'Religion is the opiate of the masses' said someone. Probably Karl Marx.
He said that sort of thing. But why would you want to be religious?
I can think of a few excellent reasons.Life after death
Many religions ofter some sort of life after death,*whether it be called heaven, nirvana or something
completely different. Some of these (for example, Jehova's Witnesses*)
believe that only members of their particular group will get to heaven. They
don't seem to make clear what happens otherwise.*Probably eternal
damnation, or perhaps we evaporate into a whiff of hydrogen, ozone and carbon
monoxide.Better life after this one
Some religions claim that everyone gets reincarnated, and there is some
evidence to support this. However, if you're a good boy or girl, then you
should be higher up on the evolutionary ladder than, say, Adolf Hitler or
someone of that ilk. Personally, I think I would find life as a sheep rather
relaxing... or at least until the last day.Perks of the job
If you aren't just a lay member of the church, then you should have some
advantages over everyone else. The main one in the Roman Catholic church
seems to be money. If you can rise to the top of the ladder, a rich life
is ahead of you. But other religions bestow other advantages upon their
clerics. In some alternative*
religions, the founder claims to be in contact with aliens hiding behind
Hale-Bopp*. But, of course, there
is one rank higher... the deity.The Deity
Becoming a deity is rather difficult, and generally you either created the
universe, or are a direct-line descendant of one. But, if you become one,
then the powers are enormous.
- Immortality. Enough said.
Magic Powers, such as thunderbolts, summoning minions or raising people
from the dead, turning a packed lunch into a buffet for five thousand, or
getting pissed on water.
Judgement Day. If you ain't been good, you ain't getting in.
Free love. Tell anyone you're a god, and you'll be very busy indeed.
(in essence, anything you want.)
Having said that, you do need to keep a watch on people, they do have a
perculiar tendency to go worshipping other things, like gold bulls or
Designing your religion
So, you want to found a religion. Take our easy step-by-step guide to DIY
The Holy Book
Almost all religions have one or more holy books. So why don't you? Here
are a number of suggestions for what to include.
- Instructions. Every Holy Book has instructions, from God to his
creations. Perhaps you could use the American Constitution, or a list of
school rules. Maybe byelaws for Dunston Wittering, or an entire book
of quotations. Make sure your instructions are completely ambiguous. This
leads to differing fractions who interpret your words in different ways,
leading to bloody wars in your name. Survival of the fittest, I suppose.
Make sure somewhere in here you include sacrifices to you, like vast
mountains of food, high-tech computer equipment or
naked virgins chained at the mouth of your cave.
Fables and myths. From the Good Samaritan to the hare and the tortoise, fables
have always been a sly way of making people think about what they are
doing. The first myth to find is the story of the creation, making sure that
the language is such that the people understand. God didn't put E=mc2
in Genesis for a very good reason.
Geneologies. All the readers will want to know what relationship Urban
is to Septimus.*
The usual method is to say something really longwinded like:
'When Jared was 162, he has a son, Enoch, and then lived another 800
years. He had other children and died at the age of 962.'*
and then repeat it for an entire chapter. These are fantasically good ways
of padding out your Good Book so that it doesn't look like some insignificant
little 32 page book such as 'Care for your weasel'.
Histories. People learn the hard way, from past mistakes. By reading of
your wrath against disbelievers, they will be much more loyal. Also,
you can tell them of your greatest battles against evil, how you guided your
followers through hard times.
Rites, Rituals and Places of Worship
needs somewhere to worship, whether it be a towel or other large cloth
orientated correctly for portable worship, a fabulous towering
Victorian building, or a large slab of stone lit only by flickering flames.
This obviously depends on your tastes, and the wealth of your religion.
Your rites and rituals are to be performed there, and a certain amount of
practicality must also come into consideration. If you are planning large
numbers of animal* sacrifices,
carpets are a Bad Idea. Try an easy-clean flooring, like tiles, or maybe
an outdoor site, where the blood stains will be removed slowly by weathering
and will act as a reminder of your influence.
Lots of religions use chanting in their rituals, whether that be a beautiful
soothing Gregorian chant, or something intended to raise the dead for a
night on the town. It can be used to encourage mass participation, creating
a huge din in order to make non-believers cower before your temple.
While an afterlife is certainly not mandatory, it can certainly serve as an
inspiration to believers. And an alternative afterlife can serve as
a disincentive to people who would incur your wrath. I'll use the terms
Heaven and Hell, you might use others, but these are in common usage.
The religions of the world can't seem to get straight what Heaven and
Hell are like. I believe that Eskimos think Hell is freezing cold*
, and others have conclusively proven that Heaven [at exactly 525oC]
is hotter than Hell [at no more than 445oC].
So you can design
your own. Perhaps your version of Hell should be toasty-hot, single-sex, or
the place where all evil spawn comes from (eg: parking tickets, 404 errors,
politicans, lawyers...). But Heaven... what can that be like? It has to be
enjoyable - after all, you are going to be there for most of the rest of
eternity. Of course, entry is rather selective. Who would you give VIP tickets
Pop stars? Your believers? Scientists and visionaries?
The rich and famous? The great and the good?
Or just the kind of people you actually want to spend eternity with?
And just what is Heaven's decor going to be like?
Boring white? Jazzy primary colours? Potted plants and chunky walls?
Perhaps you could have it as a large party - or a quiet bar on a Sunday
night, perpetually five minutes before last orders, and the drinks are free?
Of course, reincarnation doesn't have these advantages. But making your pals
demi-gods on earth, and your enemies proto-plasmic amoebia does have its
Getting your believers
A religion is only as good as its followers. You might control space and time
itself, but if you don't have believers, then you are nothing. Here are some
- Audio-visuals. Why not put on a show and dance for prospective
worshippers? The burning bush, stairways to heaven and triumphant trumpets
are all excellent displays of power. The same could be more easily achieved
with the careful application of certain hallucinogenic chemicals.
Send your son. Naturally, as Divine Ruler of the Multiverse, you are
a bit too busy to go on a recruiting drive. So, create someone who can
perform a few party tricks, heal a few people and can talk like a politican,
and you could have millions of followers.
Create some. The universe lies before you, barren. With a few
simulateous equations (with a googleplex*
of unknowns), a short push in the right direction, and a billion or so
years to fill, you can have a couple of monkeys running naked around a
nice pretty garden.
Wipe out the competition. With a few plagues of varying description,
other gods reputations will be destroyed along with their flocks.
Since these are unavailable from Sainsbury's, Tesco or even Netto, you
might have to look a bit further for biological destruction.
Breed like rabbits. The fastest growing religion in the world today
are the Mormons*. They really do believe in families.