Mechanism is the oldest and best established, though not most numerous, of the "New" religions. Mechanism is the philosophy and practice of maintaining the Human personality through mechanical means, by storing an adherent's personality and transferring to a new biological body after this physical death of the previous body, and the rejection of any belief in the non-physical nature of a Human personality, or soul. Founded by Pavel (modernly rendered as Pavl) Karinsky in the 21st century, Mechanism remained a small cult religion until it perfected the ability to store a full personality (2405CE) and transfer it into a new body (3624CE).
The Mechanist Church maintains a monopoly on Mechanist reincarnation practices and enforces loose behavioral and cultural norms on its adherents. The most noteable practice is the compulsory tithing of every third life to the service of the Mechanist Church. In addition to the mainstream Traditionalist Mechanist Sect, the Crusader and Progressive Sects have substantial followings, though all Mechanists recognize the authority of the Mechanist Primal at Myrland.
Mechanism owes its origin to the publishing of The Mechanist Universe by Pavl Karinsky in 2081CE. Subtitled, A Truth Path to Immortality and the Physical Preservation of the Soul, the manifesto outlined both a technological path and a philosophy of living in a technological world that found appeal with a small group of adherents. Within five years, Karinsky and about a thousand followers received Terran Commonwealth certification as a philosophical organization. They began establishing communities and a research foundation, funded by donations and media sales. In 2099CE, Karinsky and several hundred followers emigrated from Terra to Mars, establishing the Eternity settlement in what is now part of the southern Tyrrhena Province. Faced with regulations limiting mind-machine research, Karinsky and a group of Mechanist researchers settled Eternity II on Varuna in the Solar Kuiper Belt in 2167CE. There Karinsky underwent hibernation from 2176-2223CE until treatment became available for his degenerative brain disorder. The first Mechanist success arrived in 2277CE, with the perfection of a technique to transfer memories - though not true personality - into a mechanical format; subsequent commercialization of this procedure as an educational tool increased funding to the Mechanist Church and allowed the settlement of the Sector 6 world of Karinsky by Mechanist colonists in 2322CE.
The fall of the Terran Confederacy and the subsequent total isolation of Karinsky after 2350CE did not fully stop Mechanist research. In 2405CE the first full personality transfer technique was perfected, though long-term storage and active interactions with a stored personality remained problematic. Pavl Karinsky's physical body died in 2516CE and his personality was transferred into the threadbare storage systems still operating on Karinsky. The world of Karinsky was recontacted by Kalmar Pact scouts in 2750CE, and the joined the Pact, restarting technical efforts to transfer souls into a new Human host. Karinsky's machine-based personality was still active at this time, but too diffuse to provide more than symbolic support to his church. By 3050CE, Karinsky's personality pattern had faded into unrecoverability, though his followers, now numbering over six million, continued to work toward successful reincarnation.
After Karinsky's demise, Paul Verranis, long the effective leader of the Mechanists on Karinsky, became the first person to use the title Primal, effectively becoming the arbitrator of Mechanist doctrine and the ruler, both spiritual and secular, of the world of Karinsky. historically Verranis is considered the fourth Primal (see chart) after Karinsky, Raspian Varashi and Iltomia Schwartz. In 3180CE, Mechanists perfected long-term and off-line recoverable storage of personality matrixes, but this technique was unable to recover lost personalities from old equipment. The first Incarnate Mechanists date from personalities stored after 3180CE.
With the assistance of research acquired (or allegedly stolen) from B'dr'rak Remnant Shrines, Mechanists achieved the ability to "flash-store" personality patterns in 3570CE, and finally in 3624CE, the fifth Primal, Howlan Permas, was able to announce the first successful "reincarnation" of a stored soul into the cloned body of Fazzi Barduk, the first Incarnate. The Incarnation of Fazzi Barduk sparked the rise of Mechanism as an accepted religious practice but earned it the enmity of traditional religions, especially Ibrahimism.
Under the guidance of the sixth and seventh Primals, Valter Kandell (Primal 3750-4050CE) and Van Turin (Primal 4050-4438CE), Mechanism evolved into its modern form, with the development of the soulbox - a device attached to the base of the skull to constantly record the mind-state of its wearer - and the beginning of the practice of the Third Life Tithe. Myrland, the current Mechanist Primal Seat, was settled as a Mechanist colony in 4041CE. The Eight Primal, Jon Gades (Primal 4438-4738CE), already famous as an explorer and as the first Salvor of the Mechanist Church, formalized Mechanist customs in the Mechanist Credo in 4525CE. This document outlined the practices and responsibilities of Mechanist life, and mandated the Third Life Tithe. In the later years of the Empire, Mechanists and Ibrahimites repeatedly clashed in often violent encounters. By the end of the Imperial period, over thirty billion people had accepted the Mechanist faith, and a quarter of these adherents were in their second or subsequent Incarnations.
The fall of the Empire and subsequent Mech Plague devastated the Mechanist community, threatening the faith itself by imperiling soulbox technology. In 4789CE, Mechanist researchers on Myrland, working in cooperation with the Zhretra, developed a Plague-proof quantum consciousness matrix, saving both the Zhretra race and the Mechanist religion. The ascension of the Ibrahimite Terran Khalifate at Sol and several Central systems led to the widespread eradication of Mechanists on many worlds and by 4850CE, less than twenty billion Mechanists remained, held together by the leadership of Primal Norgail Brastova on Karinsky.
In 5266CE, the fourth Incarnation of Jon Gades traveled from Myrland with the Joshua Revarri, one of the faith's first Ninth Incarnates, on an arduous pilgrimage to Karinsky to consult with the tenth Primal, Shamanda Jones. The pilgrims arrived in 5268CE, weeks after the incarnation death of Jones, and they helped elect Almon Derga as the eleventh Primal. While Gades proved unsuccessful in his attempts to institute a regular pilgrimage to Karinsky, he inadvertently set the stage for the establishment of the Crusader movement.
In 5416CE, the Khalifate launched Ishmahil's Jihad, a full attack on the remaining Central Region strongholds of the Mechanist Church. In the following year, Khalifate ships bombarded Karinsky, killing the Primal and destroying the Pavl Karinsky Cathedral. Three years later a concerted bombardment effectively rendered Karinsky uninhabitable. Ustan Ghavanaran became the twelfth Primal of Mechanism and the first based at Myrland; he vowed revenge against the Khalifate, but made no attempt to launch a counterattack across hundreds of light-years against the vastly superior might of the Khalifate.
In 5450CE, Joshua Revarri called for a crusade against the Ibrahimites, vowing to recover the world of Karinsky for the faith. With a band of followers and twelve starships, the First Crusade departed Myrland in 5452CE, arriving at Asarte two years later with a much reduced and contentious force. Only five ships pressed on to Karinsky, where all were destroyed in battle with the occupation forces in 5455CE. Reincarnated on Myrland, Joshua Revarri launched a Second Crusade of twenty-three starships in 5469CE, arriving at a nearly abandoned and devastated Karinsky in 5472CE, defeating a small garrison and occupying the world. Within a year, the Khalifate Order of Valor launched a counterattack, destroying the Crusader fleet and killing Revarri again. Only two Crusader ships escaped and completed the journey back to Myrland. Joshua Revarri's Eleventh Incarnation failed to take hold, and in Final Death he became the symbolic martyred founder of the Crusader movement.
Though comprising only a small minority of Mechanists, the Crusader movement remained a major force of Mechanist history and policy for seven hundred years. The Third and Fourth Crusades (5562-5580CE) did result in a brief retaking of Karinsky in 5577CE, but mainly involved warfare between the Crusader Autarchy based on Asarte and the Terran Khalifate. After the Khalifate destroyed the Autarchy, Khalifate Admiral Fal Aziz led an Order of Valor fleet to attack Myrland itself. The 5584CE Battle of Myrland led to the destruction of Aziz and his fleet.
After the failure of the Fourth Crusade and the beginnings of terrorist acts by extremist crusaders, Primal Ghavanaran disavowed further crusading, but a group of Crusaders led by Arlo Gundaran purchased an Osiran Exile ship, the Citadel of Heaven, and converted it into a Hellking-like weapons platform, Pavl's Revenge in 5592CE. Gundaran's followers launched diversionary attacks to begin the Fifth Crusade in 5754CE. The gravstar planet buster Pavl's Revenge emerged and destroyed the Khalifate world of New Rome in 5758CE, killing six billion people. In 5573CE, Pavl's Revenge emerged in the Amaterasu system, killing over two hundred million and severally damaged the world before retreating under Khalifate counterattack.
Widespread outrage at the carnage of the Crusaders effectively ended support for the Crusader movement among the general populace. The last three Crusades did little to gain popular support. The Sixth (5836-5852CE) was little more than a pirate movement. The Seventh (5930-5952CE) was a Guild and Star Kingdoms sponsored proxy war against the Khalifate, and the Eighth (6129-6141CE) was a discredited and disavowed attempt to spread the biopsychic Nevermind Plague to Khalifate worlds.
The Heresy also challenged the beliefs of Mechanism in the sixth millennium. In 5305CE Gordoman Sanjez became the first known human to transfer his personality into an active quantum processor array. After opening a clinic on Amada, Sanjez solicited conversions to a purely mechanical existence. After a few Mechanists had accepted the transformation, Primal Ustan Ghavanaran declared the offenders heretics, banning the procedure and excommunicating all involved with the process. The term Heretic came to signify all recipients of the Sanjez Transformation, Mechanist or secular. While the ban on Heretic transformations remains in force, a small faction of Mechanist leaders, including at times Jon Gades, express more tolerance for the transformation and actively support the use of new technologies and greater cyborgization as part of Mechanist practice. The Progressive Mechanist faction first gained prominence in 5719CE when Ustan Ghavanaran refused to step down after three hundred years of rule. The crisis that led to the compromise ascension of Ghavanaran's protégé Alana Rezsha in 5720CE also established a formal hierarchy under three factions: the Traditionalist, Progressive and Crusader branches of Mechanism.
In the following thousand years, the three Mechanist branches gradually softened their positions and the Primals that followed Alana Rezsha tended to be more moderate. Though occasional conflicts with Ibrahimites continue to occur, the Mechanist faith, numbering some 450 billion by 6750CE, is tolerated by most governments outside the Terran Khalifate.
|-||Committee of three||2176-2223||dissolved|
|1||Pavl Karinsky||1||2223-2516||body death|
|2||Raspian Varashi||1||2516-2639||body death|
|3||Iltomia Schwartz||1||2639-2952||body death|
|4||Paul Verranis||1||2952-3360||body death|
|5||Howlan Permas||1||3360-3750||failed incarnation|
|9||Norgail Brastova||3||4738-4949||incarnation death|
|10||Shamanda Jones||3||4949-5268||incarnation death|
|11||Almon Derga||6||5268-5417||permanent death|
|13||Alana Rezsha||3||5720-5816||incarnation death|
|14||Izak Braun||3||5816-5833||permanent death|
The Mechanist Church has 450 billion adherents scattered throughout Recontacted Space and is headed by the eighteenth Primal, Vars Rushonov (6734CE-present) from the Mechanist administrative capital on Myrland in Sector 393. Mechanists are not a majority population in any major interstellar state, but have large minorities among the citizens for the Star Kingdoms Confederation (27%), the Ertan Directorate (21%) and the Federation of Orion (17%). Many Interstellar Age Coreward worlds have substantial Mechanist populations and Mechanists are over-represented in civilian and military starship professions and among surface military personnel.
Mechanism is based on the belief that a human personality can be wholly represented as data and transferred by mechanical means into a new host body. Specific beliefs and doctrine are derived from a number of Mechanist texts and writings, specifically Pavl Karinsky's The Mechanist Universe and Jon Gades' Mechanist Credo. Theologians of Old Book religions have claimed that the beliefs of Mechanism do not constitute a true religion, but rather a form of secular humanism, but less biased authorities usually disagree. The core beliefs of Mechanism are:
The Soul of a Person is entirely composed of the matter and physical processes that occur within the brain. (The Doctrine of Physicality)
The Soul of a Person can be captured and stored by mechanical means. (The Doctrine of the Mechanism)
The Soul of a Person is limited to existence within the physical confines of the Universe. (The Doctrine of Universality)
The Soul of a Person is fully contained in a biological Incarnation created from a stored Soul of the original person. (The Doctrine of Biology)
The Soul of a Person should remain indivisible. (The Doctrine of Indivisibility)
Mechanist belief emphasizes both the continuation of a person with a new body and the necessity of the body to be of substantially biological nature to properly support this continuation. The restriction against divisible Incarnations, or multiple concurrent instances of the same Soul, causes some debate within Mechanist theological circles. Many, including Jon Gades in his later writings from Talendir, hold that this restriction was mainly a response to fears by outsiders of "clone armies" of Mechanists overrunning the population like an uncontrolled plague, and that the restriction is not compatible with other writings of Pavel Karinsky or Valter Kandell, who nonetheless developed most of the Doctrine of Indivisibility. Regardless, the Doctrine of Indivisibility and the three hundred year wait before revival of unrecovered Souls remains in force in all Mechanist Temples.
Mechanism is focused on the practice of serially continuing the existence of a personality though multiple bodies. Mechanist Temples are mainly concerned with the creation, installation, maintenance and recovery of soulboxes from adherents and the creation of new cloned bodies for that adherent. There are no required rituals, tithes or codes of conduct required of Mechanist adherents while they live their individual lives. However, all Mechanists are required to tithe every third life (their Third, Sixth, Ninth... Incarnation) to the service of the Mechanist Church.
If a Mechanist fails to dedicate the Tithe-life to the church, or willfully attempts to avoid a good-faith fulfillment of the Tithe-life through suicide or gross dereliction of duty, the Mechanist Church will refuse to reincarnate the Mechanist upon death. An excommunication of a Tithe-breaker is an administrative process that involves appeal up the Church hierarchy from the Temple to the Primal, but excommunication is overturned only in the rarest circumstances. In most instances, the Tithe-life obligation is waived after fifty years of service, though the Church retains the right to extend the obligation indefinitely, and some Third-lifers voluntarily continue their service to the Church for their entire Incarnation.
The Mechanist Church has vast wealth and controls a planet (Myrland), several Drifts and Habitats and numerous property and space assets throughout all regions of recontacted Human Space, outside the Terran Khalifate. Tithe-lives are spent supporting Temples and other properties, utilizing the skills the individual has acquired in previous lives. Currently, over fifty billion Tithers are in active service of the Mechanist Church. The most prestigious occupation for a Tither is that of Salvor, a Mechanist responsible for the recovery of lost soulboxes, often from perilous accidental deaths.
Mechanists periodically create Backups, or stored copies of their soulbox data, often before engaging in particularly dangerous activities such as deep space exploration or combat. A Mechanist can be recovered from this Backup if the soulbox is destroyed in the course of dangerous activities and if that death is confirmed to the satisfaction of the Mechanist Church. When death cannot be confirmed (as has happened to Jon Gades on two occasions), the Backup is not restored until three hundred years have passed, limiting the chance of an accidental violation of the Doctrine of Indivisibility. In the rare event when an accidental duplication occurs, both individuals are treated as separate Souls and allowed to continue their separate lives.
The Doctrine of Biology limits the amount of cyborgization acceptable for a Mechanist. Technically, the Doctrine calls for a person to remain "essentially biological"; to Traditionalists, this prohibits High Cyborgization; to Progressives, the Doctrine of Biology prevents only the Heresy of a mechanical brain. Most Mechanists practice at least extensive cosmetic cyborgization and may undergo Variant biological transformation to any form except Eternal (a process now lost in any case - but one that prevents the formation of cloned bodies). Regenerations of Mechanist bodies are possible, but multiple regenerations weaken the integrity of the biological clone sample and many regenerated Mechanists retain a copy of "original" biological tissues at one or more Temple sites.
Mechanically, a soulbox is an externally mounted data store, smaller than a Human fist, normally mounted at the base of an individual's spine. The soulbox uses a web of sensors woven into the brain to continuously monitor and store the mind-state of an adherent. The soulbox contains a highly ruggedized data store and redundant canisters containing a cell sample suitable for cloning. Soulboxes can withstand temperatures in excess of 3000K and pressures in excess of 1000 bars.
Upon death, the soulbox is removed by a Temple Initiate or a Salvor and placed within a Temple Niche. The Niche fast-clones a new body from the biological matter. After a few weeks, the maturated adult-state body receives a copy of the mind state via the implanted brain web. A new Incarnate is able to emerge from an integration coma within a month of death. Mechanist soul transfer retains a 2-5% chance of failure, depending on the state of the biological matter and the clarity of the saved mind-state. Failed Incarnations result in the permanent death ("Final Death" in the vernacular) of the Mechanist individual, though "dead" soulboxes are often stored within the Temple in the anticipation of recovery by more advanced means in a future era. Mechanists can persist for thousand of years. The current Incarnation record holders are in their seventeenth Incarnations and several thousand Mechanists can still date their biological births to the third millennium.
Traditionalist Mechanists represent the majority of Mechanist adherents, upwards of seventy percent of the Mechanist faith. Traditionalists accept all five major Doctrines as sacrosanct and are highly influential in the official Mechanist hierarchy of Temple Initiates, World Councils, Sector Councils and the Primal Assembly. Traditionalists consider mechanical intelligence, specifically as it relates to the Heretics - but also in relation to the Machine Races - as inferior to biological intelligences and see the soulbox as nothing but a storage media for transport between biological hosts. Drawing heavily on Karinsky's original writings and Valter Kandell essays against excessive cyborgization, Traditionalists do not approve of High Cyborgization and High Cyborgs are not allowed to participate as Temple Initiates, though they may act as Salvors of the Church.
Crusader Mechanists are followers of Joshua Revarri's calls for the liberation of Karinsky. Crusaders are officially opposed to the institution of the Terran Khalifate as a religious state and are nearly always opposed to the religion of Ibrahimism - or at least Ishmahili Ibrahimism - as well. Though the Eighth Crusade ended over five hundred years ago, Crusaders maintain that armed force is necessary to protect the Mechanist Church and insist that Ibrahimism must be contained or rolled back. Crusaders still maintain defense fleets and many military-oriented Tithers spend their Thirds as Crusader soldiers. The Crusaders, unlike other branches of Mechanism, support the establishment of Mechanist-ruled states, especially as a buffer against the Khalifate.
The Crusaders suffered stigma and lost many adherents after the violence of the last four Crusades, but a more moderate face has allowed the Crusader branch to gradually achieve renewed respectability within and outside the Mechanist Church. Crusaders are more tolerant of High Cyborgization than Traditionalists, but consider Heretics as such and do not hold the Machine Races in high regard. Overt Crusaders account for less than five percent of Mechanists, but many Traditionalists sympathize with the Crusader cause.
Progressive Mechanists are considerably less doctrinaire than either Traditionalists or Crusaders, adopting a more pragmatic - some would say non-religious - approach to their faith. Progressives often stretch or question the Doctrines of Biology and Indivisibility and are friendlier to the Machine Races than other Mechanists. Progressives number a quarter of all Mechanists and have no formal structure of their own, attaching themselves to the Temple hierarchy for vital functions, but often forming collectives of Tithers to support special causes and non-traditional venues. Jon Gades remains the most influential Progressive with the Church, though he no longer participates even indirectly in Church decision-making - his association with the now defunct Recontact Service and his former work as a mediator with the Dragon Race and the Mendam Condominium are more indicative of his current interests than Church politics.
Progressives believe that the Mechanist Church must evolve to achieve true immortality of the Soul, and many Progressive factions openly support "experimentation" with forms of mechanical or multiple existences. To remain able to receive Incarnation, Progressives officially accept and follow all Mechanist Doctrines, though they may - and often openly do - question current accepted interpretations.
Mechanists do not get along with Ibrahimites, especially not Ishmahili Ibrahimites. Relations with other Old Book religions are often not much better, with many religions believing the Mechanist Incarnates are effectively soulless beings or "demons". Mechanists and Technologists are generally on good terms, agreeing on the Doctrines of Physicality and Universality, but disagreeing on the path to achieve immortality within that framework. Relations with the adherents of the Fzuki Way and the Disentropic Way are often cool, with the two Mendam-based religions not considering Mechanism to be a true religion under their definitions.
Mechanists are not generally active evangelists of their faith, mainly working to achieve acceptance, not converts. Mechanist practice, even among most Crusaders, allows for coexistence with other faiths and discourages Mechanists from insisting that their own path toward immortality is uniquely superior to other approaches. However, Mechanists are generally dismissive of "delusional" faiths, a category that encompasses most Old Book religions.
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