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Open Source Religion
June 11, 2009 6:21 PM   Subscribe

Open to Revisions. "Some religious entrepreneurs have adopted an 'open source' model, where rituals and doctrines can be rewritten as easily as computer code."
posted by homunculus (54 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 


YHWH is not going to like this one bit.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:28 PM on June 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sure, it sounds promising, but the bad news is that heaven looks like Tux Racer.
posted by box at 6:32 PM on June 11, 2009 [17 favorites]


The first one makes sense. I mean, since Gardner already "borrowed" so much code for Wicca, might as well go whole hog.
posted by adipocere at 6:32 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


You mean like Protestantism?

Sadly most (all?) open source religions are built around a buggy proprietary kernel.
posted by DU at 6:38 PM on June 11, 2009 [19 favorites]


Can't get drivers for the most modern logic boards, either.
posted by box at 6:38 PM on June 11, 2009 [18 favorites]


And I can't seem to effectively use the command-line.
posted by box at 6:43 PM on June 11, 2009


The core development team is pretty hostile, too. I submitted a bug report about "evil in the world" and they told me it was a feature, not a bug.
posted by DU at 6:45 PM on June 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


Also, most of the feature list is vaporware.
posted by DU at 6:46 PM on June 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


sudo make me an unleavened wafer
posted by defenestration at 6:49 PM on June 11, 2009 [13 favorites]


How can you tell when the KKK has been harassing Unitarians?

The burning question mark on their lawn.

posted by BrotherCaine at 7:14 PM on June 11, 2009 [7 favorites]


echo "god" > /dev/null

can we open source atheism too?
posted by geos at 7:20 PM on June 11, 2009


Support boards > prayer
posted by carsonb at 7:27 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I wonder if their God is vulnerable to buffer overflow attacks.
posted by sfenders at 7:37 PM on June 11, 2009


The gates of heaven are logical.
posted by null terminated at 7:45 PM on June 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


So 'open source' means 'collaborative' now? Actually, I don't see how any kind of conceptual document can be 'open source', because the 'executable' is the same thing as the 'source', i.e. some text that says something.

Btw, how can I be sure I'm downloading the real god and not a compromised version? Is there public-key crypto? Does god attend the key-signing parties? That would be l33t.

PS Computer code is not very easy to reread, let alone rewrite, as any programmer will tell you.
posted by Maximian at 7:56 PM on June 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


This surprised Rushkoff, since he supposed that actions were less intrinsically part of a person’s religion than beliefs, but he says, “people really depend on it for some reason. People are much less likely to engage in ritual in a do-it-yourself fashion.”

I'm surprised by his surprise. Rituals are a tangible connection to a shared history going back many years. It's often the only memories you'll have of a deceased relative. And the actions can be invested with whatever symbolism you want. Of course beliefs will lose that fight.
posted by Lemurrhea at 7:59 PM on June 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


"Rewritten as easily as computer code."

Easily. Hah.


The commenting is for shit.
posted by mr_roboto at 7:59 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


This might be the best thread on the internets, ever.
posted by andreaazure at 7:59 PM on June 11, 2009


This article is locked due to the 9 million revert rule and frivolous insertion of factual claims that cannot be verified, particularly unsourced or poorly-sourced contentious material about deities.
posted by BrotherCaine at 8:00 PM on June 11, 2009


So 'open source' means 'collaborative' now? Actually, I don't see how any kind of conceptual document can be 'open source', because the 'executable' is the same thing as the 'source', i.e. some text that says something.

Not all code has a separate source and executable; it can be interpreted, like perl or python.

Laws and rituals are code that executes on a non-deterministic processor called a "brain," which admittedly is understood about as well as Malbolge.
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:04 PM on June 11, 2009


I'm surprised by his surprise.

Yeah, I have to say - I thought this was common knowledge to anyone with a cursory experience with religion. Not to get all Zetigeisty, but newer mythos constantly borrow from older mythos. It's a part of the process. Also

god@universe~$ sudo mkdir /home/God/earth/humans
god@universe~$ cd /home/God/earth
god@universe~$ chmod 000 /humans*

posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:06 PM on June 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Not all code has a separate source and executable; it can be interpreted, like perl or python.

Of course, but the concept of 'closed-source' for such programs has never been clear. I guess with sufficient obfuscation, such programs could be made to appear to be closed-source, but I'm fortunate enough not to have to work with such code.
posted by Maximian at 8:16 PM on June 11, 2009


So 'open source' means 'collaborative' now?

Yes. Where have you been?
posted by ixohoxi at 8:21 PM on June 11, 2009


This explains our population problem, though.
10  print "human"
20  goto 10
</pre

posted by maxwelton at 8:26 PM on June 11, 2009


Drat.
posted by maxwelton at 8:26 PM on June 11, 2009


I know nothing about computer code, so I'll stick to commenting about the religious aspect.

open-source work can also help each generation of believers cohere among themselves
“It’s every generation’s obligation to reinterpret and reboot the religion,” Rushkoff says. “It’s much harder to accept and understand, but it’s actually a form of continuity, too.”


I think this should be true of existing religions as well. Each generation should reinterpret and reboot the religion. I know that mainstream Christians will be doing this when their hell freezes over, but man, how do you even know what you believe if you've never bothered questioning the very structure of belief?

Sometimes I realize that not everyone started pondering the meaning of life and the existence - or lack thereof - of G-d at age three and I feel very, very alone.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:29 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


i assume that talking in tongues = spaghetti code.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:32 PM on June 11, 2009


I prefer to think of it as a widespread virus on most brain computers which hijacks various logic functions. It is, however, removable by the input of an antivirus called learning.
posted by kldickson at 8:47 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Looks like that self-importance Trojan is still pretty widespread though.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:48 PM on June 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Couldn't resist it, sorry. No harm intended.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:49 PM on June 11, 2009


link: Open to Revisions. "Some religious entrepreneurs have adopted an 'open source' model, where rituals and doctrines can be rewritten as easily as computer code."

I know this is my inner Richard Stallman talking here, but it's beginning to annoy me when people use the phrase “open source” to mean things not remotely connected to what “open source” is supposed to mean. “Open source” means “when you buy it, download it, or otherwise legally, respectfully obtain it, you get the code for how it works.” But nowadays, because of the new vogue for seizing on attractive new phrases the moment they appear and repurposing for every corporate or commercial purpose under the sun (e.g. "dynamic," "out of the box," "synergy," et cetera) “open source” has been sucked up as a word meaning something like “for the people” or “do it yourself” or even “you can read about it on the internet and download it for free!”

“Open source religion” doesn't make any sense at all, given the very nature of religion. I mean, the “source” is generally supposed to be God or at least something divine; either that's open to all, or it's not possible to open it. In the strict sense, the only religion that really isn't “open source” is Scientology, since you have to pay an exorbitant licensing fee to see the “source code;” but even then, it's not strictly “closed source.”

But these links look really interesting, so I'll shut up about that.
posted by koeselitz at 9:04 PM on June 11, 2009 [6 favorites]


…and I'd meant to say: if “open source” meant “it can be rewritten as easily as computer code!” then every single piece of software ever written would be open source.
posted by koeselitz at 9:08 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: But these links look really interesting, so I'll shut up
posted by Lemurrhea at 9:14 PM on June 11, 2009 [7 favorites]


I mean, the “source” is generally supposed to be God or at least something divine

The source of the universe maybe, but not of religion. Religion is a set of practices and beliefs and such.

And koeselitz, your definition of "open source" is a bit off; there have been programs, old versions of WordPress for example, that gave you the source code, but didn't allow you to distribute any modifications you made to it. In that sense, modern interpretations of Christianity are source-available (you can read the Bible yourself), but not open-source (if you revise the Bible, you're doing it wrong).

Then again, this whole definitional thing assumes that the concept of intellectual property can be applied to something as nebulous as religion. Maybe it does; certainly the Scientologists are trying. But, yeah, it looks to me as though "open source religionists" are taking something that was already open and making it more collaborative. Good on them anyhow, I suppose.

Oh, and the dilution of "open-source" to mean "collaborative" or something, that's an ordinary phenomenon of language. Nothing to do with any special modern trends. People tend to use words to refer to things that are kinda-sorta like what the word originally meant, and then that become's the word's accepted meaning, and then it happens all over again.

Postscript: I still don't understand why religion is so important to so many people. My opinions on this matter are therefore a bit superficial.
posted by LogicalDash at 9:22 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Chaos magic
posted by Roach at 10:03 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


LogicalDash: I still don't understand why religion is so important to so many people. My opinions on this matter are therefore a bit superficial.

Just because human beings are political and social creatures. The most meaningful things we experience are (a) ‘spiritual’ and (b) social, having to do with other creatures.
posted by koeselitz at 10:06 PM on June 11, 2009


god@universe~$ chmod 000 /humans*

As an opponent of the death penalty, I applaud God's decision to deny execute permission.

But denying write access too? Does that mean changes are never saved to disk?

For the sake of humanity, I hope the universe has really good uptime...
posted by problemspace at 10:58 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Having known many seminary students from several different orders, I can see how 'open source' can be applied to religion, at least Catholicism.

These guys take theology, philosophy and church history classes. They study alternate viewpoints, how once popular truths have been buried forever and how current dogma came to be. Lets say they have access to the revision history, the comments and the documentation. This is the source code, and it is not generally available.

Churchgoers only get to listen to what the clergy has decided they need to know. They only get to click on the icons.

Open source religion could be as revolutionary as open source homeopathy or witchcraft.
posted by dirty lies at 11:20 PM on June 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


problemspace, the universe is really just a terminal at a library somewhere. You can use it to check your email, but that's about it.
posted by koeselitz at 11:21 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


The New Testament is just YHWH v. 2.0.
posted by darkstar at 11:58 PM on June 11, 2009


Each generation should reinterpret and reboot the religion

What do you mean "This time StarbuckJesus is a woman"? Heresy!
posted by Sparx at 2:08 AM on June 12, 2009


In all the instances discussed in the article, the codebase has grown way too large, I'm afraid, and most of the methods used are so outdated it's not even funny. Open-sourcing is hardly a solution here. What is needed is a complete rewrite, starting from scratch.
posted by daniel_charms at 2:18 AM on June 12, 2009


Regardless of religion, the universe ends up the same in the end -- the force of gravity is ultimately overwhelmed by dark matter, and matter as we know it ceases to exist, and then we're all brought together in a universal particle soup of free-floating electrons, protons and neutrons. Mmmm, free-floating particle soup. Then God drinks up all the soup and squirts out another universe. I'm not sure about that last part though.
posted by jamstigator at 2:36 AM on June 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Open Source is probably more like a real religion than the Order of the Golden Dawn in some respects.

Not sure the approach fits though. It's alright to discover your religion, but it's not alright to invent it.
posted by Phanx at 2:44 AM on June 12, 2009


Phanx: "It's alright to discover your religion, but it's not alright to invent it."

All religion is invented (and if you ask me, so is god, but you didn't, so: /derail). If religion is an important part of someone's life, why wouldn't they want to have an active role in defining its rituals and doctrines? If 'open-sourcing' religion was approached with levelheadedness and critical thought, I could see it as a movement that would help eliminate toxic views and actions that are promoted and fueled by antiquated dogma. One downside is that it takes power and the air of infallibility away from those at the top of the pyramid -- again, I see this as a good thing.
posted by defenestration at 4:42 AM on June 12, 2009


“Open source religion” doesn't make any sense at all, given the very nature of religion. I mean, the “source” is generally supposed to be God or at least something divine; either that's open to all, or it's not possible to open it. In the strict sense, the only religion that really isn't “open source” is Scientology, since you have to pay an exorbitant licensing fee to see the “source code;” but even then, it's not strictly “closed source.”

The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was an initiatory mystery religion. In other words, it wasn't a set of beliefs at all, but a set of secret rituals that initiates went through — and in particular, my understanding is that the details of the rituals were kept secret until you'd been through them yourself, so that everything was a surprise to you the first time around.

So, yes, in a sense, the original Golden Dawn was closed source too: you had to put yourself through a set of procedures without being able to read or modify them first, and you couldn't execute those procedures without permission.

For that matter, that's the interesting sense in which Scientology is closed-source. It's not just that their beliefs or doctrines are extra-double-secret. It's that the rituals processing you need to go through to achieve salvation become Clear involves hidden steps that you aren't supposed to know about, change, or use without permission.

(I know folks who belong to initiatory religions. My impression is that they're not all evil the way Scientology is — just like there are closed-source software companies that aren't total money-grubbing progress-obstructing bastards. But they do have in common the practice of gradually revealing a secret ritual core.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:16 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


As an opponent of the death penalty, I applaud God's decision to deny execute permission.

But denying write access too? Does that mean changes are never saved to disk?

For the sake of humanity, I hope the universe has really good uptime...


Yes, God would deny write access. Changes aren't saved to disk because God doesn't plan on changing them anyway. Humanity is an immutable file. Being the owner, he could of course change permissions in order to delete - and the record shows he has made massive deletions in the past, probably to recover disk space - but for day-to-day operations, no, the humanity file cannot be written.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:29 AM on June 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


I have ranted against this one time too many, and the analogies in this thread are really making me cringe. Looks like it's time to throw in the towel and join the Happy Buzzword Brigade.

I am now going to have an open source nap: everyone in this thread is allowed to take one as well, performing any modifications they see fit, such as putting their feet on the pillow or lying under the bed.

This comment published under a Boring Commons FavoriteWhore License. Copying, redistribution or creation of derivative works is permitted, provided you give me shiny shiny favorites
posted by Dr Dracator at 7:53 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Spaghetti code is evidence of HIS noodley appendage. On the other hand the existence of harmful control statements is evidence that Cthulhu is the one true god. Was Jesus an unkillable process or was he respawned after termination?
posted by Tashtego at 11:12 AM on June 12, 2009


YHWH is not going to like this one bit.

[citation needed]
posted by rokusan at 11:32 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


The New Testament is just YHWH v. 2.0.

No. It's pretty clearly forked.
posted by rokusan at 12:53 PM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Assembly of God:

# as -o god god.s
posted by kcds at 8:08 PM on June 12, 2009 [4 favorites]


opensource is not an religion :\
posted by wgl1 at 4:34 AM on July 1, 2009


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