Felix Writes: What do geeks believe in?

DigitalThoughts / What do geeks believe in?

2011-01-30

Ordinary people tend to be puzzled by geeks. Perhaps it is because knowing a lot of things (which is essentially what defines a geek) fundamentally changes the way one thinks, speaks and acts. Possibly the most puzzling aspect of geekdom is what they believe in. Because I'm an empiricist, my way of tackling the question is to look at some examples and try to find commonalities.

Created as a protest towards the teaching of Creationism in American schools, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster uses the trappings of religion to oppose pseudo-science. While clearly parodic in nature, it has prompted serious discussion about the nature and validity of religion in general. It has also attracted threats, much like anything that is perceived as an attack on "real" religions. The Church made a big splash in the Western world around 2007, but is nowadays a relatively quiet movement.

More to my liking is Dudeism, which could be described as the religion of taking it easy. And frankly, the developed world needs this more than anything right now. I'd preach it, but that's probably counter to the spirit of Dudeism. As for practicing, laid-back and easygoing is something you are, not something you do. Oh well.

Last but not least, Ceiling Cat is the patron deity of LOLcat lovers. You don't think that's a religion? Here's their holy scripture. That's arguably the best geek belief system out there, as many of us have an avatar of Ceiling Cat in our homes! Besides, there is a strong precedent to worshipping our feline friends, dating back several thousand years to ancient Egypt. Meow!

All joking aside, what geeks believe in has been best summed up by Isaac Asimov, almost 20 years ago:

  Don't you believe in flying saucers, they ask me? Don't you believe
  in telepathy? — in ancient astronauts? — in the Bermuda triangle?
  — in life after death?

  No, I reply. No, no, no, no, and again no.

  One person recently, goaded into desperation by the litany of
  unrelieved negation, burst out "Don't you believe in anything?"

  "Yes", I said. "I believe in evidence. I believe in observation,
  measurement, and reasoning, confirmed by independent observers.
  I'll believe anything, no matter how wild and ridiculous, if there
  is evidence for it. The wilder and more ridiculous something is,
  however, the firmer and more solid the evidence will have to be."

Needless to say, I fully ascribe to that. May you see the light.

P.S. Thanks to my friends at My Opera, I can add two more to the list: the Church of the Walking God and Church of the SubGenius.