Appendix Ii of Dune notes an upsurge of galactic interest in the Zensunni belief system after the triumph of Paul and the Fremen. Which raises the question, what was he before he became a Zensunni? It clearly wasn't widely held or well known.

The first four novels make much of the difference between the Atreides' worldview and that of the Harkonnen, Fremen, etc. At one point in Children of Dune, Leto II even calls Paul out on having flawed 'Atreides' beliefs compared to his superior ones, fully identifying himself as a Fremen rather than an Atreides.

But I haven't been able to work out what exactly the Atreides believed, beyond a general sense of paternal noblesse oblige?

  • 2
    Do you recall the Orange Catholic Bible? I think that's the traditional Atreides faith. – Elliott Frisch Oct 29 '15 at 23:20
  • @ElliottFrisch - should be an answer – DVK-on-Ahch-To Oct 30 '15 at 14:29
  • @DVK - Paul has studied it. There's no major indication that he actually believes in it. – Valorum Oct 30 '15 at 19:13

Paul Muad'Dib and the Atreides family in general seem to have no major religious affiliations. Paul has extensively studied (under the tutelage of Thufir Hawat) the text of the Orange Catholic Bible, a book which is described in the text as...

...contain[ing] elements of most ancient religions, including the Maometh Saari, Mahayana Christianity, Zensunni Catholicism and Buddislamic traditions

But there is no evidence that he has any belief in a personal God, rather his belief-system is quite adequately described in the text of the O.C Bible itself as being one of the agnostic rulers who should respect religion, even if they don't themselves believe in it;

“Men, finding no answers to the sunnan [the ten thousand religious questions from the Shari-ah] now apply their own reasoning. All men seek to be enlightened. Religion is but the most ancient and honorable way in which men have striven to make sense out of God’s universe. Scientists seek the lawfulness of events. It is the task of Religion to fit man into this lawfulness.

You may wish to note that Paul has no problems with using religion for his own ends (his mother was after all a Bene Gesserit, a group whose main trade is designing religions to suit their needs), nor does he have any issue with impersonating a deity. He also has no problem whatsover with acts of blasphemy, all of which points to someone who has grown up without any major religious ideals:

“The Fremen have the word of Muad‘Dib,” Paul said. “There will be flowing water here open to the sky and green oases rich with good things. But we have the spice to think of, too. Thus, there will always be desert on Arrakis … and fierce winds, and trials to toughen a man. We Fremen have a saying: ‘God created Arrakis to train the faithful.’ One cannot go against the word of God.”

The old Truthsayer, the Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam, had her own view of the hidden meaning in Paul’s words now. She glimpsed the jihad and said: “You cannot loose these people upon the universe!”

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