Ah, deities… nearly every religion, just on the basis of being a religion, requires them, though many do not. I briefly touched on some of this in the original A-Zs of Worldbuilding series, and went into more depth in the first volume of the book series. We’ll go over some of it again now.
For the purposes of this series, though, let’s assume that a deity has a few specific traits:
- They are immortal in their natural (most likely spiritual) state.
- They have the power to create life from nothing.
- They can change the outcome of future events (which may mean that they can manipulate time.)
The Lack of a Deity
First off, you don’t have to have gods/goddesses, etc., for your fictional religion to work. For story purposes, the primary concern you should have is knowing what your character(s) believe and why they believe it, because this helps you to know your character’s motivations.
Now, when I say that there is a ‘lack of a deity’ within a religion, that doesn’t always mean religious adherents don’t worship anything. Religions are not always about worshipping a specific deity, but often they are also used to espouse a way of life for the greater benefit of a culture.
There are also some religions that practice the worship of nature, the worship of ancestors, the worship of ruling monarchs, etc.
The Nature of God
Ah, theology again…
As mentioned at the beginning of this post, there are some specific traits we are assuming a deity has, at least for this stage of worldbuilding. Even deities are subject to the rules of your universe.
Even within those specific parameters, there are a lot of variables you can play with to create your god(s) and/or goddess(es). Immortality, for instance, doesn’t mean that one cannot be killed under certain circumstances.
And perhaps the ability to create life from nothing was a one-time thing.
Maybe your deities are only able to influence the future, and not directly change it. Maybe they are not able to see all possible outcomes of a set of events and choices your characters must face.
Because, simply put, humans (or non-humanoid characters based on human nature and all its quirks) are prone to simply slapping the label of ‘deity’ on anything more powerful than ourselves that we don’t understand. Whether it deserves it or not.
- Does your religion have a deity? Multiple ones? What are they known as?
- How was the existence of these deities made known to the beings of your world?
- Do these deities interact with those beings, and if so, how frequently? In what ways?
- If your fictional religion does not have deities, what do your ‘people’ worship, and why?
Leave a comment below if you have any questions! Thanks for stopping by!
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Rebekah Loper began creating epic worlds and stories as a child and never stopped. She is the author of The A-Zs of Worldbuilding series, and has a fantasy novella published in Beatitudes and Woes: A Speculative Fiction Anthology.
She lives in Tulsa, OK with her husband, dog, two formerly feral cats, a small flock of feathered dragons (…ok, ok, they’re chickens), and an extensive tea collection. When she is not writing, she can be found battling the elements in an effort to create a productive, permaculture urban homestead.