“I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that. My guess is that this cosmic authority problem is not a rare condition and that it is responsible for much of the scientism and reductionism of our time. One of the tendencies it supports is the ludicrous overuse of evolutionary biology to explain everything about human life, including everything about the human mind …. This is a somewhat ridiculous situation …. [I]t is just as irrational to be influenced in one’s beliefs by the hope that God does not exist as by the hope that God does exist.”Atheist admits that he doesn’t “want there to be a God”, by Christian Worldview Press
Certainly, many scientists – and astronomers, and sci-fi fans — would prefer it if God did not exist.
I wouldn’t be surprised if they were joined by many, many Imperial Nobles.
However, Nobility is fundamentally pragmatic in it’s approach to power. Fundamentally, they can’t afford to put all their chips on the atheistic position, as there are too many counter-indicators, both in the nature of reality and in the oddities of history. “Exactly why did the Ziru Sirka stop juuust short of Terra, hmmm?”
Moreover — unlike Our Masters in the West — the Imperial Noble values peace, cultural stability, and economic/population growth over the pleasure of suppressing
religions Christianity. “Why buy trouble when you don’t have to?”
This quote comes from Thomas Nagel, a professor of philosophy and law at New York University. Although I disagree with Nagel, I do respect how truthful he is about his beliefs. What he says is very telling: 1) he wants atheism to be true; 2) that most well-informed and intelligent people that he knows are religious; 3) this “cosmic authority problem is not a rare condition,” that is, there are many others who feel the same way he does; 4) this problem is responsible for all the scientism and reductionism that we see; 5) the overuse of evolutionary biology to explain things, especially the human mind.
I want to make some comments on what Nagel has said. First, he is not the only scientist or philosopher who has said similar things. There have been others who have admitted that evolution is merely a religion that replaces Christianity. For example, Dr. Michael Ruse, a philosopher of science at Florida State University, has said:
Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion – a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality…. Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today.Atheist admits that he doesn’t “want there to be a God”, by Christian Worldview Press
Certainly, Traveller-the-game is deeply grounded in evolution, especially the optimistic, the-universe-is-full-of-life evolutionary viewpoint of Issac Asimov (hard atheism) and Carl Sagan (mystical atheism) which dominated the field in the 1970s-80s.
(And the ‘you-can-become-a-god’ mystical atheistic viewpoint implied in the ESP/psionic craze of the 70s, as illustrated by Grandfather.)
However, from the perspective of 2019, I doubt if the Imperium would put all its marbles on the viewpoint. Or at least, they would make a lot of room for alternate viewpoints, Vilani, Christian, Stellar Divinity, Bwap, and plenty of others too.
“Just because you really don’t want the ever-existent, uncreated, Maker of Heaven and Earth Lord and God of the Solomani to exist, does not therefore make Him non-existent.”
So, the Imperium carefully hedges its bets, especially on the lower scales of Imperial power. If a group of worlds want to conduct an explicitly Christian, or Ancestor-venerating, or Star worshiping interstellar project, there may well be a believing Noble assigned to it as an liaison, or even as a leader of said project.
Mainly, he is intended to keep interactions between the project and Imperial policy as smooth and as trouble-free as possible.
Also, he is expected to harness the energy of the project – cultural, charismatic, spiritual, financial, even mystical/magical/psionic (whisper that last word!) — to insure it benefits and strengthens the Imperium locally.