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  1. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Epistemology Disconnect

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Wreybies, Aug 13, 2008.

    How do you tackle a concept within your story, or more to the point, within a character, when you know pretty well that it is a concept with which you have little frame of reference? I’m not talking about something that can be learned, like a skill, but something which must be felt. And the question boils down to one of epistemology. For me, anyway.

    In the story I am working on, one of my MC’s (Sol) has a strange crisis of faith. She is a girl with mental powers and mental problems. In a moment of ‘insight,’ she decides that humans who do not have powers are on the way out, and because of things and issues she has dealt with (poorly) in her past, she comes to the idea that she is an instrument of God to help speed things along.

    I am not a religious person. At all. Religion is a concept that intrigues me and baffles me, and it really does lie outside my personal, inner understanding.

    It is an epistemology in which I do not participate.

    The question is, how do I portray this idea, faithfully (no pun intended,) when religious concepts are outside my sphere of understanding. I don’t want to paint her as the typical insane religious zealot (a la Davinci Code.) That would be an injustice to her and to the idea. And I don’t want anyone to read my story and think, “Ok, some righteous religion bashing going on, or what?”

    Help?

    :confused::redface:
     
  2. Popsicle.culture
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    Popsicle.culture Member

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    Actually, I'd like to help you, but I can't. I'm currently facing the same problem myself with religious characters of my own. I've got the same outlook you have.

    So now I will read this thread religiously. (Actual pun intended.)
     
  3. DarkMaiden273
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    DarkMaiden273 Member

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    I am not religous either, but have recently found a deity which I wish was real. But to your post I have no answer either. In my book I do not have gods but at the end this creates a problem as there is religion in my book, but not really touched on so it leaves any who read in confusion which means I have to create or destroy (not literally) a religion in my book.
     
  4. SonnehLee
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    SonnehLee Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hiya Wrey!!

    The easiest way is to find someone who is involved with a religion that resembles what you're looking for, and use them as go to for whenever you have questions. That will give you the best understanding of what you want, which, in turn, will help you portray your idea the way you wish it be portrayed.

    As a pretty religious person (although I like to think that I'm not religious, just spiritual), I'd be happy to give whatever insight I can.
     
  5. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    This is something which I do all the time but strangely I never seem to have much trouble with it. :/ I guess I've just become so used to putting myself in other people's heads, and trying to see things from their views (no matter how abhorrent or contrary to my own), that it comes more easily and I take it for granted that not everybody can do this.

    I'd advise you to put yourself in your character's head, but I imagine you already have! So like the others I haven't really any advice. :( I guess Emily...'s suggestion is best, though it won't always be possible to find somebody with the viewpoint one needs.
     
  6. CDRW
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    CDRW Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hmm. I might be able to help. You could say I speak both languages. The problem is they don't always translate, if you know what I mean.

    I think that there are a couple of big reasons that people have a hard time understanding someone who is religious. The first is that the religion doesn't always make sense, and someone who is inherently logical has a very hard time accepting that some thing. The other is that there are some religions that are completely logical, but they base that logic off of a different starting point. Someone who isn't religious usually wants a person who is to be able to explain every single detail of how that works with the way that person sees the world works, and the religious person can't always answer those questions. Sometimes he can't answer because there isn't enough information to put the entire picture together, sometimes it's just because that person hasn't studied that question yet.

    I would guess that the way to do it is to follow the character's train of logic, trying not to replace it with your own. It requires a suspension of disbelief, just like when reading.

    Did that help at all?
     
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  7. CDRW
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    CDRW Contributing Member Contributor

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    A religious person accepts different sources of information as legitimate.
     
  8. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I have already written a great deal of this portion of my character’s inner workings. It becomes an important plot device at one point in my story. It is the crisis moment which separates my MC’s from the other people in the story. Without going into detail, it is a turning point in the story. Anyway…

    Once the initial flurry of writing this newest part of my story started to calm down, I went back and re-read and was concerned over how this was changing the portrayal of Sol. Maybe, I’m just feeling protective of my character. She’s been with me for ages and I love her dearly. Her issues and how to come to a resolution for her are important to me, and of course, to the story. Sorry, I’m, ramblinking….
     
  9. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Wrey,

    My wife is an evangelical Christian while I am an agnostic. I think I have a pretty strong handle on the issues you are wrestling with.

    Religion, by its very nature, is irrational, i.e. it always comes down to "faith", without any need for proof. A religious person can easily justify almost any radical behavior when the basis for such acts is simply that the believer has no doubt about the authority for the actions.

    For example, religious suicide bombers are NOT insane. They fully understand the consequences of their actions, but the strength of their belief system provides authority for the act. Such authority, because it derives from a supreme being, transcends all secular authority. Hence, a perfectly sane person engages in behavior that secular people would condemn as irrational or perhaps not sane. History is full of such examples...crusades, witch burnings, mass suicides, etc.

    As a writer, you only need to provide for a strong "faith" in your MC. Since "faith" is already an irrational concept, it should be easy to evolve her genuine belief into actions that rely on "faith" as justification.

    Now, for those of you who are strong believers in God . . . I'll say the same thing to you that I say to my wife. The term "irrational" is NOT a condemnation of your faith. Quite the contrary. Belief in God demands "faith" and such unconditional belief is entirely consistent with the tenants of most religions. It is this unprovable "faith" that proves your relationship with your God. Without "faith", you have no religion . . . and "faith" is not conditioned by any basis of fact, hence it is irrational. If it was "rational" and based on "proof", then it would no longer be "faith", it would be "fact".
     
  10. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    Never mind....

    too hot a topic for me to entertain ... I'll you all try to figger it out your own way.
     
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