[YC 123 NEWCWC] Evolving Understandings of God and the Apostasy Fallacy

The below work is hereby submitted as an entry to the YC 123 New Eden Capsuleers’ Writing Contest, under category #3.

Evolving Understandings of God and the Apostasy Fallacy

I: Introduction, Musings of a New Capsuleer, and the Apostasy Problem
It has been only five months since I graduated from the Royal Amarr Institute and began a new stage in my life as a fully-fledged capsuleer. Despite making up only a short period of the twenty-eight years during which I’ve had the honour of living in God’s graces, I’ve found that these past four months have been more insightful, enlightening, and yet also more challenging than I could have possibly imagined. Indeed, during my very first day as a qualified capsuleer I connected to ‘The Summit’ channel on my Neocom and, within no less than twenty minutes, I encountered heretical propaganda besmirching both the Empire and God’s very name. Of course, in the case of those that have not yet truly discovered God in their hearts and minds, it is all but inevitable that they will, one day, come to embrace him with open arms, bringing them into the Empire as loyal servants of a greater cause; it is merely a case of waiting for them to be ready for that day within their own hearts. Quickly, I realised that if I were to be a good servant of God, and indeed the Empire, in my life as a capsuleer, then I would need to find ways of tolerating these unfortunately misguided individuals in a way that would still leave open the door for them to one day be reclaimed. What I have struggled far more considerably with in these past four months, however, are those on the other side of the spectrum. Those that have already come to know God, and yet have consciously chosen to reject his Empire and thus, by extension, the Lord himself. The individuals we know as apostates.

In truth, apostates always existed more as an abstract concept in my mind prior to my graduation from the Institute. A theoretical concept that could exist, but which in practice was almost inconceivable. After all, within Amarrian society, not the least in my home system of Kor-Azor Prime, faith in God and loyalty to the Empire are both universal and absolute. We see his wonder around us every day, as well as the rewards of our loyalty being reflected both in our standards of living and in our privileged position amongst the powers that be in the cluster. Indeed, the concept of willingly rejecting either God’s will, or the human manifestation of his will - Holy Amarr - is simply absurd to me. Yet my short life as a capsuleer has taught me that, despite this apparent absurdity, there are a surprising number of people that have done just that. They have rejected He who is the singular authority on moral behaviour, they have rejected His chosen people, and they have rejected His Empire. Apostates are not simply an abstract concept, they are very real - whether they reject God altogether or instead choose to turn to other, heretical beliefs, they are apostates - and they have committed the most inexcusable sin.

I’ve spent much time over the last five months flying alone in space, isolation amongst the stars providing ample time to ponder the nature of apostasy; to muse over what could possibly drive an individual to turn their back on God and their fellow faithful. In this time I believe that I have come to understand the logical fallacies that drive such decisions.

The purposes of this article are, therefore, twofold:

  • The first purpose is rather explicit: to try to address the apostasy problem by explaining to anybody who feels that their faith is shaken, or that their loyalty to the Empire is on unsure footing, why turning from Holy Amarr is not the answer to their problems. To plead with them to turn instead towards reason, and to try to resolve their uncertainties in a faithful, loyal manner.
  • The second purpose is more implicit: to provide those that have not yet found God with a greater view of how even our own understanding of His will has evolved with time, and how, as such, they need not fear Him nor the Empire based solely on the grievances they hold today. If their views are morally correct, then they must necessarily align with God’s will, and the Empire will come to champion those virtues as the true manifestation of His will in due course.

It is my hope that, in trying to do both of the above, I can both help to further the cause of Holy Amarr and its work towards the Reclaiming of hearts and minds, as well as help to work towards the building of a common understanding between the Empire and the rest of the peoples of the cluster.

II: God As The All-Powerful Arbitrator of Morality
The first section of this article focuses on establishing two important facts:

  1. That God is all-powerful
  2. That God is the arbitrator of morality

In truth, there is little to be argued over here. The Scriptures themselves provide ample evidence of this. God’s supreme power is established almost immediately book one of the Scriptures:

"In the beginning all things were as one.
God parted them and breathed life into his creation
Divided the parts and gave each its place
And unto each, bestowed purpose"
       - The Scriptures, Book I 1:4

The Lord himself is the creator of all things. His power over his creation is absolute.

Furthermore, the Scriptures dictate, very clearly, that God is the one and only arbitrator of morality:

"Casting his sight on his realm, the Lord witnessed
The cascade of evil, the torrents of war.
Burning with wrath, He stepped
down from the Heavens
To judge the unworthy,
To redeem the pure."
       - The Scriptures, Book II, Revelations 2:12

The Lord is the authority on what is evil, who is unworthy, who is pure. It follows that the nature of morality is his domain to dictate.

I am aware that to those not yet willing to embrace God, the recital of Scripture alone may not be enough to endear Him to them, therefore I want to take a brief moment to acknowledge the comfort and security that the acceptance of God’s authority on matters of morality provides to the faithful. Without God, there can be no certainty of any sense of objective morality, leaving our existences meaningless and making any attempt to find common understanding futile. By dictating morality and defining virtuous behaviour for us, God enables us to find a mechanism through which we can meaningfully communicate and relate to each other. Our faith in him provides us with the gift of certainty that, so long as we correctly interpret and follow His will, then we are moral and just. I strongly urge anybody not yet living in God’s service to consider this fact deeply. I fear that, without God’s will to guide them, many across the cluster are left to suffer in a mire of moral and existential uncertainties - unsure of their purpose and lacking a way to meaningfully communicate with others. If this applies to you, please take heart from the knowledge that God will fill this void for you once you embrace him, and you will find comfort from it.

III: The Emperor As God’s Chosen Voice, The Empire as His Chosen People
Establishing God’s absolute authority is only a first step towards serving him. After all, we furthermore need a mechanism through which to understand God’s will before we can act in accordance with it. How, then, have the faithful citizens of Holy Amarr come to discover, interpret, and enact God’s will? The answer to this question is in fact quite simple: God communicates his will via his most trusted servant - the Empress or Emperor of the time. Indeed, book one of the Scriptures states this most plainly:

“The Lord gave our Emperor the power to harness the Good and punish the Evil.”
       - The Scriptures, Book I 1:14

Furthermore, the writings of St. Junip, one of the most venerated authors of Scripture in all of history, makes it clear that the holder of the Throne will undoubtedly lead the God’s faithful onto the correct path:

“We can not fail, for we have the Emperor to lead us and destiny to follow."
       - The Scriptures, Second Letter of St. Junip of Aerui

This makes it clear then, that just as God Himself is the arbitrator of morality, the Throne is the seat from which that morality is understood and passed on to His followers. This establishes one very important fact: that turning against the Empire equates to turning against God. It is not possible to reject Holy Amarr while simultaneously proclaiming to remain a loyal follower of God. It is not possible to reject the Empire under the justification that you interpret His will differently. The Emperor or Empress of the day is the one that God trusts firth and foremost to lead his people, and the citizens of the Empire, whether noble, commoner, or held, are his loyal and true servants.

As an aside, this aforementioned point also proves to be a stinging rebuttal of one of the more recent misguided heresies plaguing New Eden: the cult of so-called ‘Sedevacantism’, which purports to simultaneously represent supreme faith in God whilst explicitly rejecting all Emperors and Empresses from His Holiness Heideran VII to her current Imperial Majesty Catiz I. Needless to say, based on what we have established above, this entire school of thought is fundamentally flawed as any rejection of the Empress or Emperor of the day amounts to a fundamental rejection of God himself, as well as the all-powerful nature of His being. I dare to hope that any reader whom may have found themselves considering the validity of the Sedevacantist line of thought now understands the fallacy of such a view.

IV: Ever Closer Understandings of God’s Will
To recap, we have thus far established the following truths:

  1. That God is all-powerful
  2. That God is the supreme arbitrator of morality
  3. That God chooses the Emperor or Empress of the day and, through them, communicates his will to His faithful servants

In theory, this should be enough to quash the notion of apostasy in its entirety. What holds in theory, however, often doesn’t hold in practice. After much musing in recent months, I believe that I have come to understand why this is the case in this instance. Specifically, I believe that, in this case, this stems from two elements of our character that the Lord intentionally designed us with, which I will now cover.

Firstly, God blessed us with the gifts of incredible power of individual will and conviction. This much is clear to all and should need little justification from me. Whether it be in the form of the many different heroic historical figures within our cultures, or simply those that we know within our personal lives, whom, for better or worse, display a remarkable passion for a particular belief, taste in cheese, hobby, and so on.

Secondly, the Lord challenges and tests us by allowing us the capability to be wrong or misguided in our views. This has been proven true even within the history of Holy Amarr itself. Many millennia ago, the faithful servants of God organised the government of the Empire around an entity known as the Council of Apostles, within which our founding Emperor, His Holiness Amash-Akura, and many of his successors sat as a member. Many thousands of years later, His Imperial Majesty Heideran V instigated the Moral Reforms, restructuring the governing of the Empire into what we know today, with the Emperor correctly placed at the highest level in every aspect of governance, served by the loyal and honourable Heir families.

At this point, one may feel a burning desire to ask an obvious question: if God chooses the Emperor or Empress of the day and empowers them to carry out his absolute will, how can it possibly be that our customs and traditions have, at times, required updating and reconsideration? Why could it be that he gave us the power to experience our own individual will that may, in some cases, lead us astray? I believe the answer to this is simple: God is always testing us. He is always urging us to improve ourselves; to grow our understanding of Him and His creation. He made us imperfect such that we would always have room to become better both as individuals and as a society - and over the millennia, we have. Each Emperor or Empress succeeds their predecessors by bringing a deeper, more correct understanding of God’s will; just as the Empress of today, Her Imperial Majesty Catiz I, understood the rights of the Heir families to express military sovereignty over their domains, thus revoking the decree of His Holiness Heideran VII.

These constantly evolving understandings of God’s will prove a most important point: that we are not temporally-static creatures, nor is our Empire bound for eternity to a single doctrine. We grow, we evolve, we become more holy in our nature and we embrace God’s will more and more deeply with each passing age. The Amarr may be God’s chosen, but we are still on a journey to understand him more intimately; we simply had a head start over the rest of the cluster in beginning that journey. In walking this path, we prove to God our diligence and our lack of complacency. It is our sacred duty to travel this road together, introducing God to more and more people as we do so. As the Scriptures clearly state:

“Surround yourself with the faithful, Stand together, for there is no strength like it under the heavens.”
       - The Scriptures, Book of Missions 71:21

I will refer back to this piece of Scripture in due course.

V: The Apostasy Problem - Revisited
It is at this point - having now established God’s moral supremacy, the Emperor’s position as His most trusted servant of the day, and finally the nature of our constantly evolving journey to understand and enact His will - that I believe I can decisively prove the total invalidity of apostasy as a moral course of action.

There are two main categories of reasons why one may feel tempted to turn apostate and reject Holy Amarr after having already found God previously:

  1. They consider belief in God to be invalid and reject the entire notion of Him, or they consider Him to exist but to be incorrect in His sense of morality.
  2. They hold some incredible sense of individual conviction that the Empire’s current understanding of God’s will is incorrect, and this strength of conviction leads them to erroneously believe that rejection of the Empire is thus a necessity.

The first of these two categories has already been proven decisively wrong in the first three sections of this article. At this stage I consider it largely unnecessary to give these views any more undeserved attention.

The second of these categories, however, I believe deserves more attention. We have established, in section four of this article, that it is possible for those of strong will to come to believe erroneous beliefs. We have, however, also established that it is possible for our current understandings of God’s will to be imperfect as well. It holds, therefore, that individuals of strong will and conviction may come to believe that they have developed an understanding of God’s will that is even more accurate than those being practiced by the Empire at that time. This belief, if felt strongly enough, could lead these individuals to mistakenly conclude that the abandonment of the Empire is the only remaining correct course of action, even though it directly contradicts the will of God’s most trusted servant and all of the teachings and understandings of him that we have come to know and embrace up until the current time.

To those people that have felt themselves struggling with that second line of thinking, I must reiterate to them: Holy Amarr is not a static entity. Every Emperor or Empress that ascends to the throne brings us closer and closer to God’s true will. If it truly is the case that one exceptionally prophetic individual has developed an understanding of God’s will that is not yet commonly understood, then it is inevitable that the Empire will one day come to recognise and champion that understanding. What is most imperative is that we stand together, support each other, and serve the Empire as loyal subjects until that day arrives. Through loyalty to the Throne and servitude to the Empire, we ensure that we will lead not just each other, but also our descendents, to this greater understanding of God - just as our forebears led us to where we are today. Yet to abandon the Empire will do nothing but wound us all collectively, sowing the seeds of discord and obstructing God’s most trusted servant on their mission to bring us ever closer to his will.

I can only imagine how difficult it must be to truly believe in one’s own convictions and yet feel that this puts them at odds with the Empire, but I believe we can all take heart from the Prophet Kuria’s words on this matter:

“Though dissuaded, I came. Though perilous, I served. Though beset, I persevered. Though denied, I believed.”
       - The Scriptures, Prophet Kuria 12:18

Faith in the face of adversity, serving the Empire even when your beliefs are shaken. These are some of the most honorable traits of all. Running away from these struggles, however, is a betrayal all that is moral. Abandoning those you believe to be misguided can never be a virtuous action. Working together with the faithful is always the way forward.

VI: Conclusion
At the beginning of this article I identified exposure to apostastic individuals and rejection of the Empire as being one of the most unexpected and challenging aspects of my life as a capsuleer. I hoped to use this work to achieve two things:

  • To disprove apostasy as a legitimate action, and to prove the abandonment of the Empire as unforgivable.
  • To, more implicitly, offer insight and understanding to those that have not yet found God that will encourage them to see the Empire not as an entity to fear, but one to embrace.

I pray that I have done an acceptable job in achieving both of the above. In truth, I am no Noble, no Holder, much less an Heir or even Empress. I am simply a common person who believes in my Lord and my Empire. It is my sincerest hope that, in writing this article, I have done God a good service in that capacity.

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Your entry has been accepted under Academic! Thank you! (I note you also mentioned ‘cheese’ :stuck_out_tongue: )

As a reminder, for others, the deadline remains May 15th!

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