Nay Theist

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"I don't hold with paddlin' with the Occult," said Granny firmly. "Once you start paddlin' with the Occult you start believing in Spirits, and when you start believing in Spirits you start believing in Demons, and then before you know where you are you're believing in Gods. And then you're in trouble."
"But all them things exist," said Nanny Ogg.

"That's no call to go around believing in them. It only encourages 'em."

The Nay Theist is not an atheist or agnostic—he is well aware of the existence of the Gods (or God), and freely admits it; he just refuses to worship them, or to "believe" in them in any strong Spiritual sense beyond merely acknowledging the fact of their existence. Perhaps he has some personal grudge against the Gods for something they did (or didn't do); perhaps he refuses to accept the Gods' judgment because they don't measure up to his moral standards; perhaps he's just the independent type by nature; or perhaps he simply thinks there is Always a Bigger Fish, making the search for an "all powerful" creator a pointless venture.

He may go through the motions of worship, but if so, it's only to avoid getting struck by lightning or stoned by an angry mob, not out of any sincere Religious feelings.

The Other Wiki calls this misotheism—hatred of God or the Gods—and dystheism—belief that the Monotheistic God is not good, or outright evil. Henotheism and apatheism also may fall under this trope. Henotheism is the belief in the existence of multiple gods, but the preference for worshipping only one. This is how Vedic Hinduism worked: depending on your sect, you worshipped Shiva, Vishnu, or Shakti as supreme of the Panchayatana. Then there's the Devas (Ganesh, Kali, Hanuman, etc.) who you would pick as your personal deity to guard your family, something like a patron saint (this is all very simplified for the sake of brevity. Explore other sources for details.).

Apatheism considers the question of God's existence irrelevant and meaningless. Ignosticism claims the very concept makes no sense, and thus cannot be addressed.

This should not be confused with the Flat Earth Atheist, who simply doubts the existence of the divine, in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Nor should it be confused with No Such Thing as Space Jesus, where the "gods" in question are actually aliens, computers, time travelers, or whatever. The Nay Theist only applies to worlds where there really are genuine gods and who are actively worshiped as such by most people. The Naytheist will be a favourite of a Stop Worshipping Me! style God.

The protagonist of a Rage Against the Heavens plot will have this worldview by necessity, but Nay Theists are by no means limited to that story.

Clap Your Hands If You Believe may be a reason for this; the character doesn't want to give the gods more power through their "belief".

Examples of Nay Theist include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • In Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, Rika has a Nay Theist attitude towards Hanyuu despite being her priestess. Shutting a god up by force-feeding her spicy food (by proxy, it's a bit complicated) is not the most reverent act ever.
    • And Takano believes in God... if just to challenge him.
    • In the original game, Hanyuu tells Keiichi that the human will is greater than any god or fate. Noticing a theme yet?
      • Not an uncommon one in Buddhist countries, as one of the basic tenets of Buddhism is that human beings are best suited to achieving Nirvana, which is beyond all deities, while the gods themselves are too caught up with being supremely wise and powerful to look beyond their state.
  • Similarly, Battler from Umineko no Naku Koro ni is engaged in a very involved argument with a witch that she doesn't exist. Her killing him, bringing back to life, etc. has nothing to do with the issue.
    • She eventually gets sneaky in her pursuit of his belief. And sadistic. Mostly sadistic.
    • He verges somewhat into Flat Earth Atheist territory because his debate is literally over her existence - he does not, in fact, accept it. Although he does swing in this direction in later arcs. At least enough to accept that Beatrice has enough of an existence to have motives. And he switches sides when he winds up as Endless Sorcerer.
  • Rakushun, from The Twelve Kingdoms, just doesn't see much point in praying to the gods:

"Well then, who do normal people worship? Anyone?
"Not me. Why, if you work the fields well, and the weather holds, you'll get a bountiful harvest. No Emperor is going to change that, and it's the climate that'll say whether you weather is good or bad. You can cry and you can laugh all you want, but when the rain falls, it falls, and when it don't, it don't. Praying won't help anything."

    • Which is somewhat ironic, since a bad ruler in that world (they're appointed by divine mandate) will blight crops and ruin the climate. No ruler is even worse. Prayer still makes no difference though, with the exception of procreation, which is handled through prayer to a tree instead of doing the deed.
  • In the Saint Seiya Episode G manga, while not denying the existence of gods (as he is fighting them at that moment and he technically works for a goddess) Leo Aiolia states that (paraphrasing here) "The notion that mortals should bow to gods and always be defeated by them is a sad delusion created by the gods themselves" and that "they are not worthy of worship".
    • In his first battle against his Worthy Opponent Oceanus, Camus goes so far as to say humanity has the right to oppose gods that have no respect for humanity and view them as playthings.
  • Karin Kurosaki from Bleach is this way, though instead of gods she denies the existence of ghosts (at least in the early parts) despite being able to interact with them as well as her brother.
  • Edward Elric of Fullmetal Alchemist tells most people that he's agnostic, but in truth he has met and has a very bad relationship with the Truth, the living embodiment of Equivalent Exchange that's the closest thing to a proper "god" ever seen in the setting. (To be fair, the Truth doesn't have much relation to many concepts of God, even if it is ancient and almost omnipotent.)
  • Macademi Wasshoi magic world is full or every imaginable creatures from gods/demons to anthropomorphic cameras. Gods do not have any privileged status there and some even suffer great abuse from humans which they created.
  • Minene Uryuu, the 9th diary holder in Mirai Nikki. Having lost her parents at a young age to religious fighting, she's become a terrorist who only targets religions and considers God to be evil. And then one day, God answers and informs her that he wants her to participate in a game to decide his replacement...
  • Occult Academy: "I hate the occult!"
  • Although not a straight example, Naru of Ghost Hunt shares some characteristics of a Nay Theist; he's a ghost hunter who refuses to believe absolutely in ghosts. Even though he has seen them himself and felt the effects they have, he argues that, since all of his experience is filtered through human (read: fallible) senses, ghosts do not exist in the scientific meaning.
  • Most of the SSS in Angel Beats!, though most prominently their leader, Yuri. The entire point of their organization is to rebel against God in any way they can, because they all had such horrible experiences during their lives. Ultimately, whether or not God exists is left up in the air, and the SSS get over their issues and move on with their (after)lives.

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • John Constantine of Hellblazer, knows first-hand that God and Satan and all the rest exist. He thinks they are utter sods and hates their ineffable little games to the point that he takes extra effort when he screws up the plans of devils and angels, so they wind up all the more humiliated.
  • Pretty much the same can be said of Jesse Custer of Preacher (Comic Book), except that he knows first hand that the Devil is dead and that he's being hunted by the guy that killed him.
  • Beta Ray Bill from The Mighty Thor is essentially one after "The Green of Eden", also saying that he thinks Thor and the Asgardians are not gods "in any sense that matters". Considering all he's been through, it's easy to see why.
    • Given that Bill is exactly Thor's equal in power after being given his own Asgardian hammer, accepting that Thor is a god would pretty much require thinking of himself as one. He doesn't have that kind of ego, even though it would be arguably justified.
  • Depending on the Writer, Batman seems to be this or an atheist, based on the fact that while he has met several entities who claim to be gods, he has also met just as many beings with Godlike power who do not claim to be gods, and since the former are usually the more dickishly Ax Crazy, why should he distinguish? A common bit of fan description for Batman's view of religion is, "If there is a God, He'd better have a damn good explanation for all this shit."
  • Daimon Hellstrom, from Marvel Comics, is the Anti-Christ, but has a extreme dislike for his father/fathers, and is pretty much indifferent about God and Heaven. It's not as if he has to worry about his fate after death though; he already rules a section of Hell.
  • Most longtime superheroes in general fit this trope, especially the more mild "independent type by nature" variety of it. The Fantastic Four have met God, been offered a chance to stay in Heaven, and turned it down, reasoning that they'd rather keep exploring life. Practically every superhero has fought some kind of demonic invasion, without being particularly bothered by the theological implications of it as far as the reader gets to see. Teaming up with Thor, Hercules and Wonder Woman has rarely if ever influenced heroes' beliefs, even if they get to visit Asgard or Thymescria and learn that, yes, there really is something supernatural to them.
  • Eppy Thatcher, of Grendel, actually has "God hates me" as his Catch Phrase. And devotes all of his (crazy) effort to messing with the Church.


Film[edit | hide]

Bumpy Johnson: The good Lord and I have an arrangement. I don't go into his house. He doesn't come into mine.

  • Pitch Black: Keith David's Imam offers to pray with Riddick, then accuses him of being an atheist when he refuses. However, Riddick responds:

"Think someone could spend half their life in a slam with a horse bit in their mouth and not believe? Think he could start out in some liquor store trash bin with an umbilical cord wrapped around his neck and not believe? Got it all wrong, holy man. I absolutely believe in God... And I absolutely hate the fucker."

  • Mel Gibson's character in Signs, a former minister, initially seems to be an atheist, but then in the scene where his son's having an asthma attack, he prays to God, "I hate you."
  • Mel Gibson's character Riggs in Lethal Weapon, where his partner Murtaugh complains that the loose cannon Riggs has been assigned to him. Murtaugh laments, "God hates me", to which Riggs replies "Hate Him back, it works for me".
  • Achilles (Brad Pitt) in the movie Troy, based on the Iliad. Although god-like himself, being the greatest warrior who ever lived:

Eudorus: My lord, Apollo sees everything. Perhaps it would be wise not to anger him.
Achilles: (chops off the head of Apollo statue)
--
Briseis: The sun god will have his vengeance.
Achilles: What's he waiting for? His priests are dead, and his acolyte's a captive. I think your god is afraid of me.
Briseis: Apollo is master of the sun, he fears nothing.
Achilles: I know more about the gods than your priests. I've seen them.
Achilles: I'll tell you a secret. Something they don't teach you in your temple. The Gods envy us. They envy us because we're mortal, because any moment might be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we're doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again.

  • John Constantine, as portrayed by Keanu Reeves in Constantine (though some of this is present in the character from Hellblazer). He has this attitude because he's sentenced to go to Hell due to his suicide attempt as a kid. Since then he has battled demons and the like to try to "butt his way into heaven" but was told repeatedly it doesn't work that way.
    • Actually, he's not permanently barred—an angel (well, half-angel, but whatever) points out that all any human needs to do to be forgiven of their sins is to repent. The fact that John refuses to do so, since he believes suicide was a perfectly rational reaction to his "gift," is actually a great example of this trope.
      • Also hurting him was the fact that, since he can see demons and angels and knows for a fact that God exists, any good deed he does is tainted by him thinking, "Maybe this will get me into Heaven," preventing it from being truly selfless.
      • This gets into Fridge Logic at the end, when he's ascending to Heaven after the Devil agrees to send a girl who commited suicide to Heaven, not realizing a Heroic Sacrifice counts as a ticket to Heaven. Then Constantine flips him off, revealing he was planning on it. So, basically, God is that easy to fool?
  • This is the whole point of the 1991 film The Rapture, where Mimi Rogers stars as a born-again Christian who loses her faith just before the second coming. After her husband David Duchovny is murdered, Rogers takes her daughter to the desert to await the Rapture, but it doesn't come. Starving and confused, Rogers kills her daughter to send her to heaven. When the Rapture really does come and Rogers is reunited with her daughter, she forsakes God for His cruelty and chooses to remain alone in darkness forever.
    • You can take the opposite position that her mere belief in God did not obligate Him to cause the rapture on her schedule, or to cause it at all, since the Rapture is a human invention, not scripture. Mimi's character was quite self-serving regardless of her beliefs. Her cruelty was better illustrated than God's.
  • Borderline example: In Dogma, Loki's first appearance has him convincing a nun that her service to some "father figure saying 'Don't do it, or I'll spank you!'" is misguided and there isn't really any proof of God. The trick is, Loki's a fallen angel, who's not only stood in the presence of the Almighty but has spoken to Him personally. He just acts like an atheist because he loves to "fuck with the clergy, man; I love keepin' them on their toes."
    • Also Bethany in Dogma, who by now has seen the Metatron and thus is pretty sure God exists:

Bethany: When some asshole abortion doctor destroyed my uterus - where was God? When my husband decided he couldn't be with a wife that couldn't bear his children - where was God? ... To Hell with Him.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Both the witches (see quote above) and wizards of the Discworld take this attitude to the gods. In their case, it's simply because they would feel silly worshiping beings that they meet and converse with on a regular basis. "Contrary to popular opinion, seeing is not believing; it's where belief stops, because it isn't needed any more."
    • Complicating things is the fact that the gods of the Disc exist, but only gain power when people believe in them.
    • Samuel Vimes also has this opinion about deities. When he gets married he insists it not be in a church because while he knows there are gods, he doesn't much like them or see what business it is of theirs that he is getting hitched. He does, however, go for the great hall of the Unseen University, which has a churchy feel to it. It isn't required for Gods to show up on such occasions, but they should feel at home if they do.
    • Sergeant Simony in Small Gods, an actual atheist, said to Om, an actual god:

"This doesn't change anything, you know!" said Simony. "Don't think you can get round me by existing!"

      • Earlier, Om comments that he likes Simony. Simony disbelieves very specifically in Om, which is closer to belief than the lip-service most of his "worshipers" pay him.
    • While we're listing Pratchett examples, mention has to be made of Polly in Monstrous Regiment, who is increasingly aware that the local God Is Evil. And dead.
      • Quite a few people were of the opinion that Nuggan was evil by that point, which is quite probably why he was dead. In a previous novel, when one of his followers was brought face to face with him, the follower physically attacked him, screaming that he had never been allowed to eat chocolate or any number of other foods thanks to Nuggan's insane commandments.
    • And Constable Dorfl, the resident Nay Theist Golem. Who has the useful extra trait of being lightning resistant and thus able to blaspheme more or less at will.
      • However, Dorfl has expressed a willingness to convert to whichever religion can make a compelling enough argument (being immune to lightning, he does not regard having a lightning bolt chucked at him as a valid argument). So far this has yet to happen.
        • He agreed to have that debate when he's off duty. He is never off duty.
        • He also said he would listen to the arguments of the priest of the "most worthy god". We still don't know which of the priests to whom he made this offer won the resulting interfaith fistfight.
    • Must not forget 'Charcoal' Abraxas, the Ephebian philosopher and agnostic. He has been struck by lightning at least 15 times (often on sunny cloudless days). He seems to take the view that the Gods actually existing is not a valid philosophical reason to believe in them.
      • Characters traveling in Ephebe are warned not to address any religious question to a bar full of philosophers, as this will lead to a huge argument about whether gods exist, and eventually someone will be hit by a lightning bolt with a note wrapped around it saying "Yes, we do".
    • And Vetinari believes that, "If there is any kind of supreme being, it is up to all of us to become his moral superior." Since he's extremely intelligent, one assumes he's not a literal Flat Earth Atheist; he simply doesn't consider the known deities to be supreme beings.
      • The setting doesn't have one. The world was made by a sub-contractor who moved on as soon as construction was done, and life evolved from bacteria on a sandwich he made for Rincewind. The gods we have seen have fairly limited powers (for a god), and get less and less active as their number of followers grows.
        • The planet doesn't have a creator. Presumably the universe of Discworld does, as somebody must've been there to say "One. Two. One two three four..." at the start, as per Soul Music.
    • Similarly, Discworld dwarfs don't believe in devils or demons, but dwarf custom dictates being buried with an excellent weapon just in case any of those things don't know dwarfs don't believe in things like that.
      • The Dwarfs have a few gods, but largely so they have someone at which they can blaspheme if one of them hits their thumb with a hammer. They do have a creator god, Tak, but they don't worship him as a matter of dogma: "Tak doesn't demand that we think of Him, only that we think."
  • Jame, the heroine of P. C. Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath books, is unable to deny the reality of the Three-Faced God, because she can feel its power inside her, but she hates it for what it has done to her people (basically enslaved them in a seemingly doomed attempt to save the multiverse), and gives it, as do most of her people, only the bare minimum of respect necessary to avoid its wrath. However, it's not a deity that requires faith or love, only obedience.
    • Jame is also fascinated by the native gods of Rathillien, the Kencyrath's current temporary home, and carries out experiments on them. Unlike her God, these seem to live on their believers' faith and love. When she inadvertently allows a worshipper-less goddess to enter the inn on the Feast of Dead Gods, she attempts to sate the goddess's needs to save the inn; finally she tells the goddess that as a Kencyr, she cannot worship her, but she can believe that she exists in some fashion, and that suffices.
  • This trope is the central theme of Harry Turtledove's novel Between the Rivers: humanity has been serving the gods since time immemorial, until the people of one city start to explore the advantages of self-reliance.
  • Duke Roger, the Big Bad of Tamora Pierce's Alanna quartet, says that he believes in the gods because "only a fool does not", but doesn't like them because they don't like him.
  • Humorously treated in The Thurb Revolution by Alexei Panshin. On an outback planet, one of the native Plonks announces that he is God, having just been elected by the other Plonks (Don't ask.) Anthony Villiers and his friends respond by engaging Him in an oh-so-respectful and reasonable discussion of what constitutes proof, since surely He would not wish to encourage the worship of false gods. Reviving the dead is "a modern commonplace". Transubstantiation "can be accomplished by mechanical means". And revealing a secret as proof of His omniscience fails because two of the other characters have already found out.
  • The Dresden Files: Harry Dresden. One of his best friends carries around a sword containing a nail of the True Cross that cuts through all manners of demonic baddies, he dallies with the supernatural daily, and Harry had a fallen angel rattling around in his skull—but he doesn't hold much truck with gods, and believes that the faith that powers them is just another example of emotion fueling magic.
    • Alternatively, that the power of faith is orthogonal to the belief in magic, and that you can't have both at the same time.
    • Odin and Harry seemed to get on well enough, but that's mostly because the conversation was respectful on both sides, force slamming into the floor notwithstanding.
      • Though he most likely has issues with Dionysus, due to a run in he had with some fanatics in one of the short stories.
    • An even better example is Sanya, who uses one of those swords containing a nail of the True Cross, who describes himself as agnostic. His sword was supposedly given to him by the archangel Michael, but Sanya is careful to note that angels could be yet another type of faerie (they exist in the series and have no religious significance), or aliens (not seen yet, but give it time), or he could be insane and all his encounters with the supernatural could be mere hallucination. While Sanya approaches a Flat Earth Atheist in some ways, he explains clearly enough that he sees his mission as worthwhile whether it's a crusade or a service to his fellow man.
      • Indeed, Sanya is a Communist, after Trotsky's line. He is doing the good work because it is good work that makes the world a better place; what does it matter whether he fights for God or for Men?
    • When it comes to the capital G God, Dresden seems to basically think that He has good intentions, but wishes he would get a bit more involved with the world (at one point he even calls out God for apparently doing nothing when the Knights of the Blackened Denarius seem to get direct aid from Satan, which leads to Michael getting severely injured). God, for His part, seems to like Dresden regardless, seeing how the Knights of the Cross are often in an ideal position to save him and grants him access to Soulfire (the same power source as the angels have) in retaliation for Satan's assistance to the Denarians (and possibly also as reward for successfully resisting his own Fallen Angel).
    • It is also important to note that the Christian God is not given special significance in the setting. Referred to by various godlike supernatural entities as "The White God".
      • Queen Mab seems to treat Him and His archangels with a measure of respect (she likes Uriel best).
        • Roughly half the planet worships the god of Abraham in one form or another, and most of the rest have at least heard of him. If faith powers gods, then that is a metric fuckton of raw power, and Mab definitely respects that.
        • Agreed, power for the gods comes with worship. "The White God" does have special significance, because He has the most devotees. And I'd say, especially after Ghost Story, that it's clear he 'believes' in God. He just can't accept the rules "The White God" puts on himself, when both evil and the older gods are perfectly willing to play a hand directly.
  • The Monastics in general and T'Passe in particular in The Acts of Caine. The Monasteries were, in fact, developed for the express purpose of protecting humanity's interests from the predations of deities.
  • Conan speaks several times about the futility of wasting your time on gods in this life. However, when he comes face to face with them, he sometimes changes his tune. (It helps that Crom has a definite laissez-faire policy towards his worshippers. Cimmerians are expected to take what they want from life using the gifts given to them by Crom at birth - as far as he is concerned, creating the Cimmerian race was gift enough - not call on him for assistance every time they are in need. That would be weak, and Crom despises weaklings. He only takes pride in them if they never call on him for aid in their lives.)
  • Zakath from David Eddings' Mallorean, who admits that while he acknowledges the existence of the Gods, he still can't accept that they play any sort of role in the world.
    • He's basically got the right end of the stick on the gods; Aldur and UL are the only ones who still interact with their followers to any degree anymore, and even they don't really get involved unless they must (Aldur to get Belgarath, Belgarion and Silk away from Vorduvai, and UL to tell Relg to stop being a troublemaker and go with the companions.) He's seriously wrong about the Prophecies not having any real impact, though.
      • The Gods left deliberately because if they'd stayed, they'd have had to confront Torak, and that would have risked destroying the world, thereby fucking up the Prophecies on a horrific scale.
  • Zalasta in The Tamuli is another shining example. Most gods he simply tries to exploit in order to achieve his goals. To make him fit fully into this trope, his primary goal is to kill Aphrael, Child Goddess of Styricum.
  • David Weber has the WarGod trilogy, where Gods manifest and chose champions all the time, with almost two dozen champions of the God of Justice running around. The race of Dark Elves/Orcs Hradani haven't had a single champion since the end of the last wizard war made the entire race into Nay Theists. It's so ingrained that most of the first book is the main character, Bahzell Bahnakson, running from clerics, wizards, and The Gods Themselves rather than being talked into being their champion.
    • In the same series, the somewhat misogynistic Trisu of Lorham is accused of feeling this way towards the goddess of women. He claims it isn't hatred but healthy skepticism: he doesn't doubt the existence of the gods (or goddesses), but he also doesn't doubt the existence of con men. If you show up at his door claiming that the gods sent you, you had better have some corroborating evidence.
  • Ciaphas Cain HERO OF THE IMPERIUM! of Warhammer 40,000 is an odd version of this. It's not that he doesn't venerate the Emperor. He does, possibly more than any other Commissar. It's just Cain says he feels so insignificant that the Emperor has better things to do than pay attention to him, so Cain doesn't bother the Emperor with things like praying for help.
  • Lightsong from Warbreaker is a strange example, though this trope is probably the best fit for him- he actually is a god, or at least a kind of being that is worshiped as such, but he finds the whole idea quite ludicrous and refuses to acknowledge his own divinity. Lightsong doesn't really have any solid ideas about gods otherwise- he's just certain that he's not one. He ends up changing his mind, though to readers familiar with Brandon Sanderson's multiverse, it's clear the Returned aren't actually gods, just the emissaries of one of them.
  • In Henri Charrière's Papillon, the titular character (usually considered literally autobiographical) on several occasions breaks down to express his hate or gratitude for God, depending on his success. He was raised in an atheist family, but that obviously doesn't stop him from blaming God for his adversity.
  • Don Marquis, Archy and Mehitabel

you want to know whether i believe in ghosts
of course i do not believe in them
if you had known as many of them as i have
you would not believe in them either
perhaps I have been
unfortunate in my acquaintance
but the ones I have known
have been a bad lot
no one could believe in them
after being acquainted with them
a short time

  • In the short story "Hell is the Absence of God" by Ted Chiang, angels routinely and overtly intervene, causing both good and bad results. People are therefore split between the "devout" and "non-devout". The non-devout know that they will be going to Hell rather than Heaven, but while Heaven is a paradise of eternal devotion, Hell doesn't seem so bad for a non-devout person; it's merely Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • In Richard Kadrey's Sandman Slim: Kill The Dead James Stark has this little gem.:

Stark (Narrating): If I was a religious man (and no, knowing there's a Heaven and Hell, God and devil and angels doesn't help being religious one little bit), I might take what I see as a sign.

  • In James Morrow's Towing Jehovah, when God's 2-mile long corpse shows up floating in the ocean, the oldest and founding member of the Central Park atheist society suggests as rational, scientific-minded people they should keep an open mind that this is evidence they were wrong all along. The rest of the society angrily rebuke her and begin conspiring to destroy God's corpse.
  • In Charles Stross's Laundry Series, Bob is fully aware of the existence of at least one being he deems "indistinguishable from God". As of The Fuller Memorandum, he is awaiting his God's return to Earth. . . with a shotgun. There's also a bit in The Jennifer Morgue where a fellow agent points out that while Bob may not believe in God, he certainly believes in Hell (as he's had extensive dealings with informational entities from other universes that could easily be classified as demons).
  • Hrafnkell Freysgoði, in 'Hrafnkels Saga Freysgoða, concludes that "I think it is folly to have faith in the Gods," after his temple to Freyr is burnt and he is enslaved.
  • A'churak'zen in Star Trek: Titan. Assigned to pilot a spaceship to a phenomenon believed by her people to be the god Erykon, she privately intended to confront it on the meaning of life. Having previously suffered great personal loss, she no longer believed that Erykon was just, fair or benevolent and refused to worship it. She certainly still believed in its power though. She also decided that if it didn't answer her questions satisfactorily, it would feel the wrath of A'churak'zen, in pleasing symmetry.
  • In Bernard Cornwell's The Warlord Chronicles King Arthur doesn't dispute the existence of the gods and is technically a Mithraist and later, just as technically, a Christian but believes that men are better off taking their fate into their own hands.
  • Attolia of The Queen's Thief series accepts the gods help to find Eugenides and fight the Medes, but flat-out refuses to worship them or be married at an altar. Her displeasure seems to stem from the fact that the gods are as deceitful and tricky as her barons; although Eugenides worships them more than she does, he suffers the most. She changes her mind when Eugenides' Pals with Jesus status leads him to challenge the gods--who break every winow in the palace, lock the room he is in, and give him a terrifying vision of impending doom. She promises to worship if they leave him alone.
  • In Everworld this is the best way to summarise the attitudes that the core fore and Senna have towards the gods of yore. They acknowledge that the gods have tremendous powers and are forces to be reckoned with, but they refuse to accept them as gods per se, and frequently insult or manipulate them for their own ends. Merlin may be a native Everworld example.
  • Older Than Feudalism: Mezentius of The Aeneid whose refusal to worship the gods is supposed to make him look like a Complete Monster. Instead it makes him look like a Complete Badass.
  • In The Odyssey, Polyphems the Cyclops rejects Sacred Hospitality by eating members of Odysseus' crew and denounces the laws of the gods as irrelevant. This despite being the son of Poseidon. Hypocritically, after Odysseus blinds Polyphemus in revenge and arrogantly revealed his true identity, Polyphemus invoked Poseidon's favor (read: whined to Daddy) to punish Odysseus.
  • In Warrior Cats, Mothwing starts out believing that StarClan doesn't exist; that "prophecies" are only things medicine cats knew in their subconscious that they just happened to remember in dreams. Eventually she does come to accept that StarClan exists, but she still doesn't truly "believe" in them. And she's supposed to be the religious leader of her Clan...


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Xena: Warrior Princess is a perfect example. She knows only too well that the gods exist, but she despises them for their arrogance toward humanity. Far from worshiping them, her approach to them varies from deliberately ignoring them to actively working towards their destruction.
    • Hercules is very similar, though the situation is more complicated since he's, you know, related to them.
  • It's mentioned occasionally that the Klingons originally had gods, but the early Klingons rose up and slew them for being more trouble than they were worth. Their religious beliefs now center on a messianic Klingon named Kahless.
  • Sam and Dean of Supernatural. Even some of the angels are Nay Theists.
    • Including Castiel, now that it's been made explicit that God has no intention of stopping the Apocalypse.
    • Actually, God gave them all the help they needed to stop the apocalypse without his interference in their lives, thus preserving their free will. Castiel made it clear that he wants to aid Heaven, now that Michael's gone. When Dean asked why Castiel asked him if he wanted Peace or Freedom before POOFing out.....
  • Captain Jean-Luc Picard is a Nay Theist specifically to the idea of Q as God...

"I refuse to believe the afterlife is run by you. The universe isn't so badly designed."

    • Especially since he knows there are other Q around. When you have other beings with the same amount of power, by definition, you can't be all-powerful.
  • Rick in The Walking Dead has moved into this territory ever since he asked God for a sign and next thing you know his son gets shot.
  • In the pilot for The Finder a bishop who's also a friend of Walter Sherman, the main character, asks one of Sherman's associates why he's angry at god "this time".
  • In Farscape, Aeryn says that the Sebaceans stopped worshipping gods after their goddess killed everyone on seven Sebacean worlds for fun.
  • In Game of Thrones Cersei says her father believes in the gods, he just doesn't like them.


Music[edit | hide]

  • XTC's "Dear God" sort of combines this with God Is Evil. The singer goes from mocking the very idea of God's existence (Did you make mankind after we made you?) to railing against Him for allowing evil and suffering to flourish (You're always letting us humans down).
    • The song actually starts out merely requesting God's help with human problems such as famine and riots; given what the rest of the song's about, the lack of response is a Foregone Conclusion.
  • Slayer, with "Disciple". The song criticizes how terrible life and humanity is, and that the only conclusion is that God doesn't care. It becomes pretty evident when they start shouting GOD HATES US ALL.


Religion[edit | hide]

  • In some versions of Buddhism, Gods are acknowledged to exist, but that they're part of the same cycle of reincarnation as humans and animals, and they're a distinctly secondary concern to the enlightenment taught by Buddha.
    • This could also qualify as No Such Thing as Space Jesus as the difference between humans and Gods is simply one of degree, not kind, and theoretically both can move either way up and down the karmic ladder.
  • While there are various opinions on the matter, much of The Bible appears to confirm, rather than deny, the existence of Non-Christian Gods, only stating that worshiping them is contradictory to worshiping Yehovah.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • A few Dungeons & Dragons settings feature this.
    • Eberron has a few variations of this. One notable example is the Blood of Vol, who believe that the gods cursed mortals with death.
      • Although Eberron hasn't really answered the question if gods actually exist or not, and many of the religions don't center around gods; The Silver Flame is based around the remains of a paladin's sacrifice, the Elven religions are ancestor worship in one form or another, and the Path of Light is a philosophical religion.
    • The Athar faction of the Planescape setting. They don't necessarily deny the existence of gods and other Powers (although some do), believing in the possibility of a non-personified "Great Unknown," but they believe that none of the gods running around smashing windows (Zeus, Odin, Helm, Moradin, Iuz etc.) are the real deal—just very powerful planar beings. Their former leader, Factol Terrance, was a cleric of the goddess Mishakal (from the Dragonlance setting) who simply woke up one day and realized he was no longer awed by his deity's power; he knew for a fact that she existed, but no longer believed she was genuinely divine. Their motto: "The gods are frauds."
      • The Athar have set up a settlement around the base of the giant pillar in the center of the Concordant Plane of the Outlands (said to be the hub around which the multiverse of Planescape revolves). Above the "top" of the pillar floats Sigil, the City of Doors. Magic in the circular plane of the Outlands is strongest along the rim, where the portals to the Outer Planes are, but it diminishes the closer you get to the pillar in the center; first mortal magic fails, then intrinsic supernatural abilities, then divine magic of the gods. The region around the foot of the pillar is a magic-dead zone where even the various Powers of the planes dare not go, although various Powers (including gods) sometimes meet for negotiations halfway to the Pillar, where they are equally weakened and cannot summon reinforcement. The Athar use their settlement as a place where they can philosophize and experiment with non-magical engineering without being disturbed.
    • Similarly, The Believers of the Source (or "Godsmen" as they're more popularly called) believe that Gods are simply the beings that have reached the apex of the Karmic Wheel—godhood is their 'payoff' after having reincarnated enough and lived 'good' lives throughout. Thus, while the Godsmen won't deny gods exist, and many of them worship gods as an ideal and as a way to respect those who have reached the apex of existence, every one of them aspire to the same height and don't believe gods are any intrinsically 'special'.
    • In most of Dungeons & Dragons 'verse it is entirely possible to have an access to divine magic via following no specific deity but instead an abstract principle—philosophy or code of honor—the same way as in Forgotten Realms you have a cleric of Kossuth (Elemental Lord of Fire who doubles as a deity... though he cares not) and in Dark Sun you have a cleric of Fire itself. Likewise, a class called the Archivist (from the Heroes of Horror supplement) can bypass gods entirely, despite casting "divine" magic. Archivists are scholars of the occult who can "steal" spells from all sorts of sources (be it clerical or druidic magic, ranger spells, paladin spells or clerical domains); they learn spells like a wizard does and use prayerbooks to collect them. AD&D has priests "of philosophy" in its Complete Priest. Most of Transcendent Order's and of course all Athar's divine casters are these—up to and including the same Terrance.
    • There are also "Ur-Priests" who hate gods and use their abilities (usually given to them by demons) to steal their power in order to work to destroy them. It goes without saying that gods don't like them very much.
      • One notable Nay Theist in Forgotten Realms is Artemis Entreri, who knows the gods exist, its kinda hard not to after the Times of Troubles, but sees them as basically really powerful beings who go around pretending to be good or lawful when all they are is really a bunch of petty monsters, no better than anyone else. The fact his mother was raped by a priest of Selune, a good goddess, to produce him and the rest of that order manipulated the poor of the Slums of Memnon, where he was born, for money might just be part of his the reason he hates gods. The fact that every god, even the "good" ones, in the pantheon apparently helped browbeat Kelemvor into holding the souls of every mortal creature in the setting hostage doesn't hurt his argument either.
      • It should be noted that despite what appeared in the Artemis Entreri novel Road of the Patriarch (described above), gods in the Forgotten Realms are explicitly described as not tolerating deviant behavior in their priests and that novel therefore directly contradicts Forgotten Realms canon. Any cleric of a good deity who commits evil acts is stripped of his or her powers and must atone to get them back. Salvatore flat out screwed up in that novel.
        • It should also be noted that it was implied in that novel that worship of Selune had been usurped by an evil deity posing as Selune, possibly Ibrandul or Shar masquerading as Ibrandul.
    • Half-giants believe in the gods, but generally don't consider them important. They're from open content, by the way.
    • In Forgotten Realms it's a pretty bad idea to not worship anything, since you will be condemned to the Wall of the Faithless after death. The sheer number trapped in the Wall shows that this doesn't stop people from denying the gods worship.
  • Dragonlance has Mystics and Primal Sorcerers that arose during the early Fifth Age. Mystics draw their power from the energy of all living things on Krynn and their own soul, and Sorcerers draw their power from all non-living matter on Krynn. A large part of the flavor for Mystics is that because they draw power from a strong faith in themselves, they can not worship a deity because worshiping a deity is drawing power from outside of themselves. Sorcerers technically can choose to follow a deity, but many do not because they arose during a time when there were no deities.
  • Pathfinder features an entire nation, Rahadoum, whose official philosophy is the rejection of any and all gods and religions. This has caused the nation a great deal of suffering ...
  • The Brasilian setting Tormenta has the nation "Sallistick", famed for spawning the best doctors in the world. This is because they deny deities, and thus divine magic barely even works there.
  • In Warhammer 40,000, followers of the God-Emperor of Mankind and of Chaos are on mutual non-speaking terms with one another. (It is noteworthy, though, that the divinity or lack thereof of the God-Emperor is intentionally left ambiguous.)
    • The Tau qualify as well. They have no psychic presence in the Warp and thus have no experience with the demons and gods that live within it. They have met them in battle, but view them merely as exceptionally unpleasant aliens. There is even a funny moment in one of the computer games where a Chaos Marine attempts to psychically contact a Tau commander who merely wonders why his comm is malfunctioning and tells the rest of his troops to stop screwing around.
    • The whole "belief" thing gets touched on in the Horus Heresy novels. Horus himself (before the Face Heel Turn) is having a sit-down with someone who believes in the Imperial Truth: there are no gods, no devils, all religion is myth. Problem is, he just saw a Daemon, a creature of the Warp, possess someone, mutate his body horribly, drive three people insane and kill a half-dozen genetically engineered super-soldiers in Power Armor. How does he explain it? That the "demons" and "gods" of the Warp are just creatures that live in another aspect of reality. The "magic" they use is simply following a different set of the laws of physics, channeled by psychics psykers. Indeed, it was in fact these very real and "natural" beings that probably inspired those myths, so why not just use those words? But that doesn't mean there's any reason to fear or worship them...
      • In fairness, the Chaos Gods are not "Gods" in the conventional theistic sense - they are created by human emotion (in fact, the atheist pun that "Man made God in his own image" is literally true here), they are not omnipotent or omniscient (mortals can hide their thoughts from them if they try hard enough) and they didn't create the universe. In fact, Horus's explanation is perfectly valid - however, the Emperor enforced anti-theism in order to prevent people inadvertently worshipping them and to stop people looking for divine inspiration (which, in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, usually ends very badly).
    • They aren't created by solely human emotion; they're created by the emotion on all sentient life. And they are omnipotent within their own planes of existence; and pretty damn close to it in the materium. The reason why they don't just annihilate it with a lazy gesture and why certain mortals can hide their thoughts from them is because they don't care enough to try hard.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • The Charr in Guild Wars. After some nasty experiences with false gods set up by their shaman caste, they repudiate all gods, real or fake, and declare themselves masters of their own fate. They know that the Five Gods followed by humans are real, but they consider worshipping such untrustworthy beings to be just another example of human weakness. "Do not waste time praying. Your gods are not listening, and we have none."
    • The Asura and the Charr from Guild Wars (this is clearer in the lore that's been released for the upcoming sequel, but it is present in the current game). Basically, the Asura believe that they the gods are subject to a force called the Eternal Alchemy (as-yet vaguely defined), while the Charr refuse to worship the gods. Seeing as there are cases of beings passing themselves off as gods, including the Religion Of Evil that the Charr worshipped until the players beat up their "gods", and the gods of Tyria do not seem too inclined to punish unbelievers, these are not unreasonable ideologies.
  • The Wizards in Heroes of Might and Magic 5. They know that the gods exist, but they don't put much effort into worshiping them. The fact that their founder managed to become a god through his magic (before his Heroic Sacrifice) probably helps; they know it can be done and view worshiping the gods as a roadblock to doing so.
  • Just about every character in the Neverwinter Nights 2 expansion Mask of the Betrayer. Except the guy who is a god.
  • In the world of Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura, many people are implied Nay Theist, not bothering with religion at all. The dwarves, orcs, elves and Bedokkan peoples still appear to worship their pagan deities, to some degree. As for the Panarri religion, it's demonstrated to be false during the main quest. Given that an optional, obscure and rather difficult sidequest involving making offerings at altars of the "old gods" will actual confer blessings giving significant bonuses to the player characters, it is rather odd that the worship of these deities has been abandoned.
  • The Dwemer in The Elder Scrolls universe weren't atheists per se, but had no particular use for the gods and eventually conceived of a plan to perform a magical ritual on the heart of a dead deity in the hopes of elevating themselves to godhood. Instead (?), the ritual caused their entire race, to the last man, to spontaneously vanish from Tamriel, and for thousands of years hence Tamrielic loremasters have debated whether they were destroyed by the gods for their arrogance or whether they actually did Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence as intended.
    • The Dwemer in Morrowind certainly had a rocky relationship with the various god-like powers. The tale of Azura and the Box is about one particularly irreverent Dwemer who tried to disprove Azura's omnipotence. It involved a supposedly sealed box, and sleight of hand to trick the people watching into believing that Azura saw something in the box that wasn't there. They were cursed for their troubles, obviously.
    • Oblivion also has a minor Comic Relief character, Else God-Hater, who acknowledges the existence of the gods, but, as her name implies, despises them all.
  • The Civilization IV mod "Fall From Heaven" features the Grigori, an entire nation of "atheists". Their leader, Cassiel, doesn't deny the existence of gods, but claims that they did not create the world, are unworthy of worship, and should not interfere with mortal affairs in any way. Seeing as Cassiel is an ex-archangel who abandoned Heaven, he should know.
    • Except the "gods" are actually angels. There is a single Creator of Erebus, but he has never been seen and pretty much went hands-off after creating the world. The angels, as the most powerful beings in Erebus, pretend they're gods.
  • A few D&D computer games have featured Nay Theist characters:
    • Valygar's attitude towards the gods in Baldur's Gate II. After all, when the pantheon includes evil madmen like Cyric and gods who were once fallible humans, why exactly do the gods deserve worship?
    • Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer: Gann refuses to worship a god even after talking to Kelemvor in front of the Wall of the Faithless.
  • Seems to be a common attitude in Final Fantasy VIII, in which Hyne is identified as a god and mentioned in several ingame myths, but is largely depicted as a Jerkass in said myths and is apparently not worshipped by anyone in the setting.
  • In Star Ocean: Till the End of Time, when the spaceship appeared about the medieval planet; a Cargo Cult did not form. In fact, the people who thought it might be a deity were offended that such deity would stoop to physical form. "It would be no better than a demon."
  • In Discworld Noir, Mooncalf loses his faith in the Disc gods, clambers up to the Temple roof while ranting about what ungrateful, undeserving total bastards they are, and is struck by a dozen lightning bolts simultaneously. He was congratulated for his style by Death.
  • The majority of the Forsaken race in World of Warcraft. Their very name makes reference to the fact that the Holy Light they worshiped while alive turned its back on them. One of the Warcraft novels notes that it was not uncommon among the Forsaken to dress as priests of the Light and "mock the order by wearing their garments and allowing the sacred robes to be soiled and tainted by their bloody work"
  • Kratos from God of War becomes this, after he realizes too late his deal with Ares set him up as the god's Unwitting Pawn. His contempt for the Greek Pantheon deepens after the deal he brokered with them to exact vengeance on Ares and cleanse him of his sins fell through, turning his vengeance on them. I guess Kratos never learned the invaluable lesson that you Do Not Taunt Cthulhu if you value your life.
    • In Chains of Olympus (Prior to the first game), he is forced to forsake being with his daughter in Elysium forever so he can save her and the world from Persephone's Omnicidal Maniac plan to destroy the Pillar of the World and destroy Olympus, Earth and Underworld out of spite for being trapped in a forced marriaged with Hades. In Ghost of Sparta, prior to the second game, he finds out that his brother, Deimos, was taken captive by the Gods because of a prophecy that said a Marked Warrior would destroy the Olympian Gods, and Deimos was born with a mark very similar to Kratos' tattoo, actually made to honor the then-thought-to-be dead Deimos. In the end, Deimos was killed by Thanatos, and Kratos was angered by the way Athena waved the torment Deimos suffered for decades as I Did What I Had to Do, especially because she and Ares were the ones to kidnap him. He's also not happy with becoming a God, since he has to live with the Nightmares the Gods refused to take and, when he tried to kill himself, granted him Immortality! All in all, his disllike for the Gods is understandable...
  • Naoya from Devil Survivor knows very well that God exists, just that he hates Him. With good reasons
  • In Dragon Age, the dwarves and qunari don't acknowledge any gods. The former revere but do not worship their most noteworthy ancestors almost like secular saints. The latter ascribe to a religion called the Qun, and seek to impose it upon other races, but one of its core doctrines is ridiculing even the concept of gods. There's little evidence Oghren or Sten deviate from the rest of their people in this regard. Of the rest of the Warden's companions, Zevran and Morrigan are extremely irreverant towards the Maker and the Chantry, though in the latter's case the fact that the Chantry's templars occasionally hunt her as an apostate might have something to do with it. On the other hand, Alistair, Wynne and Leliana show increasing levels of devotion to the Maker.
    • The Dwarves don't worship any gods per se, but they do have a rather complicated belief system involving the stone surrounding them. They credit it with the creation of their race for one thing, and the mining caste can receive messages from it from time to time (the tactics that led to the survival of the last Dwarven city are supposed to have been spoken by the stone).
    • Morrigan is actually an avowed atheist; this comes up in her conversations with Leliana.
  • Susano in Okami, as part of a general Screw Destiny attitude, thinks the gods are tormenting him for their amusement and tells them to stop dogging his footsteps—all the while the benevolent goddess Amaterasu, in wolf form, is keeping an eye on him and continually yanking his tail out of the fire. Sometimes literally.
  • The Defiant faction in Rift are based around thinking that the main pantheon of the setting fucked up big-time. And they may very well be right about that.
  • Kreia from Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords has this attitude towards The Force; she knows perfectly well it exists and makes use of it as a Jedi, but has a deep suspicion of it, is highly impressed by The Exile's ability to survive having it stripped from his/her body, and considers The Force a manipulative 'god' whose 'will' keeps the sentient races of the galaxy from being truly able to self-determine. Her ultimate goal, after having witnessed first-hand from The Exile that life without The Force is possible, is to destroy it.
  • Elwin in the Independent path of Der Langrisser wants both the goddess Lushiris and Chaos driven the hell out of the world.
  • Dracula from the Castlevania series clearly believes in God... and hates his guts. As the story goes, he was off in the Crusades doing work for God, his wife dies of illness, and so he became a vampire in opposition to God's cruel betrayal of his devotion.
  • Drakengard features a religion whose followers are mainly Evil Empire knights with a Global-Suicide agenda and their high priestess is a DEMONICALLY POSESSED LITTLE GIRL. Naturally, a conglomerate resistance known as the Union, which includes murderous sociopaths and (censored), has banded together to oppose the Empire, despite the Empire's worship of the most popular/influential faith, which by itself is insane. Some of the endings reveal that the "Gods", unrecognizable and capable of crushing the laws of reality, have nightmarish destructive beasts as their "Angels", are from another dimension, and can manifest as giant babies/mommies. With teeth. The sequel confirms that the "Gods" of Drakengard are false gods from another world/dimension, and reveals that they overthrew the religion of Dragon Gods, again a false religion. At the rate that this is going, Nier's world and Emil's ultimate weapon may be mankind's only hope...


Webcomics[edit | hide]

Ed: Mousies not having gods? Hmmm. Probably being smart mousies. Gods is being like demons-- is big thing, not safe.

  • Eastwood of Exterminatus Now. When asked how he cannot "believe" in gods despite working for an all powerful religious organization, he snarks "Easy. All it takes is a little faith."
  • The Order of the Stick: Roy takes this view - despite having the stats to be a capable Cleric, he became a pure Fighter in part because he's not keen on being a "Fetching Boy" for a god who never does things for himself.
    • The fact that he's saying this to an angel, while dead and standing outside the gates of paradise really takes some commitment.
      • Then again, lying to a being of pure Lawful Good probably isn't the best idea, especially when they're the one making the call as to whether you get into Heaven.
  • Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic: The Drow and the Orcs both virtually abandoned their respective gods in the wake of a brief, but devastating war between them. The Drow rejected Lolth due to her role in leading the Drow into a war they had little chance of winning and which decimated their population. The Orcs turned away from Gruumish after he refused to intervene on their behalf, even after Lolth herself joined the fray and (probably most damning) ignored Glon's prayers and allowed Goria to die from a Drow assassination attempt meant for Maura.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • In the SCP Foundation universe, the Global Occult Coalition has this stance on God. They view it as their job to kill God if ever given the chance or the means. Considering that they live in a Crapsack World plagued by every kind of Eldritch Abomination imaginable, this is somewhat understandable.


Western Animation[edit | hide]


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Many theists get this confused with atheism and will often accuse genuine atheists (especially ones who are ex-theists) of being Nay Theists.
    • Some theists supposedly get this impression from statements like like "[o]f course God supports murdering babies, he does it himself every time someone miscarries!" or "your god is a tyrant!" What is actually happening is that the atheist is, "for the sake of argument," granting the theist's premises and trying to draw a reasonable, if sometimes sarcastic, conclusion about what those premises would imply if followed to their logical conclusion. Atheists often don't bother starting with "supposing for the sake of argument God does exist" because it's implied and assumed to be obvious.
      • Because misotheism isn't exactly a well known word, most of the time people say things like "Militant Atheist" or "Fundamental Atheist", not necessarily to imply any active agression, just very strongly held convictions.
    • Also because some theists honestly believe that the evidence that God is real is so obvious and overwhelming that anyone who claims otherwise must be either a Flat Earth Atheist or this.
  • Reportedly Christopher Hitchens has been known to call himself an "anti-theist," saying that he's considered the possibility that God exists and finds the thought disturbing.
    • To elaborate, antitheists are an actual subculture of atheist who would be Nay Theists if they thought God actually existed. In practice, they typically believe that belief in God (i.e. theism) is an undesirable thing that should be opposed intellectually and socially.
    • Christopher Hitchens said the following: "You can be an atheist, but still wish that the religious idea of God was true. An anti-theist is someone who says that it would be pretty awful if it was true."
  • Mikhail Bakunin, a rather big name in anarchist political ideology and a self-identified anarcho-collectivist wrote these words in his book No Gods, No Masters: "The first revolt is against the supreme tyranny of theology, of the phantom of God. As long as we have a master in heaven, we will be slaves on earth. A boss in Heaven is the best excuse for a boss on earth, therefore If God did exist, he would have to be abolished."