What would it take to create a new religion?
Or, what would it look like for an eccentric, compassionate, 29-year-old hedonist in regional Australia to create a new religion?
As an entrepreneur, you’re encouraged to seek out a solution to a problem in the world, to dream big, to create value for people. But no product or service seems capable of addressing the biggest issues facing humanity – climate change, sustained violence, lack of self-awareness and critical thought, corruption, isolation, separation, destructive ego-driven behaviour…
So many of us are seeking our own answers, building our own personal belief systems, having been let down by traditional religion or the general nature of Western society, both intertwined. We are horrified by institutional child sex crime cover ups, or genocidal colonialism justified by religious dogma, or militant extremism, or our toxic relationships with ourselves and our fellow humans, all arising from our dominant operating system over centuries. Many of us feel frustrated that so many religious claims are unreliable, or rely heavily on ‘faith.’ But what if religion relied on reality?
I’ve gone from a Catholic to an agnostic to dabbling in Buddhism and even science as a source of inspiration, guidance and awe. But I feel alone. No matter how robust my renewed foundations become, there is no church for me. I have no community to discuss this stuff with. I can’t connect with others, perhaps you, who might think similarly. We need that community, but where is it?
"No matter how robust my renewed foundations become, there is no church for me. I have no community to discuss this stuff with. I can’t connect with others who might think similarly. We need that community, but where is it?"
The alternatives are proving destructive. We see a rise in neo-Nazi groups and conspiracy leaders, motivated by our drive to connect and belong and find meaning amongst the bullshit, betrayed by politics and media, facilitated by Facebook. This increases the need for a genuine solution that reconfigures our most core beliefs about our place in the universe, our place among one another.
Religion has established a model for intelligent design, i.e. that everything in the universe was deliberately designed to be like this by a supernatural creator. But what if we intelligently design religion itself?
For our species to survive (and thrive) past this century, we cannot continue on our current collective course. We need new equipment to navigate new seas. We need new captains (and fuck knows that ScoMo can’t drive this ship). We need a new way of relating to life and death, to each other and ourselves, a new way that is evidence-based as well as deeply spiritual.
Many may view this as an oxymoron, but only because Western spirituality has for so long been in opposition to facts. It doesn’t have to be this way. It’s simply about who we truly are.
By combining the best of skeptical science, Buddhism and other religions, Indigenous relationships with the universe, naturalism, determinism, and pantheism if it helps, we can develop a framework that will bring us closer to observable truth, and our inherent connection with all things. We can shatter the myth that morals can’t be gleaned from the natural world, but in fact should only be informed by the natural world.
Imagine, politicians and CEOs and educators and everyday voters, all feeling our essential nature intimately intertwined with all other human beings, breathing trees, clean oceans, the cosmos itself. It would have deep implications for our self worth, sex, government, drugs, relationships, how we shape the world. This could be our future. It’s not our present.
How do we want to continue as a species? If we want to continue at all, especially as we merge closer with digital technology, we need a new operating system, designed with our future, as well as our evolutionary past, at the forefront.
To explore this, I once had an idea to use a fictional plot as a framing technique; a protagonist, living somewhere highly conservative, tries to create a new system of beliefs to save the world from impending doom. Chapters would flip between ol’ mate’s manifesto, spelling out the scripture, and the story itself; personal pitfalls, powerful opposition, and a burning earth.
But I already live in a conservative part of the world, and the need is real and urgent. So, we’re gonna get non-fictional with it.
If you were to create a new religion, what would you call it? At first I considered ‘Brianism,’ named after Monty Python’s film, Life of Brian. But I reconsidered. Perhaps ‘Kamiliyism’ after my artist name. The ‘Kamilifesto’ could work. But this isn’t about me, or my artist character, or anything to do with the human ego. “He’s not the messiah, he’s just a very naughty boy.” So, what name?
While going through some music catalogues I considered the dynamics of the different genre names, genres that were combinations or new versions of other genres. Nu Disco. Nu-Funk. Nu Metal.
I Googled nutheism.
“Did you mean notheism?”
No hits. The term barely showed up. Only thing was a song by Soulja Boy, ‘Bust It (NuReligion)’.
Did it not show up because it’s just… silly?
Nutheist. ‘Nufi’ for short.
Shit, it could work. It’s a blank slate name you can bring multiple ideas to. It should always be new/’nu’, debated, updated as humanity and our descendants learn more about the world, adapting with our ever-changing environment. If it’s right, it should be the last religion we need for a long while. If not, well, on to the next experiment of survival & spirituality.
The name also has symbolic meaning – the goddess Nut is one of the oldest deities of Ancient Egypt, which is also one of the oldest religions that we have records of. She was, as per Wikipedia:
“the goddess of the sky, stars, cosmos, mothers, astronomy, and the universe… seen as a star-covered nude woman arching over the Earth, or as a cow… the barrier separating the forces of chaos from the ordered cosmos in the world… [She] was thought to draw the dead into her star-filled sky, and refresh them with food and wine: ‘I am Nut, and I have come so that I may enfold and protect you from all things evil.’”
We could just as easily mix in the imagery of La Pachamama, the Incan Earth or World Mother, and fertility goddess, which is perhaps more appropriate to the reverence of nature that we’re going for. Regardless, the nod to our ancestors is there.
I don’t quite know what to do with this next. A journalistic experiment? Half piss-take, half real attempt to save the world? Well, I snagged the instagram handle. Bought the domain. Sussing nonprofit registration. Started a TikTok, but fuck I hate doing TikTok. I’ll just keep writing it and working it all out, perhaps with you along for the ride.
Let’s see what happens, and leave it up to the goddesses.