Henrika- Spoilers up to episopde 25.Yet another one-shot. What can I say? This fandom just provides tons of ideas. Read and Review!
Very few alchemists followed a religion. It could have been the old science versus religion debate, but the truth was that many were just too involved with their research to remember complicated rhetoric and rituals. Those that did follow a religion usually had it as a family tradition or weren't too serious about the science.
Alchemists believed in books, formulas, theories. They believed in only one principle, 'equivalent exchange', and their world fell under that unforgiving law.
God was a different matter. Many alchemists claimed atheism. Some truly were, others, like those who had been in the war or those who performed forbidden transmutation, recognized that there was some force besides equivalent exchange that dictated the balance. Some prayed to God without realizing it, bargaining for time or help or anything that would allow them to keep the people they loved in their lives. Praying would then be pawned off as self-delusion or desperation, but some couldn't help but wonder if their prayer had been answered or if they had just gotten lucky.
A famous alchemist, a military dog, followed religion in many forms without realizing it. He was a staunch believer in egotheism, the worship of one's elf, and one of the many worshippers of caffeine. He believed in the purifying power of fire, but recognized that the flames created sin as well. The war had left him asking for some higher power and he had filled it with ambition when nothing became apparent. He was devoted to those who served under him, a member of a secret sect that kept that love hidden under a veil of cynicism and cocky remarks.
One famous alchemist was a living example, depending on the definition of living, that the soul existed. His brother had bound him with blood to a suit of armor. He couldn't feel, but he still carried emotions, still carried the sacred rite of protecting his brother when the elder couldn't save himself. He had seen the Truth and it had ripped his body away in exchange. He believed in his brother's ability, believed that one day they would both be made of flesh again.
Another famous State Alchemist was a self-proclaimed atheist. He had stopped believing in whatever illusions he had about God when his mother died. After that, he had worshipped science with fervor, poring through dusty tomes and texts and studying alchemy's most sacred laws. And then he had broken them. Judgment had passed on him and his brother, but his sacrifice had allowed them both a chance at penance. He'd went to the military, selling everything but his soul for a chance at the one thing that could restore and redeem them.
And then he had realized with devastating clarity that he could help people, but that didn't mean he could save them. A deconstructed chimera had taught him that, the lesson refreshed when he had learned of the death of someone who had treated both him and his brother with love and understanding. The alchemist cloaked himself in the colors of blood and death, a warning to people that it followed him everywhere.
His faith lay in himself, a shaky solace that refused to comfort him sometimes. He didn't believe in destiny, he would succeed or fail on his own. But there were times when he would ask God or Truth or the universe 'why?' And there would be no answer and he would return to his reading, wishes and prayers relegated to the sanctuary inside his heart.
He didn't believe in that stuff anyway.
Henrika- I think there were some run-on sentences in there, sorry. Ed says he's an atheist in the manga and it occurred to me that he knows that's not true.