Study Guide

Cloud Atlas Religion

By David Mitchell


What does a religion need to be called a religion, as opposed to a mythology, a cult, or simply a set of beliefs? What separates the ancient Greek pantheon from the top three religions of today (Christianity, Islam, Hinduism), and what sets them all apart from something practically everyone believes in—like an economic or political system?

Cloud Atlas
shows us how belief systems grow and spread. They may get replaced by bigger, flashier religions in a few centuries or so, but, like flared pants or the Furby, eventually old religions come back in style.

Questions About Religion

  1. Why does Unanimity ban non-corpocratic religions?
  2. Why do the people of the Nine Valleys worship Sonmi as a goddess?
  3. Why do the people of the Honokaa Valley have multiple gods?

Chew on This

Corpocracy is a religion because it is built on a few basic tenets, has a focus of worship (the Almighty Dollar), and provides people with a path to salvation—by buying stuff.

No religions that we know of—not Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, or any others—survive the fall of mankind. There's a new religion in the future, and everyone is fine with that. Things change.