So let us assume we have a Crystal Dragon Jesus
cult which worships a certain god. Except it's not your standard, realistic religion, which relies on belief and hope.
a Physical God
, everyone knows
there is one, everyone's belief is out of question — not believing in him is like not believing in your neighbors. More than that: the fact that it exists is the reason the religion has been started in the first place! And yet there is a religion that worships it — there is less mysticism and theology and more requests and glorification.
You should note that this doesn't always have to have a deity be the physical aspect. A Sentient Cosmic Force
or other physically certifiable religious paths may also be used. It's just the most used.
If someone still refuses to believe in God, he's a Flat Earth Atheist
. If someone is not a member of this church, he is a Nay-Theist
. Compare Religion Is Right
, where the religion came first, then the entity believed in is proven to be true. Gods Need Prayer Badly
is rather common. If Religion is Magic
, then God will grant spells those who worship him. He may say Stop Worshipping Me!
if he is bugged with that, though. A God Emperor
usually has both a Physical Religion and
openly rules his worshipers, making for a "real" theocracy.
Subversions occur when someone falsely claims to be a deity for whatever reasons and gets a religion
Anime & Manga
- The DCU - particularly the likes of Lucifer, Hellblazer and The Sandman. Gods are quite real... and they might be waiting to cause hell for the protagonist - or, just to peacefully chat. Whichever.
- There are many real gods in the DCU outside of Vertigo-based series. For example, the New Gods are quite prominent ones, most notably Darkseid for Darkseid Is.
- In one Thor storyline, humans started worshiping Thor as a god, even declaring themselves the true religion since, well, Thor IS a god and you can actually SEE Thor in action.
- There's one based around each of the princesses in TD the Alicorn Princess. TD is extremely comfortable when he finds out that one has sprung up around him after his ascension.
- While it's not a deity, and there isn't worship involved, the Force is very real - as Darth Vader will happily remind anyone mouthing off about his "sorcerer's ways".
Mythology and Religion
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine shows us the Prophets, incorporeal beings that exist outside of linear time, worshiped by the Bajorans. Several times in the series, Bajoran prophecies are brought up but doubted by skeptical characters while others (who may not even worship the Prophets) will point out that these prophecies have a way of coming true (just not always the way people expect them to, being written in metaphor and imagery) because the wormhole aliens/Prophets really do exist outside linear time and thus see the past, present, and future all at once (to the point of knowing what can be changed and what can't and what the consequences will be).
- This is all over the place in the Stargate Verse. The Goa'uld are worshiped by human slaves all over the galaxy, and the Asgard have been deified by a few Nordic cultures.
- And don't forget the Ori, perhaps the best example of all in light of their proximity to genuine omnipotence.
- The creators of Touched by an Angel point out that the angels don't have faith in the same sense that humans do. Faith is a virtue that humans need. Angels see the Lord every day.
- An interesting variation in Merlin, where there was a Physical Religion, until the Ban on Magic was instituted and, because the Old Religion counted, it became forbidden to practice it. Thus, we have Samhain, where everyone knows that the veil between life and death is thinning, but no one is worshipping the gods or doing anything religious. Basically, it exists but everyone is ignoring it.
- It can be safe to say that every single mythology accepts this as a premise.
- Warhammer / Warhammer 40,000's Chaos gods. They exist, show up in person, and give gifts to people.
- Also from Warhammer: Sigmar, god of The Empire's religion.
- Warhammer 40,000: the God Emperor of Mankind (though his actual divinity depends on who you're talking to: the Imperium and some Space Marine chapters believe he is; Eldar, Traitor Legions and some chapters don't (though they view him as the ultimate man)).
- Dungeons & Dragons has a large pantheon of gods, and nobody really questions their existence, seeing as they, again, show up in person and grant spells. Except for Ao in Forgotten Realms, who is so powerful he doesn't care.
- In the setting of Eberron, the Physical God trope is averted. The true gods, if they exist, do not manifest themselves physically. There are tales of them doing it, but that's nothing more that myths and legends. However this trope still applies, as faith powers divine magic, so someone believing in the divinity of a mortal can still have divine magic. This leads to certain mortal beings having become the "God" of their churches.
- The Lord of Blades is the Warforged Messiah of The Blades, who worship him as a divine entity. His teachings are how Warforged are a superior race and fit to inherit the world.
- The Lich Vol is the holy figure of The Blood of Vol, a religion that preaches immortality through undeath and defiance against the "gods" who hoard the immortality. Vol herself only regards her religion as a tool for her plans to Take Over the World.
- The Lizard Folk of Q'Barra worship the Dragon Rhashaak, who rules over them as a god.
- The Church of the Silver Flame worships the titular Silver Flame, a cosmic force of good manifested in a pillar of fire in their capital city, the location of a battle between a Couatl, a Demon Lord and a Paladin. This particular pillar has the mind of all three beings composing it, but it's worth mentioning that the Silver Flame itself is a cosmic force not limited to that single pillar; a left over of the spell cast by the Couatl to seal the Demons in Khyber.
- In Exalted, most religions are like this. However, the more powerful the god worshipped is, the less likely it is to show up in person - the Celestial Gods are addicted to the Games of Divinity, the Elemental Dragons are asleep, and the Yozis are Sealed Evil in a Can.
- Warcraft has something that's not a religion but a philosophy: Path of Light - it grants spells. Night Elves worship Elune, who most certainly exists as well. Draenei have a sort of a cult dedicated to Naaru. Dragons are kind of godlike as well, and they give quests in Wyrmrest Accord. Not sure whether people worship Titans, but they most certainly existed.
- In the Harvest Moon series, people worship the Harvest Goddess. Not only is she very real (and very cute), in some games, it's even possible to marry her.
- Arcanum gives us interesting example. Most mainstream religion in a world is worshiping a powerful elven wizard called Nasrudin, who lived long ago. They got most of the events right, except the fact that Nasrudin didn't die
- The three golden goddesses and various other deities of the Zelda universe.
- The entire Greek pantheon is real in God of War.
- Touhou has a pair of goddesses (and their Shrine Maiden) who are trying to spread their worship in the mystical land of Gensokyo because Gods Need Prayer Badly. Backstory also shows that several other Shinto gods also existed.
- In Transcendence, the goddess Dominia is known to exist, her location (the galactic core) is reasonably well-known, and she'll grant the player character powers if you make the right offerings.
- Primus and Unicron in the various Transformers 'verses.
- South Park has Jesus living in town in the early seasons and hosting a talk show. In one episode, Jimbo prays to Him for the local team to win, to which Jesus, who is sitting a few rows down, tells him to leave Him alone.
- In Family Guy God and Jesus will sometimes show up in earlier episodes. This only makes the "religion is stupid" messages in latter episodes all the stupider.
- In The Simpsons Ned flanders and his family are sometimes seen directly talking with Jesus.
- Averted so far in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic with the royal princesses. Celestia and Luna raise the sun and the moon respectively and ponies are rather prone to falling all over themselves in awe (and/or terror) when either shows up in person — yet, in over two and a half seasons no such thing as a formal pony religion has as much as been shown to exist, let alone defined to any degree. It's a hundred percent clear that they see Celestia as divine, what with "Thank Celestia," "For Celestia's sake," "Sweet Celestia," and "As Celestia is my witness" (multiple counts of some of those.) Luna gets a bit less love due to her thousand-year banishment. (She used to be their devil, with their Halloween equivalent being all about warding off her evil alter-ego, Nightmare Moon. The world seems to have forgiven her so far, but not quite to an "As Luna is my witness" level of love.) However, phrases like that don't quite make a religion. Possibly because of their formal leadership - no need to devote a lot of time and energy to the interpretation of a book some believe to have been inspired by them millennia ago, or messages one person says s/he received in his/her heart in the middle of the night or whatnot.
- Of course, the likely meta-reason we may never see explicit mention of pony religion at all are concerns that no matter what it turns out to be like, parts of the target demographic might emulate it in real life. So from the perspective of the creators of the show it's arguably best to keep the question out of the picture since there's simply no good way to make an explicit statement one way or another without offending at least some Moral Guardians, parts of their fanbase, or both. Throwing in "As Celestia is my witness" was a seriously gutsy move (and it helps that it's a reference to Gone with the Wind.)