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Eclipse Phase: More Nuance Later?

Corum

Registered User
Validated User
I mean it doesn't really feel all that different, Star Trek has been pulling that since Next Generation at the very least. a Christianity that's highly liberal in the modern sense and progressive on technology being agressive in the status of personhood on uplifts and Forks would be in my mind much more "EVERYTHING IS DIFFERENT" than Jovian catholicism.
Catholics recognize the personhood of the unborn and are reviled for it by so-called liberals. I could see the same happening in regards to future personhood issues.
 

Michael Cule

Gaming Dinosaur 2nd Class
Validated User
A personal anecdote from America - a customer at my work once asked me what church I went to, and, deciding that there was nothing to be ashamed about, being an atheist, and that it would actually be a show of respect to be honest, I said "I don't have one, I'm an atheist," and this person somehow felt that lecturing me about the fate of my soul for the 45-minutes until the end of my shift was acceptable human behavior.
In the UK getting in other peoples' faces about your beliefs (and especially about how you have the One True Way) is very bad manners, very funny or both. This applies to atheism and political views too. We have a cultural prejudice against people who take themselves too seriously.

The dislike of relgion in EP does't get up my nose so much as the post-market anarchist utopianism which seems to constantly assume facts not in evidence. Personally, I dislike the thought of a 'reputation based economy' vehemently. It would require I spend a large part of my life worrying about what other people think.
 

That Other Guy

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That would make sense. Though I always felt that my English friends were just kind of ambivalent towards religion in general even though they labeled them self as religious.
"Kind of ambivalent about religion" is more or less the trademark of the entire Church of England
 

David J Prokopetz

Social Justice Henchman
RPGnet Member
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Really, I think the issue can be boiled down to saying that Eclipse Phase's technological speculation is strong and imaginative, but its sociological speculation is weak, both because it's often based on information that's decades out of date, and because it suffers from a great deal of America-centrism that results in most non-American cultures being reduced to admirable-but-doomed Noble Savages or villainous strawmen - both of which are par for the course for tabletop RPGs, really.
 

LatwPIAT

Active member
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Your friend is apparently unaware that the game canon has a surviving Jewish population.
To quote again: "But Judaism mostly perishing in the Fall, with only a few scattered Israeli survivors to form that government in exile on that asteroid? Entirely believable."

Also, your friend is apparently under the belief that Jewish people are allergic to space, given that his entire argument assumes every single Jewish congregation in the Solar System is still on Earth when the Fall arrives. Since that is absolutely absurd as a starting assumption, his long and elaborate rationalization is precisely that; a rationalization. The settlements on Luna and Mars were started up over fifty years before the Fall arrives, and America (the country with the second largest Jewish population, as your friend concedes) was a primary contributor to the original settlements of both places. What, did they all just coincidentally stay home? Is their some historic trend of Jews being unwilling to emigrate to new places that I was unaware of? (sarcasm)
No, it hinges on the majority of Jewish people - perhaps disproportionate to their relative population - being on the Earth and not in space. And, again, my friend never said that there were no, or should be no, Jews in the setting, but rather that there would be no large-scale survival of them such that being a "mere shadows of its former glory" is not unwarranted. The total off-Earth population before the fall was 5 million, 4 million of whom lived on Mars. The vast majority of the rest would have been living on Luna.

And I should feel the need to point out that while the USA was, indeed, a "primary contributor" to the colonization of Luna, the moon was first colonized by India, and the largest single cultural block on the moon is Indian. The US colonization efforts were part of their Pan-American colonization efforts, and had to share the remainder of the non-Indian colonization with the Sino-European colonization efforts. Even if the Jewish population was evenly distributed over the Lunar colonists (which is was not), that'd still be only 2000 Jews. Secondly, while the USA was, indeed, a "primary contributor" to the colonization of Mars, Mars was first colonized by China and was predominantly Chinese, and the American efforts were as far as I can tell second to the European ones.

In general, we're talking about 10,000 Jews in space before the Fall assuming an (entirely unwarranted) global average in the predominantly Indian/Chinese-followed-by-Europe space colonies. Compared to the 0.2%-of-survivors-figure of 1 million, this is not very much, so again I don't really think my friend was wrong in pointing out that large-scale survival of Judaism is unlikely in the setting; scattered populations, individuals, and the asteroid Horeb are far more likely.

(For all the flaws of the portrayal, I really like that Eclipse Phase portrays a space-future that is dominantly Chinese followed by India, with a very high incidence of non-Western nations being present, and the US efforts being largely part of a Pan-American alliance than its own thing; it's a wonderfully refreshing portrayal of diversity where a lot of other space-futures has you play in the United Planets of America or something similar.)

The reason some people believe that the Jews can survive almost anything is because if human history contains a record of a more determined bunch of survivors, an ethnic and religious population that has survived more diverse, determined, and prolonged attempts to wipe them from the face of the Earth from literally before the Christian era on up to the present day, we are not aware of what it is. So yeah, saying 'they all died in the Fall' would be odious enough if it was any other ethnic subgroup famous for attracting hate, but when its the Jews? Its not only odious, its farcical.
Neither the core book's passage on Judaism nor Sunward says that, as a religion, Judaism is dead. It simply says that Judaism is very small as a religion - this is entirely consistent with the fact that they are in the real world a comparatively small and slowly-growing religion.
 
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Solar

Active member
Validated User
Really, I think the issue can be boiled down to saying that Eclipse Phase's technological speculation is strong and imaginative, but its sociological speculation is weak, both because it's often based on information that's decades out of date, and because it suffers from a great deal of America-centrism that results in most non-American cultures being reduced to admirable-but-doomed Noble Savages or villainous strawmen - both of which are par for the course for tabletop RPGs, really.
I don't think that's true in the slightest. The Titanian Commonwealth is probably the most positively portrayed faction within the game setting and that's a northern european/canadian social democracy which is not really related to the US in the slightest. Mars is a mostly Chinese/Japanese/European venture with the vast majority of people there being the inheritors of a Chinese corporate oligarchy that developed prior to the fall. The Ultimates are a philosophical sect with origins in the Indo-European mythic cycles tinged with various taoist/buddhist/etc concepts regarding the self. There's a lot of non-US civilizations that are not even presented through the perspective of the US viewpoint, I'm not American and I don't think the book is US centric at all. It's probably quite anti-US, and I don't mind that really.

The Junta is basically the survival of a North/South American political alliance that existed before the fall which saw political authoritarianism, religious dogmatism and bioconservatism flourish. It's survived where it is because it had a major military outpost. The vast majority of people died in the fall and most of the survivors were ether off-planet, merged into the mainstream culture of non-Earthers where they were after the Fall, travelled to somewhere they felt most at home or just got washed through the cracks. Why does Christianity survive particularly in the Junta? Because the colony/base that the Junta is based on was run by a main Christian group, there weren't many other big Christian groupings off Earth anywhere else in the system, and so when the Fall hit the only strain of Christianity that survived was the authoritarian biocon strain that you get in the Junta. Islam does exist more widely but not that widely, to be honest, and is mostly an inner system religion followed by fringe societies.

In Eclipse Phase, most people are atheists or have adapted their religious beliefs to take into account transhuman technologies, making them more philoophical outlooks than actual ideas regarding the cosmology/structure of the universe. As an atheist, I'm totally fine with that. After all the vast majority of RPGs assume that your character follows some sort of God.
 

LatwPIAT

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Validated User
I don't think that's true in the slightest. The Titanian Commonwealth is probably the most positively portrayed faction within the game setting and that's a northern european/canadian social democracy which is not really related to the US in the slightest. Mars is a mostly Chinese/Japanese/European venture with the vast majority of people there being the inheritors of a Chinese corporate oligarchy that developed prior to the fall. The Ultimates are a philosophical sect with origins in the Indo-European mythic cycles tinged with various taoist/buddhist/etc concepts regarding the self. There's a lot of non-US civilizations that are not even presented through the perspective of the US viewpoint, I'm not American and I don't think the book is US centric at all. It's probably quite anti-US, and I don't mind that really.
No, the TC is the second- or third-most positively portrayed portrayed faction after the utopian individualist/collectivist anarchists. Even then, there's an inherent bias in how all these portrayals are viewed through a American lens that paints these non-American societies in truly odd ways. For example, despite being predominantly NEurope/Canadian, the naming-scheme used for Titanian locations is oddly American and distinctly un-Scandinavian (in particular, the mountain named after a city named after a bay; it sounds really silly if you actually understand the etymology, which Scandinavian settlers would have), and as a Norwegian, a lot of the cultural elements that are supposedly Scandinavian feel more like someone fumbling in the dark with a bottle of Scandinavian-stereotypes aerosol. The space-Sami being named a non-Sami human-eating monster particularly stood out.

Likewise, such things as Judaism being mentioned as a religion in the passage on religion, while Sikhism, as triple the population today, goes unmentioned despite the fact that India was supposedly prominent in the colonization efforts. While all of these things are not particularly egregious by themselves, (and the kind of mistake I'd probably make if I were writing a role-playing setting) they all add up to reinforce a recognizably America-centric perspective and portrayal of a non-American-centric setting.

Which is, diversity-wise, a whole lot more interesting that an America-centric perspective of space-America, but still not not-American.
 
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cliffc999

Registered User
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No, it hinges on the majority of Jewish people - perhaps disproportionate to their relative population - being on the Earth and not in space.
Which is an entirely unfounded assumption. (Add: the 'disproportionate to their relative population' part, that is.)

And, again, my friend never said that there were no, or should be no, Jews in the setting, but rather that there would be no large-scale survival of them such that being a "mere shadows of its former glory" is not unwarranted.
Yes, like that's never happened to them before, and yet they've returned from that.

Also, were the upload stations all run by anti-Semites? Or did the Jewish population all just decide to stay on Earth and die? For what reason is it being assumed that they were not present in the Fall evacuees at a rate akin to their distribution in the actual population? (By which that would mean that there would be over 1 million Jewish people left in the Solar System, out of a population of about half a billion total. Hardly 'dying out', given that at some points in their history when entire empires were actively trying to exterminate them, there weren't 1 million Jews total on the planet Earth.).

And I should feel the need to point out that while the USA was, indeed, a "primary contributor" to the colonization of Luna
Which means right there there's no reason not to assume viable Jewish ethnic communities on the Moon.

the moon was first colonized by India
Irrelevant, they're still primary contributors.

and the largest single cultural block on the moon is Indian. The US colonization efforts were part of their Pan-American colonization efforts, and had to share the remainder of the non-Indian colonization with the Sino-European colonization efforts.
And the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth largest populations of Jews in the world, after Israel and the US, are in... the European Union, France, Canada, and the United Kingdom. On, and the seventh is in Russia. The eighth, in Argentina. Etc, etc, etc. So, pointing out that the USA had to share with the rest of the Americas and Europe... um, yeah.

Even if the Jewish population was evenly distributed over the Lunar colonists (which is was not)
Why not? Again, are Jewish people supposed to be afraid of space? This seems like its starting to circle back around to the 'the authors assumed that the entire Jewish population were backward fundamentalists' complaint from earlier in the thread.

(For all the flaws of the portrayal, I really like that Eclipse Phase portrays a space-future that is dominantly Chinese followed by India, with a very high incidence of non-Western nations being present, and the US efforts being largely part of a Pan-American alliance than its own thing; it's a wonderfully refreshing portrayal of diversity where a lot of other space-futures has you play in the United Planets of America or something similar.)
I don't know if you intended that to come across as 'It doesn't bother me if the author chooses to drop certain ethnicities and/or national populations down the memory hole and have them get nigh-on annihilated in his timeline so long as the ones I like get to be in the limelight', but that is entirely how it came across over here.

Neither the core book's passage on Judaism nor Sunward says that, as a religion, Judaism is dead. It simply says that Judaism is very small as a religion - this is entirely consistent with the fact that they are in the real world a comparatively small and slowly-growing religion.
Eh, no, you're misquoting. This is what the corebook sez:

The rigid structures and dogmas enveloping Christianity and Judaism prohibited these religions from adapting to the cultural, philosophical, and especially scientific/technological changes transhumanity underwent. Today, they are mere shadows of their former glory, with many practitioners seen as pitiful individuals unable to let go of their earthbound delusions.

-- Eclipse Phase core rules, page 82
That goes well beyond simply saying 'Jewish people still exist but they're still the same small, slowly-growing religion that they've always been'. It explicitly points out that the Jewish population has been reduced to a vestige of its already small #'s, and piles on 'seen as pitiful individuals' full of 'earthbound delusions' in particular.

So yeah, the author's tone of voice really pisses some readers off.
 
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darktalon

Merchant of Chaos
Validated User
Catholics recognize the personhood of the unborn and are reviled for it by so-called liberals. I could see the same happening in regards to future personhood issues.
Well, this has to do with the doctrine on when the soul enters the body. I could see arguments about whether (e.g.) infomorphs or uplifted animals had souls, but I'm not enough of a theologian to speculate with any authority on which side each religious group would fall. (And, to be scrupulously fair, in your example it's not the belief that annoys people so much as trying to impose it on people who don't agree. As with a lot of things. It's not that surprising that a liberal should oppose authoritarianism, regardless of whether it's religiously motivated and even if they are sympathetic to the underlying issue.)
 

Serket

Registered User
Validated User
As a European I was quite astonished when I first stumbled, somewhere in the American parts of the internet, on the world view in which Catholics are not considered Christians. Every history book I ever encountered (that dealt with such issues) portrays Catholicism as the original Christianity - quite logical considering that it has existed for 2000 years while Protestantism (not regarding its later splintering) is only a few hundred years old. Even within the ecumenical movement Roman Catholicism (more or less) regards itself the "true" church and other Christian groups as misguided brothers at best if not heretics …

Can somebody shine a light on that POV?
Well, obviously, the Greek Orthodox church is the correct one and the church of Rome are a bunch of splitters.
...or is that not what you meant? :)

Seriously though, Catholicism has a lot of established dogma, and any Christian sect that isn't Catholic must disagree with Catholic dogma on at least one point (or they'd be Catholic...), so if that one or more points of contention are considered important enough then the logical conclusion is that the other group are doing it wrong and hence heretical. Considering how many wars have been fought over heresy, and in particular how many happened in C16 and C17 in Europe, it should be obvious that these dogmatic points are very important to some believers.
So what the US has is unresolved tension from 500 year old Christian schisms. But, you know, that's not so embarrassing. I mean, they could have unresolved tension from first council of Nicea or something. That "Arian heresy" business resulted in a crusade in France, nearly 900 years later.

Church history is pretty complicated. :) And violent. And full of splitters. But if you want an upside, at least we got the badass line "Kill them all, God will surely know his own".
Okay, that's not such a good upside, considering.

As a side note, I remember reading once the claim that the (revised) King James version of the bible was "the definitive" version. I laughed, then I realised they were serious.
 
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