Blockchain and Organised Religion

Crypto enthusiasts often seem to have an unshakable faith in blockchain and are often considered to be similar in nature to a cult to the non-believers. They could be considered to worship the elusive and enigmatic figure that is Satoshi Nakamoto. Matt Listons project 0xΩ (Zero ex Omega) has been reported on by many journalists and blockchain/crypto websites as a blockchain based religion. To call it this is in my opinion to misrepresent the concept and potential of 0xΩ. Whilst the term “blockchain religion” may make good headlines, maybe people have failed to appreciate the actual substance of what is being suggested here.

Rather than being a blockchain based religion with its own pre-described deity/deities, it is in fact a framework for organising believers without the need for top heavy structures. The idea has been widely mocked, but fails to acknowledge the benefits to a congregation, nor the sheer size of what could be called the religious industry or its enduring, seemingly eternal charm. Few other ideas have such staying power in the history of humanity as religion other than agriculture, medicine and house building. In many cultures religion shapes the decisions you make daily, from who and how you marry, a country’s laws and taxation policy. Religion is pervasive and powerful.  All other industries seem to have a natural lifespan before being replaced by a superior product and confined to the history books. Whilst religious beliefs may change, there is always religion. It is almost like there is a religion shaped hole in the heart of almost every man.

Can you put a dollar value on religiosity? One Georgetown University researcher has attempted to quantify the economic activity associated with it. He released findings from the study that says organized religion and behaviours associated with it contribute, by one estimate, nearly $1.2 trillion to the United States alone. Even if its only function is as a digital collection plate, the proposition still has incredible value.

“In our secular culture, we have sort of replaced religion with capitalism or, rather, this rampant consumerism,” Liston has stated. “0xΩ isn’t a direct critique of that, but I think it’s definitely a clear point to make.”

Liston said about 0xΩ: “It’s a religious framework that could allow for belief sets to update much more quickly and also to democratize the relationship between membership and convergence on what everyone believes in this religion,” at the May 19 launch, according to a Forbes report.

Its founder, Matt Liston, is the former CEO of Augur. Augur is a blockchain-supported prediction platform where you are rewarded for accurately predicting the future. Liston’s departure from Augur was not amicable, and recently he filed a lawsuit for $152 million against his former employer.

The concept behind this framework is the democratization of faith-based organisations. You would no longer need a leader (although you could still define one if you wished). The Pope, the Dalai Lama and the Chief Rabbi all proclaim what is divine and that which is sin and the concepts flow down through the power structure of the institution of faith until it reaches the followers at the bottom. Whilst religions do change over time, their ability to react quickly to social changes is limited. Social changes often do not occur at the same time across all continents and a stance of conservatism is often the glue that continues to bind a community together and the catalyst that causes schisms amongst communities. Religions in the past have often fragmented into various denominations and sometimes completely new religions. Whether 0xΩ’ would allow followers around the globe to more easily achieve a religious consensus is unknown. It might equally lead to a myriad of hard forks in the 0xΩ blockchain. Abrahamic religions, for example, could all be considered to be hard forks of Judaism. Buddhism and Hinduism could be considered to historically share a common blockchain.

Some new religions have managed to gather many new followers and significant resources. According to Jeffrey Augustine, author of the blog The Scientology Money Project, the Church of Scientology has a book value of $1.75 billion, about $1.5 billion of which is tied up in real estate, mostly at its headquarters in Clearwater and in Hollywood, California.

In an amusing co-incidence Daoism (or Taoism) is a religious or philosophical tradition of Chinese origin which emphasizes living in harmony with the Dao (or Tao). The Dao is a fundamental idea in most Chinese philosophical schools; in Daoism, it denotes the principle that is the source, pattern and substance of everything that exists. Daoism differs from Confucianism by not emphasizing rigid rituals and social order. Daoist ethics vary depending on the particular school, but in general tend to emphasize wu wei (action without intention), “naturalness”, simplicity, spontaneity, and the Three Treasures:  “compassion”, “frugality”, and “humility”.

We in the tech industry understand a DAO to be a digital autonomous organisation. It is a distributed structure run by software within which all participants have a say in the direction of the organisation. Whenever a decision is to be made, stakeholders in the organisation vote and shape the organisations future direction. DAOism seems to share many common features with Daoism.

Most currently, popular religious orders rely on a book to guide them. Prior to the Gutenberg press it was mainly spoken word. Is a web 3.0 based solution religions natural evolution?

We all have our own ideas about where we come from and why we are here, but all religions seem to share one thing – a sense of community. As the web becomes increasingly social can the tools we develop assist people in participating in their faith? Religion has time and time again shaped our world and let us not forget that religion can walk where banks dare not tread and regulation often cannot touch.

  • facebook
  • googleplus
  • twitter
  • linkedin
  • linkedin

ICO Crowd is the world’s first and foremost publication on Initial Coin Offerings (ICO).