Archived Discussion

This is discussion archived from a time before the current discussion method was installed.

Working Title: Atheist of Faerûn: From YKTTW

Refusenik Atheist launched as Flat Earth Atheist Discussion: From YKTTW

Known Unknown: Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure being an atheist is not the same thing as "not believing the supernatural." I think supernatural and divine are somewhat... different. A person could live in a world of magic, werewolves, vampires and the like and still choose to be an atheist if they wish to, without seeming hypocritical.

Unless, of course, you mean atheist as a general term for disbeliever, in which case the description is completely right.

Hiroe: your probably right, hell I take my computer for granted despite it being basically a magical rock that can think... I'm also an atheist.

Eric DVH: I guess so, but it's still a convenient shorthand.
Erica MZDM: Not really a 'trope' aspect per se, but I think it's worth noting that 'god' can mean any number of things - from 'Supernatral, powerful being with enough sex drive to cause a mortal man to self combust'(Zeus) to 'the creator of the universe', to 'Omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent entity who's rules are the one true and absolute foundation for morality.' A lot of Flat Earth Atheists seem to be those that, while they believe in the first and sometimes the second category, disbelieve in the third.

Eric DVH: Yeah, but I suppose the only criterion that would be impossible for Sufficiently Advanced Aliens to fulfill is the creation of the universe. As many things can become powerful to the point of omnipotence in a lot if franchises, but the universe can only be created once.

The Defenestrator: Removed:
  • When Haruhi Suzumiya is told by Kyon about the true identities of herself and the other SOS Brigade members, she tells Kyon to stop screwing around with her. Kyon himself doesn't believe what he was being told either until Yuki and Ryoko fight.
because while the Haruhiverse does have a lot of weird and magical stuff going on, none of it is at all obvious to Haruhi.

Daibhid C: "The gods of the Discworld are fools, and their priests are hedonistic fraudsters"
The former is certainly true (for the most part), but where is the latter stated? Both Dios (Pyramids) and Vorbis (Small Gods) are fraudsters (they believe in the power of being High Priest, not in the god), but neither of them are hedonistic. Most of the Omnian clergy is shown as vaguely well-meaning, if incapable, unbelieving and terrified of Vorbis. Ridcully's brother (High Priest of Blind Io) generally seems like a decent chap who take his responsibilities seriously, and later Omnians (Constable Visit and Mightily Oats) seriously believe. There's the Offlerians, and their concept of "sacrificing" sausages, but it's entirely possible they really do believe that (Good Omens, also by Pratchett, features a stereotyped televangelist, with a footnote saying it was easy to assume he was a conman, but in fact he spent a lot of the money on what he genuinely believed was the Lord's work).

Ross N: I dunno... clergy on the Disc seem to come in for an exceptionally high level of bashing, even by Discworld standards. There are the priests of Seven Handed Sek in The Colour of Magic who accept a bribe to have their statue photographed (after claiming it was blasphemy before hand); the homicidal druids of The Light Fantastic; the homicidal and hypocritical Tezuman priests of Eric; the High Priest of Blind Io in Guards! Guards! whose first move is to try and hand the crown to the dragon; the Omnian prophets who are called outright lunatics in Carpe Jugulum (albeit from a pretty suspect source) and the Abominations of Nuggan in Monstorous Regiment.

Perhaps I'm seeing things that aren't really there - Terry Pratchett is a supporter of the British Humanist Association and I find his writings about religion can get a little Writer on Board, IMO at least.
  • Considering what things real world religions and their believers have done (or still do), Discworld simply draws from real world examples and satirizes them. Deal with it.

Daibhid C: There's a certain amount of truth here, but I wouldn't consider any of these people "hedonistic", and only the Tezumen priests are fraudsters (their homicidal tendencies, however, are an only slightly exaggerated version of what Aztec priests were like). The priests of Seven-Handed Sek change their views rather quickly when offered money, but it's a view they must have only came up with minutes earlier (since they didn't know about iconographs before that; they can't have a general proscription against imagery or there wouldn't be a statue in the first place), and for all we know the money goes straight to the charity school mentioned in Men At Arms. The High Priest of Blind Io is merely doing the sensible thing in offering something he believes to be gold to the dragon in the hope it will go away. The Omnian priests are, granted, called lunatics not just by the Count, but by Om himself in Small Gods, but are also shown as devout and probably good. Nuggan is insane, but again there's no evidence the priests are hedonistic, and they're only fraudsters because Nugganism is actually impossible to maintain.

On the other hand, lets look at the wizards, the ultimate Humanist-atheists on the Disc. <A comparative list of scenes in which wizards are portrayed as childish, selfish, hedonistic and potentially murderous has been cut for reasons of space>.

Oh, and I disagree even more with the recently added bit that "just about everybody on the Disc is a fool or a fraudster". Out of the sixteen characters listed on the characters page, I count two fools (Rincewind and Colon) and one fraudster (Moist von Lipwig, obviously). Most of them are refreshingly imperfect, though.

"Then again, just about everybody in the Discworld novels is a fool or a fraudster — after all, they are comedies." Sorry, what? Who wrote that? Are we reading the same novels?

Daibhid C: Just heard Pratchett on the radio, and thought this might shed some light on his attitude to religion: "Humanism was not initially the same as atheism. As far as I'm concerned, God is immaterial, in two respects of the world. We do the best we can for our fellow man. That's it. Any god worth believing in would automatically accept that as a pretty good thing to do."

Nerdspringer: One possible example I have is that in just about every Christmas movie or special on TV, adults in general refuse to believe in Santa Claus even when he has been established to be real. The issue is that their kids should be receiving presents that neither parent has any memory of buying. Do these parents automatically assume that they have some weird form of Christmas present amnesia even though they never have any similar problems right before birthdays? Besides, surely someone would have noticed Santa flying on his sleigh with his reindeer (he was perfectly visible to the adult narrator in the poem "The Night Before Christmas").
Mr Death: To whoever put up the MGS 4 info without putting up a spoiler: Thanks dipshit! (To clarify for those reading this down the line: The game came out last week.)

Looney Toons: Deleted Mr Death's useless commentary

  • Use spoilers! Some of us haven't played the game yet, asshole.

as being pointless natter.

Mr Death: However did you know it was me? :-P Anyway, sorry about that, just a little pissed at the time, I'm sure you can understand.

The spoiler was still bad! As it was, it seemed to be a Sons of Liberty spoiler, in order to spare other from the immense pain I am feeling right now, I have edited it. /mcflygare
Grimace: I took out a bit of the natter about Mr Terrific (starting with my own entry made a wee while back). Whoever made the point about DCU's Fantasy Kitchen Sink setting allowing pretty much any and all viewpoints to have supporting evidence was on the money. Should anyone feel that the bits after that should be kept in, I've pasted it below;

  • It helps that he's really, really smart, and thus his Standard of Proof is a mite bit higher.
  • That's not burden of proof, that's unfalsifiability. He routinely changes what he believes in subtle ways to accommodate new evidence that he's wrong. The fact that people do that to explain the existence of God is exactly why most atheists are atheists. Only his explanations are even worse than the ones for religion (of course science can explain anything, that's what science means, knowing that God operates within the laws of science as He defined them doesn't mean in any way that He doesn't exist, if anything it makes His existence make more sense). As a Christian who has had to deal with being accused of exactly that tactic, it infuriates me that he can get away with it for some reason.
  • This is because Mr. Terrific is a major victim of Character Derailment and uh... re-railment? Depending on the Writer, his atheistic beliefs may be well-reasoned, or he may be any variety of Hollywood Atheist.
    • That's pretty much the conclusion this troper came to. Though I called it the Stargate solution.
    • ...Except there IS a God in the DC Universe; in fact, it created The Spectre, one of the most powerful beings in the universe, and coincidentally the person who started Mr. Terrific's career by preventing his suicide. Of course, it might that Terrific simply believes that even God's power could be explained by science someday; it doesn't mean he doesn't recognize his existence. Also, given how God in The DCU seems to interfere arbitrarily even if the whole Multiverse is dying, knowing He exists doesn't mean everybody will worship him...

Filby: Took out the Mr. Terrific natter again. Most of it just seemed like "See, see?! There is a God in The DCU, you silly atheists!" with some pseudo-philosophical gobbledygook thrown in. And besides, the Presence was invented by Neil Gaiman, not Grant Morrison. Also took out some of the Dr. Thirteen sub-examples since they add nothing that wasn't in the text already, instead just going on about how ridiculous he is.
Kerrah: Removed my Justifying Edit about the Sword of Truth series. I've advanced a book forward since and now I came across a case where Richard actually does say something along the lines "our enemy fools their citizens by lying about nonexistent paradises".
Filby: Since when does Doctor Thirteen believe the Earth is literally flat? I'm taking that nonsense out.

Bonzothe Fifth: This article is confusing in a few ways for me, personally... What, exactly, is the Flat-Earth Atheist denying, exactly? That those characters that claim godhood or some sort of supernatural power don't, in fact have them? That can be considered acceptable, assuming one has a proper definition of 'god' and 'supernatural'. Unfortunately, in most contexts, these definition fit on a sliding scale that seems to shift to be just outside of what we witness in a particular universe. Two good examples that come to mind immediately are in Star Trek: The Next Generations' Q and the Ancients/Ori from Stargate:SG 1. Both have super phenomenal, semi-cosmic abilities, most of which aren't even given so much as a technobabble/handwave attempt at an explanation, but just accepted as is as just something these characters can do. But dare to suggest that they might have a legitimate claim on godhood, and you're considered small-minded, weak, or otherwise backwards. Which really begs the question of what, exactly would qualify as a god in those contexts... It seems that a clarification of terms would be really helpful here, as it seems to undermine the whole point of atheism or skepticism once you just start arbitrarily shifting your parameters to avoid dealing with uncomfortable questions and does a real disservice to those who truly subscribe to those beliefs (or lack therof) in the real world).

Eric DVH: As I said above, creating the universe would be a pretty strong argument for cosmic-level divinity. Creating humanity or the world would probably be sufficient for smaller settings.

Diamond Weapon: But how does one prove the creation of the universe? Even if the audience knows it, any in-universe character would still only have the alleged god's word on it.

Eric DVH: Um… Point out an Easter Egg, like their mom's recipe for a perfect biscuit buried a zillion digits down ℏ. If The Creator wasn't cute enough to sign their work, maybe travelling back to the beginning of time or having them create another universe would do.

Meta Four: Nay-Theist has been launched so I moved the following over there:
     Moved to Nay Theist 

And I cut this because I can't make heads or tails of it. Someone who knows something about Dungeons & Dragons should sort through this and add the relevant info to Nay-Theist and Flat-Earth Atheist.
     massive clusterfrack of natter 

Wizard Joni: I'll check what I can. And after some editing, I ported what I could.
Can anyone explain to me where the "flat earth" part of the title comes from?

Probably from Discworld: "It was all very well going on about pure logic and how the universe was ruled by logic and the harmony of numbers, but the plain fact of the matter was that the Disc was manifestly traversing space on the back of a giant turtle and the gods had a habit of going round to atheists' houses and smashing their windows." — Terry Pratchett, The Colour of Magic

Eric DVH: “Flat Earther” is shorthand for “excessively fanatical religious fundamentalist.” As a suggestion, the juxtaposition was simply too funny to resist.

BritBllt: Removing this one...

  • Played with in an episode of Star Trek: Voyager. Neelix is killed in an accident, then revived by Borg nanoprobes, and is disturbed by not having experienced any kind of afterlife. He then makes use of Chakotay's vision-quest device, and sees (among other things) his dead sister in the vision. She tells him that she's not real and there is no afterlife, then rapidly rots into dust. Considering how real the visions appear to be, and that Chakotay seems certain they have a genuine spiritual element, why not ask "How are you talking to me, then?"

Neelix believed that the visions of his sister, while disturbing, were a product of his own mental state: his real despair was over not having experienced an afterlife, and then not experiencing any sort of spiritual revelation in the vision that'd explain why he didn't go to the afterlife. Chakotay confirmed that Neelix's emotions could be distorting the visions, and warned Neelix that he shouldn't take them at face value, so the writers did address the implicit "how are you talking to me" question. But that does leave a perfectly good It Just Bugs Me! about why Chakotay thought giving Neelix such a vision would help anything, if that's the case...


  • None of which provides proof that any specific god actually exists. (In fact, the efficacy of calling on other gods and goddesses kinda violates one of the basic tenets of Judeo/Christianity/Islam.)
    • Not really. Many Christians believe that other "gods" exist, but that there is only one creator god (the other were fallen angels, worshipped by people)

Justifying Edits are bad, mkay? And "agnostic" doesn't just apply to Christianity.

Though, while we're at it...

  • Buffy Summers from Buffy the Vampire Slayer claims to be an agnostic in the episode "Conversations With Dead People" despite the fact that crosses and holy water harm vampires, that gods and goddesses are regularly invoked by witches, and that she's been to Heaven.

Removing the original entry, and keeping a longer duplicate entry on the page. The longer entry seems to be a bit rambling, though, and it keeps getting sidetracked into Headscratchers issues, so it might need a rewrite down the road.