Hass McCook is a well-respected civil engineer from Sydney who has worked on some of the most spectacular buildings in the world, from Munich’s Allianz Arena to Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands.
He also regards Bitcoin as his religion.
Better known as Friar Hass on Twitter, the 35-year-old had a religious revelation about Bitcoin in 2017.
In a story reminiscent of the Bible In the Trials of Job, McCook bought Bitcoin three years earlier for $ 1,000 a coin and watched it lose 90% of its value. He then lost a significant portion of the remaining sum when the Bitfinex exchange was hacked.
“That sent me down the psychological and spiritual gutter,” he says. “And I got away with a religious experience.” He’s not ironic.
“They always say that in times of tragedy and trauma, people turn to God. Something similar happened to me. It’s hard to describe the experience, but basically the best way to describe it is when I’ve gone to Bitcoin. “
As a member of the Bitcoin Mining Council and friends with Michael Saylor of MicroStrategy, McCook views Bitcoin as a form of energy, and as Einstein liked to point out, everything in the universe is energy when it comes down to it.
I literally WENT to bitcoin, and now bitcoin is my religion @ dergigi
– Brother Hass (@FriarHass) July 11, 2021
“It was the culmination of all of my learning, experience, and trauma – it was the realization that you and I are just satoshi in long-term equilibrium,” he says. “Every atom in the universe will one day literally become Bitcoin through heat and energy transfer.” He adds:
“It’s a very, very powerful thing how we get buried in the ground, how we dip into the ground, how we become worm food, how we become a circle of life, and finally how we end up on the net. You literally end up in Bitcoin. “
When this feature was first commissioned, it should be a fun exploration of the idea that the culture surrounding Bitcoin is metaphorically a bit like that a religion. But it turns out that some people are starting to look at it as a literal religion – or at least an ideology, or even a sect that has the potential to turn into one.
It sounds crazy – maybe it is crazy – but the idea has more substance than you might expect.
Bitcoin Holy Capitol
The religious echoes seemed pretty obvious to many observers at the recent Bitcoin 2021 conference in Miami.
The New York Times article was titled “Thousands Come to Miami to Glorify Bitcoin” and quoted Convention Center owner Moishe Mana as saying, “The more you fight religion, the holier it becomes and the stronger it is will be the movement, ”he said.
Media company paradox described how an “over ten thousand legion of devoted believers” met with “Bitcoin maximalism supporters” to listen to the movement’s high priests:
“Before thousands of big-eyed visitors like Joel Olsteen preached in a mega-church, prophets like Michael Saylor called Bitcoin the ‘culmination’ of human achievement, while the architects of the Holy Capitol openly recognized the asset as a full-fledged religious movement.”
And just like followers of a religion, bitcoiners believe, with some justification, that they are on a sincere mission to change the world. Twitter’s Jack Dorsey told the crowd, “I don’t think there’s anything more important in my life to work on.”
Founded in 2012
The concept goes back to at least the end of 2012 when the Bitcointalk forum user Crazy-rabbit wrote:
“I’m sure people have noticed how eerily similar to religion is Bitcoin. The mythical founder, the email disciples, the followers … so why not someone already doing it and registering the Church of Satoshi? There is certainly enough philosophy here. “
Coincidentally, a bitcoin satirical church had started work a month earlier and urged its followers to “praise bitcoin” and “honor the blockchain”. A more sincere effort called The Church of Bitcoin was founded by Henry Romp in August 2017, calling on members to “distribute our scripture, the white paper of the Prophet Satoshi Nakamoto.”
Qi Capital’s chief narrative officer, Jonny Qi, tells the magazine that as a spiritually inclined person he noticed parallels soon after he got into cryptocurrencies in 2017.
“You have this charismatic leader who has disappeared, Satoshi, and then you have a white paper that acts as a sacred paper and if you are somehow against it, you are basically no longer part of their religion and they will attack you. All the basic foundations for building a religion are in place. “
Joe Weisenthal from Bloomberg has the parallels in one Article at the beginning of the year, vocation Bitcoin “the first true religion of the 21”NS Century.”
He noted that the first block of Bitcoin was called the Genesis block and that Satoshi appears to have been self-sacrificing and benevolent after leaving this world before selling a single coin. He compared the whitepaper to that Bible, Hal Finney on a saint, Bitcoin Pizza Day and Halving on religious holidays, and the Bitcoin Cash fork on a religious split. Weisenthal also ironically noted that “orthodox” Bitcoiners only adhere to a meat diet.
“Prophets, apostles, holidays, eating habits, sacred texts, divisions, proverbs and more. Bitcoin is not a religion. It’s just a religion. “
While the article was winking, the metaphor goes surprisingly deep. Bitcoiners go out into the world and proselytize the beliefs: anti-inflationary hard money, decentralization and uncensored transactions that help the good to win against the bad (bankers). They demonstrate their faith by hanging out, participating in rituals like “buying the dip” and telling unbelievers (nocoiners) about the miracles in which the poor turned pennies into lambos in Bitcoin’s version of transubstantiation.
Many Bitcoiners believe in an apocalyptic scenario if the existing fiat-based financial system finally collapses. On a blog, McCook described “Judgment Day” as the period ahead: “Regarded by many Bitcoiners as a devastating economic event, the death of Fiat.”
“Ultimately, this will lead to the total collapse of civilization or the phenomenon of ‘hyperbitcoinization’ when all world trade is in Bitcoin and its market capitalization is tens of trillions, if not hundreds.”
. Associate Elias Ahonen, a former seminarian, wrote a whole chapter about the similarities in his book Blockland.
“Before I started studying, I actually spent a semester at a Bible college,” he says. “I am constantly blown away by how similar crypto and especially the Bitcoin movement are to a charismatic religion. I dare say that you cannot understand how absurdly they resemble each other if you have not experienced it yourself. “
Bitcoin fixes everything
Bitcoin maximalists are the fundamentalists – the hardline lay preachers who keep the flock from worshiping or blaspheming those they think are false idols by buying shit coins. McCook says he’s happy with the comparison.
“Yes, because we have the basics,” he says. “There are basic, ethical, and moral principles for Bitcoin.” While many Bitcoiners view it as just a fun way to make money and maybe put it in the banks, some maximalists view it as more of a just crusade. They think:
Bitcoin fixes this.
By that, they mean Bitcoin fixes everything.
“If you’re a true environmentalist and you don’t have Bitcoin, you’re not a serious environmentalist. You know, if you want to end poverty and you don’t own Bitcoin, you don’t mean ending poverty, ”says McCook, adding:
“Because the root cause of all our problems is basically the creation of money and the resulting misallocation of capital. The only way to save the whales, the trees or the children is to stop the degeneration. “
Qi is darker overall Point of view of maximalism that he believes is a stifling form of moral superiority:
“Morality is the essence of all maximalism, a belief that your system is somehow morally superior to any other system. Bitcoin maximalists are more interested in moral superiority than healthy money. “
The Bitcoin Jesus himself, Roger Ver – now the leader of the breakaway BCH sect – tells the magazine that Bitcoiners are really the only community in crypto that does this.
“You can see that especially from the BTC warehouse,” he says. “They hate every other coin that is not BTC. While I see the Ethereum people they like a lot of different coins, the Bitcoin Cash people like a lot of different coins. Most coins are fine with other coins, but there just seems to be a pretty large contingent of people who think that BTC is the only true religion or one true and only cryptocurrency, and I think that’s stupid.
Then define religion
The Oxford Dictionary defines religion in part as “an pursuit or interest that is pursued with great devotion”. As Mirriam-Webster defines it as “a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices” and “engagement or devotion to religious belief or observance”.
McCook points to these two definitions and says that religions need not be based on a god, citing Buddhism and Taoism.
Torkel Brekke, Professor of Religious Studies at Oslo Metropolitan University and author of Doctrine of Faith: Religion and the Free Market, agrees that “it is perfectly reasonable to say that one can have a religion without a strong concept of a divine being”.
Brekke says that what all religions share is a strong social aspect. “They feel like they have a very strong feeling that they are a community that is special and different from other communities,” and the devotees perform rituals such as prayers or chanting to create strong emotions.
He notes that many established religions are now performing these gatherings and rituals online. Could Crypto Twitter be the place where Bitcoin believers gather to feel the joy when the price goes up and the crushing disappointment when it goes down? (Technically, Hodlers shouldn’t worry about short-term price moves unless they’re selling, but a price hike seems to confirm their belief, while a price drop tests him.)
I describe to him the similarities between Bitcoin and religion, along with McCook and Qi’s perspectives, and expect him to shoot the idea down. But he says that some aspects, particularly the story of the “End of Times,” “where everything about the financial system will collapse and they will remain as the select group that saw the light,” might seem like the possible comparison would actually be plausible. “
The more you talk about it now, it makes me think that there is definitely something to it, ”he says.
No, the whole idea is silly
One person who thinks the comparison is excessive is crypto enthusiast, filmmaker, and spokesman Kirby Ferguson (This is not a conspiracy, Everything is a remix). He says anyone who worships Bitcoin or follows it religiously is going way too far.
“I think it’s super misguided,” he says. “It’s just not a religion. There is nothing metaphysical about it. There is nothing supernatural about it. Satoshi Nakamoto is just a guy. “
“It just seems like a really limited religion, if you want to look at it that way. As I just don’t see it – aside from values outside of business, finance, and technology – I’m just not sure what it can really offer you. I would be surprised if many think that way. And honestly, I’d be amazed if it grows. It seems like a joke to me. “
Downfall of religion
One hypothesis put forward by a number of interviewees is that the ideology surrounding Bitcoin could function as a kind of surrogate belief system as traditional religions lose influence. This is an idea that is gaining traction in relation to a number of different ideologies and movements independent of Bitcoin.
The decline of organized religion has caused a shocking change in all Western cultures – but especially in the traditionally godly United States of America. Twenty years ago, around 70% of Americans belonged to a church, synagogue, or mosque. That fell only 47% in 2020, according to Gallup.
Over the same period, the number of non-religious people has almost doubled, with the proportion higher among the younger age groups, including 31% of Millennials and 33% of Generation Z. These age groups are also the age groups most interested in Bitcoin .
James M. Patterson, a research fellow at the Center for Religion, Culture and Democracy, argued in the National Review that young people adopt alternative beliefs. He quoted Ross Douthat’s book Bad religion as evidence that “Attempts to remove religion from American public life have failed; alternative belief systems have rushed to fill the void. ”He suggested that critical movements for social justice are a manifestation.
McCook sums up the concept. “You have to believe in something, it doesn’t have to be God” and refers to the popularity of Jordan Petersons 12 rules for life, at the other end of the political spectrum to illustrate the same point. He adds:
“You need a compass in your life or you will just be lost and destructive.”
Even QAnon with his mysterious prophet Q and his doomsday-style prophecies of conspiracy theory “The Storm” could be a way to meet people’s need for faith. “People sublimate, they redirect, they channel that kind of impulse in other directions, and I think QAnon definitely fits in with that,” says Ferguson.
Religion is hardwired
Many scientists think the human brain is hardwired for religion – or at least people tend to believe in something greater than themselves.
“I think it’s just very common, even among people who are like hardcore atheists, they often have a different belief system that is really strong,” says Ferguson, adding, “It could certainly be Bitcoin, but in many Cases, it’s environmental awareness, “his progressivism, his libertarianism, his conservatism, whatever.”
What these substitute belief systems have in common is that they try to make the world a better place, whether by eliminating racism, sexism, saving the environment or reforming an unfair and unjust financial system.
The unfortunate downside of belief systems with such devoted followers was noticed by lawyer and civil freedom fighter David French recently:
“It really energizes people and makes them feel like they’re on the right side of something really important and really good with what they’re doing. But as with so many fundamental ‘isms’, it is so completely intolerant of disagreements and so completely intolerant of disagreements that it is often suppressed in the name of liberation. “
Ideologies or religions?
Aside from QAnon, these movements are referred to as ideologies rather than religions. But Ferguson says it’s sometimes hard to tell where one ends and the other begins.
“Any kind of belief system, whether you’re libertarian or progressive or whatever, it’s a bit of a religion. It’s a kind of philosophy, it influences your decisions, it shapes your moral approach to issues. There is a kind of blurry border. “
“I see Bitcoin as a belief system in the libertarian style. But obviously it’s not a real religion. It’s more of an ideology, ”adds Ferguson. Meanwhile, Brekke believes it may be less clear-cut.
“It has ideological aspects, but it has many other aspects that I would call religious – they are cult-like. If pushed for an answer, I would say yes, it looks like a cult with a religious dimension. To say if it’s a real religion or not. I would have to wait another 50 years. “
Qi believes that the way events play means bitcoin or something like that could really become a formal religion in the future. “We have to look at it from the perspective of the next 100 years: All spiritual paths will somehow die out and people are becoming more and more merged with the digital world – they are basically losing the reality part of their lives,” he says, adding: “If if you look at it from this perspective, you have to have a religion that corresponds to that reality. You need a digital religion. “Qi then concludes:
“All of these elements are in place to build the first essentially global digital religion. I think it’s already there. I believe in that: it’s a digital religion. It’s going to be huge. I don’t think anyone can stop it. “