The Kopimist creation myth so far identifies three Fundamental Principles: Copying, Cooperation, and Quality — Three Kopimist K’s.
This is a nice alliteration, and that’s a good sign. But apart from that, do these three Fundamental Principles fulfill reasonable criteria that you would place on this kind of religious or philosophical systems? Let’s examine this.
The rules for religions when it comes to choosing holy principles in practice boil down to ”anything goes”. There are no particular requirements that the description of the world should be logical or consistent in order for something to qualify as a religion. Kopimism of course fulfills these (non-)requirements, but so do all other religions as well, no matter how illogical they are.
Christianity, for example, teaches that God is some kind of extraordinary white elderly man with a beard, who is:
- Infinitely powerful (omnipotent),
- Infinitely good (omnibenevolent), and who
- Follows the dealings of humans on in detail, often on an individual level (omniscient).
Considering the amount of pointless and terrible suffering in the world, it is obviously impossible that there should exist a being with all these three properties.
All Christian theologists know this, of course, because this problem is so well known that it has a name of its own: the theodicy problem. Most of Christianity’s best brains have spent a considerable amount of their time on it for almost 2000 years, but none of them have been able to solve it. This is not because they were lazy of stupid, but simply because these three principles are irreconcilable in a world where evil exists.
You can pick any two of these properties for your God and still be within the realms of logic (and you get three different and interesting visions of God depending on which property you decide to downgrade), but you cannot logically believe in all three at the same time.
But the rules for religions don’t prevent anybody from believing in all three at the same time anyway. Hundreds of millions of Christians do exactly this, and as long as they are happy with it I think they should continue. There is no rule that bans you from believing in illogical things when it comes to religious views.
The legal rules that we have, and that we should have in a decent society, say that people are free to believe in whatever they want. Nothing at all if they wish, a Spaghetti Monster if that feels better, or an elderly white gentleman with conflicting properties for those who prefer that. This is called Freedom of Religion, and is one of the cornerstones of a free and open society.
But just because a religion may be as illogical as it wants, doesn’t mean it has to be.
The rules of philosophy for systems of fundamental principles are a little more strict. Philosophers are inspired by natural science and mathematics, and feel more comfortable if a philosophical system isn’t too obviously self-contradictory.
This poses no problem for the three Kopimist principles of Copying, Cooperation, and Quality. There is nothing impossible in the idea of a world where all three coexist. They obviously do in reality, so we can be quite certain that this is possible.
There also shouldn’t be too much overlap between the different principles, according to the rules of philosophy, and it is considered an embarrassment if one of the principles turns out to be unnecessary, because it is already covered by two or more of the other ones. But the Kopimist K’s of Copying, Cooperation, and Quality pass this test as well.
- Quality was the Fundamental Principle that we added last, since we felt that the two other principles were not enough, not even in combination, to explain why things on the whole have been going as reasonably well as they have, even though nothing turns out the way you expected. The reason we added Quality as a Fundamental Principle was that we were unable to deduce it from the two principles of Copying and Cooperation.
- Cooperation can hardly be described as an inevitable logical consequence of Copying and Quality. With only those two principles we would have lots of individual cells swimming around in the oceans, and the ones with the most Quality would do best. But without Cooperation as a further fundamental principle, it is hard to explain the development of multicellular organisms. From their own perspective all the tiny unicellular plankton in the primeval ocean were fine just as they were, and had no particular interest in the development of multicellular great whales that would eat them.
- Copying cannot be described as a logical consequence of Cooperation and Quality either. But without Copying, all the beautiful things that might appear as a result of Cooperation and Quality would be of limited practical value. No matter how great they were, they would only exist in one copy, which is pretty insufficient to fill up a whole ecosystem. Unless plants and animals could reproduce, create new copies of the same species, life would not exist. In the same way, there is no particular point in a team of researchers having produced the world’s greatest scientific report through Cooperation and Quality, unless the report and its findings are copied and shared with other scientists, giving them the chance to stand on the shoulders of giants. Copying is needed as a fundamental principle in its own right.
The rules of science are similar to those of philosophy, but with even stricter demands on the pieces being compatible and without internal contradictions. Science also demands experimental data and observations of reality to support the model.
This look at the internal relationships between Copying, Cooperation, and Quality is of course not as thorough as when a mathematician checks her axioms (fundamental principles), or when a physicist checks which forces and formulas are really necessary in a particular model, so the Kopimist theology presented here does not fulfill the requirements of science. But I don’t think that it has to, at least not here and now. The requirements of philosophy feel like a more reasonable level for a new religion.
This first evaluation of the Kopimist principles shows that they are not contradictory, and at least don’t overlap in an obvious way. We are miles ahead of the Abrahamic religions when it comes to logical consistency, at least so far.
But within mathematics and natural science it is customary to ask one more question when evaluating proposals for sets of rules or principles.
Are the proposed principles sufficient?
My answer to that question is actually no. I think we need one more Kopimist K to explain how the world we see around us emerged.
But until the next sermon, we will introduce a temporary K to keep the model from collapsing overnight:
Copy and Share!