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Old Sep 23 2015, 12:57 AM   #41
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Default Re: Another big, unanswered question

In Masterharper of Pern, there were the hill folk who hated Harpers and music (I think it was mentioned they were like that because they rarely got Harper visits). Does that count as one of those quirks?
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Old Sep 23 2015, 01:57 AM   #42
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Default Re: Another big, unanswered question

I wouldn't say that's the isolation is the quirk so much as I'd expect those Hillfolk to have a higher percentage of ... say, people who believe in witchcraft (as a purely random example plucked from Monday's lecture). So they might assume "someone at the neighbouring farm cursed our prize runner so she'd lose the race!" for example.

Whereas if you lived at Fort or wherever someone would probably expose you to options beyond 'all my failures are the result of malevolent supernatural interference from others' so your thought would more likely be "someone at the next farm really knows how to breed and train runnerbeasts!"

Or they might believe that the sex of an infant can be predicted based on whether the mother carries it high or low. Adequate exposure to the Healer Hall would probably dispel that but their isolation allows old wives tales to propagate and continue.
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Old Sep 23 2015, 02:57 PM   #43
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Default Re: Another big, unanswered question

I don't think that there is NO religion, simply that there is no Organized Religion, i.e. a formalized organization with a priesthood class.

After years (centuries?) of increasing secularism, religion would become more personal and less hierarchical. There is a mention in MHoP of isolated holds which view Harpers as frivolous and untrustworthy/immoral. These would probably be groups like the Amish and Hutterites who live separate from the mainstream and use a council of elders, rather than priests, to set the moral tone of the community.

In the major Holds, like-minded people would gather for religious purposes in homes rather than in a building specifically set aside for religion.

Since the beliefs are more personal, there would be little overt display of them. People would wear symbols, if they chose to, but for the most part no one expects anyone else to adhere to a particular set of beliefs.
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Old Sep 23 2015, 03:32 PM   #44
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Default Re: Another big, unanswered question

Well, they're also missing the answer to a chunk of life experience science can't answer--what happens when you die. "Between" in particular provides some questions (they go 'between' and never come out.) There basically isn't a human culture that has naturally come to the conclusion that bodies die and that's that (even human ancestor species seem to have engaged in burial rituals that make no sense whatsover if the body's just another empty sack of meat like any animal's.) But "existence in some form after physical death" is more metaphysics than by necessity religion. (Also it should be noted that not all real religions involve "the punishment from God X for Action Y", and the ones that do don't all base it on "You behaved in way defined as immoral." So there are a huge variety of ways that people could use to interpret natural phenomena without a completely "Nope, we're all meatsacks and it's all just random" result.

Plus, of course, it's not just the ANTI-AIVAS faction who behave like religious fanatics. Basically both sides act like religious converts versus religious reactionaries (complete with the Prophet Robinton getting mourned like Moses meets Jesus after being "martyred" with weakening from the poison) and in fact AIVAS "dying" might have done more to facilitate an AIVAS cult growing out of it than it sticking around would--the savior comes, saves everybody, then "dies"...Those who reject AIVAS are heretics who must be shunned, etc. Remember the few who have some idea what AIVAS was (who can even conceptualize it--likely they would NOT really have truly comprehended what he was trying to tell them because it's just *not possible* for something at Pern's level to maintain the notion of advanced tech and the mindset of accepting it over TWO THOUSAND YEARS. That's like expecting us to really have a perfect grasp of Christianity or Roman pantheism from AD 40--we don't, we know that we don't, and we're guessing and filling gaps. No one would just take a source purporting to have all the answers, either, because the human mind isn't wired that way.)

More likely, you're going to, in another couple hundred years, get an AIVAS cult, which would displace whats largely a quasi-spiritual faith in dragons (who could well end up 'bad guys' as after all, AIVAS has usurped their purpose.)
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Old Sep 23 2015, 07:06 PM   #45
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Well, I'd argue that science has a very solid answer for "what happens when you die": you die. "You" are in your living brain, and once that brain is dead, so are "you." The end. It's not necessarily a grim answer -- yes, the end is inevitable, but that doesn't mean that life is meaningless. The fact that we all get one shot and that's it, no do-overs, means it's all the more important to live well while we're here, because we'll never be here again.

But.

That is a lot to swallow when you're an illiterate farmer in a backwater hold on a planet that doesn't really have a good idea of what goes on in the brain, or if that's even the seat of thought, and anyway you watch the seasons cycle around and plants die and seed and grow again, and you start to think, maybe life's like that. Or you're one of the elite, you're a Harper, you spend most of your time in the bastion of the world's knowledge at Fort Hold, and you and your friends spend days and nights arguing "What's it all about? What makes up the world? What is 'good' and who is 'good'?".

You're not necessarily going to fall on the atheistic and non-religious side just because your vanished ancestors did. You're probably not going to get a belief that looks like any of our dominant beliefs today, just because all those systems -- the various sorts of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism -- evolved in competition with others over thousands of years. But religion really is a common human experience, even if I would argue that it's not a necessary or desirable one.

And like Anareth points out, we're good at sorting ourselves into groups and persecuting heretics, even if we're don't organize ourselves in anything that looks like a church. The AIVAS-worshippers and the heretics are both heading in a dangerous direction.
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Old Sep 23 2015, 10:52 PM   #46
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Default Re: Another big, unanswered question

Eh... I'd have to disagree with you on the "religion isn't necessary or desired" bit. That really depends on who you ask. For as much trouble as it causes, it can do great good. I'm technically a Mormon, myself, but that's neither here nor there.

But you do make interesting points about the Pernese. They may not have an Organized Religion. But that doesn't mean they don't have some sort of spirituality. The common Hold and Hall folk go through the trouble of burying their dead either at sea or under stone so Thread won't get them.

For that matter, one could argue that Atheism is in itself a religion. Maybe the Pernese just have one we don't recognize?

The AVAIAS cult turning on the dragons? Now there's an interesting idea... But wasn't the whole point of forming the Sky Watch in Skies of Pern after the comet strike to keep dragons useful after Thread?
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Old Sep 24 2015, 07:48 PM   #47
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That really depends on who you ask.

That's why the word "I" appears in that sentence.

one could argue that Atheism is in itself a religion

Only if bald is a hair color.

wasn't the whole point of forming the Sky Watch in Skies of Pern after the comet strike to keep dragons useful after Thread

Yeah, but how long is that excuse gonna fly? How often do meteors hit?
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Old Sep 24 2015, 08:41 PM   #48
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That really depends on who you ask.

That's why the word "I" appears in that sentence.
My apologizes. I didn't see the "I" there. My eyesight isn't very good.

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one could argue that Atheism is in itself a religion

Only if bald is a hair color.
........ Let's just agree that we disagree here and leave it at that.

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wasn't the whole point of forming the Sky Watch in Skies of Pern after the comet strike to keep dragons useful after Thread

Yeah, but how long is that excuse gonna fly? How often do meteors hit?
Huh... So, you're saying we could eventually end up with a situation like what happened in Dragonflight? Where the Lord Holders tried to march on Benden Weyr? I'd be interested in reading that...
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Old Sep 24 2015, 09:29 PM   #49
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Huh... So, you're saying we could eventually end up with a situation like what happened in Dragonflight? Where the Lord Holders tried to march on Benden Weyr? I'd be interested in reading that...
Maybe. In reality, I think they'll probably diversify and integrate themselves more into the everyday society of Pern. Dragons are expensive to upkeep, but not so expensive that they can't earn their living outside a military context. Transportation, instantaneous messaging, heavy lifting -- all things dragonriders can do better than anyone else.

But if the dragonriders try to keep themselves separate and elite just on the strength of being dragonriders, then, yeah, I think Anareth's on the right track. Bad days coming.

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Old Sep 27 2015, 08:11 AM   #50
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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.
That is exactly what people are who believe in gods and religion, scared children who are afraid to put all that boggy man crap behind them. Anyone who has a belief in a god is not grown up enough to stand on their own feet and say I am responsible for my actions and the universe is indifferent to my existence.
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Old Sep 27 2015, 11:00 AM   #51
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I'm just gonna go ahead and distance myself from Gilluin's position right now. The fact that we're both atheists doesn't mean we have the same outlook on anything at all, it turns out.

Gilluin, in all seriousness, you sound young and inexperienced. I could be wrong, but I hope I'm not, because if you're my age or older it's getting kind of late to correct a problem that has you actively looking down on the majority of people on Earth. Consider that it's possible for people to be wrong on matters of fact without being stupid or having bad intentions.
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Old Sep 27 2015, 11:41 AM   #52
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I'm just gonna go ahead and distance myself from Gilluin's position right now. The fact that we're both atheists doesn't mean we have the same outlook on anything at all, it turns out.

Gilluin, in all seriousness, you sound young and inexperienced. I could be wrong, but I hope I'm not, because if you're my age or older it's getting kind of late to correct a problem that has you actively looking down on the majority of people on Earth. Consider that it's possible for people to be wrong on matters of fact without being stupid or having bad intentions.
I turn 50 next month. I believe most people are deluded, you can be deluded, without being stupid. I do understand the draw of religion and I understand the emotional support that people get out of being apart of a group. I still also believe that we all need to grow up. Just as most children grow out of a belief in Santa Claus, so must humanity grow of its beliefs in gods and religion.

Back to the book at hand I believe Anne was on to something. You can build a society without gods and religion, and have it last for centuries.
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Old Sep 27 2015, 04:06 PM   #53
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Neither religion nor superstition requires gods. That's a very narrow view, historically. I doubt the Pernese would reinvent any god or gods that would look familiar to us.
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Old Sep 27 2015, 10:31 PM   #54
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The Soviet Government tried outlawing religion: they even banned Sundays and had 6-day weeks so that people wouldn't have a day to go to church. It didn't work and their calendar go so out of synch with the rest of the world, they had to abandon it.
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Old Sep 27 2015, 11:32 PM   #55
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Default Re: Another big, unanswered question

The way I see it, there's not enough evidence to prove that some higher power DOESN'T exist. So it could go either way. A wise man once said "question everything, even the existence of God." And even if we do just turn out to be children playing make believe, is it really so bad to be childish in some respects?

Shells, for that matter, some studies of science are based on faith- in theories! And Atheism seems to be based on the belief that gods don't exist. Please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong on that point.

As for Pern, even if they don't have organized religion, they seem to have gotten their code of conduct from Christianity if I understood Avias right. Does that count for anyway?
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Old Sep 28 2015, 07:39 PM   #56
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You're wrong on a couple of points regarding what is and isn't faith, CuriousFlit, but I'm not sure the mods would appreciate it if we turned this thread into an all-out philosophical debate!

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they seem to have gotten their code of conduct from Christianity
Inasmuch as Western cultures in general tend to share a common ethical background that stems from Hellenistic, Jewish, Christian, and Islamic philosophy. I don't think AIVAS meant to imply that the Colonists consulted the Bible as they drew up the Charter, but rather "Don't commit murder" and "Don't steal from your neighbor" are good all-around advice for living in society.
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Old Sep 28 2015, 08:35 PM   #57
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Most of the major tenets of religion have been enshrined in law anyway. Different countries and religions differ on details (e.g. the rights of women) --- and there have been some pretty draconian legal systems in science fiction --- but if you include the Golden Rule (treat others as you would like to be treated yourself) you can't go far wrong.

I get the impression that the Charter of Pern is fairly libertarian (maximum personal liberty, minimal government control), with provision for enacting further laws when necessary. I wonder if AMC left any notes on what the Charter may have covered?
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Old Sep 28 2015, 08:39 PM   #58
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The Soviet Government tried outlawing religion: they even banned Sundays and had 6-day weeks so that people wouldn't have a day to go to church. It didn't work and their calendar go so out of synch with the rest of the world, they had to abandon it.
Did not know that! I thought they just shut down or repurposed the churches, and treated religion as a subversive activity. Or arranged compulsory socio-political activities for the day off.
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Old Sep 28 2015, 09:06 PM   #59
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I get the impression that the Charter of Pern is fairly libertarian (maximum personal liberty, minimal government control), with provision for enacting further laws when necessary. I wonder if AMC left any notes on what the Charter may have covered?
I get the same impression. Everyone intended to be an independent landholder, with Landing or some other centralized location(s) serving as the place where things that couldn't be managed as cottage industries got done. (Given the advanced technology they were working with, I assume there were more viable cottage industries than we have no, especially with the tiny initial population they were serving.)

They definitely didn't intend to live beneath hereditary Lords, or have unequal rights for men and women!
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Old Sep 29 2015, 06:06 PM   #60
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Well, I'd argue that science has a very solid answer for "what happens when you die": you die. "You" are in your living brain, and once that brain is dead, so are "you." The end. It's not necessarily a grim answer -- yes, the end is inevitable, but that doesn't mean that life is meaningless. The fact that we all get one shot and that's it, no do-overs, means it's all the more important to live well while we're here, because we'll never be here again.
Well, no, if that's all there is, the ONLY rational, logical answer comes from evolutionary biology--grab every resource you can for yourself, acquire the most desirable mate possible, and make sure your offspring have all the resources and advantages over others you can possibly provide them as without them your existence is, literally, pointless. Other organisms then have value only when they can provide value to you and your offspring. Anything else is just competition to be removed. A cow (provides food and milk) is worth more than a person who's not related to you, not a desirable mate, and not providing you with services or resources that further your evolutionary ends. Without any sort of philosophical outlook, science means you have to be as self-centered as you can get away with or your genes die out and you were a waste of resources. There's no other reason for a meat-sack organism with no non-physical aspect to exist--to reproduce itself before it dies.

And not only is it correct that you don't need a god figure for religion, you also don't need one for a belief in an afterlife. There are plenty of paranormal "investigators" who don't believe in a deity per se but who DEFINITELY believe in "ghosts." God-figures seem to crop up more out of the human need for either structured authority (the Judeo-Christian religions and their offshoot Islam), or need to a system where if you do X, you will get Y (the Roman religion worked more or less like this.) In the Pernese case...well, DRAGONS. They even swear by Faranth and in DF she's spoken of the way we talk about Biblical figures (Methuselah lived 900 years, Goliath was 10 feet tall, etc.) Faranth clutched sixty eggs and multiple queens! Moreta (the conflated mythic figure of the Ninth Pass, not the real one) was a heroic Benden Weyrwoman of Ruathan blood who heard all dragons and willfully sacrificed herself to save Pern! And (something that crops up a LOT in various mythologies) when they die, as a rule they don't leave bodies-they vanish to elsewhere (between). Go long enough without figuring out EXACTLY where that is (and the physics of between make that a really interesting question) and people will start to make stuff up....
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Old Sep 29 2015, 09:41 PM   #61
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Well, no, if that's all there is, the ONLY rational, logical answer comes from evolutionary biology--grab every resource you can for yourself, acquire the most desirable mate possible, and make sure your offspring have all the resources and advantages over others you can possibly provide them as without them your existence is, literally, pointless. Other organisms then have value only when they can provide value to you and your offspring. Anything else is just competition to be removed. A cow (provides food and milk) is worth more than a person who's not related to you, not a desirable mate, and not providing you with services or resources that further your evolutionary ends. Without any sort of philosophical outlook, science means you have to be as self-centered as you can get away with or your genes die out and you were a waste of resources. There's no other reason for a meat-sack organism with no non-physical aspect to exist--to reproduce itself before it dies.
Nope.

To believe that, you'd also have to believe that a flower isn't beautiful because it only lasts a season, that children aren't precious because they grow up, and that the past didn't happen because it's gone. I didn't exist before I was born. I won't exist after I die. Neither of those facts has any bearing on how I live now.

You certainly can choose to be a miserable bastard who's only out for himself, but that doesn't sound like a very pleasant way to spend the time I've got. And, clearly, it's not how most people choose to live, regardless of their spiritual beliefs or absence thereof. Why in the world would an atheist or someone with a faith system that doesn't include an afterlife (there are a few) be an artist or a writer, if the only thing that mattered was accumulating wealth and having descendants? Why give to charity? Why be a soldier or a nurse, someone who lives serving others? You'd have to be crazy!

That's even a bad survival strategy. It just isn't how our species works. Spoken and symbolic language lets us communicate and cooperate outside our kin group, and even pass on knowledge to generations far in the future. We naturally live in large groups and work together to build structures, make discoveries, and do work beyond mere survival.

The idea that living in cities or towns is somehow "unnatural" is pure hippie nonsense: we do it, by our nature. We cooperate, by our nature.

Someone can choose to be selfish, but it's a choice, same as any other.
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Old Oct 1 2015, 01:31 PM   #62
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Anareth's description sounds a lot like Chalkin, who raised an excessive tithe that would have seen him and his family through the Second Pass but left his holders to starve or die under Thread within a few days.
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Old Nov 25 2015, 01:51 PM   #63
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I will throw this back at you OP. Why does there have to be religion?
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Old Nov 25 2015, 07:07 PM   #64
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Have to be? There doesn't. It's not a physical law. Most of the vast universe doesn't have religion. I don't have religion. Most of my friends don't.

On the other hand, humans seem to almost inevitably invent it, given the right circumstances. Our brains seem wired for it. Whether that's an evolutionary defect or a divine spark is up for debate; the fact that religious experiences do things to our brains isn't. Give someone the right dose of DMT and whether they come back talking about dancing with the machine elves or singing with the angels depends on what they were trained to expect.

So my point, it's very hard to believe a human civilization left feral for thousands of years would remain staunchly atheistic, non-religious, and non-superstitious as their ancestors' technology and knowledge turns to dust around them. That isn't a statement that religion is good and desirable, or evil and anathema. It's just a statement about how humans do.
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Old Nov 28 2015, 01:48 PM   #65
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Eriflor, for another view research for 'Saturdayings'.

You'll probably land up reading bits and pieces by Arthur Ransome. Just remember he didn't just write children's stories, before that he was Russian Correspondent for the Manchester Guardian.
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Old Nov 28 2015, 09:34 PM   #66
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Eriflor, for another view research for 'Saturdayings'.

You'll probably land up reading bits and pieces by Arthur Ransome. Just remember he didn't just write children's stories, before that he was Russian Correspondent for the Manchester Guardian.
Thanks P'ter. I googled Saturdayings but found nothing. Will try Arthur Ransome.
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Old Dec 2 2015, 12:51 PM   #67
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because Anne made it so?!?!
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Old Dec 2 2015, 11:02 PM   #68
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because Anne made it so?!?!
Yes, but where's the fun in that?
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Old Dec 3 2015, 03:25 PM   #69
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Yes, but where's the fun in that?
Indeed! This was quite an interesting conversation.
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Old Dec 6 2015, 04:44 PM   #70
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Yes, but where's the fun in that?
Yes but why is there a need for it? Can't there be a world were religion does not exist?
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Old Dec 6 2015, 11:55 PM   #71
Eriflor
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Default Re: Another big, unanswered question

It depends how you define religion.

I grew up in mid-20th century England where the prevailing vision of my childhood was of a stern but loving father figure (and Son) who watched over everybody's lives and dispensed rewards or punishments when they died (maybe even before).

Later I learned about other religions and decided that religion was basically aimed at getting people to treat one another decently, per the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule, or whatever the other religions prescribed. Eventually I fixed on karma, reincarnation, and a kind of continuous improvement process through several lifetimes.

I think maybe you get religions cropping up whenever civilisation reaches a low point, with many people casually killing or oppressing other people for their own benefit, and finally somebody says "This has to stop! Keep on like this, and there'll be nobody left alive to till the fields, and we'll all starve." Something like that --- I know very little about how religions get started, but even some of those have been pretty bloodthirsty.

On Pern they had the religion-neutral Charter for guidance, and at least it took them (Chalkin notwithstanding) into the Second Pass. We don't hear much about it after that, until AIVAS brought it back, but the harpers kept the relations between Hold, Craft and Weyr fairly stable with their Teaching Ballads.

I could see that there may have been a breakdown of the status quo around the middle of the first Long Interval, when Thread failed to arrive on schedule. How might the dragonriders have behaved during that time, in order to be hailed as heroes and saviours when Thread returned? I suspect they got their dragons to hunt on the Southern Continent (to avoid the main burden on the tithe) and traded transport services for the riders' essential supplies, trying to avoid conflict with the holders. The Lord Holders probably started grabbing all the land they could hold, and fighting among themselves, only to find that when Thread returned they couldn't protect all the land they'd taken over, and had to depend on the Weyrs again. Then the dragons and their riders came back like avenging angels, wiping out the forests they couldn't keep Thread-free, reasserting their ascendency. And the Harper Hall, much like in the Second Long Interval, sent out new ballads reminding the Pernese how much they owed to the Weyrs, and what their various duties were to Hold, Weyr and Craft.

That's probably as close as they got to organised religion. That leaves the magic-based notions about bad luck, curses on the crops and livestock, etc, and the odd charismatic leader taking against the harpers or dragonriders for whatever reason (morals, mandatory Search, abandonment of traditions, etc). If anyone writes the final chapter on the Pern series, I think the Abominators will be heavily involved as a pseudo-religious group.

But probably Anne just didn't want the bother of inventing a Pernese religion in addition to an entire new world with its own ecosystem. I don't think she did so in her various other series either.
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