An idea I have had for a long time is an exploration of the concept of religion and spirituality, as it would emerge in a society that evolves on an Earth-like moon, orbiting a gas giant.
It is a fascinating concept to me because Sun gods were some of the earliest gods worshipped by humans. Would that directly correlate to the giant planet hovering above? Would that planet be an arbiter of doom, rather than joy, due to the radiation emitted and the tidal forces affected on the moon?
To test out some of these ideas I decided to turn to AI. I put the following prompt to each of Bard, ChatGPT and Claude 2: “How might the religious beliefs of society emerging on the moon of a Gas giant differ to that of a society evolving on a planet orbiting a star?”
Each gave a reasoned response, breaking down the impact on society from each of the star and the planet. Claude gave the shortest response but the content was similar.
This is the conclusion from ChatGPT: “In both scenarios, the unique environmental conditions and celestial phenomena would shape the religious and mythological framework of these societies.”
It went on to suggest that the society on the moon of a gas giant might develop a more “introspective and locally-focused belief system.” One that is “deeply tied to the immediate cosmic phenomena they observe.”
Bard opined that “the specific beliefs of these societies would be shaped by their unique histories, challenges, and adaptations.” Among the adaptations could be the ever-shifting storms on the gas giant, each change harboring a new era or type of worship.
Claude outlined a set of ways in which a lunar society might differ to that of a solar society:
- Views on the afterlife – A lunar society may believe the afterlife is somewhere on the gas giant planet they orbit rather than in the heavens, since the planet would dominate their sky.
- Reverence for the planet – The gas giant would likely play a major role in lunar religious beliefs. It may be worshipped as a god or divine entity. Planetary societies are more likely to revere their parent star.
- Importance of phases – The phases of the gas giant as seen from the moon’s surface could influence religious rituals and beliefs about cycles, birth, death and rebirth. These phases would be irrelevant to a planetary society.
- Eclipse significance – Eclipses of the sun by the gas giant could hold deep spiritual meaning about darkness, light and the balance of cosmic forces for lunar cultures.
- Creation myths – Creation stories may involve the gas giant or its moons rather than focusing on planetary formation around a star. The gas giant may be seen as giving birth to its moons.
- Afterlife location – Some may believe their spirits go into the clouds of the gas giant after death rather than to the heavens or underground.
- Syncretism with astrology – Astrological influences may be tied to the positions of the gas giant planet’s moons rather than other planets and stars.
I then asked ChatGPT to come up with a religion and write a short story about said religion. It developed “The Celestial Harmony of Jovarism” and named our hypothetical moon Thalassa, calling the gas giant Elysius.
Jovarism on Thalassa is a rich, deeply spiritual belief system, where the celestial dance of a gas giant and its moons shapes not just the physical environment but also the spiritual landscape of its inhabitants,” the chatbot explained. “The religion emphasizes harmony, interconnectedness, and a deep reverence for the cosmic forces that govern their world.”
These are the core beliefs of Jovarism:
- The Divine Elysius: Elysius, with its swirling storms and changing hues, is revered as a living deity, embodying the forces of creation and destruction. It is believed that Elysius shapes the destiny of Thalassa and its inhabitants.
- The Moons as Divine Siblings: Thalassa is one of several moons orbiting Elysius. Each moon is personified and worshipped as a sibling deity, with Thalassa often depicted as the nurturing sister, fostering life and growth.
- Cycles of Eclipses and Tides: The regular eclipses and strong tidal forces caused by Elysius and its moons are viewed as divine interactions. These events are believed to bring messages from the gods, influencing the flow of energy and life on Thalassa.
- The Great Harmony: Jovarists believe in a cosmic harmony, where all celestial bodies – Elysius, its moons, and distant stars – are part of a grand, interconnected system. This harmony is reflected in the societal values of balance and interconnectedness.
- The Path of Ascendance: It is believed that after death, souls ascend towards Elysius, joining the deity in its eternal dance through the cosmos. This ascent is seen as the ultimate union with the divine.
And a sample religious text:
- The Birth of Elysius: In the boundless dance of the cosmos, the gas giant Elysius was born, a colossal guardian amidst the stars. Its swirling colors painted the canvas of the heavens, heralding an era of wonder and majesty.
- The Assembly of Moons: Around Elysius, the moons, Thalassa and her siblings, took their place, each a jewel in the celestial crown. They moved in harmonious orbits, weaving a tapestry of light and shadow over the realms they watched.
- Thalassa’s Embrace: Thalassa, cloaked in blue and green, cradled the gift of life. Waters flowed over her surface, and greenery sprouted under her gentle gaze. In her embrace, life blossomed, nurtured by her tender care.
- The First Whisper of Jovarism: As the inhabitants of Thalassa looked upon the great Elysius, a whisper stirred in their hearts. It spoke of unity, of a bond that tied the moons to their giant, and the people to the cosmos.
- The Harmony Revealed: The people of Thalassa saw the dance of moons and Elysius, and understood the Celestial Harmony. They learned that every eclipse, every tide, was a note in a grand symphony, a melody of existence woven by the hands of the divine.
I then asked Claude to perform the same task. Namely create a religion where the inhabitants lived on a moon orbiting a gas giant. This was its response:
The worship of Obrus
“The people of Luna worship the giant planet Obrus that fills their sky. They believe Obrus provides light and warmth to their world, allowing life to flourish. The different bands and swirls of clouds on Obrus are seen as revelations of the moods and masks of their god.
“When Obrus is eclipsed by one of its other moons, the Lunians see it as a time when their god is battling forces of darkness and chaos. They help by banging drums, singing sacred songs, and praying during the eclipse. When Obrus emerges victorious from the eclipse, it is celebrated as a time of renewal and rebirth.
“The Lunians believe that when they die, their spirits ascend into the clouds of Obrus. One day, it is prophesied, Obrus will gather all the spirits to join in a cosmic dance within its Great Red Spot, a never-ending storm of divine power and mystery.
“Obrus’ phases dictate the Lunian calendars and rituals. The planet’s position in the sky determines the auspiciousness of events like marriages, births, planting and harvest times. Its moons embody different aspects of Obrus’ divinity that come to the fore during their cycles.
“The priests of the Lunian temple-observatories are trained from childhood to observe and interpret the signs of Obrus. Through its movements in their sky, the Lunians believe Obrus speaks to them and influences their destiny. Obrus is central to all aspects of Lunian culture and life.”
Finally I asked Bard with Gemini Pro the same question. It called the gas giant Akara and even named the storms that so heavily influence the society on the moon.
Way of the Wandering Dance
“On Luna, bathed in the perpetual twilight of its colossal gas giant mother, arose a faith woven from whispers of wind and celestial ballet. They called it the Way of the Wandering Dance.
“At the heart of their belief lay the reverence for the celestial waltz. The gas giant, Akara, dominated their sky, not a scorching sun but a swirling tapestry of clouds and storms. Luna itself, caught in its gravitational embrace, danced a never-ending pirouette around it. This cosmic choreography became their sacred calendar, dictating the rhythm of life and worship.
“Akara’s moods were their deities. The Whisperer, a swirling storm that skimmed the moon’s edge, brought cleansing rains and whispered secrets in the howling wind. The Weaver, a tapestry of luminescent clouds, spun dreams across the twilight sky, inspiring artistry and guiding souls in the afterlife. The Dancer, a band of swirling storms around Akara’s equator, embodied creation and destruction, a reminder of the ever-changing universe.
Life on Luna mirrored the celestial dance. Rituals followed the moon’s orbit, with moonrise and moonswirl marked by chanting and offerings. Wind chimes adorned homes, singing with the Whisperer’s breath. Dreamcatchers were woven from luminescent spider silk, capturing the Weaver’s whispers. And under the Dancer’s gaze, masked dancers mimicked the storm’s fury, a reminder of nature’s power and the fleeting nature of life.
“Death was not an end, but a stepping stone in the Wandering Dance. When one’s breath left their body, it was believed to join the Whisperer, carried on the wind to Akara’s embrace. There, among the clouds and storms, they became part of the eternal dance, their souls swirling with the Weaver’s dreams and joining the Dancer’s cosmic ballet.
“The Way of the Wandering Dance was a religion of acceptance and awe. It taught them to see their lives as fleeting notes in a cosmic symphony, their struggles and joys echoes of the ever-shifting celestial dance. It reminded them that they were not alone, but part of a grander ballet, forever weaving through the tapestry of the universe.
“This is just a glimpse into the Way of the Wandering Dance. Each detail, from the whispers of the wind to the swirling storms, could be further explored, building a rich and complex faith unique to Luna and its celestial waltz.”
All images and video generated for this were produced with a similar prompt concept – namely that of a society worshiping based on the gas giant in the sky above.