In the upcoming game Stellaris, materialistic cultures get science bonus, but spiritualistic cultures get special psionic powers.
I have to admit: this makes for a more entertaining game with a bigger fan base than the boring truths of the matter: most everyone loves magic (“D&D, anyone? How about a superhero comic?”), and mystical/psionic powers that get you results without actually working for it.
I grant that it can make for a decent fit for the Traveller universe. The Zhodani are the archetypical psionic race, and are in part structured around a religious philosophy, Tavrziansh (GURPS Traveller, Alien Races 1, page 6), which is seen as something like “green Buddhism” by Solomani travellers. (The visual tie-ins with the stereotypical Oriental Arab of yore – far more 1800s exotica than 2000s psychopath – also helps here.)
Note also that the Thought Police’s actual Zhodani name is Tavrchedl’, “Guardians of Our Morality”: a certain resemblance between this and the Saudi Arabian mutawwain (Religious Police) is not accidental.
However: despite the paraphernalia about foci and mental discipline, there is nothing particularly ethical/righteous about psionics. The mystical/mental powers are just another form of power, that work regardless of the morality of the man using it.
Discussion: Magic as Technology
“Why can’t materialistic cultures get their hands on this spiritual power?”
Because they are materialist, silly! For them, nothing exists except matter and energy.
“So thought and mind and logic does not exist. Or at least, these things are just chemical-sourced illusions in the eyes of a materialist.”
You got it!
“For some reason, I’m not particularly surprised. But still… why the religious bit?”
Because – not in Traveller, really (where psionics works as a mechanical tool), but in most of history – you get this mystical ability to get something you want without working for it by contacting spiritual forces, and making deals with them.
“Ah yes. Witchcraft.”
The position of the secular-minded Imperial Government is not all that far from your own.
“To the contrary! The Imperial Government is far more fearful of witches – pardon me, psions – than they need to be: they are far more pathetic than threatening nowadays. No need to waste money and time on has-been failures… or give a government the delicious opportunity to redefine witches to include, well, anyone that opposes State Power.”
*Sigh* It’s Just A Game!
Discussion: Religion as Profit-Building Truth
“It’s a game that teaches certain lessons. But more an opportunity to point out just how far educated Swedes are from understanding the nature of a religiously-understood law-bound created universe, where obedience to the Commandments creates a wealthy and powerful society for largely logical and reasonable reasons, as desired by a logical and reasonable Creator-Judge.”
Man, they don’t even teach that in Swedish churches nowadays!
“Again, no surprise. Assuming anybody bothers to go there…”
So, a religious society – or a Christian one, anyways – is a society that sees the universe as the creation of a Lord that wants people to understand it…
“…and gain understanding, dominion, and mastery over it…”
…which of course leads to science.
“Which never happened with the Greeks, by the way, despite their worship of numbers and love of logic & philosophy.”
Slaves are far more useful, cheaper, and immediately available!
“A lower maintenance cost, too. Also, eminently replaceable after too much abuse.”
That’s a very low value you’re putting on the Image of God.
“When you get the opportunity, ask Jesus about that thirty pieces of silver. His response will be quite enlightening.”
You’re such a Christian!
“Someone’s gotta do it! And I admit, I like the reward scheme.”
You’re such a Capitalist!
“Winning is better than losing: in life, and in eternity.”
You’re such a Missionary!
“Both Stellaris – and Traveller, for that matter – have their own gospels to preach. Traveller’s message is far more interesting and complex than Stellaris, though, and worth far more thoughtful engagement.”
Stellaris is a computer game written by a bunch of secularist for the enjoyment of the general population. Stop demanding so much from it!
And you did recommend it right here on this blog didn’t you?
“I like quality work. What can I say?”
I bet you Christians couldn’t make a better game!
“And I agree… to our shame. We’ve been slacking off, and it shows.”
Humph. Anyways, back to Traveller! Here I am, thinking it was a war-game, or an opportunity to act out some heroic stories of the Far Future…
“That it is… but there’s an actual universe in there! A fictional universe, but an interesting one to play with – and psionics is an integral part of it, an element of fantasy that got stuck in Campbell’s skull…”
A bit of fringe science that caught the fancy of a ton of space opera readers. Never mind the movies…
“Every sinner has a bit of larceny in his heart, and wants power and wealth without paying for it. And the implied flattery to the (usually well-educated) SF reader that Powerful Thinkers can change things with the power of their thought is definitely welcomed.”
Flattery will get you everywhere!
“On this earth. Not so much elsewhere.”
Don’t you pray every day, like a good Christian should?
“Obedience is better than sacrifice. A lot more difficult, too.”