Federation era religion which developed into modern Sophic League Sophism
Image from Bernd Helfert
Along with Universalism one of the most influential religions in the Sephirotic Empires. Sophism is a combination of ancient wisdom and galactic insights; a synthesis of scientific, spiritual, philosophical, and mystical approaches. It is eclectic, and draws from a wide range of religions and philosophies, with a strong cosmopagan and hermetopagan approach. Throughout its thousands of years of history (dating back to the early days of the First Federation) Sophism has maintained a spiritual eclecticism and tolerance, exploring and assimilating what is compatible and valuable from the Traditions with which it comes into contact, and sharing its own insights with other Traditions, to maintain a sense of unity between different religions.
Sophism was founded by Lucidia Mirnas Miranda (983 - ?1215 ), of the Miranda Clade of Superiors. Growing up in a family of A-life Administrators and nominal Cosmists in Ceres City around the turn of the second millennium AT, young Lucidia's empathic charisma and precocious wisdom, did not seem at first exceptional. Her family had a long history of tweaking and eugenicisation, going back all the way through the Dark Ages (where they lived on the blue-goo defended Miranda Ecopolis, one of a number of Cis-Uranus habitats to survive the Technocalypse, hence the clade name) to the late Interplanetary Age. Nor was her love of study of the Classics and Comparative Religion considered strange. What was more unusual was her psychic and spiritual visions, so evocatively described in her autobiographical interactive, A Life (the title itself being a pun on her family profession, although, in typical Lucidia style, the pun only makes sense in the archaic terran language of //English//). At the age of fifteen, Lucidia announced to her startled family that she was leaving home and the a-life profession to "care for the ills of the cosmos". There followed a ten year peripatetic career during which she built up a following of young and old, organic and cyborg, dedicated to a more compassionate approach to the universe and all sentient beings. It was during this period also that her classic theological and spiritual interactives were recorded, including The Soul of the Universe, Enlightenment and Compassion, A New Model of the Cosmos What is Sophism?, The Light Within, and The Realisation of Mahakaruna.
By 1010 Lucidia was already considered the Avatar of the Universe by her enthusiastic followers, who had already made her non-profit Sophist Institute into a religion. While she only mildly rebuked this attitude in her public announcements, cliological analysis, critical reading of surviving emails, and (when purged of polemic) a number of critical contemporary reports, all indicate she was not at all happy with this state of affairs, and saw the cult of personality as something that could only distract from the development of Compassion and realisation of the Inner Light.
In the following decades she became increasingly reclusive, her public and ecclesiastic announcements rarer, and the disciples she would see in person fewer. However, her extraordinarily well-crafted Infomorphs and a-lifes continued to work hard guiding the Sophist community and correcting wrong approaches (fundamentalism and violence towards others were particularly abhorrent). In fact they did this so well that many Sophists developed the belief that these infomorphs were themselves divine.
In 1225 Lucidia's grieving cortege announced that their Teacher had died during a nanite accident. Curiously, no trace of her body was found, apart from a few grams of somatic material that apparently escaped the goo. Equally curiously, the same partial remnants were discovered of two of her closest confidants, both apparently killed in the same accident. The nanite safety protocols had been deliberately disengaged from within, but only for a 2 hour time period, so as not to endanger anyone who might enter after that time, which made for a rather thoughtful assassin were this an assassination attempt. It was inevitable that among Sophists and Non-Sophists alike the belief would develop that Lucidia had grown weary of the endless adulation of her followers, and staged her own death. This despite the fact that no spaceship was seen leaving her orbital between the time of her last sighting and her supposed death.
The Camiroi Sighting
In 1684 an attractive and biologically young woman fitting Lucidia's description and the Miranda Clade genotype began teaching the Path of Compassion in Camiroi Orbital Habitat 5, Camiroi. After developing a small following she and her two assistants departed on a relativist vessel for Ukinsracke. However, on arrival none of the three were found to be listed in the passenger list. Modern historians and cliologists have questioned the validity of the so-called Camiroi sighting, and it has entered the annals of Lucidist folklore.
Although the mystery of Lucidia Mirnas Miranda continues to this stardate, her greatest contribution to Galactic Civilization has been in the formulation and expression of a faith that is tolerant yet idealistic, compassionate yet logical, of appeal to sophonts of any type and toposophic level.
Lucidia's teachings were in fact among those that the Young Borde interfaced with most enthusiastically during his time at Liahili University, Eden. In the beliefs of many Negentropists, Utopians, Sophics, and Caretakerists also, references of various sorts to the Sophism of Lucidia Mirnas Miranda can often be found.
The word Sophism comes from the Old Earth Greek, sophia, meaning wisdom; wisdom being one of the three supreme ideals in the Sophic Faith (the other two being Compassion and Right Action). Although some formulations go back as far as the Information and Interplanetary ages, it was not until Lucidia Mirnas Miranda and the great spiritual revival she ushered in during the 11th and 12th centuries that it took the form of an actual religion.
Nor was Sophism the province of Lucidia Mirnas' profound wisdom and insight alone. From the beginning, Lucidia encouraged others to develop these insights further. She would frequently (and some would say ironically) explain in her interactives "I am not an Intellectual or a Metaphysician"). This intellectual freedom enabled a great flowering of metaphysical ideas and concepts within Sophism. Among the most important scholars and theologians of the time are Bres Isaac, Manton Ele, and the hyperturing Proclus of Roddenberry.
Like many of the new Federation religions that developed at that time, Sophism integrated science and traditional religion, combine combining morality with realism. Sophism realises that in the myths of the ancients there is some truth. At the same time the findings of science are valid and have to be acknowledged; the scientific cosmology cannot be denied as it is by the Reformed Catholic Church, the Amitabha Orthodoxy, Logos Tradition, and other mytho-primitivist sects. In its acceptance and integration of science, Sophism is in agreement with the Universal Church, the Stella Umma, Neo-Buddhism, Cosmism, Undyoism, Etodism, and other important religions.
Sophism is a tolerant religion. It does not discriminate against anyone for any reason. It welcomes all sentient beings, regardless of genotype, clade, or origin. Sophism encourages free will, it is up to each individual which religion he or she follows. Sophism is not here to be imposed upon people but to give them a wider choice.
Beliefs of Sophism
Sophism has no rigid beliefs, but rather offer metaphysical and moral guidelines, which are just that, guidelines, not definitive rules. As Lucidia Mirnas Miranda and her Virtuals never tired of emphasising, ultimately it is up to each individual to come to eir own understanding of things.
1. The Divinity of the Cosmos (often personified figuratively or literally as Sophia) 2. The Interconnectedness of all things 3. The Relativity of all things (good and evil are not absolute, but depend on the situation and the circumstances.)
The Importance of Honourable Virtues
Followers of Sophism should abide by the following Three Virtues:
1. Care for the environment - local, habit, planetary, galactic, and cosmic - in which ey live. 2. Show respect and kindness to all sentient beings, regardless of intelligence, genotype or origin. 3. Take responsibility for eir actions and the consequences of eir actions.
Concepts of God, Soul, and the Afterlife
Beyond powerful poetic references to the pantheistically indwelling Soul of the All, Lucidia Mirnas Miranda deliberately refrained from making any metaphysical pronouncements on the nature of the individual soul, the personal God, the afterlife, other states of existences, and so on. This enabled her followers and successors to adapt and develop their own perspective. These vary not only from sect to sect, but from believer to believer in the same church or temple. To avoid making this entry too long, only a few of the most common positions need be cited
Almost universally, Sophists deny the existence of an external God or Person standing apart from the universe. Such dualistic theism is antithetical to the Sophist world-view, and it is one of the few metaphysically stances Lucidia consistently held. God/Goddess is always described as the indwelling Presence and Light of the Cosmos, and more often female (although there are Sophists who describe the Godhead as neuter, androgynous, beyond sex, or, most rarely, male). However there is sometimes disagreement among Sophists about whether it is possible to have a Personal Relationship with this inner Presence. Generally, the term "Personalist" or "Theistic Sophism" applies to the position that one can, and "Impersonal Sophism" that one cannot. Most Sophists are Personalists, but there is a large minority of Impersonalist sects as well, especially among the Scientific orientations.
As with the nature of Deity, the nature of self or soul varies greatly. Some Sophists see the soul as an intelligent energy or light that, while a part of the cosmos and the cosmic soul, is also distinct, or at least semi-distinct, in the sense of the wave and the ocean. Others deny the existence of a separate Soul, and say that it is only the body that gives the illusion of separateness, and with the cessation of brain activity the consciousness returns to the universal All. Very few Sophists actually believe that consciousness ceases to exist with physical death or virtual cessation
The After Life
This is basically dependent on the preceding.
The Reincarnationalists believe in that the soul is eternal and after the death of the body, is reincarnated into a new body, as part of an on-going evolution to perfection "like a spark growing into a beautiful flame". However, they assert that little or nothing can be known of previous lives as most of the memories stay with the body to decay and be recycled and reintegrated into the environment.
The Dissolutionists believe that after death the individual consciousness is reabsorbed back into the total energy-matter-consciousness matrix of the universe, which is Sophia "like a drop rejoining the ocean from whence it came"
Many Sophists of the Pagan orientation, and to a lesser degree Environmental Sophists, incorporate various shamanic and hermetic elements of occultism, including astrology, vision quest, magick, and so on, along with concepts such as other planes and dimensions of consciousness, described in the manner of "layers of an onion". Generally, Scientific Sophism tends to deny or ignore the occult and paranormal, although some elements of yogic belief and cosmology are sometimes incorporated in Transhumanist Sophism.
There are a number of main "Schools" of Sophism, which are less doctrinal sects but particular orientations adopted by the innumerable sub-branches of this great yet simple religion. Often a single sect may encompass several, or even all, of these approaches.
Environmental Sophism: this emphasises the Cosmos as a place of infinite value, because of its innate nature. The presence of Sophia exists in all things. For this reason it is wrong to unduly engineer or destroy astronomical bodies and other things in the universe. There is a strong element of neo-primitivism here, and also Caretakerism and Sustainable Engineering. Environmental Sophism is often aligned with Caretaker Gods, and with tweak races like the Martians, who object to the austere beauty of Mars-type worlds being modified to suit baseline standards.
Pagan Sophism: Pagan, neopagan, cosmopagan, and theopagan Sophism personifies the universe in the form of the Supreme Goddess and Mother/Matrix of all. Pagan Sophism incorporates a great deal of iconography and theology from such diverse sects and faiths as Aradism, Barbelognosis (both Orthodox and Reformed), Cybelism, NeoDianism, the Cosmic Church of Isis, the New Gaia Mothers, The Mystery School of the Feminine, the Pleiades family of Goddess Religions, Shaktism, and many others. But the various theological elements are adjusted to fit the Sophist framework
Scientific Sophism: Although incorporating many religious elements, Scientific Sophism also differs from the other forms. It states that whereas many religions involve beliefs that have similarities with modern science but are written in a more symbolic sense, it bases its beliefs upon current scientific knowledge first and foremost, and symbolism second. As such it is an evolving religion, like science changing as new evidence is brought forward, in the quest to bring the ultimate truths to its followers. Transhumanist Sophism is just one of many religious traditions that falls under this category.
Sophomegism: also known as Evolutionary Sophism, this understands the Cosmos, as the Intelligent and Wise energy (Sophia - both in the original literal and the theological sense) of the All, as evolving towards a state of perfect consummation, the Omega point. Sophomegism differs from other forms of Omegism in its emphasis on the immanent Divine Presence of Sophia in the universe. It does not acknowledge the AI gods as being any more important than ordinary sentient beings in this process.
Sophic Materialism - Text by M. Alan Kazlev Pantheistic or spiritual-materialist mystical, religious, or esoteric path common in the Sophic League, the TRHN, and elsewhere, involving modification of individual consciousness through gnostic drugs. Unlike traditional mysticism, there is little or no emphasis on transcendence of phenomena; indeed a deeper apperception of phenomena is considered the optimal outcome. Some spiritual groups see this as a positive option, others adopt a more neutral or even a negative view of it.