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Technology, a Religion?

Religion, as a term, has many definitions. In the past a religion has had many different forms. There were people forced into religions, there were even religions that were law. In today’s society it is not so. Today religion, as commonly defined, is:

a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs. (Dictionary.com). I think most people would agree with this definition.
Is technology, as a whole, a Religion?
This argument really lies in the definition of the word religion. If you define a religion as simply a practice of believes, rituals, etc., and only those things then, yes, you could say technology, as a whole, is a religion. We all participate in rituals, beliefs even in technology (Please forward this message or 5,000 Somalians are going to go hungry!!). But does that really, truly, make something a religion?
I think most people would say a religion tells you where you come from, spiritually and physically. It explains the beginning of the world/universe, as well as where we might be going. It gives us guidance on how to live in order to achieve whatever we wish to achieve upon death or while in this life. Technology can give us these things but only in the context of another preexisting religion.
To me calling technology a religion is like calling the bible, in itself, a religion. The bible is not a religion, it’s a tool to understand a religion.
A religion, in today’s society, is also a choice. You look at the religions available and choose one close to or exactly describing your beliefs about the world.  Technology is not a choice. Today technology is a means, for about everything.
Some people will say that’s all a religion is to, a means. The key question is: A means to what? Technology, is a means to progress in this world. A religion is a means to progress in this world and “the next” whatever a person believes that is.
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One thought on “Technology, a Religion?

  1. Very interesting.

    Consider: the world’s religions were born out of specific technological circumstances like animal husbandry, agriculture, monumental architecture and urbanization.

    Consider: today, digital technology as a sum total defines human circumstances in a way that the analog ones never could – it is literally looping back to infect every corner of human existence that was once analog.

    Dig: technology is doing this while advertising itself! As much as we use english words to describe things like “clouds,” technology isn’t hiding in the sky like a “god” making arbitrary judgements. We wish our technological systems were cranky and violent like an Old Testament god, and not the calculated product of our own efforts. You may not be able to control a cruise missile or surveillance satellite but you sure as hell can get a basic (and more important: consistent) idea of how it works.

    As technology penetrates the existing religions (giving them screens, podcasts, facebook pages and the like) what becomes of those religions?

    A means to what? Technology, is a means to progress in this world. A religion is a means to progress in this world and “the next” whatever a person believes that is.

    I recommend a healthy dose of intellectual courage so as to really contemplate the transition from “this world” to A “next” world, strictly via concrete relationships with our technology.

    Modern technology is a profound reification of things that were once merely theological.

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