Responding to Jeff's a) -- The Dwarfs believe
in a Supernatural Creation Figure called Tak. No living dwarf has seen him. What they have is a dwarf "Bible" . It begins, as I said before, with a parody of the 1st chapter of Genesis--and tells the creation of the world - humans, dwarfs and trolls; and then Tak wrote a series (apparently a long one) of rules by which dwarfs must govern their lives.
[WARNING AHEAD. THIS IS GOING TO BE A LONG ONE, SO YOU MIGHT WANT TO SKIP AHEAD RIGHT TO POOH'S FOLLOW UP ONE-LINER, GRAB A CUP OF COFFEE, GO TO ANOTHER THREAD, WASH THE DISHES OR SOMETHING. THE MOVIE WILL BE COMING OUT IN A MONTH]
[Where to begin...okay, this is a long one, and since I don't know how to break apart quotes, I'll paranthetically respond to your statements one by one. Let me point out that you have not rebuked a single one of my arguments, but instead have resorted to insults. I will refrain from making such personal attack and instead lacerate your arguments one by one.
Let's start by saying that in all of your statements, you have not once demonstrated that the belief systems of the dwaves of Thud! meet the definitions of religion that TonyBlack provided. Specifically, you have not proven that the dwarves:
1. Consider Tak to be a god that guides their everyday lives and is one they turn to for spiritual guidance on a daily basis. This is the basis of religion. Without a living god to worship, or to strike you down with a thunderbolt, there can't be religion. Cult of personality is a different issue entirely.
2. Base their lives or politics on religious issues. In The Fifth Elephant (TFE), the battle over who should be king was not over the issue of who best followed the teachings of Tak or who Tak had anointed as king. The battle was over the CULTURAL future of the dwarves--whether they should hold on to traditional ways and remain 'deep downers,' or accept the more modern, cosmopolitan realities typified by the Ankh-Morpork dwarves.
3. Connect their mysticism in any way to Tak or religious beliefs in general. Yes, they believe in the Summoning Dark and other mine curses. But, on DW, the occult DOES exist, and belief in gods does bring them into existence. Funny that of all the gods that have come into existence on DW through belief systems, Tak himself has never once appeared. Why? Because the dwarfs do not BELIEVE in him as a god. They consider him to be the "blacksmith" of the races. It makes no more sense for dwarves to worship or pray to Tak than it does for a child to pray to worship their parents.
So, by all these counts, your assertions are incorrect. And you never even responded to any of my specific arguments. ]SWREADER:
There is a sort of religious order, somewhat akin to rabbis in the Hebrew religion, who study and interpret these laws but their work is roughly equivalent to the Talmud. It is quite difficult to know how to follow Tak's laws which cover all sorts of dwarf activity from contracts to marriage, various religious ceremonies that must be performed before one can be a dwarf (but which can be performed by others) and special ways in which dwarfs must be buried and equipped with appropriate axes for use in the afterlife.
[Even if dwarves do believe in an afterlife, this is not necessarily a religious belief. I can believe that I will be reincarnated as an ant in the next life without believing that a deity of some kind is behind it. In any case, the dwarves that define dwarfish laws are doing so as jurists and lawyers, not as priests or clerics. They don't pray to any deity. They do not believe that Tak or any other deity will punish them if they don't obey the laws. The worst punishment one can inflict upon a dwarf is not retribution by a higher power, but to be declared to be "not a dwarf," i.e., having one's cultural identify removed from them. This has nothing to do with religion. It's more like having one's citizenship removed and/or being deported. ][SWREADER]
It takes many years of study to interpret these laws, which is what Grags do. And they perform marriages and say the death words over the departed
[Again, nothing to do with religion. Justices of the peace and ship's captains also marry people, and anyone can say death words over the deceased, but this has nothing to do with religion. ][SWREADER]
As is true in almost every religion, there have been schisms -- such as whether or not to use the gas exploder (scientific) or the traditional (religious) knockermen who then became Kings and came back changed to lead the people. And these schisms have resulted in wars in which dwarfs killed dwarf "non-believers"
[The gas exploder debate may tie into the very nature of what it means to be a drwarf, but it is not a religious issue. It's an issue of cultural identity and preserving traditions. Being a Luddite does not make one religious. Belonging to the Village Green Preservation Society (even if God does bless Donald Duck and Variety) does not make one an orthodox religious believer. And the deep downers who became kings were not "religious"--they were steeped in Dwarfish cultural traditions. There is no evidence in any DW book that dwarves argue about religious issues related to the proper worship of a living deity, which, by definition, MUST be based on a faith in a creator or higher power. If dwarves kill each other over beliefs, these beliefs are over cultural and societal issues, the equivalent of southern soldiers in the US Civil War fighting the Yankees over slavery. Not a religious issue at all.][SWREADER]
Terry gives the answer to the question of the religion of dwarfs to Sam:
"Vimes, listening with his mouth open, wondered why the hell it was that dwarfs believed that they had no religion and no priests. Being a dwarf was a religion. People went into the dark for the good of the clan, and heard things, and were changed, and came back to tell ..."
[Yes, what you clearly miss here is that in this statement PTerry very nicely demonstrating that Vimes (and humans in general) is/are never able to fully escape his/our own inner human biases about other races, no matter how often he/we come in contact with them. Vimes does the same thing with Shine, when he confirms his own bigotry about trolls by saying that "Detritus is one of my best officers," the classic bigot's defense. But just because Sam Vimes believes that the dwarves' practices are religious does not make them so, any more than Jerry Falwell declaring that Islam is an evil religion makes it so. Re-read Bashfulson's statement that dwarfish beliefs are not a religion. I'll believe the declaration of a totally rational, modern fictional "wise man" like Bashfulsoon than the interpretations of biased humans like Vimes.][SWREADER]
One might compare the deepdowners to any group of religious fanatics who are determined to destroy anyone and anything that challenges their world view. And if you think a set of rules for ways to live isn't part of a religion, consider the rules set forth in Deuteronomy and in Exodus--rules by which the Hebrews are to regulate their lives and which cover everything from dietary restrictions to responsiblities for taking care of widows to ethical principles.
[Yes, being Jewish, I'm quite aware of these rules, and can tell you that the reason why most people follow these rules is because they believe that doing so is their way of expressing their faith in a living, omnipresent God who still exists today. Yet, even those who don't believe in the god of the bible may still follow them because it's a way to maintain one's connection with their culture that has nothing to do with religious belief. I personally don't believe in a higher power, but I obey the 10 Commandments in my daily life and celebrate most of the Jewish holidays. Not because I believe I will be sent to Hell if I don't obey them, or because I feel a need to express faith in a god I don't believe exists, but because these are very good rules to follow in one's lives and traditions, even if not based in actual history, are nice to have around, kind of like old slippers (and the food is excellent).
And while you can compare the deepdowners to religious fanatics, that does not necessarily make them religious. Hate to bring up Nazi Germany again, but, regardless of what some may say, their genocidal aims were not ROOTED in religious motivation. The southerners who enslaved and lynched blacks in the American south were not motivated by religion. The Oklahoma City bomber was a white supremacist and libertarian, but religion did not motivate his terrorism. The anarchists who routinely try to raise hell at G-8 meetings are not religiously motivated. Yes, most fanatacism IS religiously based, but not all, and we're not talking about the roundworld, we're talking about Thud!. ][SWREADER]
A long time ago, Jeff, I think you were the one who compared the deepdown Grafs to Hasidim Jews--and you were much more right at that time than you are now.
[Yes, I did, although I think I was applying it more to TFE (I once posted this thesis of alt.group.pratchett and Pterry responded that he had never really made that connection. Oh well.) But that was just an attempt to try to identify a roundworld inspiration. Nothing to do with this discussion.
Don't get more wrong--I'm not trying to defend religion or fanatics in any way, or to deny that the dwarves have very strong beliefs and cultural systems and a strong sense of mysticism. What I am saying is that religion requires the existence of a living deity that one must worship and believe has control over the welfare of one's inner soul and the fate of their group in general, in this life or the next. Without this 'living deity' what you have are laws. ]