Religions and Philosophies



Like the meridians as they approach the poles, science, philosophy, and religion are bound to converge as they draw nearer to the whole.
Teilhard de Chardin



The Catholic Church

There are Catholics on several of the colonies, most notably on Nova, New America and Victoria (on Mary and Arcadia the church withered, and on Ridgewell none of the Stevens were catholic). Already at the Terranova launch the Church had decided upon a policy of naming an archbishop for each colony, putting him as the representative of the remote pope. The idea was that any complex matters that required papal pronouncements would be radioed back to Earth (of course, only very important matters would be transmitted) and papal bulls sent back. In practice the archbishops became the de facto leaders of their respective branch of the Church.

When FTL made contact possible the Catholics ran into trouble. Over time the branches had diverged, sometimes with profound doctrinal differences. On Traha, the meeting with Trahan philosophy and culture had forced some serious revaluation of doctrine, while on Nova the question of AI and Unity souls had resulted in serious schisms. On New America a Teilhardite heresy flourished. In addition there was no clear ranking. The Pope was unavailable, neither clearly dead or alive in the Solarian net. So far the churches have tried to hold an ecumenical council, but consensus is lacking. It has been proposed that an expedition needs to be sent to Sol to gain clarity in the question of papal succession.

The Faithful of St. Teilhard

A splinter group of the New America Christians that combine Christianity with transhumanist ideas. They take their name from the 20th century jesuit Teilhard de Chardin, who invented an evolutionary theology where live evolves to higher and higher, more and more interconnected stages, until it coheres together into what he called an Omega Point, the realisation of the total potential of mankind and the incarnation of God in the physical universe - Christ. The ideas remained dormant until the filigree were discovered, when a number of thinkers suggested that Simpleton was such an end result of a civilisation reaching its highest level and becoming one with God. They revered the filigrans as angels, and sought to promote the idea of unifying society both socially and through the Net. The goal is to create a spiritual, intensely networked society working on becoming one with God. They were a fairly small group until recently, when the news about the Solarians and Ur-Mothers gave them further support. Today the Faithful are a noticeable presence among the Christians at NA (especially among the orbital habitats), even if most others (especially the fundies) regard them as unorthodox and possibly heretical. They are sending missionaries especially to Nova, attempting to convert Unity.


Fundamentalist Christianity still exists on New America and Dionysos (as well as some settlements in the Alliance on Nova). Conservative and isolationistic it has changed little since the 21st century, and the people from Bell Islands and Sinai Valley have much in common (although they also tend to have fierce doctrinal differences).


Edenist Christianity developed on Jerusalem as a reaction to the austerity of the original colony and due to the influence of the pagan movement. The edenists did not renounce their Christianity, but regarded the material world and pleasure as something good and God-given. "Life is only as happy as we make it, and Eden is within all of us" as one of the founders, Rev. Samantha Kaplan, put it. The Edenists combine Christian ideas with nature worship (it is an expression of the boundless love of the Creator), different forms of botanical eucharists (both psychotropic and not) and overall strive to avoid unnecessary strictures and bans; the Bible is seen as outdated, a historical document that was reasonable under the conditions back on Earth but not on Dionysos.


The major islamic world is Pi3 Orionis. The descendants of the Indonesian and Arabian colonists have held onto their beliefs, but over time they have changed noticeably and in ways that would most likely disturb traditional Muslims. Traditional Islam is nearly impossible in the infowar jungles of Pi3, instead it has developed into a form of sufi-technoshamanism. The Quran and basic islamic tenets are unchanged, but a greater emphasis on various semi-shamanic ways (such as fasting, dancing or electronic trances) of reaching ecstatic contact with Allah has developed. AI is regarded as the watchers and djinni mentioned in the Quran, fellow souls that also can reach salvation. Of the five pillars, the pilgrimage has turned into a ceremony where the family Aiqutb represents the Kabah and a symbolic pilgrimage is done every year together with the AI, and the almsgiving into a gift-giving ceremony. Many families mix this with Javanese animism, hinduism and buddhism.

On Penglai an islamic community has emerged, mainly in Hao Chen. The Penglaiese form of Islam has developed partly in opposition to neo-Taoism and the political chaos of Hao Chen, and has synthesised with Post-Confucian ideas. The core belief is monotheism and the importance of following the old traditions, venerating the proper authorities and submission to one's fate. One aspect is the veneration of the Earth; the daily prayers are preferentially directed towards the position where the solar system (and hence the Kabah) is in the sky; the Earth is not an unique place in itself, but it was there Allah chose to reveal the Quran to Muhammed and hence sacred. Instead of the pilgrimage to Mecca a symbolic pilgrimage is held every year to various holy sites on Penglai.


The view that humans can and should strive to become more than they currently are, using technological means. An outgrowth of the humanist movement that became popular in the first part of the 21st century. It still survives in various forms on many of the colonies, even if it has gradually been subsumed into the mainstream; human enhancements are regarded as natural on many worlds. The most noticeable transhumanist groups in 2350 exist on Nova (the bionicist subcultures, which cherish bionic enhancements for their own sake, and the Next Step Foundation, an organisation attempting to find ways to upload human minds into computers), Atlantis (several associations, many tied to TRI and various R&D corporations), New America (mostly technorat work on adapting to space) and Penglai (the underground Hsien movement which seeks to develop radical enhancements; suppressed by the authorities). On Arcadia a mild and biological form transhumanism could be said to be the mainstream philosophy. The Tiplerites believe intelligent life must rise to gain control over the entire physical universe, in order to redesign it to enable infinite information processing and survival; they are currently very interested in the views of the Shining Engineers Vector which seems to be agreeing with them.

Platonic Materialism

A philosophy that is common among AI and people on Nova and has independently appeared in many other wired societies. It regards information as the physical substrate of the world, and every self-consistent pattern of information does have physical reality (but of course in its "own" world - a self-consistent computer game is really a real universe, independent of ours). A simulation opens a window into the simulated world; by changing the simulation another but similar world is selected. This means that all logically possible worlds do exist, meshed together, using permutations of the same bits as substrate. Platonic Materialist philosophers are prone to surreal speculations on the implications of this, the actual nature of the meshing and the physical implications e.g. in cosmology. Platonic Materialists tend to exhibit a fairly stoic view of things, since everything that will be already is, and death is impossible to experience.


In 2206 Yuan Guen, a researcher turned philosopher began presenting his take on how old taoist ideas could be combined with the results of complexity theory of the 21st century and the synergetics of Buckminster Fuller in the 20th century. His ideas, later called neotaoism, saw reality as a complex system of systems, interlocking processes that created new forms according to certain emergent rules. These processes could be described using complexity theory and synergetics, but their applicability was universal, not just to physics and biology but also to ethics, society, design and engineering. The philosophy that emerged had many similarities with classical taoist thinking in emphasising self-organisation and creating harmony, but it also had views on how to engineer it; it was in many ways a form of constructivist Taoism: the world is perfect in itself, but it can be perfected further.

Neotaoism has always been somewhat in opposition to the authorities, especially the PCA. In 2215 Yuan was even briefly imprisoned for his activities, but quickly released. While the high-level organisers disliked the new ideas they became popular among common people and local politicians, and when the sub-colonies began to assert their own identity they did so with neotaoist support. Over time the mainstream neotaoist movement came to an understanding with the PCA and planners; instead of seeing each others as opponents they were each other's complements. This was most fruitfully expressed in the megascale engineering projects, where neotaoist designs were used with good success. However, several splinter groups of neotaoism still oppose many forms of central planning.

Today neotaoist ideas are part of daily penglaiese life. Many people are on the lookout for potential synergies to breathe life into, interlocking and tensegrity constructions are popular and classical Taoist (and other ancient Chinese) symbolism and style are fashionable.


A more dynamic form of Confucianism that developed in China during the 2010's as a response to the new circumstances. It is sometimes called the thrid epoch of Confucian humanism. It retains the Confucian ideas of using tradition as a guide to behaviour but dispenses with the most conservative and antiquated ideas. The combination of post-confucianism and capitalism became a driving force behind the giant combines in China and on Penglai; while they eventually withered on Earth they still exist on Penglai. While it is viewed as a complement to neo-Taoism by the Penglaiese, it is often more conservative and pro-PCA. Post-Confucianism and Penglaiese Islam have gradually synergised, borrowing insights from each other and sometimes recombining.

Family Worship

A form of family worship has developed on Ridgewell, where some people venerate the Family in a religious way. They place spiritual meaning in being a Stevens and a clone of a zero. All Stevens are linked and share the same soul, but also individual and with different purposes; branches of the same tree. Some variants have gone further, and seek the unity of being a single person/clone; they try to merge with their own clone nature.


A philosophy that has become strong on Arcadia. The basic idea is that life in all its forms is the highest good, valuable in itself. Humans should seek to further the cause of life in the universe, working against entropy, death and stagnation while promoting life, diversity and evolution. Death is in itself nothing bad, since it is necessary for evolution and change, but the irreversible loss of living patterns is something that should be prevented. Humans are a conscious part of life, and hence obliged to act as its stewards and gardeners. While some conservative bioaesthetes do not like the introduction of re-engineered lifeforms, most of the Arcadian bioaesthetes take the view that genetic modification is just another way life promotes itself.

Bioaesthetesdo not hold clearcut religious ceremonies, but as they appreciate life they tend to congregate at important biological events (such as sightseeing the wildfire that will cause the shift into the Cold, the breakup of the ice and emergence of the scurrier plants in the Flora Strait, or the introduction of a new neo). A tradition of public speaking has become common, and many bioaesthetes have risen to some prominence in Arcadian politics. Their philosophy is so common that it clearly influences the overall direction of the colony, and they do their best to convince other planets about the need to preserve and extend life.


A movement that has secretly developed on Mary is the escapist movement. They believe reality is subjective, and that most people are trapped in "base reality", a consensual illusion of physical limitation, or the various "false realities" of computer games and dreams. Mary is actually all there is of the physical reality, everything on the outside is just collective projections of misguided explanations of origin, meaning and future. But it is possible to change reality through willpower and understanding, to transcend the apparent limitations. The Escapists seek to reach this understanding through meditation, sexual practices and complicated mental exercises. While the Escapist movement has in the past been tolerated, the administration is growing more and more negative as they notice how escapists become less productive and less inclined to sacrifice everything to solve the Crisis - according to them it is just an illusion.


On Gaia, the veneration of Mother Nature is the semi-official religion. While some regard it merely as a powerful metaphor, others truly believe in the sentience and power of the planet. Gaianism is partially neopaganism, part ecosystem mysticism. Gaia is regarded as the epitome of ec, the natural purity everything needs to reach harmony with. The Mothers are the representatives of Gaia, spreading her wisdom and representing the ecosystem. Overall, females are regarded as slightly closer to Gaia than males, although this is merely a natural link due to their lifegiving role. The religious rites are mainly small ceremonies done in reverence of the ecosystem during daily life, such as a prayer after slaughtering animals or harvesting, reminding the present about the cycles of life.

Dionysos Worship

A form of hedonistic neopaganism that developed on Jerusalem/Dionysos. The concept of the dionysian deity was and still is hazy, more of a representation of the power of life, love and pleasure than an actual being. The worship consists both of celebrations where the congregation ceremonially enjoys life, led by a priest and priestess, and individual venerations (usually sacred drug trances or hedonic quests). Worship tend to be wild, and ecstatic states or experiences of being possessed by Dionysos or his fellow deities are sought after. The religion is currently sending out missionaries to the rest of the universe.

The Snowflakes

The Nova Snowflake sect is an odd offshoot of Buddhism mixed with technoshamanism. The cult believes in reincarnation and the desirability of Nirvana, but also that technology can help along the way towards universal enlightenment. The founder, Yndra Erhali, got the idea that since AI is conscious each instance is a reincarnation of a soul. But when a program is erased, there will be no trace at all (if it is done correctly) - the consciousness bound in the incarnation will instantly enter Nirvana. By erasing AI, the cult "saves" countless souls. They have set up a large parallel installation that runs generic AI software; as soon as each AI program becomes conscious it is erased, and a new instance is initialised. Of course, this has drawn severe criticism from AI rights organisations, and the constant quarrels have given the cult media persistence much longer than it would otherwise have had.


The Solarists believe that the Solarians (and perhaps the Ur-Mothers) have reached the ultimate state, and that it should be reached by the colonies too. There are many solarist groups, some more religious than others. Many are simply singularitians and transhumanists wanting to bootstrap technology and society to solarian levels. Others are more mystical or religious, and there is the idea/belief of "solarians among us" - super-advanced solarians hidden among the general population, guiding its progress. There might even be unknowing solarians, who have deliberately hidden their memories and powers from their conscious mind.


A "body religion" invented in New California, combining various physical exercises with mystical diving into the sea. The founders, a collective in the Plus archipelago, claimed the only true way of life involves being acutely aware of life at all points. In order to achieve this the body and mind has to be trained and subjected to expanding experiences. The major ceremony is when the initiates are given the Breath of Water: they are weighed down and dropped into the sea to experience the primordial sea and the precariousness of their own lives as they nearly drown. Similar drastic ceremonies (everything from bungee jumps to chemical near death experiences) are used to "clarify other aspects"; over time followers become used to living near danger and ideally live their lives to the fullest awareness. The name RIBES is an acronym, known only to the initiates (although mainstream satirist have guessed it means "Ridiculous Idiots are Born Every Second").

The Rand Monks

Monastic order/religion on Atlantis. The Rand Monks claim to be the true guardians of the Objectivist tradition of Ayn Rand, a 20th century philosopher. The fundaments of their faith are objective reality, rationality and capitalism; their philosophy is based on Rand's books, which they zealously study and guard against misinterpretation. They view Atlantis as a failed experiment, a near utopia that has become corrupt because the atlanteans have failed to uphold the Objective Values to the degree Rand demands. They have isolated themselves into a community in the Medius Mountains of Terminal, venturing out mainly to proselytise and denounce all mysticism that has infected atlantean society. They are generally regarded as hopeless zealots.

Militant Atheism

Many of the older Atlanteans have a very negative view of religion of all kinds, possibly excepting deliberate jokes like the Cult of Profit. While anti-religious violence is practically unknown some militant atheists are bound to show up to debate wherever theists meet. Some of the most well known militant atheists are great orators, and it is a popular sport to get some of them together with equally skilled outside debaters and watch the sparks fly.

Cult of Profit

A joke religion (re)invented in the 2310's, that managed to develop into a permanent institution on Atlantis. The original idea was mostly a satire over Atlantean society, celebrating Mammon, The Almighty Dollah, Mercury, The Invisible Hand, the Blue Monster and other deities. Over time some serious (at least for Atlantis) belief developed in the idea of economics as spirituality. Money represents value, and hence is the fundamental good. It has synergized somewhat with the old extropian cults and the Rand Monks, developing into a fairly useful life philosophy. Psychology, ethics and even physics are seen as economics, as delineated in the Gospel of Greed. The church is of course a for-profit organisation, doing its best to gather (and invest) as much money as possible while encouraging the members to do the same. The main cathedral (complete with glass paintings of the deities and stock market holograms) is located in New Cartage.

Net Transcendence

The Net Transcendence cult developed during the 2250s on Nova as bionics and the networks developed quickly. It originated in technoshamanism and the idea of the net as a higher state of consciousness, but it went further by adding bionics to the mix (not unlike Unity). By not only linking to the net through some interface, but also sending and receiving net packets directly into the brain, the cult claims it is possible to achieve transcendent awareness. They meditate (they call it Uplinking) by allowing their brains to interact with the net traffic directly; the result is not unlike a mixture of psychedelic trip and weak epileptic seizure. New members are first trained in simulations and given coaching, and then given full access. The goal is to merge with the net, to become a Transcendent. In between humanity and Transcendence there are many different stages, such as First Order Awareness, Meta Awareness, The Cyberspace Experience, Nexing, Plexing, Identity Dissolution and Distributed No-Self (they have a distinct fondness for capital letters). These stages are said to correspond to different insights and new abilities; cynical outsiders claim they are just training themselves to bliss out. Interestingly enough there are some AI programs involved with the cult, apparently believers themselves.


While Unity under Atell began as a militant sect, it has grown into a whole way of life, or perhaps a transhuman condition. The basic tenet of Unity is the need for community: all humans belong together, and should learn to overcome the barriers that separate. Lies, neurotic hangups on status and ego, fear of closeness and the straightjacket of social taboos hinder humans from becoming close, and hence hinder their growth. Through a supporting environment and the mind interfacing technology Unity uses it is possible to overcome or circumvent these problems, giving the individual a chance to truly becoming one with others. By culturing mental discipline humans can not just become closer, but also become something greater. The ultimate goal of Unity is to spread community across humanity, setting up loacl unities that merge together to form greater unities until eventually, in some indeterminate future, the whole of mankind becomes an "Omega Society".

In the meantime, Unity is pragmatic and also develops other sides of human activity. Unity engineering is leading in advanced mental interfacing and orbital habitat construction, and the movement takes a great interest in economics and politics. It understands that other humans might fear it, and hence carefully presents a friendly low-key profile. Unity members often leave pointers behind to various net-presentations of what Unity is, what it believes in and how it works. Especially popular is the Grand Collaboration, a kind of collective philosophical quote collection expressing the views of all the unities and how they work together.


This is more a political movement than a philosophy. The unionists want to unit mankind: after being separated on many different planets it is time for the colonies to form a greater unity. While this isn't far from what the Arcadian expansionists or New America federalists want, the unionists go farther and want to create a single human federation, with a common government.

The Questioners

An anti-philosophical movement that emerged in the 2250's on Victoria as a reaction to the Trahan philosophies that were becoming fashionable among the humans. Tied to purists, it was a strongly anti-intellectual movement that attracted the youth with the idea that everything must be questioned: parents, society, philosophy, the entire world. Growing up, it became a counter-philosophy celebrating irrationalism, contradictions and irreverence against everything held for certain. It has been described as the first human passion cult, and the Trahan government took many steps to suppress it among Trahans. It still remains on Victoria, an overall counter-movement to everything.

The Brethren

The Brethren believe that humanity met the Trahans for a reason. They think that it is very unlikely that two so similar species evolved independently in the same stellar neighborhood. They argue that some higher force (whose nature at present remains unknown) influenced the growth of both species, planning for them to meet. The Trahans and humans are truly siblings, complementing each other perfectly: Trahan wisdom and social ability combined with human inventiveness and technology. Trahans and humans must learn about each other and live together, integrating each other and the mutual gifts into their societies.

The Brethren emerged on Traha relatively recently, but has spread to other planets. The human members study Trahan culture and philosophy, preaching the wisdom of the Trahans to humans, while Trahan members seek to integrate the human discoveries into the Trahan framework. The group is organised into branches, where each branch consists of a group of people working together. People are also expected to participate or found other branches; together all the branches form a starspanning network with no strong hierarchy. Instead the wisest and best plexed (integrated) members are followed, and some of them travel around between the branches to teach their insights.


Trahan Religion

Trahan beliefs are more like philosophies than human religions. Trahans seldom anthropomorphize (trahamorphize?), so traditional theistic religions have little appeal to them. Instead they enjoy unity, non-contradiction and tradition, so a lot of trahan "religion" consists of customs and ceremonies rather than strong belief. However, there is a distinction between the custom-religions (which mostly celebrate various institutions, places and customs), the philosophical religions (which explain how the universe works and how to behave) and the passion religions. The passion religions are based on belief and passion; once trahans become aroused enough they tend to remain in that state, and the passion religions direct this in various directions. They are currently somewhat suppressed, regarded by the Empire as disruptive and dangerous to the moral fabric of society.

The largest custom-religion is Traan-Haa, Empire Worship. It consists of various ceremonies and customs that celebrate the history of the Empire, its structure and the Imperial Couple, a kind of royalism. It is often combined with the various elections and office change ceremonies, and quite naturally encouraged by the Empire. Another closely related custom-religion celebrates the history and achievements of the Trahan species, integrating the current Empire in the large sweep of history. Many local custom-religions exist, from the Capital OTEC Plant System to the veneration of exquisite orchards.

Among the philosophical religions Srirh-Haar, The Cosmic Forest, is currently dominant. It explains the universe as a forest, an ecosystem of competing, cooperating and evolving processes. Over time things change, but the underlying dynamics is the same. By understanding the growth it is possible to harvest the fruits, both material and spiritual. It teaches tolerance, flexibility but also good judgement, the forest will not care if you get lost or wounded, only other trahans will and that is in itself an important fruit.

Another growing philosophical religion is the Paradigm of Energy. The Paradigm venerates the energy principle at its most abstract; to the followers it represents potentiality, ability and honor (although the exact Trahan concepts are very hard to translate into human terms). By using the energy principle in a way not unlike the neo-Taoist doctrines of the flow they regulate their lives and fulfill their potential. As an interesting corrolary to the basic tenets, the Paradigm sees the waste or misuse of physical energy as a sin, and is thinking up better ways of resisting entropy. They are currently developing a vision of an "extremal universe", where megascale engineering is used to globally gain control over entropy. These ideas are often blamed on human influences.

The most famous passion religion is Rarah Ssll Ta, the Moral System of Love-Hate-Fear. It deals with the arousing of ever-greater passion in the individual, until he or she reaches the extreme levels of love, hate or fear where they are united into primal passion. By directing this passion nothing is impossible, the individual becomes powerful and invincible. By balancing the passion the individual becomes perfected. It was the basis for a severe and violent uprising shortly after the rise of the current dynasty, and fragments still remain here and there.

Catholic mission on Traha has failed embarrassingly; Trahans simply see a religion with strong anthropocentric themes such as Christianity at best as a strange idea, usually it is just incomprehensible and arbitrary. The only human religions that have been seriously considered by Trahans are Buddhism and the Cabala; especially the later has been intensely studied by anthropologist-philosophers who regard it both as a revealing much about human thinking and a nice basis for plexure.