
"That can't be a dragon he's been playing with is it?" Petiron asked Merelan. Dragons were never toys; it would have been blasphemy to play with one.

"No, silly. It's supposed"-Merelan grinned reassuringly up at her astonished spouse-"to be a firelizard."
Of course, later in All the Wyers of Pern, we see Avias' name being used as an oath: "By Avias!", indicating that he/it has been given the same revered status as the dragons by those who support the new ideas introduced. Which is one of the reasons Avias shut down. And than of course we have those who claim Avais and all he/it taught are "Abominations". If I remember correctly, there was the same awe shown to their ancestors for a little while after uncovering Landing and hearing the history of the colony's first nine years. When Sallah's body was recovered, somebody asked Jaxom what she looked like, even though they all knew that the first settlers were humans just like them.
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Old Sep 22 2015, 01:32 PM   #37
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Default Re: Another big, unanswered question

Easy they grew up and put fairy tales behind them. It is not hard to live without religion and know that there is no god that the religions talk about and believe in. I will give you an example. Is there a religion that believes in and worships Zeus. At one time people believed and died for the concept and glory od Zeus. So if we can put one religion and god away we can put them all away. It is a simple process really you just use your mind and question. Once you start questioning religion gods disappear. After all most 5 year olds believe that Santa exists but I don't know even 1 twenty year old that believes Santa is real. Same process really. Humanity in Anne's world has grown up.
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Old Sep 22 2015, 01:41 PM   #38
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Default Re: Another big, unanswered question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spaceman Spiff View Post
That explains why the ORIGINAL people of Pern were not religious in any way, but that doesn't mean that people in later generations, especially thousands of years later when they have no knowledge of those past events, could not develop some sort of belief in something. It's not like belief/lack of belief is genetic, everyone makes their own choices of what train of thought to follow. It seems like basic human nature to develop some sort of religious or spiritual beliefs. Some circumstances in Pern make widespread religion unlikely, but having Pern completely devoid of anything seems even more unlikely.
Think about this for a second. How do you know about religion or a god? You are taught these beliefs as a child. What if there is no religion or belief to be taught and nothing about religion or a god is passed down. Parents are not teaching their children about religion or a god. Now what does a world like that look like after 2500 years?
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Old Sep 22 2015, 06:47 PM   #39
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Default Re: Another big, unanswered question

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Originally Posted by Gilluin View Post
Parents are not teaching their children about religion or a god. Now what does a world like that look like after 2500 years?
Polytheistic. Or animist. Maybe shamanistic. Could be ancestor worshipers. (Actually, if I had to put money on a religion taking root on Pern, it would be one based on ancestor-worship, not one directed at the dragons.) Maybe they just really believe in ghosts and evil spirits and don't think there's any rhyme or reason to what controls them.

And you might have many different beliefs, with the people in Tillek who deal with the sea having a very different view of the world than the people in Telgar who grow grain and survive harsh winters, and both of them being different from the people in Ista who have three or four growing seasons a year. Or maybe not. Pern is good at communication and cultural homogeneity, after all.

I don't believe in any gods myself, but I'd hardly classify people as "not grown up" just on the basis of being religious. Spiritual experiences seem to be an important part of the human psyche. People throughout history have had religious experiences or beliefs, as far back as we have evidence -- farther back than our species, in fact, since the Neanderthals got here before us and buried their dead.

I think that we can adequately explain spiritual experiences in terms of the physical structure of the brain and the chemistry that goes on in our bodies. I don't think there's any evidence for supernatural beings of any sort, much less all-powerful ones who've made or shaped the universe. But people just as smart as I am disagree with me. And if you put me and a few thousand people like me on a planet, isolated our descendants for a couple of thousand years, and took away almost all of our literature, philosophy, history, and science -- well, let's just say I don't think my scientific viewpoint is that one that would carry the day, culturally.

But Pern didn't do that, which is really odd, and best explained by the author just not wanting to deal with religion one way or another. Which is perfectly fair.
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Old Sep 22 2015, 11:55 PM   #40
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Default Re: Another big, unanswered question

My in-universe theory is less 'growing up' and more ... religion seems to evolve to provide answers science can't (yet) explain, right?

These days the answer to questions like "Why does it rain?" is meteorology and atmospheric stuff but without that knowledge the only possible answers are
"I don't know but it seems completely random and outside of anyone's control or understanding." which seems a little unsatisfying or
"Because our ancestors are angry/or the man in the sky is crying over his wife/Some all powerful being is angry we did a thing and the good news is that if we do X we can fix it and it will stop raining." which is a far more comforting answer.

So in earlier earth times, lacking science, we developed religion to provide answers instead.

However in earlier Pern times, having once had science, they didn't need religion in the same way.

When small children asked their mothers why thread fell the answer wasn't 'not sure, but probably it's a divine punishment for something' but 'it's a natural phenomenon rather like the seasons but related to the movement of the stars'.

Heck, when small children asked "Why does it get dark at night?" or "Why do dragons lay eggs?" then there were actual answers for those questions too. At least until the last of the computers died and then for a generation or two more.

And the scientific knowledge itself may or may not have survived properly (I have no idea if Menolly, say, knows about planetary rotation) but the awareness of science as a solution probably did.

Pern is a moderately primitive agrarian community like many in earth's history but its important to remember they aren't starting from the same position as those earlier earth communities.

Religion didn't appear fully formed all at once. It would have taken probably centuries (if not longer) to get from 'it rains because the sky is angry' to 'rain is a punishment from god for X action and we must placate god via Y ritual'.

Pern started secular and scientific, and to develop Actual Religion (rather than say, mild spirituality, belief in basic Karma type systems, low-level superstition or some other sort of personal/less widely organized belief - although I actually wouldn't be entirely surprised if a few outlying holds that rarely saw Harpers had developed some minor little quirks like ... throwing salt over shoulders or something) it has to first shed most of that (which the Harper Hall among others makes tricky because they're trying so hard to keep that alive), then start looking for alternative answers.

It's possible that lines like that one about "Halls we have no name for" are markers of the formation of a developing religion and if AIVAS hadn't appeared that might eventually have developed into something more (good Halls and bad Halls, for example, then systems for getting into the good Hall) but I think it's partly that Pern didn't have the initial space for an organized religion and partly that once an opening developed there hadn't been enough time yet for anything particularly widespread or strongly held to take hold.
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