And now for something completely different.
I tinker at writing sword and sorcery fiction. The milieu allows for some interesting thoughts about how gods and magic and mortals interact. This is a snippet about how gods, religion and magic work out. The setting is a pair of classic D&D type characters (mage and thief) in an urban fantasy world.
“What gods are in this world?” Myridian accepted a cup of coffee with a nod. “I understand that Katherine and Nightchild are shaman which would be akin to what we have in our world, being able to heal with magic, but do you have priests? Temples?”
Slim sat back, the street samurai exchanging a glance with Nightchild. “Hmmm, well, there are some people who still believe in gods, if you mean really powerful magical beings that control the universe or some crap like that. I’ve seen them on street corners screaming that the world is going to end and their god is the only one that can save everyone. I don’t know much about the idea.”
“A single god? An odd idea. We have many, each with a certain sphere of influence.”
“The monotheistic idea lost a lot of steam when magic came back.” Nightchild sipped at her coffee. “A lot of your average wageslaves will think that since I’m a shaman, I worship a god or gods or something like that, thanks to media making up all sorts of shit on how magic works. But really, I work with Cat, and Cat works with me and we usually have the same goals in mind. What Cat is exactly?” She shrugged her shoulders. “The stories have them being always here, my theory is that they are basically Platonian ideals that have manifested agency and can affect reality in ways mortals can’t on their own.”
Slim chuckled. “And there are some that worship the dragons, but we know they can be killed, so they aren’t what I’d call a god; Azatlan does this, the crazy bastards. Cults spring up all of the time, usually in some rathole where they end up killing themselves for their beliefs. How the heck do you know all of this stuff, Nyen?”
Nightchild pulled out a tablet. “Just curious, you know, like a cat. As for priests and temples, those aren’t looked upon kindly much here in Seattle or most civilized areas. A couple decades ago, when magic started to return, the ones with priests and temples and their one true gods ended up making a fair amount of earth into deadlands, when they started throwing nukes around. They were all sure that their god was coming back, but they found that their religions weren’t getting the magic that others were. That made these idiots jealous and *that* gave them the cause to be attacking each other. Good for the rest of us that sane governments flattened the countries that started the mess before the whole world went up.”
“Nukes?” Ahri looked up from wiggling a feather for a kitten’s amusement.
“Imagine a light so strong that it burns so hot that it incinerates people, so fast that it burns their shadows on walls, the few walls than can stand a blast that can pulverize near anything, and leaves in the center an area of glass so poisonous that you get near it you die because your flesh ends up dripping off your bones.” Slim shuddered. “That war scared everyone so much that pretty much no one even things of using such things anymore.”
“And this is the world we’ve been sent to. What if the demon gets something like that?” Ahri shook her head.
Myridian returned his companion’s gaze. “Then we must not fail.”
So that’s my take on why monotheistic religion fails in a world where magic comes back. This is based on the role-playing game Shadowrun (magic, automatic weapons, megacorps. (I do the pink mohawk 90s version) and a lot of other urban fantasy novels and RPGs that have magic. A lot of RPGs do their best to ignore real world religions, since idiot conservative Christians will take a fit, and they already think that Dungeons & Dragons is satanic. One notable exception is “In Nomine” where angels and demons are fighting on earth, and that can be quite a bit of fun to play.
In this fantasy world, there are no monotheistic god showing that they exist, just like in our world where none can show they exist. I do wish we did have magic. Wouldn’t rush hour be different? 😊