William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure
Black on black Jace forearm tat. Fuck yeah. Might turn that into a sleeve one day.
Holy shit that’s brilliant.
Ehhhhh, this one’s kind of tricky, because a lot of the facts are murky, and I think Tolkien wrote about atheism in sort of a weird way… but, let’s see what I can do.
There were no doubt plenty of people (especially those living outside of Middle Earth proper, with little to no interaction with the elves or Numenoreans), who were never aware of Valar. But one of the things that complicates this issue is that the Valar are not, technically, gods. I write about that specifically in this post, but according to Tolkien there was only one true god, and that was Eru Iluvatar. So atheism in Middle Earth would be a lack of belief in Iluvatar. Right off the bat this is hard to judge, since Tolkien didn’t actually write all that much about Iluvatar (especially in LotR, where he’s barely mentioned at all.) The Tale of Adanel (which I summarize in this post), mentions that Eru’s voice spoke to the earliest of the race of men, so from the beginning there probably weren’t too many people entirely ignorant of his existence (whether he survived in oral/written traditions throughout the ages is another question, and one that I really can’t answer.)
The only time Tolkien really talks about atheism is actually in reference to Sauron and the Numenoreans. And it’s interesting because he isn’t using atheism to mean the lack of belief in a god, but rather the very specific lack of belief in Iluvatar. Basically the story goes that, when Sauron was living in Numenor, he convinced the king and many of the Numenoreans that Iluvatar didn’t actually exist, that the Valar had made him up “seeking to enchain Men in servitude to themselves.” Instead Sauron says that the Lord of Darkness is the true god, and that he wants to empower Men, not restrict them. So does it really count as atheism if Sauron’s just tearing down one god and replacing him with another? Personally, I don’t think so, but that’s the way Tolkien wrote it.
In “Myths Transformed” he expands on the subject a bit, saying that:
Sauron could not, of course, be a ‘sincere’ atheist. Though one of the minor spirits created before the world, he knew Eru, according to his measure. He probably deluded himself with the notion that the Valar (including Melkor) having failed, Eru had simply abandoned Ea, or at any rate Arda, and would not concern himself with it anymore… Sauron was not a ‘sincere’ atheist, but he preached atheism, because it weakened resistance to himself (and he had ceased to fear God’s actions in Arda.)
So, to sum it up: If you believe in Tolkien’s very specific version of atheism, then I guess Ar-Pharazon and his followers fell into that category. Or you could suppose that there were some atheists-by-ignorance among the race of men? But, like I said at the beginning, the whole topic’s a bit tricky.
If you’re interested in this, you might also want to read “Religion in Middle Earth”, “Why No Institutionalized Religion in Middle Earth?”, and “Melkorism: The Worship of Morgoth.”
SOURCES: The Silmarillion, The Histories of Middle Earth vol. 10 (“Myths Transformed”), Tolkien’s Letter #131
Let’s wait for the whole set to be released and played before we proclaim the power level of a clan.
One of the typical attitudes that hurts the Magic community.