In an earlier post, I discuss the criteria that constitute a religion:
Not sure if Gnon works as a religion, because religion is both prescriptive (such as the 10 Commandments) and descriptive (Book of Genesis), not just descriptive. Religion is deontological, meaning it prescribes a set of moral rules for its adherents, although such rules or motivation may not be grounded in realism.
For demonstrative purposes, consider a hypothetical religion I call ‘Inevitablism’.
First the ‘descriptive’. Some say the ‘only constant is change’. It’s actually the opposite: things seldom change, with the exception of a few blips here and there (such as 911, Trump’s win, and the 2008 financial crisis). Instead of surprises, everything seems inevitable and predictable. This is analogous to the theory of punctuated equilibrium in evolutionary biology, in which species undergo little evolutionary change until sudden cladogenesis. Major events such as the 2008 financial crisis, the First and Second World Wars, and 911 are analogous to ‘mass extinction events’, that create new epochs and species and terminate old, pre-established ones. The last mass extinction was 65 million years ago. Statistically speaking, we’re due for another one, but it may not happen. Likewise, there is no rule that say the post-2008 ‘epoch’ must end either.
As further evidence of how things tend to remain constant more often than not, the post-2009 bull market and economic expansion is the longest ever despite the endless predictions of recession and crisis. Same for failed predictions of hyperinflation and dollar collapse. Web 2.0 valuations still keep rising long after pundits in 2012 said it was a bubble. There’s still war and terror in the Middle East despite trillion of dollars thrown at the problem. Inevitability is the absence of surprise, because everything is deterministic based on pre-existing trends that are long-standing.
Inevitablism postulates things stay the same, except the big get bigger, much in the same way chaotic interstellar dust under certain circumstances congeals into orderly discrete masses such as planets, or entire solar systems. Much like our own solar system, these systems tend to be very stable. This explain why the post-2009 bull market and economic expansion is so enduring, why Microsoft, after many decades, is still dominant despite attempts by competitors to create alternatives to Microsoft products. Or how America remains a dominant economic and military force, is impervious (relative to other countries, like Greece, Brazil, Turkey, and Spain, that have more civil unrest and weaker economies), and is more important and influential than ever (the ‘post-America era’ many predicted as a consequence of the 2008 financial crisis never materialized, as America rebounded from the crisis stronger than ever, while Europe and other foreign economies remained weak). Or as described by Wait But Why:
Secondly, a bigger point: no one person has the power to RIP America, no matter what they do. America is bigger than you or me, and America is much, much bigger than Donald Trump. America is a 320-million-person melting pot, run by a government made up of thousands of people working within a twisty, convoluted set of branches, ruled by a 240-year-old instruction booklet that specifically makes it impossible for any one dick to ride a wave of populist anger into a position where he can RIP America. America is un-RIP-able, at least by the hands of any president.
One can liken it to a pre-planned society and economy, where all we’re just going along for the ride strapped in. This is kinda like Stalin and Mao’s 5-year plans, but over much longer time frames, affecting both individuals and economies, and without the Communism. There is free will, but success is constrained by both economic and biological factors. In referencing the Atlantic article on free will, one may have ‘free will’ to try but to not succeed, which is related to compatibilism:
Although there are various impediments to exercising one’s choices, free will does not imply freedom of action. Freedom of choice (freedom to select one’s will) is logically separate from freedom to implement that choice (freedom to enact one’s will), although not all writers observe this distinction
…and a relevant quote by Arthur Schopenhauer:
Everyone believes himself, a priori, perfectly free – even in his individual actions, and thinks that at every moment he can commence another manner of life. … But a posteriori, through experience, he finds to his astonishment that he is not free, but subjected to necessity, that in spite of all his resolutions and reflections he does not change his conduct, and that from the beginning of his life to the end of it, he must carry out the very character which he himself condemns…
Now the ‘prescriptive’. To take advantage of America’s winner-take-all economy, invest in multinational companies that have market dominance and inertia, or to invest in a combination of a large cap indexes (such as the S&P 500), medium-duration treasury bonds, and medium-duration investment-grade corporate bonds. This also includes large cap tech such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Amazon, all of which have outperformed the broader market indicies. This is how ordinary people can piggyback off existing successes instead of wasting time money and effort trying to create their own.
Related: Post-2008 Capitalism: A Guide
Also related is self-improvement, which is more important than worrying about things outside of your control or that have little impact on your life, because Inevitablism implies the best predictor of tomorrow is today, so why be emotionally invested in things that are impervious to your hopes or desires and that have little possibility of changing. Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats are going to throw you a lifeline. That you have to do on your own, such as by investing your income in stocks (related to the above paragraph) or real estate and being frugal. This means stop watching the news.
The final component is eschatology and salvation. The latter gives an incentive for adherents to follow the religion in the hope they will be saved. For Christianity, salvation means going to heaven for believing in Christ as your Lord and Savior. Christian eschatology describes Christ returning to earth, Final Judgement, to judge the living and the dead and rapture souls to Heaven to join his Kingdom, as described by the Nicene Creed “…he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. … We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.” For Buddhism, salvation is the attainment of ‘Buddhahood’ by following the Noble Eightfold Path to become’enlightened’, achieve ‘nirvana’ and ‘liberation’, and end suffering (Dukkha, one of the Four Noble Truths). Jewish eschatology, according to the Hebrew Bible, foresees a Messiah, a king and savior to rule over the Jewish people during the ‘Messianic age’…”the Messiah will be descended from his father through the line of King David, and will gather the Jews back into the Land of Israel, usher in an era of peace, build the Third Temple, father a male heir, re-institute the Sanhedrin, and so on.”
Regarding inevitability, and related to NRx and the Dark Enlightenment, eschatology has many possible forms, including the creation of a techno-commercialist state, economic and societal collapse or stagnation (both of which are unlikely, in my opinion), techno-secession, transhumanism and possibly even the creation of something resembling The Matrix. By ‘becoming worthy’, such as through self-improvement, reading, and investing, one can prepare themselves for the possibility of this new regime change. But if nothing happens, self-improvement and investing is worthwhile in and of itself, anyway. Even when prophecy fails, that doesn’t mean the teachings and parables, and how they are applied to everyday life, are for naught. David Hume, however, disagreed that religion is always a conduit for ‘good’, arguing it can also justify evil “The greatest crimes have been found, in many instances, to be compatible with a superstitious piety and devotion; Hence it is justly regarded as unsafe to draw any inference in favor of a man’s morals, from the fervor or strictness of his religious exercises, even though he himself believe them sincere.” Because the ‘religion’ or ‘zen’ of NRx is inherently pacifist and doesn’t seek to impose its will on others through force or coercion, this should not be problem.