Science and Religion in Radiata Stories

In the Kingdom of Radiata, the city is split into four sections, each run by a different guild: Theater Vancoor (Warrior Guild) resides in the Red Town; the Olacion Order (Priest Guild) resides in the White Town; Vareth Magic Institute (Mage Guild) in the Blue Town; and the Void Community (Bandit Guild) in the Black Town. While ultimately contrasting, and often clashing with each other, the four guilds help maintain the balance within Radiata, and are on occasion called to set aside their differences to go to the aid of the Kingdom.

Today, I’m here to talk to you about the Mage Guild and the Priest Guild.

On the surface, these two appear to be complete opposites: one advocates the use of scientific reasoning and understanding in order to solve the world’s mysteries logically; the other advocates the importance of religion based on holy scripture and uses faith to solve the world’s mysteries. Here, we have the classic clash: science and religion.  However, many ways in which the guilds interact with one another, as well as core similarities between the two, lead me to believe that some suggestion is being made about the interaction and coexistence of science and religion by example through Radiata Stories.

The Vareth Magic Institute teaches its students the art of science, but also encourages them to tackle many controversial and arcane adversities, such as Ursula’s experimentation with puppet life or “golems”, Ardolph’s research into other worldly creatures and alternate dimensions (with the aid of the Void Community), and Claudia’s attempt to resurrect her deceased boyfriend; Ray C. Ross even apparently lost his body in some experiment and is now trapped within the body of an owl. The point is that Vareth is involved in many activities that Olacion would consider pagan and sacrilegious.

At this point you may be asking, “Well, Geek With Taste, doesn’t this only emphasize how conflicting the two guilds are with one another? How could you possibly use this as evidence of their relation?” Patience, my dear Watson; all in due time.

Vareth student’s capability in the usage of magic, such as fire, water, and dark, can also be considered a pagan ritual in the eyes of Olacion, as we are all familiar with the infamous witch hunts. Despite this, several members of Olacion are also capable of magical powers, albeit divinely inspired and only consists of white magic. Due to their magic being the power of the ‘gods’, one could easily make the argument that these two types of magic are completely separate, that is, until you consider the mythology of Radiata and division among the church of Olacion.

What the Olacion Order worships are the two gods, Gabriel Celesta and the Ethereal Queen. The only point in which these two characters appear within the game are in the secret dungeon Almuna you may enter after beating the game, and can be considered extra-canonical when coupled with all the other bizarre events that happen within the dungeon. Even if considered canonical, their mere existence doesn’t prove the Olacion religion nor that they’re gods. These two super beings are reoccurring secret bosses in many Tri-Ace games, particularly in the Star Ocean series, and the other new characters in Alumna are also cameos from other video games.

According to the mythology of Radiata, the four elemental dragons (Parsec of Fire, Baade of Earth, Cepheid of Wind, and the unnamed Water Dragon) protect the cosmic order of the planet Tottaus, guided by the two ultimate dragons which switch places every time the world is reset, Aphelion the Silver, and Quasar the Gold. This entire order was entirely unknown by even the most scholarly of Radiata, suggesting that all precedent of mythology that Radiata had come with to the point was completely false, or at least in the sense believed by Olacion.

The next point proving the fallacy of the Olacion religion is the division among the church. A side plot emerges during the game as you collect friends throughout the city; this is of the division of the Old and New Orders of Olacion. The two orders ardently opposed one another, and both had radical views and interpretations of their religion. If their healing abilities and access to white magic were truly the Divine inspiration of the gods, then surely only the Order that had it right would be able to receive this inspiration; however, both orders are able to use white magic, suggesting that their ability to use that magic comes from somewhere other than the ‘gods’, of whose true existence is already in question.

The divine abilities of the Olacion Order are simply another form of magic, which is thus the jurisdiction of Vareth Magic Institute.

This is further supported by the one of the characters, Faraus. Faraus was originally a doctor belonging to the Olacion Order before quitting and joining Vareth. In order to gain his friendship, you needed to go to Olacion and retrieve his medical journal. All speculation aside, Faraus is a scientist. While his reasons for quitting the Order are unknown, his character demonstrates the interchangeability between Olacion and Vareth. Not so clashing anymore, huh?

A large percentage of real-life scientists today are either Deist or Atheist, claiming that through careful study of the way the world works has lead them to have a lack of belief in God or at least an interfering God. Likewise in Vareth, many the of the scientists do not feel encumbered to follow God’s rules and instead violate the sanctity of life and other off-limits areas, suggesting that they do not share the same opinion as those of Olacion. Their embrace of science has turned them away from the church and has allowed them to make a sort of progression from such archaic mythology and onto a closer truth of the world’s existence.

This is supported by the character of Genius. Genius is the epitome of logical reasoning within the world of Radiata Stories; he broke the record for the youngest child to enter Vareth, and is one of the brightest members of the Institute. His scientific capabilities has lead him to take advantage of many technological luxurious, such as the hover disk he uses during battle. It’s plainly established that he’s the most intelligent person in all of Radiata; his name even suggests it. Guess who is the only human who came upon the truth of the Cosmic Order of Tottaus through scientific research? It was Genius.

Genius, being a the symbol of logic and scientific reason, discovered the mystery of the universe before the faith-driven members of Olacion.

What this all suggests is that the Olacion Order is a primitive form of science, only be able to use a small sect its magical potential. In the Radiata universe, magic is equivalent to science. However, Olacion’s thick-headed nature kept it from advancing, unlike those who embraced the science and further went on to establish Vareth Magic Institute, and later discovered the true nature of the world, unlike Olacion’s blinded vision of the world order.

Another piece that fits into the science challenging/progressing religion is through the other secret boss of Lezard Valeth in Alumna, his cameo being made from the Valkyrie Profile series. The only reason I bring him up is his relationship with the Vareth Magic Institute, which received his namesake (Vareth/Valeth, translation issues).

Lezard, at least within the context of Radiata Stories, had been attempting to reach the 24th Floor of Alumna in which he dubbed Radical, a parallel world to Radiata. On this floor resides Gabriel Celesta and the Ethereal Queen, of whom he had planned to defeat using science and magic. Like I said earlier, Gabriel Celesta and the Ethereal Queen are the focus of the Olacion Order’s worship, and thus symbolize Olacion, while Lezard symbolizes Vareth Magic Institute. In a sense, science is once again challenging religion. Before completing his mission, though, Jack defeats him and later defeats the two gods in his place (proving that strength of heart overcomes both science and religion). This ultimately fits into the power paradigm, of which true strength conquers all that stands in its way.

A side-note the needs to be mentioned is of the music played while walking through the White Town and the Blue Town. If you pay attention, the songs both have the same bass rhythm. The bass provides the foundation for the song; science provides the foundation for both Olacion and Vareth. Further, no other songs within the entire soundtrack use this motif, nor do any other have any sort of music motif. Coincidence? I think not.

And that, my friends, is the first of many essays to come detailing the sheer depth of the seemingly simple world of Radiata Stories. Until next time, this has just been the Geek With Taste, proving once again that he has no life.