Kopimism – Christian Engström: Today is the midwinter solstice, and a fitting day to present a Kopimist Gospel. Kopimism is a new religion for atheists, agnostics, and believers in other religions who want a new perspective on their current faith.
Kopimism takes its starting point in the evolution of life on Earth, and embraces the scientific description of the world. But science alone does not tell the whole truth about this fantastic universe. Kopimism adds meaning and purpose to the scientific description of evolution, while still respecting science.
The word “gospel” means “message of joy” — good news, simply. This is A Kopimist Gospel, and it is a real message of joy.
Kopimism brings good news in many areas. First of all, it reconciles religion with science. The schism between science and religion that started to appear with Isaac Newton’s mechanistic model of the universe, and has widened ever since, is actually quite unnecessary.
Kopimism is based on the modern scientific world view. We think that Science is great, and mostly right in what it teaches. Kopimism is a law-abiding religion, so we respect the laws of nature. We don’t claim that we can walk on water, or that our prophets’ mothers are virgins. Why should they be?
But we take careful note of the fact that even if Science tells the truth and nothing but the truth (mostly), it doesn’t even claim to tell the whole truth. There are plenty of places where Science just gives the answer “undefined” or “random”. In each of these places, there could be hidden magic that neither we nor Science are aware of yet.
Accepting Science does not mean that we have to accept the universe as mechanistic, soulless and dead. The universe is big, complicated and weird enough for both science and magic to coexist in it. In fact, they almost certainly do. Kopimism suggests an answer to how science and magic can be made to fit together.
The Kopimist creation myth takes its beginning at the appearance of life on Earth:
In the beginning, the world was a stinking soup of ammonia, methane gas, and nasty toxic chemicals. The atmosphere was alight with flashes of pure energy. Something wanted to be born.
The first two sentences present the general scientific view of how conditions were on Earth at the time. Kopimism does not contradict science. If Science is happy with that description, then we are.
But the third sentence, “Something wanted to be born”, is of course an addition that goes beyond strict science. There is no hard scientific evidence that anything “wanted” anything at all on primordial Earth, four billion years ago.
But on the other hand, there is just as little hard scientific evidence that there wasn’t. Since Science makes no claim one way or the other, this is an example of a spot where we can open up for the possibility of magic without contradicting any of the laws of science.
Science and Religion can easily coexist in peace. All that Science has to do is show a bit of humility, and not claim to say more than it actually does. And all that Religion has to do is show a bit of common sense, and not insist on parlor trick miracles that quite obviously defy the laws of nature.
The Kopimist faith accepts Science’s description of the evolution of life on Earth. Instead of trying to fight that description, as some religious fundamentalists (mostly Christian) do, we are inspired by it and want to learn from it.
Looking at the history of evolution, including the evolution that human societies have experienced, we identify four Fundamental Principles that we think are worth highlighting. These are the four Kopimist K’s: Creativity, Copying, Collaboration, and Quality.
The four Fundamental Principles are inspired by observation of the history of evolution. As is fitting for a religion, we not only present a tale of how we think life on Earth originated, we also try to learn something from it.
We identify Copying and Collaboration by observing how important these two principles have been in the formation of life on Earth. We see the same pattern of Copying and Collaboration when proteins learn to multiply and start collaborating to build cells, as when cells that have multiplied start collaborating to build more complex organisms, like ourselves.
We identify Quality as a more or less necessary force in the process of evolution, to explain why things have generally moved towards the better, after all.
And we identify Creativity as an equally necessary driving force behind the evolution of the universe, to explain why we didn’t get stuck forever in some ecologically stable but ultimately boring state of blue and green algae soup.
The four Kopimist K’s together provide a theological framework is consistent with Science and partly based on observation, but which still has room for spiritual concepts.
Thanks to Quality, we have a reason to feel optimistic about the future, even though we have no way of knowing what it will actually look like. And because we see Creativity as a natural force that is present everywhere in the universe at all levels, we have reason to look forward to a future that is exciting an fun as well.
All of this without breaking a single Law of Nature.
There is no Creator God in the description of Kopimism presented in this Gospel. Instead, we think that the scientific description of evolution together with the four Kopimist fundamental principles are sufficient to explain the marvel of our existence.
But even if we reject the idea of God as the Creator, this does not rule out that there could be other Gods. This is an issue that is deliberately left open by this Kopimist Gospel. Therefore, this Gospel can be used in two ways.
In itself, this Gospel is a stand-alone atheistic or agnostic world view that is based on science, but adds some spiritual meaning to the scientific description.
But this Kopimist Gospel can also serve as a reasonable creation myth and foundation for new cults and religions that want to include one or more Gods, but do not want or need that God as the Creator.
In support of such a religious belief system, we have noted the fact that Science never claims to tell the whole truth, and that there are spots of chaos and unpredictability all over today’s scientific theories.
It may be that the activity in these spots is just random, as some believe. But it may also be that these are the spots where concepts like the the Soul, Free Will, or even God can be inserted into the description of the world without violating any of the laws of science.
This Kopimist Gospel deliberately leaves the issue of a God open. But there could be other Kopimist Gospels that give different answers to that question.
Getting down from the high metaphysical mountain tops, we can use the Four Kopimist K’s to get guidance in our everyday life.
From the principles of Creativity, Copying, Collaboration, and Quality, it turns out that we can quite naturally and directly derive a moral system, which happens to look just like we would want as freedom oriented humanists.
We want as much freedom for the individual as possible, to give her the greatest chance to express Creativity. We see sex in all its forms as something natural and positive, and as a tribute to the principle of Copying. We recognize that to live together in a society, we must respect each other’s freedoms, and must strive to create a good climate for Collaboration. And we trust people to make their own choices and get it right more often than not, since we are all guided by the force of Quality.
There is nothing new or surprising in this moral code. It is just normal modern freedom oriented humanism. But the fact that it is so easy to go directly from the Four Kopimist K’s to the moral system we would have wanted anyway, that is a pleasant surprise. It is of course not conclusive proof in itself, but it is an indication that we may have made a quite sensible choice in Fundamental Principles in the Four Kopimist K’s.
We can also use the framework of Creativity, Copying, Collaboration, and Quality to suggest appropriate rituals for use in the Kopimist church, from wild fertility rites to quiet meditation.
When we turn to the issue of religious holidays, we see that there is a quite natural mapping from the Four K’s to the four seasons. This is another good sign that we are on the right track. We can celebrate the summer and winter solstices and the spring and autumn equinoxes, each to remind us of one of the Four K’s.
We do not yet have a full set of Kopimist rituals for all occasions and tastes, but we have a foundation to build on. Kopimism values diversity. Ideally, there will be many different churches and belief systems that can elaborate the foundation presented in this Kopimist Gospel in different directions.
Today, December 21, 2013, is Midwinter Solstice Day. It is a fitting day to present a Kopimist Gospel, a message of joy.
Science and religion can coexist, and we are living in a creative universe filled with magic, miracles, and beauty. There are forces that guide the creation towards the interesting and good, so we dare to feel safe in the trust that creates the world.
This is a Kopimist Gospel.
Good Midwinter Solstice 2013!
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CC-BY-NC Christian Engström