1. Skinnyjeans
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    Skinnyjeans New Member

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    God as the bad guy

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Skinnyjeans, May 24, 2011.

    Hi, I’m trying to gauge opinion (and incidentally make up my own mind) on representation of God as a more villainous figure in fiction.

    It is a facet as opposed to a main thrust in a story, but it does interest me personally quite a lot in theory.

    Naively, I am really not sure how controversial it is as a subject so my question is this: do people feel very strongly about this in the context of fictional work, or do they just not care?

    Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated, thanks.
     
  2. StrangerWithNoName
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    StrangerWithNoName Longobard duke

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    Well if you read Milton's paradise lost or anything by Byron you'll find out that the idea of God as villain in literature had already been explored in unsuspicious times.

    Today most of the people are open minded and unless you live in the Bible Belt it should be safe to write a novel about it.
     
  3. Skinnyjeans
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    Skinnyjeans New Member

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    Thanks Stranger,

    I wasn't proposing it as a new concept by any means, but thinking about more recent works which have provoked huge furore even though they are fictional (The Da Vinci Code springs first to mind), I confess I'm struggling to put my finger on where they cross the line from inoffensive fantasy to "attacking Christianity."

    If that makes any sense..
     
  4. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    It'll probably offend a lot of Christians if you're placing ad hominem attacks on Christ, mocking their beliefs, etc. But if you have an all-powerful diety that most of your novel's characters think is good, but who actually has a bad streak (or however), you should be fine. Every religion has a main diety or several, so having a villain god shouldn't offend anyone unless you're making specific attacks that will hit close to home to people. But if it's generic, i doubt anyone will mind. And it is a free county, so you can write whatever you want.
     
  5. StrangerWithNoName
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    StrangerWithNoName Longobard duke

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    Actually Dan Brown should just thank the Catholic Church, they made his novel, before him other more incendiary books like the Holy and the Holy Grail were ignored, so sometimes in literature it's good to annoy people... :p
     
  6. dizzyspell
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    dizzyspell Active Member

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    God was pretty mean in the Old Testament, anyway :)

    I'd read it. But I'm not exactly Christian. Most people I know would also read it, and find the premise intriguing (even though as someone pointed out, it has been done before).

    I guess, like with any bad guy, you have to take the villains motives into account as well.
    Is God just being evil for the hell of it (pun intended), or does he have a deeper motivation? If he does, that brings in a few real world philosophical themes, which could be interesting to incorporate into the text - in a non preachy way, of course.
     
  7. Brandon P.
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    Brandon P. Senior Member

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    I was just going to say this.

    Using the deity of a real and thriving religion as a villain is probably unwise anyway for obvious reasons. You'll have to wait until Christianity phases out and joins Greek and Norse mythology in the annals of dead religions before you can vilify a being billions of people worship today. However, you could create an alternate universe with a deity analogous but not identical to the Christian God.
     
  8. katica
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    katica Senior Member

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    Agreed. And this is exactly what I am already doing.

    In a novel I am writing, I made up a male god of light and purity and he's the most insane and evil character in my novel. God is the enemy, but I'm avoiding actually attacking any real world religion because he's not a real god that anyone believes in.

    And to make things even more confusing, I must also add that I am Christian(ish) and still writing this. XD

    If you want to explore religious themes, its usually a lot less offensive if you do so in a fantasy setting and create a new religion and just add elements of real world religion or real world gods to it while making it your own. I actually do this in my writing a lot. =)

    Good luck.
     
  9. aimi_aiko
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    aimi_aiko Contributing Member

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    After reading your question, I was going to tell you about the storyline of Paradise Lost by John Milton, but it seems as though someone already beat me to it. But look at it this way, in Paradise Lost, Satan is a protagonist, or an anti-hero in the story, when in other stories (as well as the bible, etc.) he is known as the antangonist, or the bad guy.

    As StrangerWithNoName said, many people in today's society are a lot more open minded when it comes to this subject. It should be a safe subject to write about.
     
  10. m5roberts
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    m5roberts Member

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    If you want to know how the Christian Community will react, I suggest googling something like "The Christian Response to the His Dark Materials Trilogy". Sounds like your concept is similar.
     
  11. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    I would be careful. To do something like this, I think you need to know the Bible inside and out. Otherwise, it is not the "common-people's God" so to speak that you are writing about (didn't mean to be offensive if you're of a different religion, I'm using it as an example). Think about Dan Brown. I have never read any of his books, but from what I have heard, he makes good arguments, fictional, but nevertheless good, that go against what the Bible has been preaching. You need to have a good, quality idea. It can obviously work. It's done in music very well. You need to write what you know, though.
     
  12. Cerrus
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    Cerrus Senior Member

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    Hmmm, well that wouldn't make much sense that God is evil. I mean if he was evil, why don't he just destroy everyone? He's God! And God in the Old Testament was not mean, the Israelites deserved what was coming to them.
     
  13. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    This is fictional writing...anything is possible. But I do agree it has to be done very carefully.
     
  14. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    You do run into problems making God into a character. I mean all human motivations are essentially beneath him. He does what he does and should not be questioned - Book of Job, and according to Christianity he is love.

    If you try to give him a character trait you actually change his definition. But there are other evil gods in mythology, Loki etc, and because they are conceived in ways that give them some human attributes, they can be used as characters.

    As for upsetting Christians - the ones who follow the bible will turn the other cheek.

    Cheers.
     
  15. astrostu
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    astrostu Member

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    I read a story once where God was part of a group of nearly omnipotent beings but had gained enough power to cast the others into some sort of holding area, setting himself up as the only deity. And then having everyone worship him, etc. It was only in an ancient book that the true story was laid out and a very small group of people were trying to free the others while the main opponents were, of course, the religious folks in Christianity. It was quite an interesting twist. (The god didn't intervene because he considered it beneath him, not worth his trouble, etc., the same way most all-powerful arrogant villains are portrayed otherwise you have no story.)

    I think, personally, the God of the Judeo-Christian bible shoes quite a lot of un-Godlike characteristics where he's cruel, vengeful, arrogant, and has a personality disorder (inferiority complex) that causes him to demand worship. That said, I think if you use those as points to help justify what you're going for, you'll be more successful.
     
  16. PrestontheMuse
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    PrestontheMuse New Member

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    Definitely not odd at all. You can say that anyone is the bad guy when you look at something from the right point of view. I'd say go for it if you can play it off correctly. It could turn out to be very interesting. Plus, controversy can spark some interesting conversations!
     
  17. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I'm fascinated that the only specific group cited for possible reactions are Christians. An Iranian court sentenced (in absentia) Salman Rushdee to death for his book (the sentence has yet to be carried out). Now, that's what I call a controversy. Christians? Some letters to the editor, some fire-and-brimstone sermons from overwrought preachers...might even drive sales up a bit (as Stranger suggests).

    Okay, more seriously...my suggestion would be to gain a better understanding of your own beliefs before you decide what to write. This is not to say that you need to believe that God is evil in order to portray him as such. But you do need to know where you stand. And, you need to understand your own reasons for wanting to portray him as evil. What kind of reaction are you looking to generate from the reader?
     
  18. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I've read two of Dan Brown's books, The DaVinci Code and The Symbol. I've seen the film Angels and Demons but have not read the book. He does not make arguments, good or otherwise, against what is taught in the Bible. He does take positions that are hostile to the way the Catholic Church has conducted itself, particularly regarding the status of women. He also embraces the notion that Mary Magdalene was Jesus' wife - a notion that has been explored before - and that they had a child, who subsequently had descendants. In The Symbol, he uses Freemasonry as the backdrop for his plot and his villain.

    As an aside, I read The DaVinci Code just prior to the film coming out, and was enthusiastic about seeing the film. The weekend it came out, one of the priests in my parish gave a 35 minute harangue against the film at Mass, during which my son turned and stared at me as if to say, "But you said you liked it!" I later explained to him that it was quite possible to be a good Catholic and still entertain criticisms of the church. We have since moved to another parish with more enlightened priests. :D
     
  19. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    I love the idea, and think you should go for it. You'd have to read the old testament with foot-thick rose colored glasses to not see that Yahweh was a vicious tyrant, possessing every possible human flaw. Trick might be to find an original angle and an original point to your story, since it could easily seem like you were stating the obvious.
     
  20. StrangerWithNoName
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    StrangerWithNoName Longobard duke

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    All Brown's "arguments" were ripped off from a old french tradition: the catars, some hardcore royalists through the years claimed that the King of France was the natural heir of Jesus Christ, this claime was related to the merovingian dynasty, and these theories returned in auge with the book "the Holy Grail and the Holy blood", back in the 80s. Brown invented nothing but was the able to exploit the rage of the Catholic Church that ignored the original book and raised a brow for Eco's Pendulum, but neither of these became what you would call best sellers.

    I also have to add that Brown published three books before the Da Vinci Code (including Angels & Demons) and nobody gave a frak about them.
     
  21. Rex
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    Rex Member

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    To me as a reader I would say that Brown's books are indeed intriguing engaging, and downright entertaining, mainly because he cashes in the entire infatuation of "conspiracy theories". However, it's important to understand, that no where in Brown's stories does he accuse any god whatsoever of being guilty of ill intent.

    So, I say depending on whether you are going to explore the story from a personal perspective of the god. IE, the reader privy to the inner thoughts, of a god, then that would be a bit difficult to pull off. Mainly because as the author, you are trying to sell it to the reader that they are witnessing a god's inner most thoughts, particularly if this god is much like the judeo christain god, omniscient, all knowing, alpha-omega etc etc etc. That is one tough sell!

    However, placing god as the antagonist is not necessarily tough sell, when you use the elements as in Brown's case, or Goethe's bizarre fantasy world of Faust. All you need do is set up the juxtaposition of man's interpretations, vs reality, or something along those lines.

    Either way, I say go for it, no matter your intent or motivation, you are the author, and it's your story. I do recommend you explore some historical classical literature dealing with gods to help you get your bearings so speak.
     
  22. Kio
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    Kio Contributing Member

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    It really depends on what type of god you are going to write about. Most people associate the mention of religion with the Christian God because, after all, we have a horrible reputation in this day and age. Attacks against God are so common now that, at some point, I've become nearly numb to the criticism. It's infuriating how people can pick on one particular god and not the others, but most Christians have stopped giving two craps about what people have to say about our god and why they think He's no good. So if it is a Christian god, by all means, do it. You'll get a few angry letters from Christians that still care about what others have to say.

    If you're picking on any other god, well, you'll get the same reaction. Angry letters from those who care, nothing from those who do not. And, if you really want some publicity, go all out and make all gods villainous! You'll sell books that way.

    If you're going to make up a god and make him evil, personally, there is no point. As someone had pointed out, if a god is evil, then he should just kill everyone he doesn't like. Send in a plague or something.

    Religion in fiction is not an easy thing to pull off. Good luck, anyway.
     
  23. Lordcerii
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    Lordcerii New Member

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    I'd say it depends on how your god is like. If he resembles a god of any religion, people might feel offended. So you should design him in an unique way(like creating multiple gods, having him somewhat mortal). And you should definitely NOT call him something like Allah or Buddha since that would strongly offend many religious people.
     
  24. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Remember something. Controversy sells, a lot. For every complaint made any His Dark Materials, I bet his sales went up quite a lot. If you restrict something, you make people only more curious about it.

    But anyway, you should look at the Shin Megami Tensei games, which one could also call God Killer in the earlier iterations. God isn't only a villanious figure, he's downright worse than the devil in the games.
     
  25. darkhaloangel
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    darkhaloangel Active Member

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    Have you watched the show Supernatural? They deal with issues of God and goodness all the time. The first season is a little rusty but it gets better later on. Also try Phillip Pullman's Dark Materials, Quintessential meta fiction.

    God is not usually portrayed as a bad guy when he is present because of all the good and love in the world. However, what happens is he is usually shown to be absent or imaginary. If however you were to make God trully Evil then you might need to balance this with a character - such as Satan - that is trully good.Or you could have them both in a grey area, but balalnce is the key.

    It might seem unneccessary to have balance, but in all religions and fields of life, balance is key. It makes the story believeable. Good Luck. I love stories about God, Demons and Angels. Endlessly fascinating.
     

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