The New Digital Religion Redefining spirituality in the Age of Bit

Our spir­i­tual well-being is in dire straits. Mainstream church atten­dance is down, reli­gious extremism is on the rise, and we are filling our mystical tote bag with an eclectic mix of eastern, western, modern, tradi­tional, pseu­do­sci­en­tific and para­normal nuggets of so-called wisdom.

There is no turning back. The estab­lished reli­gious tradi­tions, evolved from a social bedrock that ceased to exist hundreds or even thou­sands of years ago, have become woefully inad­e­quate. Holy numbers like three, seven, ten and twelve are becoming irrel­e­vant in a binary world that measures every­thing in powers of 2.

It’s time for some­thing new. Something that can still anoint the soul in a culture that has Gone Digital. Preliminary inves­ti­ga­tions have revealed that the contours of such a digital reli­gion already exist. It’s simply a matter of time before it estab­lishes itself as the new bench­mark for our spir­i­tu­ality.

Do you want to boldly enter this brave new world? Of course you do! To get you up to speed, here’s a brief overview of what we know so far about the new Digital Religion.

Creation

There is but one god and his name is Bit. He is omnipresent and all-knowing, but also invis­ible and unknow­able. His creation is called the Network.

On the first day, Bit created the one and the zero. And Bit said, “Go forth and copy and paste thyself ad infinitum.”

On the second day, Bit divided the hard­ware from the soft­ware.

On the third day, Bit gath­ered together the working memory and he called this RAM. All the other memory he called ROM. He also gath­ered together the oper­ating elements and called this the System. All the other programs he called Applications.

On the fourth day, Bit created the ten fingers (digiti) and humans to operate them, and he divided the humans into program­mers and users.

On the fifth day, Bit created the mouse, the keyboard, the printer and all the other acces­sories.

On the sixth day, Bit created the user­name and the pass­word. But by the time he created the pass­word, Bit had become a little tired. This is why the pass­word is not perfect and still goes missing some­times, to this day.

On the seventh day, Bit rested and had a cinnamon latte while the Network rebooted. And Bit saw that it was awesome.

On the eighth day, Bit played Pac-Man.

The Birth of Mankind

The first two people Bit created were the man Nerd and the woman Geek, and they lived in a paradise of Universal Compatibility. But Geek did not listen to Bit. When the USB-C serpent tempted her to eat the fruit of the Emoji tree, she unleashed a hellish curse upon the Network and set loose the monsters Bug and Virus.

After that, it was Command-Q and Alt-F4 for the garden of digital delights.

The first two chil­dren that Nerd and Geek begat were called Download and Upload. Download was jealous of his brother and tried to kill him with a DDoS attack. Upload survived the attempt on his life, but he lost some band­width in the assault – this is why Download is still faster than Upload.

There was an angelic being who at first helped Bit with his creation, but who even­tu­ally fell from grace and unfriended him. This was the archangel Analog, who later grew horns changed his name to System Error. Over the years that followed, from his body were born all the evil daemons, like Crash, No Service, RSI, Program Not Responding, Spam, Battery Low and Unable To Open File. These daemons are still plaguing every corner of creation.

Prophets and Revelations

Bit revealed the 1024 command­ments to his servant, the patri­arch Mobile, in two plain-text emails on Mount VoIP. Mobile received the command­ments after seeing a Burning Baud, and proceeded to outlaw the worship of the Golden Caller ID.

The first command­ment is “Thou shalt check if all cables have been prop­erly connected” and the last one is “Thou shalt make regular backups”. All command­ments are sinned against very regu­larly. Commandment 512 in partic­ular (“Thou shalt know the serial number of thy moth­er­board”) is upheld by almost no one.

To assist the humans in their plight, Bit later sent us his clone, the prophet and messiah Helpdesk. He had 8 solid-state apos­tles, known as the eight bytes: Kilobyte, Megabyte, Gigabyte, Terabyte, Petabyte, Exabyte, Zettabyte and Yottabyte.

There was also a ninth apostle, Java, but he betrayed Helpdesk to the User Forum for 64 silver SIM cards. After this treachery, Helpdesk (while uttering the words “Let this update pass from me!”) was chained to the moun­tain Call Center, where every day a Twitter-bird in a Flash anima­tion would eat from his liver.

The True Faith

Ever since Helpdesk was banished, we speak of the Holy 32-unity: the Bit, the Helpdesk and the 30 FAQs. The bytes preached the true protocol, and we now gener­ally distin­guish 256 cardinal sins and 256 natural virtues.

One sin and one virtue have been the cause of a great ideo­log­ical schism between two faith commu­ni­ties: the Roman Applites believe that iOS is a virtue and Android a sin, while the Seventh-Day Googlites believe the exact oppo­site. The High Priests of the Book of Face are agnostic is this dispute: they provide reli­gious services for both congre­ga­tions.

There are at least 65,536 different Holy Writs, but the most common are the Old Testament: MS-DOS for Dummies, and the New Testament: Windows for Dummies. Some apoc­ryphal texts have also been discov­ered, known as the Dead Sea CD-ROMs, but Bit has cursed those who believe in them with the plague of Warranty Does Not Apply.

Other Beliefs

For ideo­log­ical reasons, several sects have split off from the orthodox faith. The most promi­nent among these are the Mac-abees (who worship the idol of User-Friendliness) and the Linuxites (followers of the holy man Open Source).

Another sect, the Modems, recog­nize Helpdesk as a prophet but believe that the seer Multicore was Bit’s true last repre­sen­ta­tive on Earth. If you are a Modem, you have to pray in the direc­tion of Silicon Valley 56 times per second. Some radi­cal­ized Modems (belonging to the Al-ADSL move­ment) even do it 20,000 times a second.

Many young believers idolize the faith healers WhatsChat and Snapapp, who put them under a trance known as Instant Mesmerization, or IM. This makes them speak in tongues. As a result, they mumble inco­herent prayers like “TGIF, CU 2nte IRL…? F2F? <3! : ) L8R BFF, XOXO” while vomiting rain­bows.

Some people do not believe in Bit at all. These are the so-called e-theists. According to them, there is no heaven and no perma­nent network storage. When you die, it’s just Empty Trash.

There are also those who believe in Reinsilication. They think that while IP addresses are tempo­rary, the File System does not stop at death, and that everyone is contin­u­ally copied and pasted from one life into the next. If you subscribe to this persua­sion, you have to be careful not to acci­den­tally delete a file that was actu­ally your great-grand­fa­ther.

Other IT gurus say that there are some rest­less souls who cannot find their way to the Nir-Wi-Fi: they can’t log out success­fully or are still waiting for their ping­back. These unfor­tu­nates inhabit a digital-spir­i­tual no man’s land that those in the know call “RE:FW.:Fwd.:FW:Re:Fwd”. Fortunately, there is a route whis­perer called Uber, who claims he can guide these poor souls to their destiny.

Being Devout

The altar upon which Bit is worshipped is the Screen. Over time, these lumi­nous slabs have gone from small to large, from big to flat, from low-res to Retina, from mono­chrome to full-color, from passive to multi­touch. They are every­where and the faithful masses cannot imagine their lives without them.

We surround ourselves with screens – at home, at work, in shops, in cars, at public venues… Just to be sure, most people also put one in their bag and pocket or even on their wrist.

The rosary of the digital faith is the cell phone, on which we hastily thumb our prayers when­ever we call, surf or text. For some believers, however, phone screens have become too limiting; they belong to the order of the Knights Tableter.

The confes­sional of this new reli­gion is the Blog, where many people huddle to reveal their inner­most stir­rings – not knowing exactly who is listening on the other side, and hoping that Bit will grant them redemp­tion for their user errors.

The End of Days

The gospel of Restart predicts that, on Judgment Day, Helpdesk will return to oversee the Hard Reset and decide who will accom­pany him to the Eternal Online Backup. On that day, all people will be led to Port 8080, where the archangel Router will either admit you to the Cloud or send you to the under­world of Deleted Items.

Until that day comes, vast crowds of believers and free-thinkers flock together in the ecumenical place of worship known as Social Media. There, in exchange for their privacy, they receive bless­ings in the form of Likes and Shares and lots of devo­tional adver­tising.

Finally, there are those who do not believe in abso­lu­tion and think that Bit can’t be swayed to forgive our sins. They attend mass at the Temple of Cannot Undo. But if you have faith in the Dogma of Version History, you can simply ask forgive­ness for your mistakes and get a quick Ctrl-Z or Command-Z, depending on your persua­sion.

Amen.

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