Lit How did regular people in the SW universe think of the Force (at 0 BBY)?

Discussion in 'Literature' started by darth ladnar, Apr 18, 2013.

  1. darth ladnar Force Ghost

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    Another discussion on this thread got me thinking. I would imagine that most people in the SW universe at the time of ANH - ROTJ are atheists or pretty non-spiritual. 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.

    However, that's just my impression from the movies and the few EU books I've read. Maybe I'm totally off. Maybe average people in the SW universe know and care about the Force as a spiritual thing. The phrase "May the Force be With You" is certainly still used at this point. (Of course, people today still say "God bless you" when you sneeze.)

    So I was wondering if the EU ever deals with what an avg Joe's relationship with the Force is like. Do regular people meditate with the Force and revere the Force as being the thing that 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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  2. son_of_skywalker03 Force Ghost

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    I'd see many people agreeing with Han.
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  3. LelalMekha Force Ghost

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    From what I gathered in the EU, a "Force worship" doesn't seem to exist. However, people occasionally mention their faith in a creator god. In the comic book story Rust Never Sleeps, there is a mention of "the God of men." In Dark Forces: Soldier for the Empire, Mon Mothma says: "May the Maker help me if I'm wrong, but I'm going to take a chance on you, and hope for the best." Multiple characters, including Luke and Leia themselves, use "God!" or "Lord!" as an expletive.

    My point is: I don't think people of that time are "non-spiritual". However, they may envision the Force not as religion, but more as some kind of magic shenanigan, probably due to years of Imperial propaganda.
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  4. Dawud786 Force Ghost

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    I could see the more mystically inclined members of known GFFA religions recognizing that the Force and their deities or deity are one and the same, they just have a culturally appropriate expression of the underlying reality... while the Jedi have perhaps studied it more in depth because of their natural affinity for the Force and universalized their the language more so as not to push any kind of exclusive cultural religious expression on their studies. We also know that some Jedi still pursue their people's native faith.. for instance, many Chalactan Jedi. Possibly Kel Dor, as well, study with the Baran-Do.

    The people of the GFFA are likely a mixed bag as far as spirituality goes. Han is a pretty hard atheist, or at least agnostic, in ANH. Meanwhile, Leia seems to have been raised by Bail Organa with knowledge enough of the Force to say "may the Force be with you" as do apparently all the majority Alderaanian Rebels on Yavin IV. Heck, the leaders of the Rebellion use that phrase over all.

    I think it's actually kind of odd that the EU hasn't really explored that much, and instead preferred to depict the peoples of the Republic as hostile and skeptical of the Jedi especially after the OT... despite non-Force-sensitives using "may the Force be with you" in the same way Catholics say "God be with you" or Jews say "Shalom Alechem" or Muslims say "Salaam Alaikum"(both meaning 'peace be with you'). While we don't have any indication of a non-Force-user Force religion, going off the use of that phrase it would seem likely that there's something. Not saying Jedi would be priests of said religion... but I could see the average Republic citizen having some kind of vague sense of spirituality and the sacred based on the Force and the teachings of the Jedi Order.
  5. Mechalich Force Ghost

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    The Star Wars galaxy contains an immense number of religions - but there is very little detail regarding almost any of them. However, relatively few involve the Force. The limited evidence that we have suggests that religions tended to break down across species or planetary lines, which makes sense because that's how most cultural practices break down in Star Wars.

    Insofar as 'Force worship' can be considered a religious practice, it's important to recognize that the Force is not a deity, but rather a feature of reality similar to the Tao. Examined in this fashion Jedi, and other Force-users, are similar to Taoist mystics or hermits - those who attempt to use the Force to do something rather than simply recognizing its existence.

    We do get the sense, not only from Imperial period EU but materials set in other time frames that the Star Wars galaxy is largely secular. Societies that are highly religious, including the Jedi, have been greeted with skepticism for a long time. Playing one of the two Jedi classes in TOR will result in people regularly doubting your Force-based insights, and the extremely religious society of the Voss is viewed as downright weird by both Republic and Empire.
  6. LelalMekha Force Ghost

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    It's difficult for us fans to understand what the Force exactly means in the Star Wars universe. Originally, the Force was introduced as a mysterious entity who/that had its own will. And then the PT were released, with that infamous scientifisation process we all know of: the midi-chlorians. That new element resulted in a logical aberration: if the existence of the Force can be proved through scientific means, how is it even remotely possible not to believe in it? And at the same time, how is that Force even "mystic" or "religious" if it is just natural and explicable through technology?
  7. GrandAdmiralJello Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

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    It's likely the midichlorian business is known only to Jedi and Sith.
  8. Mechalich Force Ghost

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    The novel Death Star includes a specific sequence where Kornell Divini reads Nova Stihl's midichlorian count off as part of a set of diagnostic tests. So, secular medical authorities had at least that much knowledge. Divini then finds out that Palpatine has basically embargoed everything in reference to medical journals in all sources.

    There are many things that can be proved through scientific means that people choose not to believe in. 50% of the US has found it possible to rejection evolutionary theory despite the overwhelming evidence to support it. Beyond that, it is relevant that the social setting of Star Wars is not that of the modern day. The principle Star Wars culture is a Western culture, but it's a western culture that dates to something like 1875-1925. Leia Organa would be far more comfortable on the set of Downton Abbey than 90210. Within that vaguely Victorian cultural sensibility the Force fills the role of the sort of low-level occult beliefs that were very common in that era. The intellectual elite of Star Wars are rare (rare enough that the SAGA RPG doesn't even have a class to represent them), just as the number of people who managed to graduate from college in the late-19th/early 20th century was so much lower than it was today. Though honestly, even now, how many people really have any idea what the Strong or Weak nuclear forces do and how in the heck they actually work? The Force is kind of like that.

    So insofar as the average space-faring citizen is aware, there's probably something called the Force, it does some weird stuff that involves complicated physics. There's also these people called Jedi who claim it's some kind of all-powerful cosmic essence, but no one's ever met any of these people (ten thousand knights and masters in 100 quadrillion people is statistically zero), and the average citizen has other more important things to worry about.
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  9. jSarek VIP

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    An aside, but I think "intellectual elite" is very much one of the things the Noble class was intended to represent.
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  10. DarthJimmer Jedi Padawan

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    Apr 15, 2013
    I'm guessing it would depend on many factors. Like the persons personality, upbringing, and their exposure to the force in any way shape or form of course.
    Last edited by DarthJimmer, Apr 18, 2013
  11. Mechalich Force Ghost

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    The Noble class is intended to represent the aristocracy, those who have inherited wealth, and the connections and power-brokering capabilities that come with it. The Noble class is intensely focused on social, not intellectual abilities.

    The actual 'intellectual' class is the Tech Specialist, which existed in D20 but was cut from SAGA, because it was so marginal.

    Scientists just aren't a common group in Star Wars, and all the most famous ones are associated with inventing super-weapons anyway.

    Of course, Star Wars does have religious intellectuals. The Jedi Order was considered a pillar of knowledge for much of its history. That probably explains why 'Force science' is such an underdeveloped field, they had every reason not to investigate deeper.
  12. dewback_rancher Jedi Grand Master

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    Actually, Death Star (the novel) has the connection being known at least to scientists as of ANH, despite the big ban on anything to do with them. They're known enough for one guy to try to research them and bring the Empire down on his head.

    If they weren't well known enough, why would the Empire institute such a ban in the first place? Obviously they figured enough was known that they had to clamp down on it.
    Last edited by dewback_rancher, Apr 18, 2013
  13. GrandAdmiralJello Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

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    Indeed -- I had not recalled. I dislike that intensely, but then I dislike that novel intensely.

    As for why the Empire would institute a ban? Well, the Empire banned a lot of things -- Jedi training materials, for one. Those aren't particularly widely known.

    Yeah, but artists, philosophers, poets, etc fit well into the noble archetype. By focusing on scientists, you're using an intensely myopic definition of the word intellectual (and certainly not the original definition of the term). Indeed, even the very class description of the noble class in SAGA stresses in the first sentences that nobles get by on intelligence (and it's given priority over charisma in the description).
    Last edited by GrandAdmiralJello, Apr 18, 2013
  14. RC-1991 Force Ghost

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    That was a Reaves-Perry collab, not Luceno :p

    I would note that Divini is probably a bit of an outlier, since he had served alongside the Jedi during the Clone Wars, so it's feasible that he was at least passingly familiar with midichlorians.
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  15. GrandAdmiralJello Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

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    Sigh.


    Clearly I am going senile in my old age. When 13 years in Lit you post, remember as well you will not!
  16. Mechalich Force Ghost

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    Well, we were talking about the midichlorian connection to belief in the Force. While practitioners of the humanities do indeed fit well into the noble archetype, they are also not particularly likely to put together the sort of empirical research into how the Force works that would present a strong divide between sacred and secular viewpoints on the subject.

    That makes sense anyway. Science did not become the dominant paradigm in Western culture until sometime in the 20th century anyway, the Star Wars social continuum would seem to predate that.
  17. jSarek VIP

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    Each class is meant to cover a broad swath of archetypes. While I agree the majority of Noble abilities represent social acumen, it's also clear that the class is mean to represent intellectual elites, as well, which is why the class has talents like Educated, Engineer (from Starships of the Galaxy), and the entire Superior Skill talent tree (from Galaxy of Intrigue), and why nearly every feat having to do with intellectual prowess is a bonus feat for Nobles - including, aptly enough, Tech Specialist.

    The problem with the Tech Specialist class wasn't that it was so marginal as far as story was concerned, but that it was both too narrowly defined and too underpowered with respect to other classes (save Fringer, which had similar problems and was likewise combined with another class in Saga). It was quite straightforward to have its conceptual space covered by Noble (for scientists, engineers, and other intellectual elites) and Scoundrel (for outlaw techs and other fringe geniuses).

    Note that the fundamental problem with both WotC rules sets is that they're rooted in the Dungeons and Dragons paradigm, one which privileges combat ability and marginalizes both intellectual and social acumen. After all, every character, regardless of class, has a Base Attack Bonus, but not a Base Logic Bonus or a Base Influence Bonus. In that paradigm, a class which focuses on out-of-combat actions is by necessity at a disadvantage.
  18. darth ladnar Force Ghost

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    For me, if I saw one guy levitating stuff and I couldn't find any wires, I'd be convinced without any scientific evidence!
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  19. Parnesius Jedi Grand Master

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    The Mirialan religion - as established, I think, by material for The Old Republic - is the only actual religion I'm aware of to be explicitly based around the Force. Well, and the Church of the Dark Side, I guess.

    The Church of Toydaria welcomes all.
  20. Dawud786 Force Ghost

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    Tao being the ground of reality never stopped a religion from developing. Arguably, the most developed form of Taoism is Religious Taoism. All the Taoist sorcery is from religious Taoism, not philosophical Taoism. And common people engage in Taoist rituals alongside Confucian and Buddhist rituals in China.

    I'd also say that recent developments make the picture more complicated than "the Force isn't a deity" when we get down to talking about the will of the Force and destiny and all that.

    I think it's safe to argue White Current as a religion, Aing-Tii etc. But those are Force-using groups.
    Pretty sure the Bakuran religion, the Cosmic Balance, is connected to the Force.

    I think there's an argument to be made that all religions are derived from the Force, as objectively speaking... the Force is the Reality underlying all things in Star Wars. So it is the Source or Ultimate Reality as Theosophists and Perennialists/Traditionalists have said. Especially when you take into consideration the Yuuzhan Vong and their entire religion and pantheon having been established as a debased form of Force-worship.
    Last edited by Dawud786, Apr 19, 2013
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  21. cthugha Force Ghost

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    I got the impression (from some Rebel-era books, though right now I can't remember which) that saying "May the Force be with you" during the GCW is practically a dead giveaway that you're a Rebel.

    Other than that, I still think it's weird how people seem to have forgotten all about the Jedi in 0ABY when they apparently were huge media stars and highly public war heroes in 19BBY, as the prologue to the RotS novel tells us, with basically "every child in the galaxy" following the adventures of Anakin the Hero With No Fear and Obi the Negotiator. But apparently that's just me overestimating the influence of the media vs the power of propaganda and/or population statistics :p
  22. DarthJenari Force Ghost

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    Obi-Wan did once point out to Anakin that most of the galaxy had never even heard of the Jedi, much less the Force.
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  23. Parnesius Jedi Grand Master

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    Escaped Rebel POWs in a queue to board a hoverbus. An Imperial officer checks their papers.

    IMPERIAL OFFICER: May the Force be with you.

    KERKOIDEN REBEL POW: And with you.

    Consternation. Chase ensues.
  24. cthugha Force Ghost

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    Seriously? Where's that from?? :eek:
  25. cthugha Force Ghost

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    Oh wait I didn't get the joke there, did I? :oops: