A religion that allows its believers to modify, change, or adjust it to fit the individual, or to update things that are obsolete.

A number of Eastern religions are more like this, but it especially applies to ones that are not organized, such as Wicca.

The opposite of many Western authoritarian religions, though if you think about it, they've got a little bit of this also, after all, the books most use as the ultimate authority are not clear and usually only interpretation yields any concrete beliefs, and those interpretations can change over time, kind of like saying that the truth is just what everyone believes is correct.

My religion's open source
You can audit it, of course
Don't need e-meters or Force
That's good enough for me!

Give me that open source religion
Give me that open source religion
Give me that open source religion
It's good enough for me!

Let us praise the GPL
'Cause it's mighty doggone swell
It'll send Bill Gates to Hell
And that's good enough for me!


Let us give our hearts to Tux
And wish us the best of lucks
We shall make a million bucks
On our next IPO


You can recompile God's kernel
If you've got some time to burn-el
For a faster chip you'll yearn-el
But it's good enough for me!


Extending the open-source model to religion. The open-source model is an approach to collaborative effort, to solve engineering problems. The problems addressed by religion, however, are not such that any team of mortals can solve them. Religion is a tradition of revelation and interpretation of divine will, not an exercise in engineering a "just" or "free" or "happy" society, nor a mere excuse to share nice cookies and sing pretty songs. We can assert that a Linux kernel or GNU C compiler "should" do this or that, and if enough people agree, it will be designed to do it. When we assert that a God/dess "should" do or be this or that, no amount of agreement on the part of our collaborators will change what S/He actually is. Our collective mortal fallibility and corruption taints and undermines our every attempt at social progress; a God designed by committee only terrifies me.

Open-source projects all seem to aim at compliance to some sort of standard (POSIX compliance for Linux, ANSI compliance for GNU C). Wicca, by contrast, has no standards. I think this "standards" problem arises from no authority, the second major contrast between Wicca and the open-source model.

Of course, the God is not the religion - an incomplete God, a God dependent on worshippers for definition, seems hardly worth the worship. In that light, Christianity is an open-source religion. Yesterday's Heretic is today's Founder, and tomorrow's Prophet. Since its inception just about 2000 years ago, generous Christian innovators have steadily tweaked and experimented with various points of doctrine. Whatever your kink or hang-up, short of psychosis, you can probably find a sect that tolerates it and another that condemns it, so long as you agree to the "kernel": God's only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, submitted to Death to absolve you of your sins.

Tsarren, I suspect we'll never quite come to terms, because while I agree a religion must deal with metaphysical questions, I think organization and authority are also defining features of "religion". To my way of thinking, anything else is merely a bunch of people with various belief systems that may or may not agree on various points.

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