You’ll find the introduction to this series here.
This post looks at Blasphemy.
Ancient and often arbitrary laws of blasphemy are gradually losing ground throughout most of the civilised world. They remain a threat to free speech in too many countries at present, however. After all, blasphemy, as a matter of law, can only occur if the belief in a deity is held to be a national imperative. Here, in the UK, most people have taken a secular stance, a position brought about by a mixture of influences.
The future is likely to see a continued decline in the power of faith and therefore of blasphemy laws, as rational views increase with the progress of science and the wider education of populations about the reality of much religion. Will faith schools finally be replaced by secular education, thereby removing the most manipulative tool used by religious organisations in the indoctrination of their populations? The internet provides information to allow those with open minds to understand that the concept of a universal god is clearly nonsense, since the world has, depending on who you ask, anything from a handful of deities to many millions. But most of the ‘faithful’ accept only their own invented deity or, in the case of multiple deity religions, group of gods, as the ‘One’. So, will the ready provision of information from outside the extremely specific and usually narrow world of the religions slowly erode belief and thereby remove the concept of blasphemy?
For most people, the idea that someone may be imprisoned or, worse, sentenced to death simply because their belief fails to match that of a particular set of theists is abhorrent. The internet has made the world a smaller place, crossed boundaries, removed false barriers to learning and understanding. Will this provision of facts, more neutral versions of history, and wider understanding of the controlling purpose behind religions, undermine brainwashing techniques employed over centuries, remove irrational fears spread by certain religious groups, and replace the whole idea of faith with more reasoned views of the world relying on evidence as a major element in any philosophy?
Or might ancient fears, superstitions, traditions, rituals and rites continue their stronghold on the imaginations of many, allowing the continuation of unjust and irrational laws to endanger the lives of all with open minds? We know from history that religions are divisive, tribal, and controlling by nature: if they manage to continue to hold sway over many millions, how will such authoritarianism affect the lives of rebels and free-thinkers in your story?
These are just some suggestions I make for consideration if you’re including the ideas of religion and blasphemy in your story. I’m sure you can think of many more. Please feel free to let us know your ideas, using the comment space below the post.
Part 1, Introduction and Accommodation. Part 2, Activism. Part 3, Advertising. Part 4, Agriculture. Part 5, Artificial Intelligence. Part 6, Animals, as Pets. Part 7, Art. Part 8, Authority. Part 9, Banking. Part 10, Beauty.