Thousands of people have joined a new religion, and they all believe in Bitcoin. Or at least, they believe in the power of Bitcoin. What is going on? Is it a cult following? A made-up belief system? Or is it something else entirely?
Bitcoin is an innovative form of currency that has no central bank or government, and it’s created through a process called mining. The currency operates with no banks or middlemen to conduct transactions, making it an attractive option for those who want to avoid the high fees charged by traditional institutions. But why do so many people think Bitcoin is a religion? Read on to find out more about this controversial currency and uncover the surprising reasons why so many people see Bitcoin as a faith and not just an investment opportunity.
Read enough about Bitcoin, and you’ll inevitably come across people who refer to the cryptocurrency as a religion.
Bitcoin was described by Bloomberg’s Lorcan Roche Kelly as the “first true religion of the 21st century.”.”Bitcoin promoter Hass McCook calls himself “The Friar” and compared Bitcoin to a religion in a series of Medium pieces. In 2017, the Church of Bitcoin was founded, which calls legendary Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto its “prophet.”
The ubiquitous billboards depicting Jesus that line Texas highways have an odd resemblance to the crypto billboards with slogans like “Crypto Is Real.”.Like many religions, Bitcoin even has dietary restrictions associated with it.
Is Bitcoin a Religion?
I think this is an incorrect question as a scholar of religion to ask whether Bitcoin’s prophets, evangelists and dietary laws make it a religion or not.
In the field of religious studies, there is a dirty secret: there is no universal definition of what religion is. There is certainly a connection between traditions like Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism, but it is relatively recent to claim these to be examples of religion.
Religion as we know it today – a general term that encompasses cultural ideas and practices regarding God, the afterlife, or morality – first emerged in Europe around the 16th century. In the past, most Europeans believed that there were only three types of people: Christians, Jews, and heathens.
When a series of wars between Protestants and Catholics began after the Protestant Reformation, this model shifted. As a result, they became known as “religious wars,” and religion became a way for Christians to discuss differences. In the same period, Europeans encountered other cultures via exploration and colonialism. Some of the traditions they encountered were similar to Christianity and were regarded as religions.
The word “religion” does not exist in non-European languages. Rather than what religion is or is not, McCutcheon argues that what matters is how it is made – whether that activity is conducted in the courtroom or as a statement of the group’s character
Scholar Russell McCutcheon argues that what matters is not what religion is or is not, but how it is made – whether that manufacturing activity is conducted in a courtroom or is an affirmation of a group’s behavior
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Why would anyone claim that Bitcoin is a religion when this is the case?
According to some commentators, this argument is being used to dissuade investors from investing in Bitcoin. Mark Mobius of the Emerging Markets Fund said that cryptocurrency isn’t an investment, but a religion in an attempt to dampen enthusiasm.
In reality, his statement is a false dichotomy fallacy, the idea that if something is one thing, then it can’t be another. For instance, a religion can also be an investment, a political system, or just about anything else.
In Mobius’ opinion, religion, like cryptocurrency, is irrational. As Voltaire wrote during the Enlightenment, “there is nothing more contrary to religion and the clergy than reason and common sense.”
In this case, calling bitcoin a “religion” implies that bitcoin investors are fanatics and are not making rational decisions.
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The other side of the coin is that some proponents of Bitcoin have used the religious label to describe their views. McCook uses religious terminology to present aspects of Bitcoin culture in an attempt to normalize them.
McCook describes stacking sats as a religious practice, in particular as tithing, or the practice of buying fractions of bitcoins regularly. This comparison makes sat stacking seem more familiar because many churches practice tithing, which entails regular contributions for the benefit of the church.
While religion may be associated with the irrational for some people, it can also be associated with a fallacy that religion scholar Doug Cowan calls “the good, moral, and decent fallacy.” People generally think that if something is truly a religion, it must be good. For instance, people who “stack sats” could sound weird, but people who “tithe” could seem principled and wholesome.
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The categorization of something as a religion can lead to new insights for scholars of religion.
“Religion is not a native term; it is created by scholars for their intellectual purposes. They are therefore the ones to define it.” writes religion scholar J.Z. Smith.According to Smith, categorizing certain traditions or cultural institutions as religions helps create a comparative framework that can potentially lead to new insights. By comparing Bitcoin to a tradition such as Christianity, people might notice things that they hadn’t noticed before.
Some religions were founded by charismatic leaders : charismatic authority comes from a relationship between a leader and their followers and not from any government office or tradition. In a relationship that is precarious, charismatic leaders sometimes maintain an aloofness to prevent followers from seeing them as ordinary people.
Bitcoin inventor Satoshi Nakamoto has been described as a prophet by several commentators. It is still unclear who Nakamoto truly is – or if they are a group of people. Nonetheless, this figure’s intrigue will have an impact on bitcoin’s value in the future.
The reason why many investors invest in bitcoin is because they regard Nakamoto as a genius and an economic rebel. An entire bronze statue was erected in Budapest to honor Nakamoto.
Millennialism, or the belief that a select group of people will experience collective salvation, is also related to Bitcoin.
Millennial expectations in Christianity include the return of Jesus and the final judgment of the living and the dead. According to some Bitcoiners, bitcoin will eventually become the only currency in the world when hyperbitcoinization happens. In this scenario, Bitcoin believers who invested will emerge victorious, while cryptocurrency shunners will lose everything.
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Furthermore, some Bitcoiners see bitcoin not just as a means of making money, but as the solution to all the world’s problems.
“McCook argues that since the root cause of all of our problems is money printing and capital misallocation, “the only way we are going to save the whales, or save the trees, or save the kids, is by stopping this degeneracy.”
Comparisons with religious traditions may be most relevant when this attitude is considered. Religion professor Stephen Prothero uses four-point model in his book “God Is Not One” to illustrate how world religions are unique. Each tradition identifies a unique problem with the human condition, presents a solution, outlines specific practices to achieve the solution, then characterizes how it should be practiced.
This model can be applied to Bitcoin: fiat currency is the problem, Bitcoin is the solution, and practices include promoting investment, stacking sats, and hodling – refusing to sell bitcoin to maintain its value.
Other blockchain pioneers, such as Satoshi Nakamoto, are cited as examples.
Therefore, is Bitcoin a religion based on this comparison?
Not necessarily, since theologians, sociologists, and legal theorists have many different definitions of religion, all of which have different degrees of usefulness based on how they are used.
These comparisons may however help people grasp why Bitcoin has become so popular, in ways not possible if Bitcoin were considered purely economic.
Via this site.