[LMB] Belief: Was What makes a character irredeemable?

Beatrice Otter beatrice_otter at zoho.com
Wed Jul 31 19:04:02 BST 2019

---- On Wed, 31 Jul 2019 10:40:28 -0700 Joel Polowin <jpolowin at hotmail.com> wrote ----
Beatrice Otter <mailto:beatrice_otter at zoho.com> 
> Yeah, but with trained animals and deceitful temple grooms, you could 
> fake the funeral miracle easily.  Christians have always believed 
> that God and/or saints come to some Christians in visions and dreams; 
> what is to stop people in the 5GU from being just as skeptical about 
> claims of visions as people in our world can be? 
*Everyone* gets that little miracle, highly publicly.  Including in the 
little towns where everyone knows everyone and the local divine is -- 
more or less -- just another person in the community.  It would take 
a remarkable amount of cynicism to believe that they're all faked. 
I've no doubt that there would be a few such people, because cynicism 
knows few bounds, but it seems to me that they'd be considered to be 
in the same territory in the 5GU that flat-earthers are in ours. 

Beatrice Otter:

I am a Christian with a very deep faith.  I believe that miracles happen.  I believe that God speaks to people.  That does not, however, make me so credulous that I take everybody who claims to have had a miracle or a vision at faith value, because if nothing else I know how easy it is to delude yourself.  And I'm pretty sure that if I lived in the 5GU, I would be fairly skeptical of the funeral miracle.  Not because I believed that the local Temple was corrupt and faking it, but simply because animals are weird and unpredictable and most of the things that get held up in the books as a sign of which god took the soul are things that the animal in question might plausibly do without any guidance from the god at all.  Also animals that get used often in such things would easily pick up the habit of knowing what they're supposed to do whether or not the god is guiding them.  And did you know that many drug dogs (even highly trained ones) actually, when tested, alert more based on "what does my handler want me to do" than what they smell; it isn't that the handler is consciously cuing the dog to alert, but the dog knows their handler well enough to know what the handler wants without being cued.  Not to mention we're told of places where they use, for example, fish in tanks, and interpret their swimming, and ... again, people are REALLY good at misinterpreting things to fit what they want to believe *without even realizing that's what they're doing*.  I don't have to spend any time at all to come up with hundreds of plausible alternate interpretations that require no malice or deceit on anyone's part.  I am not a terribly cynical person, and I believe in miracles and deus ex machina not just in fantasy novels, but in real life.  If I think I would be skeptical about the funeral miracle if living in the 5GU, there are probably a decent number of people in-universe who are just as skeptical.

We readers know that such miracles are real, because we have had multiple different perspectives on such miracles from people of extraordinary spiritual perception: saints, sorcerers, shamans.  And because the funeral miracles we've seen in most detail are the ones that are surprising, and in which the gods intervene most blatantly.  But things like Fafa and Ingrey's weirding voice are not normal; neither is death magic and the animals going to someone who just hosted a different miracle.  Most people probably never see such a great event at a funeral, or only occasionally.  At most funerals, we are told, everything goes off like clockwork and there are no surprises.  And most people are not saints, sorcerers, or shamans, and don't have their added perception of the spiritual aspects of the miracle.

On the other hand, I live in a post-Enlightenment time in which I am also used to looking for natural phenomena to explain surprising things, as well as miracles, and the in-universe people don't have that intellectual framework.

Beatrice Otter

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