A fan posted fairly deep lore question about the Monk’s religion in the world of Sanctuary, prompting a short reply from Bashiok and several burst blood vessels in Flux’s “has read dozens of books on World Mythologies/Religions and shrieks at how misguided is this question” brain.

    Why do other religions exist in a world where Heaven and Hell exist? Primarily the Monk and his 1,001 Gods.

    In the real world, there are varying views because their is no definite truth. However, In Sanctuary this is not true. The world is created and we know by whom. Heaven resides as well as Heaven with man in the middle. So, why does the Monk believe in 1,001 Gods.

    Once could say that we as players know this as fact but the characters do not. However, why create this false religion to give to a character. It only makes them seem weaker believing in something we know that does not exist. More believable, yes, but none-the-less incorrect in the player’s view. Of course, these differing views and beliefs are a core foundation for building separate cultures and help distinguish them from one another. I mean, the biggest part of the Necromancer’s lore is about their beliefs of the world but the necromancer’s views are a derivative of what we do know about Heaven and Hell. Same with the WD’s spirit world lore. But the Monk’s views and beliefs seem to be completed separated from the fact that Angels and Demons created this world and humans.

    It is possible that these 1,001 Gods prevail above these Angels from Heaven. Do the Monk’s accept these angels existence and believe their Gods are above them?

    I am just wondering what the explanation behind the 1,001 Gods concept is as I am sure you guys have one.

    Well, there must be something to is because he’s summoning giant bells and then punching them into dudes.

    I’ll ask, but I’m inclined to say that he’s not incorrect in his faith as it is based on something substantial (obvious from his abilities), but there’s potentially a false mysticism being placed over it. That doesn’t make it any less real, but it’s a different take on explaining where these powers and energies originate.

    This kind of goes back to the Diablo III Should Have Pentagrams issue from a few weeks ago, wherein Bashiok stressed Blizzard’s efforts to remove inappropriate religious symbols from our world as they worked to retcon original mythologies/cosmologies into their game worlds. So while there are crosses and pentagrams and other Christian symbols in D1 and D2, they won’t be much seen in D3. Furthermore, the cosmology of the games is very different, right back to the beginning.

    The study of religions and their creation is a big hobby of mine, and the Diablo world lore is interesting to compare to real human beliefs, so I couldn’t help but write a fair amount explaining and opining about this. Click through for the rest of it, and a special bonus WoW lore video.

    Creation and Religion in Sanctuary

    The Diablo world lore relates that DiabloWikiLilith and DiabloWikiInarius created (indirectly and kind of accidentally) Sanctuary and the humanity that lives upon it, from a mixture of Demon and Angel essence. These Creators are not Gods, and they’re not analogous to the “God” of any earthly religion; certainly not Christianity They are not benevolent, merciful, omniscient, omnipotent, or even much interested in human affairs, and the High Heavens and Burning Hells are not destinations for human souls in an afterlife.

    Most humans in Sanctuary know nothing about this, and even if they did, what would be the benefit or interest in worshiping such distant, unresponsive Creators? Instead of worshiping Inarius and Lilith, everyone in Sanctuary, a pre-scientific, ignorant, superstitious, magic-filled world, would believe in and worship other things, as well as being consumed by the rankest superstitions. In Sanctuary, as in every “primitive” human culture, the invention and propitiation of supernatural agencies, always created more or less in our own images, would be a perpetual and ongoing project.

    In the light of that, there’s every reason to expect that all of the societies in Sanctuary would have their own gods and goddesses. If not outright clashing deities/religions, the different regions of the world would at least have their own local gods who interacted/struggled for supremacy in a shared pantheon, the way the Greek city states with their own local dieities did. In addition to the main gods, there would be countless smaller demi-gods. These are found in every human culture and religion; even in the two monotheisms that currently claim most of Earth’s humanity as adherents, there are countless minor gods of various stripes, most of them absorbed from prior religions—blessed virgins, guardian angels, patron saints, holy Imans, desert djinns, and so on. Humans can not help but see agency in random events and nature, and we like to personalize our superstitions.

    Most cultures have nature spirits, kamis, ancestor worship, demi-gods, etc. These personalize areas or issues, and they’re invaluable as intercessory agents between morals and the imposing higher deities. And that’s on Earth, where none of this stuff is real! *cough*

    Imagine if magic and priestcraft actually worked, as they do in Sanctuary? Look at what people do on Earth in the name of faith, for no tangible rewards beyond occasional peace of mind? Imagine what people would do for a mysterious power that could actually grant boons? Real, measurable, acts that were indisputable evidence of their efficacy?

    So yes, the Monks (and everyone else) would have their own system of gods, though how the Monks got to the point of classifying all 1001 would be an interesting legend. They must have a lot of holidays. Whether these are real spirits of power, or just aspects of magic that the Monks have personalized in order to provide a name/personality/focus for their magic, is unknown. I envision new powers arising all the time in Sanctuary, the way magical forces abound, but that’s supposition, not canon.

    And I guess that’s ultimately what the OP was asking about. Are the Monks honoring the devoting and dedicating themselves to the service of things that do not exist? Bashiok’s answer—it doesn’t matter as long as it works—is a fair one. I imagine we’d get a similar reply from the lore-masters DiabloWikiLeonard Boyarsky or DiabloWikiChris Metzen. Or else they’d just shrug and give a, “Dunno, never really thought about it.” reply.

    Be sure you wear the traditional red shirt when you ask them.

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