By Hannah Perez
culture has everything to be a religion: saints, holidays, a prophet, a holy text, and even a doomsday. Could cryptocurrency be a new form of dogma for the cyber world?
be a religion? For some it certainly is. And as funny or crazy as it may sound, there are many arguments that seem to support this view.
In fact, the entire culture surrounding Bitcoin has the characteristics of a religion: from a moral belief system, to the existence of a prophet. In a Bloomberg article published earlier this year, Joe Weisenthal noted how some elements of Bitcoin culture resemble a religious belief. More recently, a Cointelegraph
article elaborated further.
Whether as a joke or in the form of a rebuke, more than a few people in the past have drawn comparisons between Bitcoin and religious devotion. This year, two news outlets found it rather obvious. In the context of the Bitcoin conference in Miami, the New York Times headlined, “Thousands Descend on Miami to Glorify Bitcoin.” Meanwhile, the news outlet Paradox described the turnout at the event as a “legion of more than ten thousand devout believers
The underlying idea is not banal, and can easily be sustained in the notion that many advocates have of Bitcoin’
s potential to transform society and change the way we understand and use money. This certainly goes far beyond the use of cryptocurrencies as an exchange or store of value asset. Instead, a moral rationale seems to underlie it.
Satoshi, “our savior”
Let’s take a closer look: Bitcoin has a mysterious creator (or creators), <a href=”https://www.diariob
itcoin.com/personages/satoshi-nakamoto/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Satoshi Nakamoto, about whom little is known, but much is said. The scant information about the founder has led to a proliferation of theories and stories, some of them somewhat mythical. It also has a sacred text, the white paper. Given by Nakamoto to his disciples, this document contains all the fundamentals of the digital currency and would represent the foundations of the religion.
Likewise, the community around Bitcoin also has its own holidays. For example, the Halving ( block reward reduction), which occurs approximately every four years, and the Bitcoin Pizza Day(block reward reduction), to celebrate the first use of the currency as a payment mechanism in the real world, are a few.
The movement also has its own saint: Hal Finney, who contributed to the creation of Bitcoin and was the first to run the network. Finney passed away in 2014, curiously coinciding with Nakamoto’s disappearance from Bitcointalk chats, but he could come back to life someday, as he was cryogenically frozen.
In addition, Bitcoin has its own terminology, sayings, fables and so on. Think for example of phrases like “HODL“, “Your keys, your money“, “To the moon“. In his article, Weisenthal noted all these ingenious similarities and concludes that Bitcoin it is a religion, “the first true religion of the 21st century“, in his opinion.
Prophets, apostles, feasts, dietary customs, sacred texts, schisms, sayings and more. Bitcoin is not like a religion. This is exactly what a religion is.
The journalist goes on to point out curious elements, such as the fact that the first block of Bitcoin was called the ‘Genesis‘ block. Or the fact that Nakamoto seems to have been selfless and benevolent, having left this world before selling a single coin.
Doomsday or the death of fiat
The system of believecia also features the classic Christian dichotomy of the sacred (cryptocurrency), and the mundane ( fiat money). In this separation, bankers represent evil: money printing, inflation, centralization, uncensored transactions. While bitcoiners represent the good. They don’t back Bitcoin for their return on investment, but for their commitment to decentralization.
Devotees demonstrate their faith in rituals known within the community such as “buying on the dip“, or doing “hodl” (holding cryptocurrency for the long term). There are also the non-believers(noconiners), the orthodox (maximalists from Bitcoin) and false preachers ( shitcoiners or those promoting fraudulent cryptocurrencies).
Even in all this comparison, Crypto Twitter could be conceived as the religious temple, as Cointelegraph pointed out, where preachers go to warn the flock not to follow scams. Or where devotees share their euphoria during price spikes or are entrenched in passing on their long-term faith when prices collapse.
Just like in various religious systems, the mythology of Bitcoin even seems to have its own “Doomsday“: marked by the death of fiat money. Hass McCook, who considers Bitcoin as his religion – literally – described in a blog post that the post-apocalyptic enthusiasts’ idea of the collapse of the traditional financial system could be understood as a kind of doomsday.
– Friar Hass (@FriarHass) July 11, 2021
McCook, who also drew a number of parallels between religion and the financial system. BitcoinThe event was dubbed “Economic Judgment Day. Characterized by the idea of death, this judgment will be definitive for the collapse of civilization as we know it and will lead to the phenomenon of “hyperbitcoinization,” when eventually all global transactions will be conducted in crypto. As the metaphor suggests, only bitcoiners will be able to save themselves.
A tenet of the Bitcoin faith is belief in this Day and the need to prepare well for it.
Descentralization: a moral foundation
It’s curious to think that a technology can bring so much fanaticism, but it’s not just an empty hope. Bitcoin it’s not just an empty hope. It has a clear belief system where decentralization is treated as a moral issue. And several have also been able to agree on this point. Among them, McCook, who points out that while there are bitcoiners who simply see bitcoin as a novel way to earn money. Bitcoin as a novel way to make money, others see it more as a righteous crusade.
The truth is that they adopted Bitcoin to protest against what they saw as the corruption of the state and central banking authorities and their manipulation of currencies and the money supply. Bitcoin It corrects this “evil” and thus becomes a sort of moral principle with libertarian overtones.
In fact, if one follows the idea that the greatest evil of society is the state and the central banks, then it can easily be understood as an ultimate solution. Bitcoin can easily be understood as an ultimate solution to all forms of centralized corruption. Convincingly, McCook argues in this regard that all serious activists should maintain. Bitcoin:
Because the root cause of all of our problems is basically the printing of money and the misallocation of capital as a result of that. So the only way the whales are going to be saved, or the trees are going to be saved, or the children are going to be saved, is if we just stop the degeneration.
Religion, ideology, or the need to believe in something immutable?
Of course, not everyone will agree that the movement can be characterized as a religion. Bitcoin movement can be characterized as a religion. Much less as a religious sect, as some seem to suggest. One of them is filmmaker and crypto enthusiast, Kirby Ferguson, who believes that viewing it as a religion is perhaps taking it too far.
If anything, he suggests it’s more akin to an ideology, although he points out that sometimes defining the boundaries between ideology and religion is also difficult in this context. Definitions don’t seem to help much with the task. In its first meaning, the RAE defines religion as a “set of beliefs“. Meanwhile, it defines the term ideology as “set of fundamental ideas that characterize a person’s thinking“.
Torkel Brekke, a professor of religious studies at Oslo Metropolitan University, agreed that Bitcoin has “ideological aspects” but also religious aspects. For his part, the CEO of Kryptonium, Ilias Louis Hatzis, drew on the theory of sociologist Émile Durkheim to deduce that culture draws from both spheres. Bitcoin draws from both spheres. He pointed out in a blog post:
Faced with this dilemma, another group has brought up a perhaps more primal question, and that is that today’s fanaticism by Bitcoin may simply respond to a natural human desire to believe in something higher. Beyond the idea of a divinity, there is the possibility that the new generations – allergic to religious dogmatism – are looking for an idea in which to believe that adapts to the new forms of digital life. Why not BitcoinWhy not a new idea, which, besides being immutable, is a symbol of rebellion and richness?
The first digital religion
At a time when memes represent our koiné (common language), digital objects are sold as expensive pieces of art and digital life becomes our primary form of existence, it is not surprising that BitcoinThe digital world, whose origins lie in the confines of cyberspace, is today becoming that substrate that allows the shaping of an alternative belief system.
“We have to look at it from the aspect of the next 100 years: all spiritual forms will die out and people will merge more and more with the digital world. When you look at it from that perspective, you need to have a religion that fits that reality. You need to have a digital religion,” Jonny Qi, chief storytelling officer at Qi Capital, told Cointelegraph.
All of these elements are in place to build the first basically global digital religion.
Article versioned from Hannah Estefanía Pérez / DailyBitcoin
Image from Unsplash edited in Canva.