Unitologists adamantly believe that the human race was created by the intelligent design of a divine alien agency, and will be reunified after death in Heaven through the power of a sacred artifact known as the Marker.
The promise of the Church of Unitology is one of "transformation and rebirth". This scriptural message is poetic, elusive and unscientific despite their claimed origins in a secret research project, and embodies the abandonment of reason for the profession of unwavering faith in the promise of the Marker. Much of the detail about the Church's inner workings remains undisclosed to outsiders and most adherents.
Michael Altman, known as a "reluctant prophet," was not a believer in Unitology, nor did he found the religion. Altman was the only scientist at the Chicxulub crater who was "immune", or possibly had a stronger resistance to the Markers' dead loved ones messages. He was able to acknowledge that the hallucinations were not real and was never fully driven to suicide or madness like others around him. Because of his resistance, the people being manipulated by illusions of departed friends and family saw him as the one the Marker spoke to, the prophet. Altman refused to believe in such nonsense, and after repeated attempts to sabotage the project, was murdered. His image was used to posthumously promote the Unitology message until the history books stated that he was indeed the great founder.
- "For two hundred years, Unitology has sought the truth. When Michael Altman spread his word, few people believed him. The government tried to discredit him! And when that didn't work, they killed him and said it was an accident! But we also know he was telling the truth! For two centuries, we and our forefathers kept the faith and our belief in his words. Now finally we have proof - that we have been right all along. You've all seen the vidlogs by now, you all know what they found out there. Here on this very planet, we found - Another Marker!"
- —Deakin Abbott
The basis of the religion are the Markers, artifacts of unknown origin and purpose. Oddly, many scientists, even Altman himself, have little idea of the Marker's true purpose and origin.
The meaning of the inscriptions about the Marker have puzzled Unitologists for years. The general belief is that the inscriptions on the Marker are a message that will reveal the true origin and meaning of human life. They believe the Marker contains a code that holds the key to eternal life and brings about a physically real paradise that will save mankind from its destructive materialistic course.
Everything about the Church is modeled in the image of the Marker and the symbols adorning it. Intertwining shapes and circles in accord with the Marker and its promise of unity are used to create a rich environment in Unitology worship spaces.
The Church publicly conveys a positive and appealing message of social harmony and unity, as well as apparent environmentalist concerns as evidenced in some members' concern over planet cracking and the apparent destructive course they believe the Earth Government has taken.
Unitology has great appeal because spirituality and meaning has diminished in many people's lives. In the manner of a New Age Movement, Unitology provided a simple and holistic message of unity, harmony and fulfillment that was just what many people in their world of increasingly incomprehensible technology were looking for. As a result of these factors, Unitology was considered to be the fastest growing religion in history.
Unitologist theology is based on the study and debate of the mysteries of the Black Marker. Titan Station's Church of Unitology was the site of the Annual Unitology Symposium and contained a vast library of Unitology scholarly material.
Unitologists have never been clear about God. Challus Mercer was known to use the word quite frequently and it can occasionally be seen scrawled on walls by Unitologists in the events of Dead Space. Mercer used the word "God" to refer generally to the elusive power behind the Marker and the profound events he believed to be taking place. In Unitology belief, "God" is apparently seen as the alien intelligence or agency that created the Marker and humanity and it was a force that would regather humanity and make it "one" in the process of Convergence.
The Unitologist religion is highly eschatological, based on their concept of the end of days similar to the apocalypses described in many religions.
Death is central to Unitology. Unitologists believe that all living beings will intertwine in the manner of the two prongs of the Marker, to become one. They call this process Convergence and believe that it will alleviate all of the destructive materialistic problems of the human race.
The Unitologists seem to believe that they will be saved and that non-believers will be forsaken (unless their bodies come into the possession of the Church). They refer to people who do not share their beliefs as "infidels". Mercer believed that becoming a Necromorph is being saved, and that he had a missionary duty to murder and prepare infidels such as Isaac Clarke for infection in order to save them. He believed that infidels simply did not understand, and that he was helping them to do so.
Convergence is the attainment of spiritual oneness in paradise. Convergence for Unitologists does not mean a usual "oneness of God" theory (although it can be supposed Unitologists do have such a doctrine), but the coming convergence of humanity: human souls will cease to possess their individuality and all become intertwined as a single entity. Sometimes the word "soul" is substituted for "body" or "flesh", in what is thought to be a figurative reference.
Famous Mantras and Verses
- "Altman be Praised."
- "Praise the Great Marker."
- "Death is only the Beginning."
- "Keep us Whole. Unity is Forever."
- "There is no Death. Only Rebirth."
- "Give unto the Church and the Church will give unto you."
- "Embrace the Evolution."
- "Take Us. We are Ready."
- "The Marker is life everlasting for all of its children."
- "Praise Altman, chosen of the Marker, architect of the Church."
- "To join is to survive."
- "Holy creatures, transform me into your humble servant. Show me the path to enlightenment as you alter my flesh and free my soul."
- "One Mind, One Soul, One Flesh."
- "One Purpose, One Mind, One Soul."
- "One People, One Mind, One Purpose."
- "Unity after Death, Unity Forever."
- "One Mind, One Body."
Bibliography of the Church of Unitology
- Teachings of Unitology, attributed to Michael Altman
- Tome of Unitology
- Death is Only the Beginning
- Eternal Life
- Hymn Book
- The Titan Station Church of Unitology has a gift shop that advertises the following:
- Marker Replica 150c
- The Tome of Unitology 50c (Mentioned above)
- Enigma Statue 1000c
- Enigma Mask 5000c
Preaching and Public Conduct
Unitologists are generally very evangelical, and often preach to non-Unitologists in an attempt to convert them to their message. Unitologists are open and unashamed of their beliefs, despite many of the public regarding their religion as bizarre or insane, particularly their belief in an intelligent alien designer of humanity. They publicly wear Marker pendants they buy from the Church, as a social statement that they are proud of their beliefs.
Unitologists are also very devoted to spreading their word through distributing literature in public spaces. EarthGov tried to suppress this on Titan Station by introducing a law that made it necessary for Unitologists to acquire a special permit before distributing literature. The Unitologists rejected this policy and labeled it as oppression. EarthGov was known to address evangelical Unitologists critically in the press, describing them as a threat to public order.
Not unlike the aesthetic practices of other religions, Unitologists have built a rich religious tradition that is not without its aesthetic value. Monetary gain is achieved through merchandising products that spread the gospel of their church and memorabilia depicting the Black Marker in trivial fashions like paper weights and miniature statues.
Little is known about this process other than that it is an initiation ceremony for Unitologists and that it is likely painful and disorienting.
Unitology members are believed to be "indoctrinated" or brainwashed, and the Church does not favor individuals who are strong-willed and critical-minded, usually assessing them to determine this before letting them progress further in the Church. A great deal of secrecy surrounds the Unitology indoctrination process.
Unitologists appear to engage in communal prayer, led by the Church's ranked clergy.
Unitologists are known to meditate with their arms locked in a cross with their hands bent inward to give the appearance of the Marker. They possess a number of aids for this purpose, including Marker replicas, candles and mats. Their meditation is characterized as quiet and reverent, as they focus their minds on the teachings of the Church.
This is the most important part of Unitology practice. Death is the most important step for Unitologists, and Unitologists are encouraged to celebrate the death of loved ones and hope to join them, rather than mourn them.
The Unitologists refuse to allow their member's bodies to be buried or cremated, instead choosing to preserve them aboard ships or space stations. The reason for this is the belief that a human body must be untouched after death, as it is the "vessel" for the member's convergence. "Convergence" is the belief that upon death, if the human body has been kept intact and the Unitologist has lived an unselfish life, all the bodies will one day be reborn with ascended spiritual and physical prowess, and will live in unity with his or her other members as a single community. It is heavily encouraged by members that they keep their bodies in the best shape possible upon death.
Despite their supposedly peaceful exterior, the Church is noted for having many cult-like features including its indoctrination practices, its hierarchy and its proven capacity to induce mass suicide. The teachings to embrace death further enhances these.
Hierarchy and Ranking System
The Church is said to possess considerable political and economic influence, despite a persistent atmosphere of what they see as persecution by EarthGov; the upper echelons of the Concordance Extraction Corporation are mentioned as being increasingly controlled by Unitologists on several occasions, and it is mentioned that they require members to contribute huge sums of money to the Church in order to move up in rank within it.
There are two ranks above that of the average follower, and a suspected third. Two of these possible ranks have been confirmed as being "Vested" and "Overseer", the latter being the higher. The speculated third and possibly highest rank is "Enigma". This speculation is based on a video transmission in which the recipient is addressed as "Enigma Lange" after the author addresses himself by inserting his rank within the Church before his last name. One hidden text log also mentions a Unitologist who is addressed by the author as "my superior Paragon Fontenay" (a "paragon" being defined as "a person or thing regarded as a perfect example of a particular quality"). While this would seem to indicate that a Paragon is a high-ranking member, their position in the Unitologist hierarchy is ultimately unknown.
Secrets of the Church
Unknown to the common Church member, much of Unitology's history and ideology have been fabricated by its leaders for their own benefit. Michael Altman never truly believed in the promise of the Marker and was murdered by Craig Markoff and Stevens, who used his death and several of his broadcasts to establish Unitology as a rising religious movement under their control. Moreover, despite the tensions between the Church and the Earth Government, the Unitology founders were really government researchers and staff from the Chicxulub Crater Facility who became psychotic due to prolonged exposure to the Black Marker carrier wave. Their psychosis appears to have led them away from logic and science.
The founders believed the Necromorphs were a defect. The Church retained some live specimens and did not unleash them. However, they believed the reanimation process was evidence the Marker "created life" and could bring eternal life if used correctly. This irrational conclusion has remained the central promise of Unitology ever since, and they have developed unyielding faith in the Marker.
The Church believed the Marker held the key to the next step in human evolution and that they were entrusted to ensure this evolution comes to pass. They believed the psychosis caused by the Marker was revelatory and that the horrors of the Marker are merely the result of humans being too weak-minded and materialistic to understand the workings of God (described as an alien intelligence behind the Marker and humanity itself).
Unitology theology was written to blind its adherents to any conceivable horror and willfully submit to the power of the Marker even if infection proved to be the only form of eternal life it provided. The Church was founded to prepare humanity for the coming of another Marker that would allow them to bring about the evolution. Unitologists short of the Church's highest echelons remain blissfully unaware of their real mission.
It would be almost 300 years before a colonist would decipher the meaning of the Black Marker: the inscriptions on the rock's surface are the code for the recombinant DNA that transforms human corpses into the terrifying creatures known as Necromorphs. While these revelations are extraordinarily important to show the truth behind the Church, both incidents where this critical information was discovered resulted in the virus escaping and the Necromorphs killing everyone.
Rebirth and Convergence
Unitologists believe in keeping the body intact for death, and in great shape, so that it may be "reborn", along with the other members' bodies, to live as a greater community and facilitate the act of Convergence. Though singularity of sentience is in fact achieved in the former individual's rebirthed or Necromorphic state, it remains separate from the act of Convergence itself; the latter being the final stage that converges and reconstitutes all primed (i.e. Necromorphic) organic matter into a single approximately Moon-sized sentient being known as a Brethren Moon, an interstellar apex predator with immense telepathic and telekinetic powers. These beliefs regarding reincarnation are vindicated, though not in the way the Unitologists believe, in Dead Space 3: Awakened, where it is mentioned by a Brethren Moon that for every race that manages to achieve convergence on their world, a new brother [Moon] joins the cluster.
Formation of a Brethren Moon
The life cycle of a Brethren Moon begins with the seeding of a Marker into a conducive environment for life to grow. The Marker contains all the genetic information necessary to replicate the entire Moon. It is presumed that upon fulfilling the requirements of an unknown nutrient threshold and within the presence of a compatible organic vector (such as the organism known as Isaac Clarke), the Marker begins to germinate via a chain of processes documented by the pioneering Church of Unitology scholars as Rebirth and culminates in Convergence. Upon completion of Convergence, the physical body of a Brethren Moon is made manifest; although sentience is observed to manifest prior to the actual physical birth. It can be observed that the consummation of a Brethren Moon coincides with the congress of other Moons, though the purpose of this ritual is as of yet unknown, since Dead Space 3 verifies that a Moon is able to become whole by itself without the aid of other Moons, and that the large majority of primed organic matter must logically be consumed by the newly formed Moon itself to achieve its massive size. It is unknown if Brethren Moons are able to reproduce by any other means.
Faith in Convergence
The true founders of Unitology were fully aware of the Necromorphs, and believed they were proof of the power of the Marker to bring eternal life. Although they believed Necromorphs were divine instruments, the founders also originally theorized they were defective, produced by the "broken" Black Marker; their founding theory was that either another Marker would be found or a new one would be created and fulfill the promise of Convergence. The Church founders possessed live Necromorph specimens (one was used to kill Altman) but did not release them. Their original intent was indeed to use Markers for eternal life, rather than infection.
However, the more enlightened designs of the founders fell apart at some point and the Necromorphs themselves became the basis of the religion's promise of transformation and rebirth. Unitologists such as Challus Mercer take refuge in the Necromorph infection as the proof their religion was right. The Church now also believes this, as evidenced in the commitment of Daina Le Guin that the infection is glorious and must be spread. This does not mean to say that they know of all the horror that will be unleashed, but that they are prepared to accept it because it comes from the Marker.
Role in the Storyline
The role of Unitologists in Dead Space is largely antagonistic, often serving as a counterweight to the repressive power of EarthGov. As unbelievable fanatics who want to push humanity into mass suicide, members of their fold have consistently made any given situation worse for groups and individual who oppose them:
- Challus Mercer created the Hunter in his desire to further the infection. He also intended to take frozen Necromorphs from the USG Ishimura to release them on Earth in order to end mankind, believing this would bring about the Unitologist paradise. It is not known if he was in a high enough rank to know the full detail of the Unitologist purpose to spread the infection, or if the psychosis simply made him believe the Necromorphs were divine in the same way it convinced the Unitology founders.
- Titan Station's infection was deliberately started by the Church of Unitology; a log has a Unitologist woman ranting about a unique "rebirth" ceremony she was invited to; there are audio logs found in the mines from a recent Unitologist inductee, Karrie Norton, referring to a "special secret mission" for the Church. There is also evidence that Daina was also briefed thoroughly by the Church and mentioned her duty to spread the infection.
A select group within Unitology, however, sometimes displays less extremist and hard-lined behavior, more often exhibiting the critical thinking skills unwelcome within the religion. Unitology founders indeed thought the Necromorphs were a defective result of the Marker needing to be rebuilt to truly bring eternal life. They had live specimens of Necromorphs and used one to kill Altman, but they never unleashed them.
Terrence Kyne was the Church's expert on the Marker; what he observed of the infection did not correspond with the teachings of Unitology and he believed what he witnessed was unethical. Kyne repeatedly stated the Church is mistaken and began to believe Unitology is a lie, that people had been "tricked into believing there are space-gods". This and the fact he was a high-level member with such an important mission suggests the Church knows less about the Necromorph threat than they purport or that Unitologists are just as likely to have mixed views on it as anyone else.
Unitologists' destructive and suicidal actions may not, indeed, be entirely related to their faith, but an effect of the Marker, as non-believers such as Nolan Stross and Hanson have been shown to behave similarly, attempting to spread the infection while spouting apparent Unitologist phrases.
Samuel Irons, a devout believer in Unitology, helped fight off Necromorphs on board the Ishimura to save his fellow crewmen. Yet, when the time came that he was to die at their hands, Irons allowed himself to be infected by the Necromorph life form.
Aforementioned Karrie Norton's later logs reveal she willingly chose to combat the Necromorphs on Titan Station when she realized she condemned civilians to death once she is betrayed by partner and fellow Unitologist Tyler Radikov. There are strong suggestions that, though she bears the most guilt for causing the infection, she simply didn't know what she was doing. Director Hans Tiedemann, who wanted to keep the Marker intact for the possible energy benefits it could provide for mankind, told Norton to do all she could to stop the Necromorph infection from spreading. She faced a massive Necromorph on her own and was successful in preventing the station's core from overheating.
Though she wished to capture him for the purposes of the Church, Daina's aid to Isaac helped him survive for a great period of time on Titan Station.
- "Children of Altman, the Marker has a plan for all of you! When the time comes, you will be reborn! But for that to happen, Isaac Clarke must die. The future of our religion - of our very race - depends on it. Stop him at any cost! Altman be praised!"
- —Jacob Danik on Tau Volantis.
Since the incident on Titan Station in 2511, Unitologists have doubled their efforts to spread the gospel of their religion, going as far as taking up arms against the established Earth Government. Militarized Unitologists fighting against the oppressive EarthGov are members from a branch of Unitology known as the Circle; a violent and fanatical group of Unitologists, they use the substantial financial gain and political connections to commit acts of terrorism wherever a Marker test lab may be located on any given colony.
The Circle is dedicated to bringing humanity to Convergence through force. The typical followers are Church-going types with some or minimal combat experience.
After the destruction of the Tau Volantis Brethren Moon (the final stage of Convergence), the Circle was left in very little numbers, and even then, their faith in Unitology had become even more extreme as they formed a new cult. They cut off their hands and replaced them with crude mechanical parts to make them more like Necromorphs and they viewed the Brethren Moons as gods and the Circle's leader, Jacob Danik (who was killed when the Tau Volantis Moon awoke), as their saint. Their anonymous leader led the new cult and a ritual that required cutting off the hands of the willing and the unwilling. They were destroyed after Isaac Clarke and John Carver killed the leader and the Brethren Moons abandoned them, seeing that they had no further purpose.
Conflict with Earth Government
Unitology's primary opponent is EarthGov. Unitologists have often come into conflict with the government over issues such as planet cracking, the suppression of information on the Marker, and most believe that the government murdered their purported founder, Michael Altman.
The Church is powerful, but vies for more power and shows signs of wanting to overpower EarthGov. EarthGov has often portrayed them as carpetbaggers and insurrectionists in the press. Unitology regards them as still trying to suppress the truth that Altman revealed about their divine Black Marker. They claim to be the only source of opposition to the oppressive political system.
The conflict is primarily an information war fought in the press, although the strength of both sides suggests the possibility of armed struggle as well. The Church of Unitology appears to be more popular and in some way acts as an insurrectionary vehicle against EarthGov. Both EarthGov and Unitology are closed totalitarian factions and they are both desperate to possess the Marker for themselves.
Of the two, Unitology is probably more irrational and prone to cause disasters with the Marker. Meanwhile, EarthGov attempts to study and develop new Markers to secure more power and to hopefully solve its mounting economic issues, regardless of the risks involved.
By 2514, the Church of Unitology, led by Jacob Danik, appears to have overthrown Earth Government, or, at bare minimum, severely weakened its structure. The exact nature of this coup d'état is never made clear. Events perpetuated by Danik suggest the targeted destruction of the various Marker Shrouds throughout EarthGov space similar to the attack on Uxor and Luna played a large part in EarthGov's downfall.
- Several members of the Church of Unitology are prominent characters in Dead Space; including:
- Benedykt Malyech: Captain of the Black Beak.
- Benjamin Matthius: Captain of the CEC Planet Cracker USG Ishimura.
- Challus Mercer: A doctor aboard the Ishimura, creator of the Hunter.
- Craig Markoff: One of the true founders of Unitology; led a government splinter group in possession of the Black Marker, he and Stevens used Michael Altman as the face of the Church after they killed him.
- Collin: A member of the Circle..
- Daina Le Guin: Prominent Unitologist on Titan Station; anti-EarthGov insurgent.
- Deakin Abbott: CEC Engineer on the Aegis VII Colony, first to experience visions after the discovery of Marker 3A; led mass suicide of fifty Unitologists in the colony's Union Square.
- Franco Delille: Associated with Unitologist insurgency on Titan Station; subordinate to Daina Le Guin.
- Gatura Okeke: Captain of the Sunset.
- Hanford Carthusia: Manager of the Aegis VII Colony, ranked as "Vested".
- Jacob Danik: Leader of the Circle, a particularly extremist group of Unitologists that hunts Isaac Clarke on Luna and Tau Volantis.
- Karrie Norton: Karrie was chosen for a special mission aboard the Sprawl, her codename was "Vandal".
- Lana: A crew member and Unitologist on the USG O'Bannon.
- Lowmiller: A member of the Circle, who was possibly one of Jacob Danik's right hand men.
- Octavia Clarke: Mother of Isaac Clarke; spent family funds on the religion to purchase a prestigious rank in the Church, leading to Isaac's hatred and distrust of Unitologists and Unitology in general.
- Omar Nayim: An engineer and Unitologist on the USG O'Bannon.
- Randall Carr: A member of the Circle who witnessed the other Circle survivors fall to insanity and either die or become a part of an even more extreme Unitologist cult; later renounced his faith.
- Samuel Irons: An engineering specialist who worked aboard the Ishimura. Fought alongside Alissa Vincent and her team against the Necromorphs.
- Stevens: One of the true founders of Unitology; aided Craig Markoff in the splinter group and in using Michael Altman as the face of the Church after Altman's murder.
- Terrence Kyne: A doctor aboard the Ishimura, researched Marker 3A; later renounced his faith.
- The Cult Leader: A member of the Circle who took power after Danik's death and led a new cult as its prophet, ranked as "Vested".
- Tyler Radikov: Karrie Norton's pointman; oversaw the success of her mission on Titan Station.
- Vera Cortez: Aegis VII P-Sec officer, partner to Abraham Neumann.
- Warren Eckhardt: CEC Executive of Colonial Mining Affairs, ranked as "Overseer".
- Unitologists are often derogatorily referred to as 'Marker-Heads' or 'Rock Worshippers.'
- Art director Ian Milham cites one of Unitology's inspirations was the practices of Scientology; in particular, the grounds that members must pay vast amounts of money to learn the Church's teachings and secrets, the considerable controversy surrounding it as well as the all around sci-fi influence, among other things.
- However, other developers deny that Unitology is a direct criticism of Scientology, stating that Unitology is intended as a pastiche of cult organizations in general. This may or may not be related to the Church of Scientology's habit of suing over negative portrayals.
- The history of Unitology is further explored in the Dead Space: Martyr novel, which describes Michael Altman's discovery of the Black Marker.
- Isaac Clarke has hated and distrusted Unitologists and Unitology in general even before the events of Dead Space. This is because his mother spent all their funds into Unitology in an attempt to gain a prestigious title, rather than pay for Isaac's education into engineering.
- The Unitology lecture set is likely a direct parody of the Scientology media format even though official sources declared the contrary.
- The Unitologists' beliefs of "Unification" stands in contrast to the game's main theme, "Dismemberment".
- Dead Space: Martyr
- Dead Space (Comics)
- Dead Space: Downfall
- Dead Space
- "Unitology Article", (Dead Space, 2008)
- Holo-presentation in the Seminar Room of the Indoctrination Center found in Chapter 4 (Dead Space 2, 2011)
- "...what a load of Unitologist bullshit!" - In response to a statement on planet-cracking being damaging to the overall harmony of the Universe (Dead Space: Downfall, 2008)
- Altman's Footsteps (Dead Space 2, 2011)
- Unitology Exposed, (Dead Space, 2008)
- Unitology tour recordings encountered in Chapter 4 (Dead Space 2, 2011)
- "You will not interfere with God's plan, the natural order..." - Mercer in Chapter 5: Lethal Devotion (Dead Space, 2008)
- "Rejoice with the knowledge that your death will bring their birth..." - Mercer in Chapter 5: Lethal Devotion (Dead Space, 2008)
- Holo-presentation in a Unitologist's habitation found in Chapter 6 (Dead Space 2, 2011)
- "Recruiting" (Dead Space 2, 2011)
- Unitology tour recording encountered at the Reading Room in Chapter 4 (Dead Space 2, 2011)
- Dead Space: Extraction: Chapter 8: In the Hearts of Men
- "These specimens will return with me to Earth. I will spread their divine glory across the entire planet..." - Mercer in Chapter 5: Lethal Devotion (Dead Space, 2008)
- Chapter 5 (Dead Space 2, 2011)
- Dead Space 2 (2011)
- Dead Space 3
- ars technica: L. Ron Altman: Why Dead Space 2 is a Direct Attack on Scientology
- Penny Arcade: Scientology and Dead Space: how the horror series may carry a hidden message of religious skepticism
- Kotaku: Another Dead Space Prequel, Only This One You Read