Offending an Atheist
How in the hell do I manage to get myself into these situations? Seriously.
I was posting on a writer's board yesterday, following a thread where a new writer is trying to figure out if his magic system works. I was genuinely trying to be helpful. See what you think:
The trick to writing magic is to make it believable...and I'm talking about YOU have to believe it. It's a pain in the wazoo to come up with every conceivable point and counterpoint about a magical system. Trust me; I feel your pain. Although you've proposed your system here and ther people say that it works for
them, if it completely worked for you, you wouldn't have posted the original
post. So........that being said.....For me, any time I've developed a magical
system I started off with a religious/mythological system. I (as the writer)
needed to know who the gods were, what they did, what they required, what their worship was blah blah blah. Your magical system may not have anything to do with the religious setup of your world. however, mages are considered *mystics* and that has religious conotations, as do the concepts of good and evil.
As you can see, I related what worked FOR ME. Thinking, in my ignorance, that this tidbit of personal experience might set off the eureka bells. Well, surprise, surprise. Someone else interjected the following as a response to my post:
As for the other point, as an atheist, I find the implication that good and evil only exist within a religious context quite insulting.
Uh, what? Did I just read that correctly? Did someone whom I have never interacted before actually just say that my worldbuilding techniques offend him? I don't mind the disagreement part; that's healthy and his point is valid. But the insult? Trust me, if I want to insult somebody I don't have a problem with that at all. I'm just usually MUCH more overt about it.
Hmmm. Interesting. If techniques I use for myself offend him, just imagine how offended he'll be by my response. This one might go on the Wall of Shame, actually.
It's a sad day when atheists are as touchy as fundamentalists. Since when did I have to be politically correct around an ATHEIST? Jesus Christ! Oh, excuse me...I mentioned a deity. Sorry about that. Don't want to offend.
Okay. I know you want to see it. I know you guys live for my explosions of temper.
Fair enough. However, if we're talking in a traditional epic fantasy context, then we're talking about worlds with gods and religions and other various hocus pocus. I'm an atheist as well, but that doesn't dilute my sense of what works. In your world, perhaps, the scientific method is the basis for your magical system. That's all fine and good and appropriate for you. However, in the worlds of Tolkien, Eddings, Carey, Lewis, Springer, McKillip, et cetera and so forth, that isn't the case. By the way, *name removed*, perhaps this will help from dictionary.com:
Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1) - Cite This Source mys·tic /ˈmɪstɪk/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[mis-tik] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation –adjective 1.involving or characterized by esoteric, otherworldly, or symbolic practices or content, as certain religious ceremonies and art; spiritually significant; ethereal. 2.of the nature of or pertaining to mysteries known only to the initiated: mystic rites. 3.of occult character, power, or significance: a mystic formula. 4.of obscure or mysterious character or significance. 5.of or pertaining to mystics or mysticism. –noun 6.a person who claims to attain, or believes in the possibility of attaining, insight into mysteries transcending ordinary human knowledge, as by direct communication with the divine or immediate intuition in a state of spiritual ecstasy. 7.a person initiated into religious mysteries. [Origin: 1275–1325; ME mystik <>
Seeing as my original quote was "mages are considered *mystics*" perhaps you wouldn't have been quite so insulted if you'd taken my post in context. I was, after all, discussing what works for ME when developing a magical system. I don't think that my personal experiences with world-building should be a basis for your sense of affront.
I love dictionary.com!
Yes, I know. Remarkably restrained for me. Still, I'm kind of peeved. I've managed to offend lots of different kinds of people throughout my life. Some of them I offended on purpose and really enjoyed doing it. Others I've offended by being to liberal. The march on the capitol protesting sodomy laws comes to mind. Hell, I've even offended through honesty before...okay MANY times before. But this? Am I missing a cog here? Is there any reason to find offense in my original post????
Well, the sun will soon stop shining. The tides will stop churning in. Up is now down, in is now out, and reality has fled to new universes. I am too politically incorrect to prevent myself from offending atheists. What's next, I ask you? Am I going to offend the SPCA for saving animals? No, wait! I know! I'll offend a fromagier because I have a thing of Velveeta in my fridge. No wait! I have a better one! I'll offend the entire state of Ohio because I said from the beginning that the Cavs would lose the finals badly. (okay so that one's true.)
Fact of the matter is, in this day and age pretty much anything you say is going to offend someone. All of you who know me are well aware of my thoughts on organized religion of the Judeo-Christian variety. To be set up as a defender of the faith is so ludicrous that I can't help but scratch my head.
Grow some skin, people, and make sure it's tough. For a long time, I always held those ideologies on the fringe in a great deal of esteem because they DIDN'T TELL ME HOW TO THINK OR ACT OR PORTRAY MYSELF. Apparently, those days are over.