The Conclave

The Ordos Majoris - Hobby, Painting and Modelling => The Dark Millennium => Topic started by: Myriad on November 24, 2009, 01:54:18 PM

Title: Are the mechanicus heretics?
Post by: Myriad on November 24, 2009, 01:54:18 PM
I find myself pondering this question, which I'm sure has arisen before but not that I recall.

They seem to talk about the machine god or omnissiah alot and not much about his emperorship.  They're clearly very secretive about the details of their creed.  Life on a forgeworld seems to involve their own take on citizenship though.

Obviously, they're crucial to the imperium, since they not only command huge industrial and no few military resources but have a monopoly on higher technology.  That aside, are they due a good purging (or even on course for civil war)?
Title: Re: Are the mechanicus heretics?
Post by: DapperAnarchist on November 24, 2009, 03:01:55 PM
Well... Yes and no. See, while the Imperium is Monotheistic, it is not Mono-religious. There are in fact a multiplicity of faiths and religions, however, they all must worship the same figure, the Emperor. However, there are differing ways of viewing the Emperor. The standard for civilised worlds is that of worship of the Emperor Deified, Enthroned, etc. The feral worlds more often worship the Sky Warriors and their master. Ship-board, worship of the Emperor may emphasize his position as the source of the Astronomicon, seeing Him as a guide or protector. The Marine Chapters worship Him as their source, and as the greatest of all humans. Certain intellectual circles worship him as the Nu-Man, the pattern for Humanity's future. And the Mechanicus worship him as the Omnissiah and Machine God, source of all wisdom... though at times he is the Omnissiah of the Machine God... which is a bit more tricky....

Now... the Mechanicus is riven through with heresy, like the rest of the Imperium, with worship of Thinking Machines, Xenos technology, and the C'Tan being found at various levels. But the tenets of the Cult Mechanicus are not heretical in themselves.
Title: Re: Are the mechanicus heretics?
Post by: Vladimir on November 24, 2009, 07:27:09 PM
On the contrary, I would say that they most certainly *are* heretics. Powerful, and accepted heretics, but still heretics.
As I understand it, the Cult Mechanicus predates the foundation of the imperium. Now, when the Imperium begain to emerge, the ADMech were already well established across some parts of the galaxy. The imperium (unusually) decided to ally with this rival, and over time the AdMech have become integrated into the Imperium's structure. It is worth noting that the AdMech have a very distinct culture, religion and set of philosophys to the Eclesiarchy, and so I would class them as a seperate religion to the Imperial Cult, and therefore Technically Heretical.
In my understanding the Omnisiah/Emperor thing was added later in order to placate the somewhate fervant Eclesiarchy, however the Mechanicus's worship has always been (and always will be, in all probability) directed towards the Machine God. Even if they also worship the Emperor as the Omnisiah, he is still a secondary diety to the Machine God proper (think Jesus/God as an analogy), which is still heretical to the Imperium.
IMHO, the combination of the degree that the Imperium relies on the AdMech is what protects them. The AdMech knows that they would not be tolerated by the Imperium if they were not vital to it's survival, which is why they shroud themselves in secrecy to such a great ammount. It means that they, and they alone, have access to technological knowledge, so they are irreplacable to the Imperium. Secondly, of course, it stops individuals like inquisitors and the Echlesiarchy poking their noses into matters that the AdMech would prefer they didn't know about.

Oh, and as for the Void Dragon thing... who knows...
Title: Re: Are the mechanicus heretics?
Post by: Kaled on November 24, 2009, 08:03:19 PM
In my understanding the Omnisiah/Emperor thing was added later in order to placate the somewhate fervant Eclesiarchy
Well, if we're to believe the events in Mechanicum, the Emperor manipulated events such that the AdMech would be formed and He would be proclaimed Omnissiah and thus reunite Terra and Mars well before the Ecclesiarchy was formed.

The relationship between the Omnissiah and Machine God is a complicated one and is different depending on which source you believe and how you choose to argue it.  Different sects within the Mechanicus view it in a multitude of different ways too - there are some who believe the Emperor is the Machine God personified, others that the Omnissiah is sort of secondary deity, and yet others that the Emperor attempted to supplant the Machine God in order to control the Mechanicum (and no doubt more besides).

Are they heretics?  Yes and no.  It all depends on who you ask.  Some factions within the Ecclesiarchy would say yes, others tolerate the AdMech's beliefs on the grounds that they are still worshipping the Emperor and would say no.
Title: Re: Are the mechanicus heretics?
Post by: DapperAnarchist on November 29, 2009, 03:54:40 PM
You could see the Mechanicus as analogous to various Christian sects that were brought under the wing of the Roman Church while maintaining some oddities. For example, worship of Mary in her own right was common in Ireland and France, but not so much in Rome, and led to the offshoot of Catholicism called Marianism. Course, this has happened again, with the Anglican Church being "brought in" (in part) by Catholicism, but maintaining various "un-Catholic" behaviours, like married and female priests (but no married or female bishops, apparently...).

SO... My point was the Mechanicus could have been a similar or related religion that was brought under the same overall system that includes the Ministorium, the Astartes Cults, and so on.

All through the Horus Heresy books (from what I have read), the Cult Mechanicus is real and powerful, but those who worship the Emperor as a God are suppressed, in favour of the "secular" (in the sense that a personality cult in a totalitarian state is secular) system of Compliance... So they may have an argument that the Ecclesiarchy are the heretics, while the Mechanicus have the true faith, as theirs was never legislated against by the Emperor.
Title: Re: Are the mechanicus heretics?
Post by: Vladimir on November 30, 2009, 01:31:25 PM
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... So they may have an argument that the Ecclesiarchy are the heretics, while the Mechanicus have the true faith, as theirs was never legislated against by the Emperor.

True. The Emperor wanted a completely secular state without any faith or superstition, in order to rob the chaos gods of a potential resource. It's quite ironic how things ended up (is that tzeench sniggering that I hear?).

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Well, if we're to believe the events in Mechanicum
.
I've never read it, and TBH I've never taken the Black Library stuff as being cannonical. Mainly because there's SO MUCH of it, and some of it is quite self-contradictory.

Here's an interesting thought- we hear everything from the point of view of the Imperium, but we know how impartial they can be. Could it be more accurate to say that the Cult Mechanicus, rather than a part of the Imperium, is actually more powerful than the Imperials? Think about it, the AdMech could probably survive without the Imperium, but the Imperium certainly wouldn't last long without the AdMech. Might it be more accurate to think of the AdMech as tolorating (or even encouraging) the Imperium as patners because they are useful to the Quest for Knowledge?
Title: Re: Are the mechanicus heretics?
Post by: Myriad on November 30, 2009, 02:39:36 PM
While there's probably a degree of that, the imperium proper controls, in the shape of the IG & SM, as well as the imperial navy, considerably more armed forces than the ad-mech - certainly enough to ensure their tolerance.  However it seems fair to say that the mechanicus are mostly cooperative anyway - the imperium is certainly a useful resource to them.
Title: Re: Are the mechanicus heretics?
Post by: Vladimir on November 30, 2009, 06:29:56 PM
Do you think your average imperial guardsman understands how a Plasma Gun works? Do you think imperial citezans could fix a broken plasma reacter? Do you think the imperium could invade, well, anywhere when their ship's Gellar fields no longer work? The point I'm making here is that the Adaptes Mechanicus are utterly vital to the Imperium, while the Imperium is merely Very Useful to the AdMech. The Imperium only exists by the AdMech's grace...
Title: Re: Are the mechanicus heretics?
Post by: Kaled on November 30, 2009, 09:17:39 PM
I've never read it, and TBH I've never taken the Black Library stuff as being cannonical. Mainly because there's SO MUCH of it, and some of it is quite self-contradictory.
But then there's plenty of contradictory stuff in the codices - the only reason there's more in the novels is because there's so much more material there in the first place.  But given that EYHBTIAL, quibbling about a few inconsistencies seems rather pointless...

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The Imperium only exists by the AdMech's grace...
I'd say they're utterly co-dependent.  Sure, if the AdMech could suddenly withdraw their technical know-how without the Imperium doing anything about it, then the Imperium would fall into chaos.  But then the fall of the Imperium would be swiftly followed by that of the Mechanicus, which couldn't survive without the protection of it's bigger brother.  In any case, the Imperium has one thing that ensures the partnership of the AdMech - the Emperor/Omnissiah is on Holy Terra; and His millennia of planning bound the two inextricably to one another.
Title: Re: Are the mechanicus heretics?
Post by: Tullio on December 02, 2009, 09:18:44 PM
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But given that EYHBTIAL, quibbling about a few inconsistencies seems rather pointless...

Depends on whether it's due to a case of Didn't Do The Research ... while reading Titanicus I found myself screaming things like "It's Magos Biologis! Do some damn reading of your own!". I don't mind regional difference popping up in Black LIbrary stuff, what bugs me is when the authors only have a vague idea about what they're writing about but go ahead and write anyway

Tullio
Title: Re: Are the mechanicus heretics?
Post by: Kaled on December 03, 2009, 05:16:22 PM
Depends on whether it's due to a case of Didn't Do The Research ... while reading Titanicus I found myself screaming things like "It's Magos Biologis! Do some damn reading of your own!". I don't mind regional difference popping up in Black LIbrary stuff, what bugs me is when the authors only have a vague idea about what they're writing about but go ahead and write anyway
Having not read Titanicus, it's hard to comment properly and I don't know what he put instead of 'Magos Biologis' but in general I'd say that if he called them something else then I don't necessarily see that as a problem.  Maybe the Biologis do have an other name on some Forge Worlds, maybe whatever he was refering to another group that's similar to Biologis but subtly different in some way we don't understand and thus they have a different name, maybe there's some other explanation...
Title: Re: Are the mechanicus heretics?
Post by: DapperAnarchist on December 03, 2009, 08:07:21 PM
I've always assumed that various jobs and duties are covered by multiple "Colleges". Its like in Academia - if you want to do a masters on political theory, you can do an MA - Philosophy, an MA - Politics, an MA - Political Science, an MPhil, and perhaps even some odder things, like a social science MSci or a specific masters course like MPol or MPolSci (those may be normal in America, but I've never heard of them here).

So each course gives you a different slant, and a different name for the qualification, but you still study the EU, you still study Critical Theory, Marx, Adorno, Habermas, de Tocqueville, Rousseau, and the like....
Title: Re: Are the mechanicus heretics?
Post by: Ynek on December 05, 2009, 09:56:36 PM
Here's an interesting thought- we hear everything from the point of view of the Imperium, but we know how impartial they can be. Could it be more accurate to say that the Cult Mechanicus, rather than a part of the Imperium, is actually more powerful than the Imperials? Think about it, the AdMech could probably survive without the Imperium, but the Imperium certainly wouldn't last long without the AdMech. Might it be more accurate to think of the AdMech as tolorating (or even encouraging) the Imperium as patners because they are useful to the Quest for Knowledge?

There are hundreds of bodies who could make similar claims.
If the Inquisition suddenly decided to stop working with/for the Imperium, then there would be virtually no defense against the subtle threats that they monitor and combat.
If the Biologis suddenly decided to stop working with/for the Imperium, then everyone would suddenly have to go without their rejuvination treatments, and even the admech would have trouble keeping their 300 year old magi alive without their help.
If the ecclesiarchy decided to up sticks and stop working with/for the Imperium, then there would be no religious authority keeping the rank and file citizens unified in the name of the Emperor.

Long story short, the individual components of the Imperium are all equally important to the Imperium as a whole, and without any specific one of them, the Imperium would have difficulty surviving.
Title: Re: Are the mechanicus heretics?
Post by: N01H3r3 on December 05, 2009, 10:23:30 PM
If the Biologis suddenly decided to stop working with/for the Imperium, then everyone would suddenly have to go without their rejuvination treatments, and even the admech would have trouble keeping their 300 year old magi alive without their help.
That's unlikely to bother the Adeptus Mechanicus, on account of all those Magos Biologis (and Genetors, so many people forget the Genetors - few ever remember that Magos is only one of the ruling ranks of Tech-Priests) who are part of that organisation. The Biologis is a group within the Adeptus Mechanicus, not a distinct entity in its own right.

What? Did you think there was a scientific discipline that the Mechanicus chose not to maintain their monopoly over? That an organisation so secretive would allow outsiders to advise them on the proper details of human biology?
Title: Re: Are the mechanicus heretics?
Post by: DapperAnarchist on December 06, 2009, 01:42:18 AM
Well, the Orders Hospitallier have a good knowledge - at least that of a modern doctor, probably much more among the higher ranks...
Title: Re: Are the mechanicus heretics?
Post by: N01H3r3 on December 06, 2009, 10:46:02 AM
Well, the Orders Hospitallier have a good knowledge - at least that of a modern doctor, probably much more among the higher ranks...
And Lasguns are produced in Manufactoria on dozens of Hiveworlds across the Imperium. Also note that the Orders Hospitaller make use of faith healing as much as medical science (much as the Orders Militant make use of faith killing alongside their weapons and armour).

IMO, there's a point at which science and technology becomes sufficiently complex that the Mechanicus are the only ones who will legitimately possess the knowledge of it (because they'll hunt you down and salvage your corpse for servitor organs if they don't think you should have it). Modern medicine, the skills of field Medics... that's sufficient for the common man, but the sciences of anagathics (anti-aging treatments), genetic engineering, mind-wiping... those are things that the common man should not know, even if he can afford to procure the services of the Mechanicus to perform those services for him.
Title: Re: Are the mechanicus heretics?
Post by: MarcoSkoll on December 07, 2009, 02:47:30 AM
Quote from: N01H3r3
IMO, there's a point at which science and technology becomes sufficiently complex that the Mechanicus are the only ones who will legitimately possess the knowledge of it
Very much agreed.

It would be pretty silly to suggest that there weren't humans in the 41st millennium who could understand modern medicine or fix a combustion engine. Pretty much anything that could be easily understood by an intelligent human isn't anything the AdMech couldn't maintain monopoly over, so I doubt they'd waste their time with things that mundane.

I mean, eventually you have to draw a line, or it gets to "Oh blast, the light bulb's gone again. Would someone call in a Magos to change it please?"
Title: Re: Are the mechanicus heretics?
Post by: Vladimir on December 09, 2009, 12:03:29 AM
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I mean, eventually you have to draw a line, or it gets to "Oh blast, the light bulb's gone again. Would someone call in a Magos to change it please?"

+++NOT VALID, THE CORRECT RITUALS MUST BE MAINTAINED SO AS NOT TO DISHONOR THE MACHINE SPIRIT OF THE LIGHTING SYSTEM+++

Of course, the mechanicus might have trained up some individuals to maintain the lighting (with the proper ceremony and respect for the mysteries of such technology), but the fact remains that these individuals are merely performing rituals taught to them, and may well have little understanding of things like electrical charges.
Title: Re: Are the mechanicus heretics?
Post by: N01H3r3 on December 09, 2009, 12:20:20 AM
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I mean, eventually you have to draw a line, or it gets to "Oh blast, the light bulb's gone again. Would someone call in a Magos to change it please?"

+++NOT VALID, THE CORRECT RITUALS MUST BE MAINTAINED SO AS NOT TO DISHONOR THE MACHINE SPIRIT OF THE LIGHTING SYSTEM+++

Of course, the mechanicus might have trained up some individuals to maintain the lighting (with the proper ceremony and respect for the mysteries of such technology), but the fact remains that these individuals are merely performing rituals taught to them, and may well have little understanding of things like electrical charges.
Something covered by the 'lay-technician' concept I tend to use - men and women taught particular rituals crucial for the function of a machine but to mundane for even a lowly Enginseer to bother with - and by the Trade (Technomat) skill in 40kRP (which covers rote-learned care and maintenance of devices, compared to Tech-Use which covers actual technical ability and understanding).

Of course, how much the person knows will vary from world to world and culture to culture - someone from a Hive World or who grew up on starships is likely to be far more familiar with technology than most, for example. More important, really, is the end result of that knowledge - so long as they do the right things and come to all the right conclusions at the end of it, does it really matter whether they're "appeasing the spirit of the machine" or just cleaning a lasgun? At the end of it all, the difference is one of belief - the guardsman will still clean his lasgun regularly, whether he understands the technical reasons for it or simply doesn't want to annoy the gun's spirit. And, if he fails to do so, the  weapon's function will be impaired - again, whether he believes that he's angered the spirit for failure to perform the correct rituals or understands that he's just got dirt in the workings and needs to give it a proper clean.