I had a discussion yesterday about people’s belief systems and Jung and Freud. An idea got dropped at the table: What if people had none of the spiritual influences, what would happen then?
What if we started tabula rasa, with no symbols or mythology to base our beliefs on?
Well, I believe that people would simply make one up.
Just like Heinlein’s Orphans of the Sky, where a generation ship forgets its purpose and thinks the ship is everything and there is nothing beyond that, people will make up a mythology from the elements they have in their environment. On Earth, that seems to be a belief in the sun-god, something that pops up almost everywhere in places isolated from themselves. On a ship travelling through the stars, the mythology is about the ship itself, the void outside and the lower caste of mutants.
I’ve drawn on that archetype for A Thousand Eves, a mythology that pops up on a generation fleet where the ruling AI has had to make some tough decisions to keep the people alive. Incidentally she makes certain people practical demigods in the narrow confines of the fleet, which in turn changes their society a lot.
I have no research to base this on, other my own opinion. But it’s the basis of pretty much all my fiction, strange things happen, people’s beliefs get warped, something note-worthy appears and a protagonist struggles through it.
In the God Complex Universe, corporations act as gods. In the Antigravel universe, the endless expanse of space offers grounds for warped beliefs based on the environment at hand (I have plenty of ideas on that.) Even my shorts, like Hellenic Witch for example, are based on the modern witch’s belief system and how it can help young girls in their daily lives.
It’s a system that works nicely for storytelling, and I plan to keep it up because it’s so much fun.