Good trip, Richard! No more philosophical talks for you for a while...
I hope, however, you can answer at least this question before going on vacations: Where EXACTLY in the social model you concluded this "The current assumption is that people will either follow an ancient, unchanging doctrine to the word or ignore it completely." ? I ask it because I consider the comment totally wrong. The social model does not do that.
OK. So far I've been unable to convince you two about the religion topics we've discussed. I'm gonna give my opinions for the last time because otherwise I'll just repeat myself endlessly. If we can't solve this, well, I guess it'll be Mark's call to decide what to do. The following goes for LGJ and any other interested (not-on-vacation) soul:
Here I go....
I) Let's not forget our final goal: Build a couple of models (social and tech) able to produce interesting scenarios for players regarding social effects. We are NOT modeling society in all its richness nor attempting to have a completely detailed social world. That goal is what decides what should be and what shouldn't be in the models.
II) Another thing is modeling approach. Things like static religious doctrine or dynamic religious interpretations or whatever, are just means to achieve the goal and they're all valid if they guarantee giving a true-to-life outcome. Crusades, religious discrimination and all that kind of things are the desired outputs and they're what the player sees in the game. It really doesn't matter how those outputs were actually produced or what assumptions were made. It's the visible outcome that matters, not inner processes.
III. All social effects incorporated in the tech system have an inherent assumption, intentionally or not, explicitely or not, which is "something is better than other". It's the tech system structure that forces this assumption. This is so evident that already we're talking about "tech-social sub-models", because we aknowledge we can't simply put in social stuff in the tech system without messing things or creating prejudices. We are considering changing and expanding the current tech system because it really cannot hold social changes in a proper manner, and that's wrong IMO. If you get to that point, you've to realize you're not creating a tech system anymore but something else, larger than that. As a game design decision, my opinion is "keep the current tech system as it is and just don't add social stuff in it". This way it will do wonders out of REAL techs, like matallurgy, and it won't produce problems for social things. Social things must be managed, at least mostly, in the social model. My social model or any future one.
Based on I), do we need models to incorporate every single cult? every single religious practice? No. What for? It only complicates things. What we need is modeling general trends, general changes in religion. Otherwise we start modeling each detail of society and that's not what we want. See the world in the big picture. What do you see? Just three religions different enough from each other. If you want to compare catholics and protestants sure you'll find differences, but seeing them in the grand picture they're just the same. What relevance have differences between catholics and protestans when in the same picture you have native american beliefs or buddhism? None!
We can find infinite particular cases just about everything. Details are an infinite space. Consider "holy cows"! How tempting is to add such thing and force the econ model to be less food productive in civs with religions embracing this idea? This is why I don't like looking at each particular practice a religion has. Instead, I prefer to look at the general effects. In this case, "Sacrifice". All religions dictate to followers some sort of material sacrifice reducing the potential economic productivity and wealth. Some religions choose high sacrifice, some low, but that's it... why adding any more details? what good it does to the game? Modeling small differences adds close to null fun to the game and a lot of computing effort.
Based on II), is static religion doctrine better or worse than other approaches? The only important thing is to see if the model is able to give us the outcomes we want the player to face. So, let's see... My model says doctrine is static, while the "passion" for doctrine (Importance of Religion) changes. As a result, the model allows from fanatics to "just believers". Doctrine can be followed just a bit, more than a bit, a lot or to the word. The outcomes the player faces go, then, from passioned peoples wanting to discriminate other beliefs or go to crusades, to just going to church on sundays... From people supporting monarchies or fundamentalistic govts, to people prefering a secular State... Are these desireable outcomes? Do these outcomes reflect the general aspects of religions through history? Yes, I think so. Does the "static doctrine" characteristic prevent the model from producing these fun-to-play features? No. They'll be there and even more, they'll be there at a low cost as opposed to the complexity of modeling doctrine change. So, if you want a changing doctrine, tell me what do I gain as an extra. Tell me what relevant fun-to-play features I'm missing as a result of a static doctrine.
Based on III), all social stuff included in the tech system should be placed there veeeeery carefully. For the same reason, the less we put in the tech system, the better. The tech model should not be THE answer for such important social things as religions. Also, tech info is valid on a civ-wide level, while social stuff is better handled at the ethnic group level. This helps preventing bizarre effects or an arbitrarily homogenization of all civ's ethnic groups based on what the civ-level tech info dictates.
As a result of the previous arguments, here are some comments on some of the things LGJ and Richard have said:
"The form of religions will change; equally devout people will sometimes do entirely different things as the interpretation of the religion changes over the centuries."
>>Yes, that's a change in how people see religion, not religion itself, therefore, the effect desired is already included in the model via "Importance of Religion".
"In real life, the actions of the RC change over time even though they are a part of the same religion."
>>This is a very good criticism, although it belongs to the govt model. It's true, the RC is currently acting politically the same in any point of time. The criticism is so good that I will change the way RC Mentality is computed to include the effect of "Importance of Religion", which is the way, as has been explained, the social model manages different perspectives of the same religion.
A religion "level" on the tech model... I'm totally opposed. It has several problems:
1)It's ambiguos. Explaining what "level" means would help, but I think it hardly can be done in a non-offensive fashion.
2)It would tend to have the same role "Importance of Religion" has.
3)It's not clear which ethnic groups in the civ would be affected by this civ-level tech info.
LGJ's "Alignment": We can easily incorporate the existence of anti-social/evil religions without this attribute. Just imagine a religion with low religious tolerance, high aggressiveness and high individualism. Anyway, I'm not interested in modeling "dark cults" because they're a detail in the grand scheme, so if they can or cannot fit in the social model is something I really don't care about.
LGJ's "Agressiveness": Why did you merge the role of this attribute with the role of "Religious Tolerance". I think they work well separetedly.
LGJ's "Nature Affinity": This one is really interesting. It's a possible good adition. I think it can also help with the proposed cultural attribute "ecologial view". There's some similarity with Asceticism (low Asceticism->low care about nature), so I'm not fully convinced. Maybe you can help me see why we should have Nature Affinity AND Asceticism...
LGJ's "Sacrifice": You have entered in the detail level for this one and I prefer to keep it as it currently is in the social model. The only worth discussing thing is IMO human sacrifice. It'd be worth modeling if the number of sacrificed people would have an impact on demographic growth or on economy (labor force), but IMO this type of sacrifice has been so low-impact in history that it doesn't deserve modeling.
LGJ's "Traditionalism": My intention is to keep religious attributes unchanged overtime. Traditionalism would enter only I'm forced to change the model to flexible doctrines, which, you can see, I'm fighting hard not to...
"Resurectting dead religions": What would be the impact in gameplay terms? A resurrected religion wouldn't be so different from a newly born one in all the relevant parts of the game. I don't see the need to include this.
Finally, I want to say that what I stated in I), II) and II) above are the most important things I see when creating a social model. If you disagree with those, there's really not much we can discuss, unfortunately. In that case I think we'll have to wait for Mark and have him taking the tough decision.