1. Enyo
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    Enyo Member

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    Fantasy vs. religion?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Enyo, Sep 17, 2015.

    Disclaimer: I’m an atheist and my fictional world is basically a copy of Earth, but without distinct fantasy elements like Lord of the Rings.

    I wanted to ask where the line between straight fantasy and spiritual/religious experiences is. Because I do not believe in gods or the supernatural, it’s very hard for me to see the line because events that are deemed to be miracles by certain traditions and the magical stuff that happens in fantasy novels. Spirituality and faith are important to my character, and I want her to experience very mild things that pop up in certain religions, but I’m not a fan of the fantasy genre and don’t want my story to have that feeling. Does anyone have suggestions to address this? I’m thinking if I steal things that are extremely close to a real faith, it will be more obvious. Thanks.
     
  2. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    If the religious experiences are her perceptions or explanations, and don't have tangible, physical proof underpinning them in your world, then I think that's no different than the real world. People have various religious views and experiences, but none of them can be proven empirically.

    On the other hand, if the religious experience has an objective reality, whereby it can be demonstrated that her religious beliefs and the corresponding supernatural forces are in fact real, you've crossed over into fantasy.
     
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  3. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    The only difference between fantasy and religion is how widely accepted the belief is.
    Today stories about Thor are fantasy because most people have converted to Christianity. However, were we in Norway in 900 AD tales of Thor would fall under religion.
     
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  4. Enyo
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    Enyo Member

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    How sad. lol I rather liked those elements, but I see they are going to have to go.
     
  5. Aled James Taylor
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    Aled James Taylor Contributing Member Contributor

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    Religious/spiritual experiences seem to be misinterpretations of emotions, where someone assumes the feeling they have has a supernatural origin (I feel the spirit of the Lord moving in this place). Misinterpretation of unusual events or the misunderstanding of events can lead someone to believe that a supernatural event has occurred. The setting influences people to think in a way consistent with that context, so if your character is taking part in a religious event and has a strange feeling, she could easily think that spirits are at work. Religious faith can have nothing to do with such personal experiences and rely instead on the belief that supernatural events have occurred to other people long ago, and people today should learn the lessons they supposedly teach.
     
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  6. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I think you're overthinking this. Having conventional religious experience in an otherwise non-fantasy novel is not going to make it fantasy, no matter how large or small the religions at issue.
     
  7. Enyo
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    Enyo Member

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    The issue is that it's a shared experience with someone who is a non-believer.
     
  8. Aled James Taylor
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    Aled James Taylor Contributing Member Contributor

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    Could you elaborate?
     
  9. Enyo
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    Enyo Member

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    If someone who does not believe as you do confirms they saw/heard/felt the same things you did, how can that be seen as a misinterpretation or misunderstanding of anything? If I’m in church with someone, and they see the pastor sprout angel wings and I can also see them as plain as day despite not believing in angels, it seems that would be confirmation of a “spiritual/religious experience”, not the negation of it.

    I wanted my MC to experience something because it changes her view of a lot of things. The mythos approach doesn’t really work because it’s more philosophical than anything else. Kind of like Buddhism. It has some supernatural elements, but not like we see in Abrahamic religions.
     
  10. Aled James Taylor
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    Aled James Taylor Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you have someone actually sprouting wings, or anything like that, your story would be fantasy. Nothing like that would ever happen in reality. Different people can misunderstand or miss-perceive in the same way if they have a similar frame of mind. If someone tells a ghost story, even someone who doesn't believe in ghosts may be suspicious of a strangely shaped shadow. You could have your character being suddenly overcome with intense emotion for no apparent reason, and this be interpreted as divine intervention of some sort (in reality: thoughts and emotions forming a self-sustaining loop). Another character could say, "That happened to me too, it's . . . " This would be sufficient to confirm spiritual/religious experience.
     
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  11. Flying Geese
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    Flying Geese Contributing Member

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    @Enyo you are treating religion as if it is a real thing.

    There is no actual difference between the Jutsu skills in Naruto, the Ki in DBZ and the miracles performed by Jesus. They are all things someone made up. Geocentrism used to be a fact. Until everyone stopped believing it. No amount of people believing the earth was the center of the universe could make that lie a truth.

    When I was a boy, I wanted so badly to be able to do the Kamehameha. I believed it could be done by concentrating (like they said in the show). But for all my intense concentration I never shot a single beam out of my hand.

    All that said, your first responsibility as an atheist author (before you begin writing) is to address religion factually — religion and fantasy are cut of the same cloth. The only difference, as someone said above, is that some people actually believe certain fantasies to be true. If enough of these people start to believe it, then the fantasy becomes a religion. A religion is a fantasy that won an oscar.

    In your story, you can choose to make the supernatural real or a farce. Feel free to take from the real life stories handed down to us from the past societies. You would be surprised at how many religions there were.
     
  12. Enyo
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    What in the world is that? I ask because I live in Hawaii and Kamehameha I united these islands, so the concept of being related to shooting some sort of beam is odd.

    Anyway, thanks everyone for your input. The sections I wrote have already been cut. :)
     
  13. Flying Geese
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    Flying Geese Contributing Member

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    @Enyo Kamehameha is like one of the most iconic attacks in Anime/cartoon history. Storytellers take the world around them and mold it into something more interesting and meaningful. That's how I see it. Anyway



    The Kamehameha is the blue beam shot by the guy who turns red.
     
  14. Enyo
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    Enyo Member

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    I was able to get about halfway through before the flashing lights and sound started to stress me out too much to continue. I'll assume by your enthusiasm that it’s an impressive move in the anime community. I just find it strange they named a light beam attack after a Hawaiian man who lived in the early 1800’s. Maybe someone on the creative staff was from here and tossed it in just cuz he could.
     
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