Unless you’re somewhat technologically savy, the term ‘Open Source‘ doesn’t mean much. But you’ve probably already enjoyed its fuits if you’ve ever learned information from Wikipedia – the online encyclopedia to which anyone can contribute and/or edit. Or if you’ve browsed the web using the Mozilla browser – the software which anyone can contribute to and/or edit. Simply put, open source means that the nuts and bolts of a thing are not only there for all to see, but for all to tinker with.
This might seem like a great way to create chaos. Instead the model has shown itself to be quite resilient. Of course there are ground rules so that a few (or one) can’t spoil the fun for the rest. But for the most part, it is a rather elegant way to organize human effort.
What if this model was applied to religion? What if there was an open sourced religion? That is, a religion in which you can have a say and in which you can help form its very nature. Sounds pretty silly doesn’t it? I mean, it is a paradox. If religion is defined as revelation from a Creator for the assistance of his creation, then how can that very creation make up religion?
Some anthropologists and atheists would point out that from their point of view, humanity has already been engaged with such a project for millenia. Albeit in a rather discreet and implicit manner.
But what if this were to be made explicit? Well, you would have something like the Church of Reality. Their most important creed is belief in Reality (yes, with a capital R). And their primary purpose is devotion to and the sharing of the message of Reality.
I do like their motto: “We are of One Planet – we are all here together – and we are committed to making the future better than it is today.” But I’m not sure how they would respond to the suggestion that reality (or Reality) is not independant of the observer. Some claim we create our own reality. As researchers probe the boundaries of the human mind, we are rather surprised to find that reality (just the normal garden variety type) is not really separate from us, as observers. Indeed, we and it are melded together in a gooey, sticky mess. What I may experience and believe to be ‘real’ may be much different from what you may experience and hold to be ‘real’. Who is right? Who is wrong? But more importantly, why do we not have the same experience? why do we perceive a different reality?
Are our minds simply playing tricks on us? Or is there more to it? There are no easy answers, I’m afraid. But if you’re interested to learn more, here is a brief expositon of Constructivist epistemology (courtesy of the open source Wikipedia).
And here is a list of some other open sourced religions:
Open source truth: a tongue-in-cheek, semi-serious, open source religion
Yoism: open source melding of enlightenment, philosophy, modern science, and spirituality
Integrative Spirituality: a highly developed, specific open source religion focused on democracy, co-intelligence, collaboration and spirituality
Khala World Community: an open source movement dedicated to the creation of a complete world view through the utilization of available human knowledge
Society of Friends of the Earth: a proposed starting framework for the development of an open source “Religion of Sustainability”
Open source Judaism: a Judaism focused open source project
Open Source Theology: a Christian Gospel focused open source project
Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn: a ritualistic Pagan open source project with Masonic and Rosicrucian roots
Open Source Religion: An experiment in the development of an open source religion based on love and edited by a pseudonymous individual/founder.