on co-opting impulses towards organized religion

From: Reason (reason@exratio.com)
Date: Thu Jul 26 2001 - 15:42:19 MDT

In the business world, competitors are potential parters and partners are
potential competitors. Another business entity is either potentially both or

Organised religions have a lot going for them in terms of getting things
done. Most of this occurs at the local level of organization -- high-level
goals for organized religions are fairly diffuse and open to interpretation.

Building upon some earlier remarks made on this list about the futility of
attempting to remove religions from the human picture (just as futile as
attempting to remove all other corporations because they compete with yours;
you're attacking the "symptom" and the "problem" can't be dealt with -- it's
just human nature), is there any good reason not to attempt to found and
nurture a purposeful religion? By this I mean one dedicated to -- for
example -- either building or funding the building of God/a god (== true AI)
or achieving immortality. (Both very Gnostic goals, but Gnosticism had a
nice long run of things).

Religions seem to be easy to start (on the absolute scale of human
endeavors). Easier than founding a government, for example. Or putting
people on the moon. Potentially achievable by two people in a basement with
access to a fax machine, to call to mind one example. It allows for tapping
into a wellspring of human motivation; promise(/suggest/hypothesise) later
happiness/other benefit in exchange for resouces now. A number of
extropianist projects fall nicely into that category, mine included.

We have plenty of examples of cults and religions -- the only difference is
size, really -- founded in the last two centuries. Mormonism, Discordianism,
modern Wicca, the Church of Satan, etc, etc, etc. Some have done pretty well
for themselves, memetically speaking.

So we have all these billions of people in the world expending their
religious impulses and a fraction of their disposable income and time on
religions that aren't really getting anything useful done. Looks just like
an established marketplace that's worth entering. Never compete when you can


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