This is not about the fundamentalist religious passions that are so prominent all over the world, I regard these as a smoke screen for a movement that is much more important – but is not considered a religion at all. But nevertheless absorbs all our energies and passions.
First of all, what is Religion? I am going to define it as belief in the supernatural. This definition is not comprehensive (indeed, it is offensive to religious people), but it has important implications – as you will see.
Next we will have to consider Science – and its derivative, Technology. Science began as the opposite of religion – it concentrated on ordinary reality, and insisted that everything could be understood by recourse to that alone. This does not explain everything about Science – but like my definition of Religion, it is a good start. Science did not believe in the supernatural.
Fine. Now what happened as Science produced all the Technology that the Industrial Revolution depended on? What happened to the people that made these part of their lives? They changed, and they changed fundamentally. But they were completely unaware of these changes.
This is a big assertion, and I must unpack it – one technology at a time.
The first Industrial technology, as I have said, was the Sailing Ship. Its effect on people was enormous. But we were so close to what was happening, we could not understand this. We just changed ourselves completely to meet its demands.
And this is what we did for each succeeding technology – we changed completely without being aware at all. At one level, we were aware of how we were changing – but, at a deeper, more fundamental level, we denied it completely – because, we thought, our fundamental selves (our souls) were unchanged. But these supernatural souls did not exist.
Only our human selves (our bodies and our minds) existed – but we were fast denying them – one step at a time.
The next technology was a big one – the Steam Engine, with its biggest manifestation being the Railroad. Which used fossil fuels – first Coal, and then Oil. Then the Automobile – the combination of the Internal Combustion Engine and the Pneumatic Tire – and the public roads to run them on. We quickly became Car People – and could not imagine being anything else.
But something even bigger had already happened – Electricity and Photography. Which, with Mass Communications, completely changed our world – and drove us completely crazy.
I have probably gone too fast here – condensing one hundred years into a single paragraph. But I will let it stand because it makes a basic point – we went crazy in the 19th and 20th Centuries. But this was topped off with the next Technology – the Computer.
We had not the slightest idea what this was. But that does not matter. What matters is what we thought all this technology was.
It was our new religion.
We were on to something really big, that made everything else look paltry by comparison. And this was embodied by The Organization (the Corporation) – the church of our new religion.