Easter is the most religious holiday in Christianity. It could be in Kopimism too, if we choose to copy.
Missionary Kopimism is a fine religion, but I think we need to deepen the theology a little, in order to reach more would-be converts. I would like to see a public discussion about the Kopimist way of looking at the world.
The more views there are the better, and everybody doesn’t have to agree on everything. There is nothing strange in a religion meaning one thing to one person, and another to another. This is how it is in all established religions, and this is presumably how it will be in Kopimism as well. Kopimism is an inclusive religion, and we see diversity as an asset.
This Easter I published a few Kopimist sermons in Swedish, four in total. This is my attempt to begin to describe how I see the Kopimist faith.
Other views are welcome, like I said. It is for that purpose that She created blogs and comment sections. But let’s not get ahead of events.
Below are the four Kopimist sermons translated into English. The first one I have published before. The sermons are:
0. In The Beginning
1. Seven Historical Milestones
2. Things Never Turn Out As Expected, But Often Okay Anyway
3. The Third Fundamental Principle
I look forward to comments and discussions that will help provide depth to the Kopimist faith.
I also hope that all readers, regardless of confessional preferences or lack thereof, have had a pleasant and happy Easter.
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0: In The Beginning
In the beginning, the world was a stinking mess of ammonia, methane gas, and nasty toxic chemicals. The atmosphere was alight with flashes of pure energy. Something wanted to be born.
In ways and for reasons that remain to be explored, the ribosomes appeared, who could copy. This was the beginning of Life. We therefore see Copying as the first manifestation of the Divine Spirit.
When the ribosomes were there, and could copy both themselves and the proteins necessary to build a cell, this led to cells actually appearing. Exactly why the proteins chose to voluntarily organize into something more complicated is, as we said, not yet fully explored, so we’ll have reasons to come back to this. But we leave that aside for the moment.
The important thing is that the cells appeared. Cells have two properties. First, they can copy themselves, just like the ribosomes before them. Second, they like to cooperate with others to build things that are larger than any of the constituent parts.
From these two properties, the living world that we see around us developed. The giraffe and the parsley, the forest and the shoal of fish, all other living phenomena ever filmed by the BBC.
We Kopimists therefore see Copying as the First Fundamental Principle of the Creation.
We see the Desire to Build Something Larger Together as the Second Fundamental Principle.
From this basis, we want to learn to understand the Divine Spirit and the world we live in. And we want to do it together with others.
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1: Seven Historical Milestones
In the creation myth, we see how Copying and the Desire to Build Something Larger Together led to the emergence of life. These two Fundamental Principles have then played a central role in the history of mankind.
Let us consider seven historical milestones: fire, language, culture, writing, the printing press, science, and the internet.
Once fire exists, it doesn’t cost anything to copy it. He who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me, cave people noted several millennia before Jefferson turned it into a quotation.
But the early men and women in caves didn’t just copy fire as such. They also copied the knowledge about how to handle fire. Just like fire, knowledge can be copied an infinite number of times without losing its power to enlighten. Unless both fire as such and the knowledge about it had been copied, mankind would not have progressed.
A child learns her first words by copying her parents, just like they once did with theirs. The language belongs to all and none, and that is what gives it value. The more a language is shared, the more valuable it becomes for those who share it.
By listening and copying, early men and women created what is still today our most important tool in society. Language is the basis for our ability to build larger things together, from individual projects to entire civilizations. There are other forms of communication that are also important, but to us humans language is in a league of its own.
Once they had access to fire and language, the first thing that people did was to sit down around the fire and start telling each other stories.
Perhaps the prehistoric inventor of the word ”tiger” had in mind that it would primarily be used when there were actual tigers around, but this is not what happened. Instead, stories and songs were filled with thousands of tigers that had never existed i the real world, but lived terrifying and beautiful in people’s imagination.
The stories and the songs were copied and shared, and created links between people’s minds, which gave rise to new stories and songs, that made it possible to think even larger things together. Culture develops in an eternal process where old expressions are copied and shared and give inspiration to new ones.
The human brain has clear and present limitations on how much it can remember and retell. Writing was the next milestone that allowed us to circumvent these limitations.
With writing you can share more complex thoughts with more people at a lower cost. You can create more complex structures that involve more individuals. The amount of information that can be stored is no longer limited to what an individual can recall.
Writing made it possible to copy and share information like never before. It allowed civilizations to rise and create the conditions for further progress.
The Printing Press
When Gutenberg put his printing press together, just before the beginning of the 16th century, it was the starting bell for the development process that would give us the modern world we have today.
The printing press drastically lowered the cost of sharing information. Within a few decades, the technology had spread like a wildfire all over Europe. Never before had so much information and so many new thoughts flowed through people’s minds.
Ever since, the printed word has been at the service of knowledge, culture, and political freedom. The individual pen has not always been mightier than the sword, but in the long run free speech has turned out to be a natural force that no regime in the world can stop.
Isaac Newton will stand as the symbol for the new scientific paradigm that was born some century after the printing press appeared.
One novelty was the scientific approach, where you make observations and experiments, and then try to build theories based on the results you have. But an even more fundamental shift was that scientists started to publish their ideas and discoveries, so that they could be shared. Until this day, the printing press has been the most important scientific instrument within all disciplines.
The alchemists kept their results secret, and got nowhere at all in several thousand years. The chemists published theirs, and transformed the world in a century. Since the days of Isaac Newton scientists have been able to see ever further by standing on an increasingly high pyramid of giant’s shoulders. Copying and sharing have given us the technological world we have today.
Today we don’t yet know what will become of the internet, but we have seen enough to realize that it will be something really big. We have seen through history how the two fundamental principles Copying and the Desire to Build Something Larger Together have interacted to bring mankind to where we are today. Now we want to see the future.åk
We are eager to continue to take part in the process that started the first time a man or woman in a cave shared a flame of fire, and got a smile in return.
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2. Things Never Turn Out As Expected, But Often Okay Anyway
Big things almost never turn out as you expected, but the way they do turn out is often fine anyway. In our everyday life we can decide what color we’ll have on the living-room curtains and what we’ll have for dinner, and feel reasonably confident that what we decided is how things will turn out. But all the big things in life: where we’ll work, what friends we’ll get, whom we’ll marry, are apparently mostly governed by chance.
Looking back, we often see how unless we had had that particular chance conversation there and then, our life would have taken a different course. We can can make all the plans we want for the future, but no matter what we think, that’s probably not what’s going to happen. We have a very limited ability to predict the long term consequences of our decisions and actions, no matter how much we try.
When we look at the seven historical milestones, we can see that this was true of them as well. The individuals who made the discoveries didn’t have a clue about what they would actually lead to.
We will of course never know exactly what the inventors of fire, language, culture, and writing thought and expected, but we can still be pretty sure that they couldn’t imagine that this would lead to a world where people lived in high-rise buildings and made a living from designing ring-tones instead of hunting and gathering. But that’s what happened.
When Gutenberg put together his printing press at the end of the 15th century, his idea was to print Bibles in Latin, without all the annoying mistakes that crept into the texts when they were copied by hand. He had a vision of a time when the word of God would be preached in a more uniform way everywhere, thanks to better Bibles and other authoritative texts.
In reality, the opposite happened. Just a few decades after the first printing press saw the light of day, a priest called Martin Luther used it to publish both theses and a Bible in the popular language instead of Latin. This was the foundation for a new variant of Christianity, which would later be forked further with the help of the written word. The message of the Christian God would never again be preached in such a uniform way as it had before Gutenberg. No cigar on that point.
Isaac Newton was a devout Christian, and saw it as man’s mission to understand God’s creation as well as possible. This is what drove him as a scientist. He wanted to honor God, and help us see more of His glory.
But unfortunately for him on this point, he and his followers were so successful in describing the world with mathematical laws, that there was no room left for God himself. If everything is just particles bouncing around according to predetermined rules, there is no place for either the human soul, free will, or any god.
(More modern physics with uncertainty principles and chaos theories have since shown that the universe can’t be described as a giant billiard table after all, so now there are once again areas of uncertainty where we can place both free will and God, should we desire. But now we are talking about Newton.)
Instead of showing the glory of God, the successes for Newton’s physics made the whole idea of a God seem unscientific and false. This was not what Sir Isaac had in mind.
We see the same uncertainty about what technical innovations would lead to repeated in modern technological history.
When Marconi invented the radio, he thought it would be used primarily for person to person calls. When Bell patented the telephone, he thought that the killer application would be listening to music that was played centrally.
It turned out the other way around, but that’s quite okay too.
The pioneers who created the internet have all testified that when they started the work, they couldn’t imagine even how the internet has developed so far. Ask them what the net will be like in 50 or even 5 years, and they will just laugh. Nobody thinks there is anybody who can make reliable prediction that far into the future.
But we Kopimists are still convinced that the internet is a fantastic step forward for humanity, and that it will lead to a better world, even though we can’t say what that world will look like.
We take note of the fact so far in the history of mankind, things have been going in the right direction, and we believe that they will continue to do so. In the next section we will examine why.
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3. The Third Fundamental Principle
Looking back at history, we see that Copying and the Desire to Build Something Larger Together are not enough to explain mankind’s journey so far towards the better. They are necessary, but not sufficient to explain why development should move towards the better (of all places).
Copying and the Desire to Build Something Larger Together provide a mechanism for ”onwards”, but no mechanism for steering in any particular direction, like ”towards the better”. The concept of ”better” does not even exist in the universe defined by the first two fundamental principles.
But despite that, and despite the fact that things never turn out as we expected, development so far has been for the better. There are still many people living in misery in the world, but a larger proportion of us are leading a better life than ever before in history. There have been setbacks and disasters on mankind’s journey up until now, but the dominant trend has been towards the better.
We Kopimists are convinced that development overall will continue to be for the better, and we are eager to see the future come true as soon as possible. But we cannot deduce this optimism for the future from just the two fundamental principles Copying and the Desire to Build Something Larger Together.
Our belief in a better future is based on a third Fundamental Principle:
3. The Attraction Force of the Good
We believe there is a force that keeps pulling the world in the right direction. Sometimes other forces may be stronger, and then things go wrong, but statistically things will move in the right direction a little bit more often than in the wrong. This allows us to dare to feel trust in the future, although we don’t know what it will be like.
Exactly how this force works remains to be explored. It affects us in some way, consciously or unconsciously, to choose the alternative that leads in the right direction a little more often than by blind chance.
But even if we don’t yet know the exact nature of this force, the important thing is that the Attraction Force of the Good exists. This is the core article of faith in this description of Kopimism.
We now have a philosophical framework built on three Fundamental Principles:
- The Desire to Build Something Larger Together
- The Attraction Force of the Good
The third fundamental principle gives meaning to mankind’s journey, and promises that we can go in the right direction. The second explains how complexity and beauty can develop from simpler building blocks, apparently all by itself. And the first explains how progress can be shared to provide the basis for the next level.
Together, the three fundamental principles form a philosophical framework for understanding the world, and daring to feel confident about the future. Much remains to be explored, but this is a stable foundation. Development has been moving in the right direction so far, and we think it will continue to do so. The question is only in what ways we can help.
We dare to feel safe in the trust that creates the world.
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