Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Open Source Religion?

Is it possible for a religion to be "open source"? If so, would that be a good or bad thing?

10 comments:

Brendan said...

Not only possible but it is so.

"Good" and "bad" . . . eh . . . despite engaging in the open source exchange, those who picture themselves as "orthodox" would probably say "bad." But every one of today's "orthodox" thoughts were once yesterday's heresy (this is true in science and art as well as religion).

BTW, this topic (something about the philosophy of open source), would make a great first post on our new project.

Paul said...

"BTW, this topic (something about the philosophy of open source), would make a great first post on our new project."

That's a great idea! It would be a perfect first post. Or even a series of posts in which each of us gave his view of what "open source religion" means to him.

axinia said...

could you please clarify what do you mean under "open source" religion?
and dont you think that religion have proved their limitedness throughout the centuries?
and that we need soemthing else?

Paul said...

Welcome, Axinia! I'm honored and pleased you've dropped by the Cafe.

This morning it occurred to me that the old model of a religion as something created by one or a handful of people and then authoritatively handed down to others was intrinsically stifling. Such religions naturally become mechanisms for oppressing people.

So, I wondered what would happen if the religion was "open source"? That is, if it was being constantly updated and improved by everyone interested in it? Would an open source religion even be a religion -- as we think of a religion?

I don't pretend to know whether such a thing is actually possible. Perhaps it is not. But I thought it would be a good idea for a conversation.

As to your other question, I certainly agree that religions have proved their limitedness. Yes, we need something else now. The human spirit is far too precious for the old religions. They have for the most part oppressed it.

Webs said...

Open Source religion would be pretty cool. But it would also essentially abolish religion as we know it, because keeping it closed source is how the religion is able to survive. Because of this I doubt it would ever take off.

Just as a side note, isn't Unitarian Universalism essentially an Open Source Religion. At least when I was part of a UU congregation it kinda felt like that. Except we didn't do much to alter our religion, we just asked a lot of questions about other religions.

decrepitoldfool said...

My non-serious answer would be, if you want to see an Open-Source Religion in action, talk to a Linux enthusiast.

But on a serious vein, Webs is right about Unitarian-Universalism being pretty much open-source.

- 'Pepper Spray Of Quiet Reflection'

Trinifar said...

DOF, good point. Open source is religion to some.

I'd also say American Buddhism in many of its forms is open source in the same spirit as UU.

Then too so is right wing Christianity when it choose to selectively emphasize parts of the Bible and interpret them in various odd ways. Sort of like repurposing software.

BONGO MIRROR said...

This is such a lovely idea that I wish I could leave this comment for the purposes of stalking myself.

Since I don't know how self stalking works here, I'll just leave it as a compliment.

Brendan said...

"Then too so is right wing Christianity when it choose to selectively emphasize parts of the Bible and interpret them in various odd ways. Sort of like repurposing software."

Excellent observation. Religion is a transaction between the user's perspective and the code. It's not an off-the-shelf solution, but must be modified to fit the information, organization and output needs of the client. Open Source is an unavoidable aspect of human perspective interacting with religious information. It must be adapted to each human context to be meaningful.

It is curious that fundamentalists will deny to the bitter end that they've adapted the meaning of anything though. Then again, "sola scriptura" is a modification to the software, too.

Guitar's Cry said...

I like this idea! Spirituality should evolve within the individual as new information is assimilated into her understanding.

The cultural evolution of religion can be seen today. There are Eastern perspectives beginning to take shape in Christianity, and Native American spirituality is becoming pervasive in American theologies.

All information should be incorporated into spirituality, anyway, if spirituality encompasses our view of reality.