Lit Force Atheists?

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Jedi Ben, Apr 13, 2013.

  1. Mechalich Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 2, 2010
    star 4
    In Star Wars the Force has a number of rather fundamental effects on the structure of existence and particularly organic life. The Force can be tested, measured, and to some degree manipulated through technological means (like the creation of the Reborn). It is effectively the fifth fundamental force of the universe alongside gravity, electromagnetism and the strong and weak nuclear forces. Doubting the existence of the Force is foolish and largely a consequence of Palpatine's deliberate propaganda combined with millennia of obfuscation by the Jedi to the citizens of the Republic to prevent the public from researching the nature of the Force.

    Debates regarding the nature of the Force, on the other hand, remain wide open. While out-of-universe canon, notably the Jedi Academy sourcebook for SAGA, establishes that the Jedi viewpoint on the Force is the closest anyone has to the 'correct' interpretation, Jedi dogma is so twisted it's hard to know what that means, and no one in-universe is aware of this. Pretty much every Force tradition has a different viewpoint on what the Force ultimately is and how it works. All of them are still able to access its energy and utilize Force powers. This spectrum of viewpoints ranges from the explicitly religious - people who view the Force as a manifestation of the divine and their powers as miracles - to the purely rational, as in the Jal Shey, who approach the Force from an intellectual and scientific viewpoint.

    As far as the so-called 'will of the Force' which the Jedi seem to believe in, that's tricky. I have always viewed it that the nature of the Force favors certain outcomes inherently, and that because of its very much non-linear interaction with living things might be seen as 'intervening' from time to time. Essentially, because the Force is associated with life, the light side functions to promote the growth and development of life and the dark side its ultimately destruction on a cosmic scale - but this action might manifest inconsistently on a local scale. if the Force has a will, it is as a non-sapient entity. The Force is not a conscious being in the sense of a traditional mythological deity (though that does leave the question of what exactly the Ones are, and how they relate to the Force).
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  2. Jedi Ben Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 19, 1999
    star 6
    Interesting, I'll have to take a look at that.

    By the by, the opening post wasn't intended as some fully-formed perfect theory, more like a bunch of hazy guesses and what I figured might trigger some interesting discussion. In that respect, it's so far so good.
  3. Arawn_Fenn Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 2, 2004
    star 7
    Ascended Celestials?
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  4. Team Padme Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2012
    star 4
    This is a interesting topic. I'm sure there are some people in the GFFA who don't believe in it.
  5. MasterGhandalf Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 25, 2009
    star 2
    Honestly, this topic makes me think of a bit in The Final Prophecy when Tahiri and Nen Yim are talking about the Force. Tahiri (obviously) ascribes to the Jedi view of the Force (ie, that the Force is a spiritual energy that binds the galaxy together and on some level has a will of its own), while Nen, though she can't deny the existence of the Force outright (the Jedi get their powers from somewhere, after all) doesn't really see it as something spiritual at all, simply an energy source like some cosmic battery. I can certainly see thatn as a viewpoint other people would share- yeah, there's clearly something out there that empowers people like the Jedi/Sith/IKs/Dathomiri Witches/etc., but there's no real reason to think it's some all-powerful spiritual presence with a will of it's own or anything.
  6. Mechalich Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 2, 2010
    star 4
    Certainly a possibility, but I was more interested in assessing their current existential state. For example, is the 'will of the Force' actually synonymous with the 'will of the Ones' because they are so powerful and exist more or less fully within it? If that were true Star Wars would have both the Force, as a cosmic energy field without a will, and a set of traditional deities with a will. However, that's only one of a set of wide-ranging possibilities.
  7. Starkeiller Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 5, 2004
    star 4
    Absurdly incomprehensible aliens are as old as science fiction itself (hell, even older, they were around back when it was called "scientifiction"). The fact that they have now been given a face in SW doesn't mean that the Force can be explained in terms of some traditional polytheistic religion wherein the gods reward and punish the mortals according to the standards of heaven, or even at whim.

    There's a series called Odyssey 5, in the pilot episode of which we are introduced to the absurdly incomprehensible aliens in a manner very similar to how Anakin, Obi-Wan and Ahsoka met the Celestials. When I saw Overlords and they came across the monolith and the white light appeared, I had watched and read enough science fiction to know what they were going for.
    Last edited by Starkeiller, Apr 14, 2013
  8. Manisphere Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 25, 2007
    star 5
    I thought Sith by their nature are a kind of atheists. They don't have a deep spiritual belief of the Force. They disregard the spiritual in favor of power that can only be used in life. They believe in...what when they die? They certainly only believe in themselves while alive. They don't seem to think they become "one" with anything. They fear death like Woody Allan. They have faith that the worst will happen if only the Jedi will stay out of it. They want it all in this lifetime because there is nothing to look forward to after this life. Chaos maybe but nothing fun.
    Last edited by Manisphere, Apr 14, 2013
  9. Zorrixor Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Sep 8, 2004
    star 6
    That is no way to speak of the joy and happiness that awaits those who return whence they came within Lord Daiman's mind. [face_shame_on_you]
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  10. Arawn_Fenn Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 2, 2004
    star 7
    My guess would be no, since I like to think that we would still have some kind of "will of the Force" after the Ones are destroyed ( and on the other end, that the Force could have had such a will before the Ones came to Mortis ). Another way to put it would be that the Ones, despite their power, are not synonymous with the Force itself.

    I can imagine that beliefs may vary from one Sith to another. But take Plagueis as an example. He seemed to have a fully developed belief about the Force and its assumed propensity for "striking back", though we might hesitate to call this a deeply spiritual outlook. He viewed the death of Veruna as the latter "melding" with the Force, which seems consistent with the Jedi belief regarding death. Meanwhile, Palpatine seems to believe that the dark side has a will of its own. To quote a character in a film wholly unrelated to SW, evil can be a spiritual experience too.
    Last edited by Arawn_Fenn, Apr 14, 2013
  11. Ulicus Lit'ari

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    Jul 24, 2005
    star 6
    I think it very much depends on the Sith. Some are explicitly religious, others are not.

    Well, "Chaos" is becoming "One with the Force". It's just that the Sith perspective of having their identity subsumed into the larger whole makes it something horrific and terrible to them. Whereas the Jedi, of course, see harmony in it.
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  12. rumsmuggler Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2000
    star 7
    No Sith is a force atheist. That is just silly.
  13. Starkeiller Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 5, 2004
    star 4
    None of what you described makes one an atheist. There's one thing that makes an atheist: belief in the nonexistence of gods.

    Now, both Jedi and Sith are theists insofar as they are animists (although it could be argued that they are "pantheists" I guess). That's a broad definition of theism, but a valid one nonetheless. If we are to say that belief in the nonexistence of the Force's will makes one the equivalent of an atheist in the SW universe, then I guess some Sith would classify. Others wouldn't. Some Jedi view the Force as lacking a will.... But I don't think rejecting the notion that the Force has a will would make one a SW atheist. Several real animist beliefs don't necessitate a will to the natural forces than animate the world.
  14. Ulicus Lit'ari

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    I was understanding "atheist" in this context as belief that the Force, while real, wasn't in any way divine.

    No Sith is going to doubt that there's an energy field permeating the galaxy they can tap into and use, but I could conceive of one that doubted there was anything truly mystical or metaphysical about it.
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  15. Iron_lord Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2012
    star 6
    Plagueis springs to mind as that kind of Sith. And some of Sidious's comments to Maul in The Wrath of Darth Maul, have the same theme, as do Sidious's thoughts about the Force in Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter.
  16. Arawn_Fenn Chosen One

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    Jul 2, 2004
    star 7
    He did, however, appear to believe that people meld with the Force when they die, just as the Jedi do.
    Last edited by Arawn_Fenn, Apr 15, 2013
  17. darth ladnar Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 20, 2013
    star 3
    That's a great idea. Maybe they should cast Woody Allen in a Star Wars film as the next baddie. He'd be so hilariously out of place in SW. I guess in this way they are like atheists. Like atheists, they don't look forward to an afterlife/being one with the Force. However, some Buddhists don't believe in an afterlife or re-incarnation, and they are certainly spiritual people too.

    Maybe in another way, the Sith are closer to practitioners of Voodoo. (Don't mean to insult anybody who believes in Voodoo here.) According to my understanding, those who practice Voodoo believe that the evil spirits are more powerful than the good spirits, so they pray to the evil spirits instead of the good ones.

    I know the comparison isn't exactly right b/c Jedi and Sith don't pray and there isn't a good Force and an evil Force.

    My main point is that both the Jedi and the Sith believe that there is a spiritual world of the Force, but Sith try to manipulate it with evil intent while the Jedi accept the will of the Force. So, in this way, being evil doesn't make them atheists.
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  18. darth ladnar Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 20, 2013
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    I would imagine that most people in the SW universe at the time of ANH - ROTJ are atheists. The Jedi have all but died out and the Sith keep to themselves, so people wouldn't be exposed to those ideas. Certainly in ANH Vader is thought to be a believer in an out-dated religion by other Imperial officers and Obi-Wan is thought to be a weird hermit. Luke seems to have heard of the Force, but he knows nothing about it.

    Actually, I wonder if the EU ever deals with what an avg Joe's relationship with the Force. Do regular people meditate with the Force and revere the Force as being what connects everyone and everything together? Has anyone here come across how regular people regard the Force in the EU? Do they attach any religious significance to it? Do they have religious services centered around it?
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  19. Starkeiller Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 5, 2004
    star 4
    It's not safe to insult Voodooists. They'll put a curse on you. Why risk it when there is a wealth of less curse-prone religions to insult? :p

    All joking aside, I don't find the comparison accurate. The Sith are more like practitioners of traditional Western magic if anything else, in that they command the spirits for their own selfish ends, without any worship involved.
  20. Zorrixor Chosen One

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    Sep 8, 2004
    star 6
    [IMG]
  21. darth ladnar Jedi Grand Master

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    Mar 20, 2013
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    Yeah, I agree. I didn't find my own comparison completely accurate! Yeah, it seems that those who believe in the Western idea of magic and witchcraft as you describe it would be even closer. I don't know that much about that magic and witchcraft. In fact, all I really know is your description of it!

    One other thing, though. Don't practitioners of magic also uses curses?

    You better watch out too!
  22. darth ladnar Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 20, 2013
    star 3
    Wow, how'd you come up with that so quick?

    ...Was it magic?
  23. Zorrixor Chosen One

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    Sep 8, 2004
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  24. Starkeiller Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 5, 2004
    star 4
    Well, both white magic and black magic have the same goal: induce the spirits to do something for the practitioner. The spirits can be well-meaning or they can be evil, so that white magicians can call upon Satan and Belphegor just like black magicians can -- the former would bind the evil spirit by invoking the Creator, whereas the latter would surrender to the evil spirits invoked. So, the most famous grimoires of Solomonic demonology, like the Clavicula Solomonis and the Pseudomonarchia Daemonum, are "handbooks" of what we would call "white magic" despite the fact that they're about conjuring spirits from Hell. Certain things like necromancy however are most often considered "black" ipso facto because Christianity condemned them explicitly from the very beginning. In Star Wars, the Sith practice necromancy, not the Jedi. Alchemy, however, which Star Wars authors have associated exclusively with the Sith, was actually quite a mainstream practice, often done by priests and monks, and it's basically chemistry without the thorough scientific understanding we have today (that's what alchemy means, it simply means "the chemistry").

    Curses are not necessarily "black magic" either. Various popes have cursed freethinkers throughout the ages (and they did until very recently) with horrific punishments from on high.

    Oh do I? o_O
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  25. darth ladnar Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 20, 2013
    star 3
    Actually, I think I better watch out. You seem to know this stuff pretty well.

    Here's one interesting fact that I do know about alchemy. For centuries, alchemists focused on turning other metals, especially lead, into gold, and by the 1700's it was nearly universally thought that this was impossible. However, through the process of nuclear transmutation, lead can actually now be turned into gold. This is achieved by forcing lead to give up 3 of its protons by exposing it to intense energy.
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