Den 10. jun. 2010 kl. 13.05 skreiv Sai Emrys:

> I wonder what kinds of con-religions one might have. All those I've
> seen are patterned very strongly after real-world ones. Is there
> something within the conceptual space of what we would still recognize
> as a religion, but which does not happen to exist currently?
> I for one would be kinda disappointed if we found aliens, and it turns
> out they're monotheists (or polytheists, or meditators).

Well, religion is something that seems to be typically human, and  
personally I wouldn't expect it in an alien race. Consider the other  
intelligent and communicating species we have on this planet, like  
the higher apes, whales and octopuses. Do they show any sign of  
religious activity? That depends how you define religion, of course.  
But humans are so symbol-orientated in their communication that they  
need one or more symbols to represent themselves and their hopes  
against nature. Will any species that develop highly symbolic  
communication also develop this trend, or is it just a human freak?  
And must communication be highly symbolic in order to develop an  
advanced civilisation? Real telepaths could possibly do without it,  
for example.

It's hard to conceive of a planet with a more benign and stable  
environment than this one, but it is possible, perhaps. Inhabitants  
of such a place would probably never develop the need to seek  
supernatural aid against their nature. Probably they would have a  
moderate reproduction rate as well, and so would always have plenty  
of resources.

Less benign and/or stable environments would perhaps induce a need to  
seek supernatural aid at some stage, but if a civilisation develops  
and the aliens learn to help themselves, will they still seek  
supernatural aid? That depends on their psychological makeup and the  
amount of trouble they tend to make for each other, perhaps.

Humans do seem to have explored just about any religious idea  
conceivable, so it would be hard to come up with any con-religion  
that isn't patterned strongly after ours. But of course our character  
does have some peculiar traits which aren't necessarily copied by  
every other intelligent species. Life is sacred to any terrestrial  
species for example, not only your own life, but often the lives of  
others as well, like offspring, mating companions and/or tribal  
comrades. Yet there are human sects that revere death, so the  
sacredness of life isn't necessarily universal.

Life on this planet occurs and acts sometimes as individuals and  
sometimes as flocks. Humans have a mixed tendency, but there are  
other species that lean more to the flock side or more to the  
individual side, and this will influence any religion they develop.  
Here, too it seems to me that human religions have covered much of  
the territory, but it could be possible for an alien religion to be  
more extremely individualistic or collectivist than any human  
religion or sect.

Training the young to become civilised individuals is an important  
aspect of the current major religions on Earth. Instincts provide  
more or less guidance to various species for conduct in all of life's  
more or less difficult situations, and many species augment them by  
sharing accumulated information with their young. Human instincts too  
are strong, but our civilisation has developed too fast for the  
instincts to keep track and thus they tend to cause a lot of trouble  
for our societies instead of guiding us. Hence we developed conduct  
rules with very strong punishments for breaking them. Still they  
don't work, and possibly aliens more or less intelligent than us have  
developed other means for guidance, either by channeling instinctive  
forces towards more constructive paths, or more or less selectively  
suppressing them, or perhaps their civilisations have developed more  
slowly and/or more in concert with their instinctive natures.

Just some thoughts, I think it's an interesting discussion.