Re: on co-opting impulses towards organized religion

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Sat Jul 28 2001 - 00:50:07 MDT

Reason wrote:
> In the business world, competitors are potential parters and partners are
> potential competitors. Another business entity is either potentially both or
> neither.
> 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.

I have thought about this many times. It might even be possible
to organize such an endeavor so that the normal tithes and
contributions are used directly to fund projects making for
precisely the sort of future and results that the religion had
as, or as necessary to its goal states. The adherents to this
religion could be workers, beneficiaries and share-holders in
common of these projects.

Another twist I have considered is having information and
algorithms and the open free access to the same as a absolute
sacrament of the faith. Perhaps a special order, say the Order
of the Hallowed Byte, would be dedicated to Open Source, open
information and information systems as a crucial key to the
fastest spread and enhancement of knowledge and capabilities
essential to reaching the goals of the organization as quickly
as possible. I could see such an order having a sub-order of
Holy Hackers who have taken religious vows to employ their skill
only under the condition that the software will be open to
themselves and all others to build upon freely.

It might also be possible with such a sacrament in place and
some of the rulings re religious sacraments already on the books
for the church to establish a data haven that was relatively
untouchable even in the middle of the US.

A religion based strongly in actual scientific and technological
tools for making many of the promises and deep desires of
humanity actualities could pull a lot of the best from
traditional religions and also give an overhaul vision and since
of purpose to many techies out there who are relatively cynical
and are missing such a unifying image of what their work is
about and leads to.

A lot of fun and some quite serious good could well come out of
soemthing like this.

It is now a bit harder to establish a religion legally. The IRS
has some pretty finicky guidelines on what they consider to be a
"legitimate" religion.

- samantha

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