With a current opportunity to play a lawful good religious character, it has got me thinking about how thin the line is between the alignments. Albeit umbrella terminology perhaps 'Religious' and 'Good' are oxymorons or highlight the subjective nature of what it is to be good. Given the human condition, the matter is a little easier as, although you have to accept axioms at some point, systems based on human happiness can be derived from first principals of experience - such as the Buddhist approach from a desire to achieve enlightenment through happiness or indeed one can construct ethics based on human wellbeing [see Sam Harris ]. There are also genetics to consider - not to be confused with a eugenics of course - but there will be behavioural trends in the human genome and therefore a possibly empirical view as to the constitution of what is in society's best interests.
The slippery slope starts with lawful systems in which people suffer as a direct consequence whilst apologists will nevertheless act for what they perceive as the greater good. In other words how do you classify extremist behaviour ? As a Paladin the lawful bit comes easily enough but would I shield bash a nice old lady who was standing in the way? Well, possibly. Goodness and righteousness have their opposites but the also have their extrapolations; but is this a new dimension to the alignment rubric?
Would a Lawful Good character challenge a Lawful Good Extremist ?
I would suppose you couldn't have a Neutral Extremist ? Or is that a morbidly lazy individual?
Chaotic Extremism sounds fun to play - is that a religious Jester ?
Is Lawful Evil Extremism the same as Lawful Good Extremism ?
There is an additional issue that truly confuses the matter for role players and that is race of course. Deriving human happiness in very general terms is no that difficult but what about orcs, goblins, ghosts and demons. This is where you have to fall back on a rubric or roleplaying a case in point I think.
Looking to the future we will of course be seeking to adjust our own genetic material. Other than the professional ethics of how to do this there is also the possibility of creating ethical creatures that are in fact not ultimately human. How are they to be judged ?
If you are curious and prepared to answer 48 questions then here is an alignment test.
Extremism is not on there.