This post is part three of a series of threads I had written on my favourite game franchise, Assassin’s Creed.
Before I begin explaining why Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad is my favourite Assassin in the whole franchise, I would like to very briefly explain about the First Civilisation. They were not thoroughly introduced in the Assassin’s Creed movie, but was quickly mentioned by Sophia Rikkin at one point. She told Callum that the First Civilisation created the Apple of Eden, and in it contains “the seed of man’s first disobedience”.
So who are they? Those who have played the games will know, but I will explain for those who are new to the franchise.
The First Civilisation, otherwise known as “Those Who Came Before”, are called the Isu, a superintelligent species of humanoids. They have triple-helix DNA structures and six senses instead of five, and are the first species to call Earth their home. They are responsible for the creation of mankind, who were crafted for labour (e.g. slaves).
Human beings couldn’t comprehend the true nature of the Isu, so they generally regarded them as God.
Along with mankind, they also created the Pieces of Eden, technologies that they would use to control mankind through neurotransmitters. The only ones who are immune to mind control are the human-Isu hybrids, who in this case are Adam and Eve. They stole an Apple of Eden, and this started a war between the Isu and their human slaves. Eve was appointed to lead the rebellion.
So that is the story of how humans first came to disobey “God” – by stealing an apple that holds knowledge and starting a rebellion against their masters.
As you might have noticed, the Isu had totalitarian rule over mankind, and as long as people were subservient, everything was peaceful. But since Adam and Eve were unaffected by their mind control, they probably saw past the facade and decided to start an uprising.
Around a decade passed after the war started, and Earth was hit by a coronal mass ejection. Nearly everyone perished, but a few thousands survived. By this time, Earth was a barren wastely and only a handful of Isu were left along with a few thousands of mankind. These two species worked together to rebuild earth and civilisation, but in time, the Isu inevitably became extinct.
However, mankind still continued to revere them as Gods until the rise of the three monotheistic faiths – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, in which adherents of these religions would then have their own interpretations of the Adam and Eve story.
Sidenote: I absolutely love how the Assassin’s Creed franchise incorporates the Abrahamic story of Adam and Eve into their story, and the whole idea that humans weren’t able to comprehend the Isu’s nature, thus simply referring to them as Gods. It reminds me of what Sam Harris said about religions being “failed sciences” and how mankind simply used God as an explanation for anything and everything that they could not explain.
Despite the rise of these monotheistic religions, there were still people who believed in the existence of Isu, like the Templar Order and the Assassin Order. The Templar Order wanted to lead humanity to peace through one rule, just like the Isu, but the Assassin Order wanted to preserve freethought and freewill.
Humanity finally became aware of the Isu’s true power and the Pieces of Eden after Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad acquired an Apple of Eden.
Sidenote: One of the main reasons why I love Altaïr so much is because of his constant questioning and doubting. I can relate to his character in an emotional sense, because I know how it feels like to be in a constant state of confusion and the persistent need to understand what we don’t know or are not allowed to know.
As mentioned before this, Assassins should show undying loyalty to their creed, but Altaïr always doubted his master, Al Mualim.
Al Mualim always tried to warn Altaïr of the dangers of knowledge and expects him to follow his orders without question, but Altaïr doesn’t stand for that kind of nonsense. To him, rejection of knowledge is heresy and an Assassin should always use reason and logic.
The Isus and Templars relied on Pieces of Eden to get mankind to succumb to them, and the Assassins are against this. However, even within the Assassin order, there is undying loyalty and obedience to masters, which is a dogma in itself.
Blind faith to mentors is just as bad as any blind faith, and Altaïr wasn’t having any of it. “Nothing is true”, remember?
Even though the first part of the creed’s maxim sounds extremely nihilistic, I prefer to see it as referring to the rejection of blind faith. ‘Nothing is true’ meaning that what you know cannot truly be Truth, and that we can never know Truth no matter how hard we tried.
Altaïr explains in his Codex his concerns; the great ironies of the Assassin Order:
And while all of his Codex is worth a read, here’s a part I feel we should incorporate into our movements, ideologies, beliefs, etc.:
We see people practicing blind faith everywhere. In fact, I have written about this countless of times. A lot of us are convinces that blind faith is Truth. However, blind faith is a disgrace to rationality and knowledge. It does not empower, it merely suppresses and stops us from realising true potential.
Nothing is true, everything is permitted.
Take nothing as a given, a certainty. No area of belief, including religious belief, is sacred. Everything needs to be examined.