"Along comes Jesus with this wonderful, moralistic philosophy, about why we should be tolerant and understanding of our fellow human beings, and then we spend the next two thousand years killing one another, because we can't quite agree on how he said it."
When a work of fiction is insistent on the differences between religious idealism and the realism demanded by the plot, overly religious characters may be portrayed as out of touch with the demands and opinions of the world around them. This may be suberted, if there are bonuses related to the adherence to faith.
May lead to Ideological Rock-Paper-Scissors
if religion, magic, and science coexist in the same universe
and are out to get one another
Compare If Jesus Then Aliens
, No Such Thing as Space Jesus
, Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions
, Lawful Stupid, Chaotic Stupid
, and many versions of the Corrupt Church
. Contrast God Guise
, in which the effect is quaint or humorous rather than abrasive, Clap Your Hands If You Believe
, where belief actually alters reality, and Flat Earth Atheist
, where dis
belief makes you stupid. Likely to be a Strawman Political
. Probably takes the Enlightenment side of Romanticism Versus Enlightenment
. Overuse may be a sign that the work is an Author Tract
. If the belief is actually true, expect reinforcing action from a Celestial Bureaucracy
The polar opposite is Hollywood Atheist
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- Kanzaki Kaori and Stiyl Magnus in A Certain Magical Index. Granted, it was a Religion of Evil to begin with, but all of the Failing Neurology Forever combined with the ensuing Your Mind Makes It Real… Granted, the science side in this series isn't any better...
- In Fullmetal Alchemist (both versions) Ed and Al travels to a town where everyone except for the leader of the Corrupt Church runs on this trope. Such as blindly following a manipulative con artist, and when he disappears, going violent and destroying everything (which may not have been the conman's intention, but certainly was that of those who put him in power). While both series can come down pretty hard on religion, what they are really against is zealotry and dogma.
- Simoun takes this trope, puts it over its knee, gives it a paddling, whips it with chains, and throws its lacerated corpse in a ditch. The series has this one character who not only actively and knowingly disrespects the tenets of the main religion whose workings we get to see but forces other characters to do so against their will; the depiction of his bitter, unhelpful, avaricious stupidity and almost palpable, reptilian sleaziness is...quite something. There are sympathetic non-religious characters, including one of the main romantic leads, but overall this is pretty much the anti-Agora in its portrayal of religion.
- In The Legend Of Mother Sarah, the well-meaning but passive and jaded Mother Theresa would rather pray to God for an agonizing soldier's soul rather than getting a doctor to stop the hemorrhage and save his life. An act she immediately gets called out on by a fellow soldier and Sarah herself.
- The religious fanatics in Bio Apocalypse take this trope to the extreme.
- Turns up in one issue of Guardians of the Galaxy, when members of the Church of Universal Truth try to worship a baby Eldritch Abomination, even after it bites someone's head off (they consider this a "blessing").
- Termight Empire in Nemesis the Warlock are religious fanatics seeing aliens as demons, worshipping a clearly insane leader as a God and getting themselves killed with undying fanaticism. Nemesis' battlecry is Credo! (I Believe in Latin) but he points out he means it like "believe in yourself".
- A major theme of Angel Of The Bat is the idea that religious extremism is very dangerous and can lead to horrible, violent actions. Religion handled with careful consideration and judgement, however, is depicted as healthy and reassuring.
- Agora, focusing on the death of the philosopher Hypatia, depicts Christians as fanatical assholes, in which their fanaticism is raised Up to Eleven thanks to the sheer intolerance towards pagans and Jews; the "stupid" part of the trope comes from the fact their intolerance blinds them to the point of stupidity, attacking at random with disastrous consequences. The accounts used comes from pagan writer Damascius (who was an enemy of the Christians) and Edward Gibbon, a staunch critic of Christianity. The real Hypatia was murdered by Christians, but not over religion-she had been caught up with a violent political dispute. Also, she was a pagan Neoplatonist herself, rather than, as the film portrays, a proto-atheist empiricist on the verge of discovering heliocentrism.
- Monty Python's Life of Brian depicts religious believers as stupid at a number of points, refusing to think for themselves and fracturing off into sects divided by trivialities. The Jewish revolutionary organizations and the followers of Brian are both examples.
- In O Brother, Where Art Thou?, the escaped prisoner, Everett, repeatedly chides people for their religious gullibility. Examples:
- When Everett witnesses a riverside baptism service, he comments: "Well, I guess hard times flush out the chumps; everybody's lookin' for answers."
- After Everett's travel companions get baptized themselves, Everett remarks; "Baptism! You two are dumber than a bag of hammers."
- Toward the end of the film, when facing his own death, Everett falls on his knees and repents of his sins before God. After he is delivered from death (thanks to a sudden and massive flood of water), Everett discounts his conversion by noting that "any human being will cast about in a moment of stress." When his companions proclaim that the flood was an act of God, Everett comments, "Again, you hayseeds are showin' your want for intellect." (Note: Everett's watery salvation functions as a clever twist on Death by Irony. Deliverance by Irony, perhaps?)
- There is a take on this trope in My Father My Lord. Although the deeply pious father is shown to have a slightly negative impact on his wife and son because of his devotion to Judaism at first, his faith ultimately is shown to have tragic consequences; a day taking his son Menachem to the Red Sea, whilst his father and the other devotees are lost in fervent prayer, he slips away into the water and drowns. His father's love for the unseen trumped his fatherly duties to keep watch over his son.
- Starship Troopers 3: Marauder: As subtle as a Morita Assault Rifle to the face. Magnificent Bitch Admiral Enolo Phid begins to use religion as part of the Federation's propaganda after witnessing in the video records traitor Sky Marshall Omar Anoke communicating in near-religious ecstasy with the Brain Bug from the first movie that was being contained for interrogation. Seeing the most powerful man in the galaxy do exactly as told without thought or protest convinces her to adopt a Christian-esque religion to render the people servile. Reflects Emperor Constantine's co-option of the Christian religion that was growing popular among the plebs, claiming the new god was On Our Side and Wants Us To Win. In Anoke's case, he orchestrates a massacre on Roku San on behalf of the "God Bug" Behemecoatl and manipulates fellow religiously devout assistant, Holly, into falling for his eloquent religious words before she learns who his "god" really is during his betrayal, casually suggesting killing him as he's worshiping "the wrong god". Amid all the bashing, former atheist Action Girl Lola's religious awakening appears to be the only instance where religion is not associated with mind control.
- Inverted in Foundation, where the huge difference of technological development between The Foundation and their neighbors leads to a religion when the Foundation tries to share their knowledge with them. This happened because it was the only way their neighbors would have accepted their technology (which they saw as sorcery).
- Dune. Anyone order a thousand years of Holy Wars that nearly sent interstellar travel down the tubes? The setting specifically examines the issue of how a large populace interprets the words and deeds of a religious prophet who spoke and acted for a specific place and time. In truth the prophet(s) eventually managed to accomplish what they set out to do, human physiology and psychology advanced, and human society became more modern, peaceful, and diplomatic. Then the Bene Gesserit and Honored Matres decide to get into a fight over who can better use hypno-sex to control populations, and things get messy.
- In his nonfiction, Robert Anton Wilson of Illuminatus! fame has declared, in direct quote that "Belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence." Notably he includes dogmatic science (as opposed to progressive science) under the definition, as well. The theme of free-thinkers who dare to question the "obvious" values and beliefs of their society is constant in all his novels.
- Sword of Truth holds that both belief and emotion make you stupid. So a character who claims he has faith in his feelings must be quite insane. Mind you, characters claiming this have been known to make some rather impressive intuitive leaps themselves.
- Religious people in Neal Stephenson's Anathem run the full gamut of stupid, from trying to murder a guy who saved one of their members' lives to believing that strange lights in the sky are a sign that the world is going to be judged (the work also provides numerous examples of not-stupid religious people).
- Although the Discworld novels criticize organized religion much more than belief itself, the third The Science of Discworld book, Darwin's Watch, employs this trope somewhat.
- "Somewhat" in this case meaning "If Darwin hadn't written Origin of the Species, humanity would never leave the planet before it froze."
- He doesn't just not write it; he writes a book just as convincing in the other direction and more or less ends science.
- Subverted in Tom's Midnight Garden. Abel, the pious caretaker, at first appears to be a superstitious ignoramus, who thinks Tom is a demon; eventually, his belief allows him to recognize that Tom isn't evil. Later, as discussed in a conversation between Hatty Bartholomew and Tom, the fact that Abel could see Tom strongly implies that he was far more perceptive than anyone gave him credit for.
- Surprisingly, the Greek philosopher Celsus seemed to hold this view, making it Older Than Feudalism, trying to prove that Christians were all a bunch of uneducated Roman-Empire-Equivalent-of-Hicks. Though since he valued the traditional Roman religion, in his case it wasn't this as much as Belief In Christianity Makes You Stupid. Notably, he used this as an argument for why Christians should be eradicated from the face of the Earth. It must also be noted that we only know Celsus' views from quotes of his writings made by Origen, a Christian whom he debated in print.
- In The Pale King, Chris Fogle had nothing but contempt for his religious roommate and his girlfriend.
- Subverted in the Book of the Long Sun. Patera Silk's religion and gods are false, but there are facets of truth behind the lies. Silk manages to be a great leader in spite of it.
- Father Brown’s general appearance made him look dumb to everyone, but this trope is continually applied to him by the fact that he is a Catholic priest: A lot of people in his stories (The Blue Cross, The Flying Stars, The Hammer of God, The eye of Apollo) constantly make the wrong assumption that a priest is a celibate simpleton unaware that in Real Life a priest must study philosophy and theology precisely to defend his beliefs helped by logic, and the fact of hearing a lot of people confessing sins to him gives him an interesting perspective about reality. Lampshaded in The Blue Cross when he explains to Master of Disguise Gentleman Thief Flambeau how he discovered him:
"How in blazes do you know all these horrors?" cried Flambeau.
"'Oh, by being a celibate simpleton, I suppose,
he said. Has it never struck you that a man who does next to nothing but hear men's real sins is not likely to be wholly unaware of human evil? But, as a matter of fact, another part of my trade, too, made me sure you weren't a priest."
"What?" asked the thief, almost gaping.
- In this case, it is Truth in Television, being inspired by the remarks Chesterton heard students making about Monsignor O'Connor.
- In Good Omens, most of humanity appears this way. Best shown when Aziraphale gets accidentally exorcised by Shadwell and spends the next several hours body-surfing around the aether, causing nearly everyone he encounters to assume they're being inhabited by a Demon. With slight irritation, Aziraphale has to correct them that he's actually an Angel.
- Aziraphale also excoriates a televangelist and his congregation for the ludicrous notion of the Rapture, pointing out that during the Final Battle, the Angels fighting in the Celestial War will simply be too busy fighting the forces of Hell to go around picking random people up. Between the Heavenly War and the War down on Earth, any human that dies in the crossfire will be considered acceptable civilian casualties and it's up to God to clean that mess up... And that's if they actually win!
- It's not really belief in general, it's just that that specific aspect (which is pretty much unique to American evangelicals) happens to be wrong.
- In Wicked, Nessarose Thropp is a religious fanatic whose contributions to conversation are often not wanted and perceived by whoever is narrating as narrow-minded or too innocent.
- In Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan, Waverly has this belief about religion, even though she is dating the highly religious Kieran. When she and all the girls on her Generation Ship, the Empyrean, are kidnapped by their sister ship, she distrusts their zealous captain, Pastor Anne Mather. Later, when she sees the same tendencies in Kieran, who has taken over the Empyrean after the death of the captain, she automatically distrusts him and all his followers.
- In Piers Anthony's mega-book Tarot, a distant world was settled by members of several different religions, each so convinced that theirs was the true way (so far as to not even speak to or help others during crises) that the only way they got anything done was to all agree to a pact to never bring up religious belief, as long as the main character, Brother Paul, was there investigating a local phenomenon.
- Subverted in Lenobia's Vow. Religious characters are either good or evil, but none of them are stupid. Lampshaded when Lenobia and Sister Madeleine talk about their morning routines.
"Sister, for several weeks I have been leaving our quarters before dawn and returning before most of the ship awakens."
"Yes, child. I know."
"Oh. I thought you were praying."
"Lenobia, I believe you will discover that many of my good sisters and I are able to think and pray at the same time."
- In Voices by Ursula K. Le Guin. It's not so much belief itself that makes you stupid (Member and other people in Ansul worship their Fantasy Pantheon with devotion), but mindless and inflexible adherence to religious dogma. Particularly if that dogma says that books and reading are the devil's work.
- Subverted in Lands Of Ice And Mice. While the Thule shamans view things through a religious prism, they are largely responsible for many of their society's advancements. One example is Manupataq, a shaman who pretty much invented quarantine procedure after surviving the arrival of European diseases like smallpox. Of course, her religion also believes that Jesus Christ is a plague god.
Live Action TV
- Star Trek, at least until Deep Space Nine fleshed out the Bajorans as more than spiritual cannon fodder for the Cardassians. Many episodes throughout the series explore the importance of Faith (spiritual and otherwise) as well as the nebulous boundary between Sufficiently Advanced Aliens (be they benign or malicious) and Actual Gods, especially when they really are (relatively) Omniscient.
- The Babylon 5 episode "Believers" depicts a family from a zealously religious species refusing to allow Dr. Franklin perform simple life-saving surgery on their son because their religion states that he will lose his spirit if he is cut open. The alien parents are earnest and loving, but their arguments are little more than strawmen, and their culture is depicted as insular and close-minded at every turn. Franklin's belief that Science is superior to Religion fits this trope as well, right up to the point where he saves the child, expecting the parents to turn around and realize he was right, only to have the wind taken out of his self-righteous sails when the parents kill their own child, believing him to be effectively a soulless zombie. In the end, the episode leaves who was right and who was wrong ambiguous and up to the viewer to decide.
- The episode "Confession and Lamentations" is much less ambiguous: the Markab race is plagued by Drafa, an airborne disease 100% contagious and 100% lethal, and due to the widespread belief of it being a divine punishment for immorality, the Markab failed to take the appropriate precautions, even forbidding the few Markab who believed it to be just a deadly disease from enlisting help from non-Markab and negating funds to study it. In the end Franklin manages to find a vaccine and a cure thanks to Lazarenn (a Markab doctor on the station), becoming ill and sacrificing himself to allow him to study the illness, but by then the entire Markab population on the station is dead, and the losses among the wider Markab population are so great that the race is not genetically viable anymore, dooming it to die out in a few generations.
- On the other hand, Babylon 5 averts this trope more often than your typical Space Opera TV show, for instance including an entire order of Catholic monks who stay on the station for a season to learn more about alien religions, who are never depicted as either unintelligent or deluded. Indeed, nearly all shades of belief (and nonbelief) tend to get a fair shake on the show.
- On LOST, Richard Alpert is Catholic, and, in 1867, he accidentally kills a man while getting medicine for his dying wife, gets arrested, is told he can't be absolved for his sinsnote , and then crashes on the island. Naturally, he is willing to believe he's gone to hell when told just that by an apparition of his dead wife and a mysterious Man in Black. Exploiting Richard's faith, the Man in Black tells him he can only escape "hell" by killing "the devil," the Man in Black's archenemy Jacob. The plan falls through when Jacob explains Richard is not dead, not in hell, and was misled by the Man in Black.
- Doctor Who:
- A staple of the classic series. Religion was usually portrayed as the antithesis of science and any character fanatically loyal to a "god" and doing things in "his" name would ultimately be revealed to be deluded and worshiping a mad computer ("The Face of Evil"), an empty spacesuit ("Planet of Fire"), etc.
- Modern Doctor Who has used this and its opposite, but an example of the trope being played straight would be "The Doctor's Daughter", where the soldiers' "creation myth" turns out to be only a week old, due to the nature of their clone-based reproduction and the atrocious death rate of the war.
- Explored also in the two-parter Impossible Planet and The Satan Pit, when the Doctor confronts what may or may not be the original, actual, factual, Devil. What really bugs him is the claim that it predates the Universe, but in the end he admits that just because he believes that's impossible/gibberish doesn't mean it couldn't really be so.
- Averted on The X-Files, of all shows. Though the premise of aliens and the paranormal may seem like the antithesis of religion (as it's usually portrayed), religion gets a ton of screen time during the series. Besides the Monster of the Week episodes that deal with things like stigmata, demonic possession, and recordings made by Christ, the show has a lot of religious undertones. However, these undertones aren't "God is responsible for everything on the show" kind of things. More questioning religion and how it came to be. At one point, Scully finds an extraterrestrial engraving that contains passages from the Bible, and Scully herself experiences a birthing experience similar to the birth of Christ. This interplay of religion and science also plays a large role in Scully's character development. Though a skeptic of Mulder's theories, she is a practicing Catholic and often must reconcile what she's learning with her faith. Played straight in earlier seasons, however. Mulder does everything but call Scully an idiot for her belief. It comes out horribly, however, as up to this point, Mulder has yet to come up with any significant proof for his own theories. And someone who believes in spirits and some sort of afterlife who criticizes the religious will always seem a bit silly. Scully calls Mulder out on this several times.
- Somewhat subverted in Lewis, with DS James Hathaway being an ex-seminary student, and also incredibly smart. Played Straight when he reveals his involvement in the suicide case of "Life Born of Fire" He told his gay friend that God couldn't love him as he was, starting the chain of events that led to his suicide.
Hathaway: Have you ever been so sure you were right and then you look back and you can't believe what you thought? I was training to be a priest! It was so exciting. I was surrounded by people who thought just like me and I thought just like them! But these things they say, it's so easy. Like breathing, you just believe it and I believed!
- "Creepy Steve" in the Character Blog series KateModern is blissfully unaware of the criminal actions of the Hymn of One.
- The Adeptus Mechanicus of Warhammer 40,000 believe that all knowledge already exists, and that it must be found from ruins of the past rather than sought out—in this case, they're right, because the majority of human technological prowess was lost during the Age of Strife, and they're trying to recover it from various Forge Worlds. They tend to call any new technologies, human or alien, heresy unless they can be called a 'modification' of an existing STC technology. The Predator Annihilator is a well known example of this.
- Their behavior towards the Necrons is a shining example of this. What do you do when there's an army of dormant killbots that 's lain undisturbed for countless millenia? Why, wake them up to revere them and then act surprised when they get disintegrated to a man (and if they're told not to, by someone who actually knows what he's talking about, they go and do it anyway). Not helping this is the all-but-stated fact that the Omnissiah they worship (as an aspect of the Emperor, to keep the Inquisition off their backs) is in fact the Void Dragon, one of the Necrons' gods.
- Even the mainline Imperial Church has this. One of their creeds is "Blessed is the mind too small for doubt."
- The Warhammer 40000 universe plays with this trope, because there is actually little space for belief. All tenets of religion (the existence of God-Emperor and ruinous powers of Chaos to name a few) are based on fact. The members of the clergy (especially members of the Inquisition and the Adeptus Mechanicus) are usually the best-educated people around.
- The Emperor, agreeing with this trope, outlawed any form of faith so human belief wouldn't empower Chaos anymore. Not only did it not work as faith is only a part of Chaos, as it feeds on emotions as well, but also let everybody in the dark about existence of nasty dark gods and demons be vulnerable to their offers of attaining great power for a terrible price. This led to the Horus Heresy.
- The Sisters of Battle tend to let their faith and holy zeal overcome their tactical sense, leading to getting slaughtered pointlessly.
- This is the general view of the Tau Empire. Their species has an innate resistance to the Warp that basically makes them immune to the psychic temptations and explosions that plague humanity (and don't even use Warp travel), so they simply don't get that the powers of Chaos are real, writing off daemons appearing in realspace as a particularly unpleasant species of alien.
- And then there's the orks, though in their case it's more being naturally stupid and their belief being a collective psychic power that occasionally fails entertainingly, so it's all good (they've gone to war over which of their twin gods is which, and couldn't care less).
- The Imperials with the most single-minded devotion to the Emperor are the Ogryns, a human subspecies of very stupid giants that require surgery just to rise to childlike intelligence and also possess unquestioning faith in the God Emperor. Where regular humans fall to Chaos to satisfy their ambition or bloodlust, Ogryns are basically tricked into thinking the emperor doesn't like their manipulator's enemies.
- Inverted in the Dungeons & Dragons setting Planescape, thanks to heavy use of Clap Your Hands If You Believe.
- And the Forgotten Realms. Considering what happens to the Faithless, you'd be much dumber to not'' worship a god.
- The Eberron setting is deliberately vague about whether most of its gods "really" exist or not. It's not even slightly vague about the fact that in practical terms it doesn't matter; everyone goes to the same place when they die at least in the short (cosmologically speaking) term, and clerics of all faiths, even the ones that mutually contradict each other, get clerical spells. Any "Commune with Deity" type spells get you something like an archangel instead, who, if really pressed on the issue, may admit they've never actually seen the gods either. There are several established faiths, but a cleric who really wants to can devote himself to an ideal or concept instead with no penalties (some of the established faiths have prestige classes with special abilities, for which you must be a member of that faith, but all regular clerical spells work just fine for any cleric).
- The 7th Sea setting has the Vaticine church, which actually inverts the trope by advancing the position that all of the world is a puzzle that their god, Theus, laid out for humanity to unravel, and thus the church is one of the greatest forces for scientific advancement in the world. However, the Castillian Inquisition is just as bad for the advancement of science as it sounds.
- Shown in Anno 1404 with Marie D'Artois' initially innocent and then increasingly delusional fervor of, but also done with great care so as to not paint religion as a whole this way: all of the other main characters are devoutly religious, and show themselves to be very good and wise people through their religion rather than in spite of it. This also gives a bit of contrast between the villains' Corrupt Church and the heroes' Saintly Church. If you have her as an A.I. player in Continuous Mode, her belief makes her a wildcard (She's rated as a medium difficulty A.I.).
- Played with constantly in 4X games, especially the works of Sid Meier:
- Adopting general policies related to theocratic government often slows down your researching ability (generally either halving the rate or stopping Libraries, Universities, etc. from applying bonuses). The tradeoff is faith-empowered troops and cheaper (if not outright free) variants thereof, along with marginally happier citizens (or in Civ II, no unhappy citizens at all).
- Civ IV is unique among the series to feature distinct religions, and boy, does it play with this trope.
- In general, each of the seven religions serves as merely a diplomatic modifier, encouraging alliances between empires of the same religion and directing animosity towards the heathens that dare to worship some other deity. The difference is almost entirely cosmetic, and the only reason conflict even comes about is because the AI is programmed to automatically hate empires of different religions. In multiplayer games, religion is a non-factor in deciding allies and enemies. In this case, Belief Makes The AI Stupid(er).
- Religious governments do not receive any penalty to research, but a government with the "Free Religion" civic, which cancels out the government's religious affiliation, grants a bonus to research. However, the game also rewards religious diversity (i.e. spreading multiple religions), especially since Free Religion gives better bonuses the more religions you have in your empire, and the natural setting is paganism, so there is no 'state atheism' setting, despite the presence of Communism and State Property. Additionally, Monasteries (which are available to all religions) grant nice early research bonuses.
- Same goes for the Lord's Believers (and Expansion Pack counterpart Cult of Planet) in Sid Meiers Alpha Centauri, except it's permanent due to ideology separating factions rather than nationality.
- Note, however, that the Believers are specifically identified as scary fanatics and are not supposed to be representative of religion in general, any more than Zakharov's willingness to perform unethical research is supposed to be representative of all scientists.
- Also subverted with Sister Miriam's in-game bio and quotes: While she's definitely wary of technological advancement, she hardly thinks that Science Is Bad (at least, not at first). She is also a trained psychologist and (like all of the leaders) has a deep, philosophical reason for her concerns. Miriam seems to have read and understood Dostoyevsky, to some degree—not scientific, but not stupid either. And considering how creepy some late-game technologies are, she really has a point about some of them, such as the folly of putting an AI in charge of entire cities.
- The GURPS roleplaying supplement examines it further: The best and brightest in Believer society are more likely to become theologians than scientists, and new technology has to be vetted by the Moral Guardians for approved uses before it becomes commonplace.
- Pandora First Contact also has this in it's own religious faction, which also suffers from a penalty to researching new technology.
- Ironically, this trope was useful in Civ 2: The theocracy was inept when it came to scientific advancement, but the religious fervor made every citizen satisfied with his life and it was the best kind of regime to win war: Jumping from democracy in times of peace to theocracy in times of war and back to democracy once the war was won was a very efficient strategy (for beginners, at any rate).
- In the DS version of Revolution, this trope is played straight and inverted. The closest thing to a theocracy is the 'Fundamentalism' government type, whereby cities abandon scientific study for the sake of culture. However, religion in general actually improves scientific advancement by giving you access to technology like the printing press.
- Surprisingly, averted in Civilization: Beyond Earth despite the game being a Spiritual Successor to Sid Meiers Alpha Centauri. The only clearly religious faction in the game, the Kavithan Protectorate, doesn't suffer any negative effects by virtue of being religious. This is because no faction has downsides, the choice of faction merely determines which bonuses you get. The KP primarily gets cultural bonuses. In fact, if KP is played right, the faction can have a higher scientific output than other factions with the careful use of virtues.
- Europa Universalis, though not a Sid Meier game, features a slider that dictates the church's activities: one side puts focus towards the arts, humanities, and sciences, while the other side focuses on missionary and conversion efforts. Interestingly, a
later patch popular Game Mod renamed the slider from "Innovation vs. Narrowmindedness" to the more even-handed "Innovation vs. Tradition" to emphasize the fact that both sides are equally viable choices depending on the player's strategy, making it more a case of Conservatism Makes You Conservative. Which religion you culture belongs to can have a bigger effect. There's your choice of state religion, and your religious/cultural 'tech group'. Catholics and Protestants share a 'latin' tech group, the best, but Reformed>Protestant>Catholic>Counter-reformed, and so on. Because of the game's time period, there is strictly speaking no 'no belief' setting to make you 'less stupid'.
- In Crusader Kings, this trope is mostly inverted. Scientific progress is aided by a ruler's Learning skill, which also determines a character's theological ability. The highest Learning bonus is given by the "Mastermind Theologician" educational trait.
- Portrayed oddly in Final Fantasy Tactics: The higher a character's Faith stat, the more damage he deals and receives with magic. If it's too high, he'll desert to pursue a higher calling. On the other hand, atheists are utterly useless when it comes to casting magic but make for effective walls against it. The main story could also be a subversion. There are some pretty stupid and/or horrible people involved in the religion, but there is a hint of divine intervention to help out Ramza here and there, and he's not what you'd call dense by any means. He's just an Unwitting Pawn because he refuses to be a scheming, Manipulative Bastard like every villain and their dog.
- Wakka in Final Fantasy X, although he does get better over the course of the game. Best demonstrated by this exchange:
Wakka: But you Al Bhed use the forbidden Machina! You know what that means? Sin was born because people used Machina!
Rikku: You got proof? Show me proof!
: It's in Yevon
's teachings! Oh, not that you'd know.
Rikku: That's not good enough! Yevon says this, Yevon says that... Can't you think for yourself?
- The Covenant of Halo hold Forerunner technology as religious artifacts. They simply copy the artifacts as they are, and it is considered heresy to change or improve on them in any way, shape, or form. Ironically, despite being leaps and bounds ahead of humanity technologically, their mathematics are way behind, as all they do is copy. When humans get hold of Covenant/Forerunner technology and apply the superior mathematics, it is far more powerful than anything the Covenant make. In one of the books Cortana got better effects from a captured ship's engines and weapons simply by fiddling with the settings.
- In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, while it's certainly true most of the priests are decent people and the gods are mostly benevolent, the Church itself participates in mass censorship, oppressed the necromancers into demon-worship thereby creating one of the Big Bads of the series, and perpetrated the genocide of the Ayleid.
- In the other The Elder Scrolls games, it's played with. The way the story is told (player perspective only) and the way said player receives information about the religions (other character perspectives only) most religions claim this about most other religions.
- Of course, one must consider that Necromancy by it's very nature is considered an abomination by law abiding magicka users, and that by all accounts the Ayleids were pretty big dicks.
- Tales of the Abyss is a subversion. The intelligent, level-headed followers of the Order of Lorelei (ie: Tear and Ion) are on the side of good. The Knight Templars like Mohs, on the other hand...
- On the same palm, the entire military division of the Order is manipulated into helping (or worse, cooperating) with the Big Bad's evil plans. Its higher-ranking members have names like "Dist the Reaper" and "Asch the Bloody".
- Although, as it turns out, said characters are trying to destroy the aforementioned deity-equivalent.
- Justified in Tears To Tiara 2. The Holy Church is actively repressing all non-religious knowledge.
- Izebel comments to herself that Laelius, a knight of The Empire bent on restoring the Glory Days, does not know that during said days the common soldiers of the empire was responsible for most of the construction and would have been perfectly able of reconstructing a stone arch bridge.
- Dead Space gives us Unitology, a religion that preaches oneness of all humanity, but only after death. They also don't reveal the whole Necromoprh mutation thing except to their most exclusive members, i.e. the ones that have paid the most money and are thus the most loyal.
- Shin Megami Tensei's Messians and Gaians. Ye gods. Both, while having many, many good points in favor of their own sides. Still, their favorite method of conversion is essentially beating the other side to death while proclaiming their superiority. Even their own leaders don't think that highly of them.
- Inverted in Immortal Souls, to an almost exaggerated degree. The Templars are by far the most technologically advanced group in the setting, having Powered Armor, Energy Weapons, and the like in what is otherwise a present-day setting, presumably so they as squishy humans can hope to match the powerful supernatural monsters they fight. They also engage in Mad Scientist-esque scientific research on said monsters. Lampshaded at one point when their leader boasts they'll succeed "thanks to our advanced technology and superior divine right".
- Demons Souls' treatment of this is quite interesting. Magic is treated by some Sages (notably Sage Freke) as something quasi-scientific, while Faith is reserved for the masses, led by a saint. While Urbain's followers (especially that one person in the corner that does nothing but moans his fate without doing anything) and Urbain himself is shown to be a bit thick and detached with the reality and the identity of the god they worship, Saint Urbain did subtly recognize that the main Big Bad, The Old One isn't a large cosmic Eldritch Abomination everyone make it out to be. On the other hand, magic isn't as straight out scientific as Freke analyzed (what with Yuria's witchcraft having an element of chaos to it). This, coupled with Freke's reversal of attitude at the end of the game (that is, from "what does Souls' relation to magic" to For Magic!) means that, if Belief Makes You Stupid, Naytheism Makes You Power Hungry. In strictly game terms however, Faith is the only thing that increases your Magic Defense, firmly establishing the Magic Versus Faith theme.
- In this strip of Tales of the Questor one person indicates that the religion "Does not takes kindly to ideas— or thinking — not their own crafting." The pauses are probably intentional. He also indicates his job is to deal with anything that might threaten or challenge his master's beliefs in any way. It is a recurring issue in the comic that humans, partly because of religion, cannot deal with the concept of 'Lux energies' and insist on calling it magic, and with magic being evil to them...
- Thoroughly averted, though, with the more religious of his racconans, whose beliefs spark compassion.
- Rather obviously Catholic vs. Protestant, with the strawman religion being Catholicism (the churches are called Sojourners' and Universal (Catholic means universal) and the use of symbols, architecture, etc, suggests the parallel also.)
- Tamago in Negamaki! causes zig-zagging with this trope. He's overtly religious and profoundly stupid about it but when Chief Buffalo Jerky asks if all religious people are like him, Negamaki cites the many positive aspects of having a religious conviction; Tamago would be that stupid without one.
- Starpocalypse features a future world where the last religious human, the Space Pope, is leaves earth to find God. He's considered an idiot by his own robot servant, and the rest of humanity, and he dies searching for God. However, this could be a subversion, as his ship does eventually find God...but it turns out God is homicidal and stupid.
- The majority of the "Religion" tags on Not Always Right, as well as Not Always Working and other sister sites.
- This is this site: "Fundies Say the Darndest Things" summed up.
- Rotten.com: Several articles in the rotten library have funny, but thoughtful insights in the absurdities and inconsistencies of major religions and religious people.
- Family Guy in basically any post-Un-Cancelled episode. Especially "Not All Dogs Go to Heaven."
- South Park's general philosophy towards religion seems to be "Faith may make you stupid sometimes, but it will probably also make you good (or at least well-meaning)."
- The episode "All About Mormons" especially plays with this; the Mormon family is presented as ridiculously gullible for buying the story of how their religion was founded, but when Stan calls them out for that one of their sons points out that they're also the only family in the entire town who's happy and loving, largely because their church's main focus is on family values, not religious history. Then they still got it a bit off, as the history of the church is a major focus of study (alternating with books of scripture). The origin story is seen as vitally important, as it's the thing the LDS church bases its validity on. note
- The aesop of the episodes "Go God Go" and "Go God Go XII" is that religion or not, humanity (and sentient otterdom) will still find petty reasons to murder each other.
- The Simpsons: The show has always enjoyed poking fun at the absurdities and inconsistencies of religion, right from the very first seasons. You could make an entire list of all the anti-religious or at least skeptical jokes in the show about blindly following religion and/or everything religious preachers say. Reverend Lovejoy has been portrayed as a hypocritical preacher whose is more interested in gaining money from churchgoers and judging other people's behavior than anything else. His gossipy and judgmental wife Helen falls in the same category. Funny enough, even Ned Flanders- who actually is a good person and doing everything the Bible says "even the stuff that contradicts the other stuff", as he said in "Hurricane Neddy"- irritates Lovejoy. Flanders himself, though portrayed as a good man with virtues in early seasons, has also been portrayed as somewhat of a caricature of what a good Christian should be, with his faith almost being omnipresent in his daily life to such a degree that it becomes a bit ridiculous. In later seasons the show's creators seem to have made Ned more Flanderized from "overly religious Good Samaritan" to "The Fundamentalist Knight Templar", usually to serve as a foil against the more scientifically-minded Lisa. In "The Monkey Suit", Ned's opposition to the teaching of evolution turns the town into a fundamentalist dystopia, and in "You Kent Always Say What You Want" he went on a crusade to cleanse television after Kent Brockman swore in pain upon taking some hot coffee to the lapnote .
- A particularly infamous example of this trope is the episode Homr in which Homer removes a crayon from his brain and becomes super intelligent as a result. He uses his new found high I.Q., among other things, to scientifically prove why God couldn't possibly exist. Flanders is, of course, angry, but after reading Homer's text through he quickly concludes he's absolutely correct. Instead of just accepting the other viewpoint Flanders then decides that he must prevent the others from ever seeing the document, though Homer is already putting it underneath every car's windshield wiper.
- Marge has at times allowed her religious views to cloud not only her common sense but her sense of morality as well.
- Like the game, this is almost played straight in Dead Space Downfall. Nearly all the Unitologists are shown as either ignorant, horrible misguided, violent lunatics, and even just plain not right in the head. The biggest exception is Samuel Irons who is portrayed as being the Only Sane Man among the entire Unitologist sect, as he is clearly aware that the Marker and necromorphs are a threat rather than as a key to ascension. Not only does he help the initially distrustful Doomed Protagonist Alissa Vincent and her P.C.S.I. Security team cut down the horde of undead marauders, he performs a Heroic Sacrifice by distracting the necromorphs so that Alissa and her remaining team member helped the survivors escape (which all go in vain of course).
- Rather justified in that necromorphs have the ability to drive people insane with their presence, and not only have Unitologists been subtly indoctrinated to undermine their resistance to this effect, a religious-styled obsession with necromorphs that includes willingly committing suicide or allowing necromorphs to massacre them is explicitly one of the effects that their insanity aura can induce.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, a village's blind faith in a fortune-teller nearly gets them all killed. Even Katara, who is often a voice of reason, falls victim to this trope, and asks for huge numbers of ridiculously specific predictions; at one point she asks if she should have a mango or papaya for breakfast the next day, (and on being exasperatedly told the latter, she goes and buys one, even though she hates papayas). However, in a slight zig-zag, while the many flaws in their logic are pointed out by Sokka, (who gets completely ignored,) none of the predictions actually turn out to be wrong, even though they require the Gaang's direct intervention to turn out right. Most of them, however, were of the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy variety (like the guy she told he would meet the love of his life while wearing red shoes, so he started wearing them every day), nobody in the village seems to understand the logic behind this when Sokka tries to explain it.
- And then you remember that this show is about the mythical avatar who disappeared 100 years ago and now has reappeared as a 12 year old boy who is supposed to put an end to a 100 years war that has devastated most of the world and people's overall hope.
- Cleverly subverted in Moral Orel. The people of Moralton are all either naive, clueless idiots, vain hedonistic hypocrites, or barely-hidden sociopaths (and often more than one), and they're all very deeply religious. But as the series goes on, it becomes abundantly clear that religion has nothing to do with it and the majority of the town are really just self-absorbed scum whose piety is skin-deep and mostly for the sake of appearances. The Reverend is actually one of the nicest and most intelligent people in the town, even though being the Sheppard to this particular flock has given him a pretty heavy dose of cynicism.