Saturday, May 26, 2012

Where Religions Come To Die

Let me introduce you to the Gutenberg Press. Before this monstrosity, books were generally copied by hand and were rare and insanely expensive. Bibles were found only in churches and the only people who had access to them were priests. It was the priesthood's job to read the Bible and tell the masses what it said. And the masses generally believed what priests told them. In 1440, Johannes Gutenberg invented modern movable type printing from individually cast, reusable letters. The result is mass-produced books, including the Bible. Suddenly, anyone who knew how to read can look for himself what the Bible said. This, together with the wealth of scientific information made available by the same printing press, opened a great can of worms for the Catholic Church. Armed with knowledge, people started thinking for themselves. The ideas of philosophers and scientists became accessible. Less than a hundred years after Gutenberg's invention, Martin Luther couldn't stand smelling the bullshit anymore and initiated the Protestant Reformation, which led to the fragmentation of Christianity into a bajillion sects, some weirder than others. The increasing secularism resulted in the end of the Dark Ages and the beginning of the Age of Reason.

The exchange of information and ideas never bodes well for religion.

Today, we are swimming in another, more powerful version of the Gutenberg Press. It's called the Internet, a Tower of Babel where each one of us has the power to broadcast our ideas. In a clusterfuck marketplace like this, ideas to be taken by faith become less important than ideas backed up by facts, which do not require faith. No one cares anymore if you're the Pope because anyone can verify your claims if they are fact or opinion. More and more, the only way a person's faith can survive is by shutting out rational arguments. More and more, religion is becoming something to be embarrassed about. Google and Facebook, it seems, are the Martin Luther and John Calvin of our age.

As someone else said: The Internet is where religions come to die.

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