As humanity began to be “uplifted” by the Transcendentals, traveling by wormholes to distant places and developing the technical knowledge of objects smaller than can exist unbound in this universe, more and more of the “cosmic map” was being filled in. Nanotech was a revolution in particle physics, Stringtech was a revolution in submolecular physics, everything was being revolutionized and our knowledge of things were getting more and more detailed.
A Replicant Cognitechnician named Varia Secundus at one point was studying the decision process of a person who was choosing between an apple or a splarama to eat when she suddenly had an epiphany. She had a machine that could track which synapse fired to start the chain reaction that led to the subject to eat the splarama rather than the apple. She could even determine with scientific falsifiability that the subject happened to really like splaramas, and had already determined that his pleasure at the splarama originated from this one synaptic cluster. Then it occurred to her – why was that one cluster always firing? Why did it fire to begin with? Why those specific synapses in that cluster? What made them fire? More importantly, if that cluster was so prone to firing, why sometimes wouldn’t it fire the same way, meaning why would he sometimes pick an apple when he preferred splarama?
The question would lead to a bout of obsessive behavior bordering on madness by Varia Secundus. The rest of her stopped wanting to be around her, and eventually refused to merge with her, citing that she had “diverged too greatly”. At that point, she left the Replicants entirely and went elsewhere, eventually traveling with Taoists, Spacefarers, and a host of other individuals who were willing to listen to her “wild” ideas.
To her, there was still magic in the world, one final riddle that science could not solve. The question was this: why did the synapse fire? The answer, as far as Varia could determine, was this: because its owner chose for it to. That was the magic, and was why humanity reached to the stars and whales went extinct. Humanity could choose an apple or a splarama.
This became a strange theosophical religion, especially popular with many Civilizations, with their “prayer” being meditations to try to become more closely in touch with the “decision-making soul” latent within every human being. They are most popular among Spacefarers and Cargo Cults (for widely antithetical reasons), but can also be found among Taoists and the Stored. Strangely, Logicians are often highly interested in this faith, and practice it with a fervor that almost seems irrational. There are no Unionist Humanists at all.
The Temple of the Human Soul’s symbol is the image of an unaltered human, typically naked and standing upright, hands at sides, or perhaps two humans, one of each gender. This holy symbol has several variations – a single hermaphrodite, a wildly inhuman mechanism with a human silhouette, and in more than a few cases an image of the person wearing it. The common factor is a naked human shape.
Benefits: Humanists are ennobled rather than debased by their own augmentation. To them, the human soul doesn’t rest in the synapses but is a force immediately behind them, and therefore switching out the synapses for something even more effective isn’t debasing the human being at all. Thus, they gain an additional point to spend on Themes, above what they get as a consequence of their Capabilities.
Core Value: Freedom. A Humanist’s greatest strength (and perhaps greatest weakness) is his or her ability to choose, and the lowliest sin imaginable is for someone to steal the free will of another. They despise Unionists, incidentally, but are less put off by Group-Minds (though Humanists and Group-Minds still don’t get along).
As a note, a few of the Civs in the New Civ contest would also be good candidates, but I'm hesitant to insert them not knowing which will make it into the final cut. As one final note, I'm not certain of the Theme bonus - I'll have to pour over the books a bit more. I know I want them to have some kind of Theme bonus, but I don't know if two points is right.