AI: Make your own religion!

Happy Friday ya’ll! I hope you are all as excited as I am because this weekend is the Skepchick Chicago Extravaganza and we’re hoping you’ll all be there!

In the mean time:

If you could form your own religion, what would it be based on? What would you call it and what would differentiate it from all other religions?*


The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear daily at 3pm ET.

*Thanks to Tim3P0 for giving me the idea for this AI when I was tipsy and without an original idea in the world!


Maria D'Souza grew up in different countries around the world, including Hong Kong, Trinidad, and Kenya and it shows. She currently lives in the Bay Area and has an unhealthy affection for science fiction, Neil Gaiman and all things Muppet.

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  1. Before I can answer this, I think I need to struggle with the question of why I would want to start a religion at all.

  2. I guess that depends on what the purpose of the religion would be. Do I want to try and spread peace and harmony among all sentient beings or do I want to separate a lot of suckers from their money?
    The first I’d found something between the Jehovas (in that there is no hierarchy, all are equal) and Buddhism (in that spiritual satisfaction comes from within), and have meetings where people share and do charity things or some other kind of peace and l0ve stuff. I think it would be more about being kind and exploring the nature of good than fighting evil and judging others.
    If I wanted the quick cash, though, I could probably come up with some hokey new-agey aliens/ancient artifacts/nature thingy that involved a lot of specialized products, books and shiny things. Everyone loves shiny things.

  3. Non-seriose answer: Booze. And sex. And more booze. And smoking. Gambling wouldn’t hurt, either. And lots of guns/knives/weapons. Yeah, that’s it.

  4. If I were to form a religion, I would chose a very personal one. A one-member religion. That’s the only way to prevent splits… But no, even in this case I would split from myself and in 1 or 2 days I would form another second personal one-member religion.

  5. The High Church of the Most Glorious and Holy Boobies.

    Our credo would be that women’s breasts are wonderful things and that no women should be ashamed of her boobies because they are too big or too small. All services would be topless and our high holy days would include much carressing of the holy boobies. All boobies would be holy. Also you would never go to church with your parents or your children.

  6. I believe in the Church of Baseball. It differs from most other religions in that we don’t pray for anyone to die. The church can be a grand stadium or an empty lot. Everybody is different and we tune at any time we wish. Everybody respects everybody else most of the time and we boo the ones that don’t. Oh, and we sing hymns there too.

  7. I’ve considered starting a religion of peace, tolerance, pacifism, love, empathy, and charity. But Jesus already tried that, and look how people screwed that up. I’m sure that 100 years after my death, people would ignore all my preaching and try to rationalize being assholes again. I really like a lot of the stuff Jesus actually preached. Whether or not he was divine, he was certainly wise. Mostly I would preach that people should really try to look at things from another person’s viewpoint before judging them. What’s right for one person in one situation is not always right for someone else. I would also try to instill a love education and life-long learning in my followers. I would also have a list of common logical fallacies that members would study from an early age so they can learn to avoid them.

  8. Based on the definitions of the word “religion” that I can find, I would not wish to establish a religion. I believe we must let go of supernaturalism as a species if we wish to survive.

    However, I would like to find a way to provide some of the productive things that some religious communities offer including:

    Supporting people in the establishment and maintenance of an individual meaning model.

    A community of caring people.

    Providing inspirational exposure to the arts and the opportunity to participate in the arts.

    Meaningful ritual.

    Opportunity to pursue the benefits of meditative disciplines found in the contemplative traditions of many religious traditions.

    Ongoing adult education and instruction in critical thinking and scientific literacy.

    Providing a “village” of solid adult examples to help raise the children.

    Social interaction and fun.

  9. The First Church of Awesome Sci-Fi Geekery and Nerdisms

    Essentially it would be a holy edict to make really awesome geeky products and fiction rather than the crap that tends to get put out these days. Failure to obey this commandment requires penance by reading any Twilight out loud in a public place while wearing a T-shirt with a picture of Oprah on it and the caption “our vajayjays are smiling”

  10. We were pondering this very questions last night with Minneapolis Skeptics. My religion would center around Tim3PO. He has the Jesus/Manson/Koresh look going and that image has had some success with other religions. I know boobs will also be important to my religion…virgins not so much. Also, giving me all your money will be very important.

  11. @Gabrielbrawley:

    Ok, then I will open a church right across the street with pants-less guys for all the women who are disappointed by your church. Maybe it can be a joint thing and we can occasionally have events together. Orgies make religion better.

  12. Oh, how about something involving pareidolia? Maybe those faces people see in woodgrain and pancakes are really people from other dimensions trying to break through. And some of them are Keplons (the good guys) and some are Plekons (the bad guys). They’re invisible, of course but leave a visible imprint when they’re trying to break through to our world. It’s important to know which is which so that you don’t let the wrong ones through. Fortunately, you can have this book (for a nominal fee) which tells you what to look for so that you know which wood to paint over and which pancakes to eat.

  13. I would take all the great parts from paganism earth based religions and leave the woo stuff behind. (Yay for respecting the arth and honoring cycles etc)

    Add in a buch of science and the teaching or rational thought, and there you go!

  14. @Resfirma:

    Didn’t they try to do this in the 70’s? About the time Ken Keesey was riding his bus named “Further” across the US giving away free LSD? A community of people loaded up in vans and buses and went to some obscure mid-western state and started a commune?

    All’s I’m saying is… will there be free LSD? And yes, I’d like to come.

  15. @Gabrielbrawley:

    Anyone can attend the regular services, but membership is required for the orgies. We don’t want just anybody coming to those.


    At first I thought that much penis-caressing would be great for attendance, but then I realized it would be too similar to current phallic-worshiping religions (which is mostly all of them).

  16. I think that religion should be based on bluetooth head sets. Why? Because they make it okay to talk to our selves. That’s great for crazies. Who better to try to attract to religion than the crazy people?

  17. For a long time I told people the only precept of my religion was that you should crop a negative, but now I don’t even follow that.

  18. The Church of the Holy Orgasm

    During orgasm, you are one with the Almighty. Monogomous unions are encouraged, but not required. The object would be to again orgams, not reproduce; therefore, during “worship” holy (not holey) attire should be worn. There are no specific limitations on worship, as long as its practiced safely-so, anything that gets you off is enouraged. The only limitations are animals, children, consent, and bodily fluids. Children are considered pure until thier 18th birthday, so they need not worship.

  19. .

    They great majority of us do “form our own religion”, don’t we?

    We encounter a great many different religious propositions, and we have to decide one way or another what to think of them, and we thus wind up with a careful schema — or a disorganized rag-bag — of religious ideas, which constitutes “our personal religion”.

  20. Oh my how did I miss this. The Church of a the Holy Skepchick. With Popette Rebecca the first. And Archdecoanesses. Well I can’t think of all of the skepchicks off the top of my head so I will just say that they would all be Archdecoanesses. We would worship rational thinking, skeptical thought and the scientific process. Our tentants would be under constant revision to match our best understanding of reality. The great satan of the church would be Sylvia Brown and various minor deamons would include Jenny McCarthy, Ophrah Winfrey, John “Bigest Douche in the Universe” Edwards and various others. Our good works would include helping people and promoting science based medicine.

  21. Elyse and I talked on Twitter a while back about starting a skeptical cult. You’re only allowed to believe claims if you’ve seen evidence, that sort of thing. We called it “The Order of Well, Actually.” It was a little like @Gabrielbrawley‘s second concept, although not quite so personalty driven. =)

  22. @Gabrielbrawley: How is this religion incompatible with your first one? Rituals are needed, after all.

    And ritual beer, which is closer to the blood of a Skepchick than wine is anyway (from what I gather).

  23. I would call it Saganism, and it would look something like this:

    “In some respects, science has far surpassed religion in delivering awe. A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. Sooner or later, such a religion will emerge.”
    ~ Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot.

    The five pillars of Saganism are skepticism, curiosity, integrity, hard work, and love.

  24. I would borrow Larry Niven’s First Church of Riley.

    It was the Belter’s way of telling nosy people that whatever they were poking into was none of their finagling business!

  25. If you could form your own religion, what would it be based on?
    Speaking of tipsy, I would base mine on ethyl acohol. However, it wouldn’t only admit drinkers , but also those who drink O’Douls and teetotalers. The latter two would actually be required to give the partaking congregation a ride home.

    Of course, the original meaning will eventually be corrupted and it would become sectarian, with liquor, beer, and wine believing that their drink is the best one. Although, none of them would hold a candle next to the moonshine congregation who thinks that only pure alcohol is worthy of worship, and would call the rest pagans/heathens.

    What would you call it and what would differentiate it from all other religions?*
    The Church of Spirits (I’m working on trademarking it, by the way), and we would actually be using donations to find a way to really turn water or any other plentiful fluid into wine/whiskey/beer.

  26. I have two ideas for churches. Since I don’t expect much good to come from any church, it may as well be entertaining. So, the Really High Church of Trebuchet, God of Things Flung at High Speed. Sacrifices would be frequent, and made by catapult, cannon, rocket, and other entertaining manners of flinging things at high speed. Any damage done by these sacrifices would either be ignored, as it’s done as a religious expression, or paid for by the church should anything important be damaged (like a brewery).

    My other idea for a church was the church of shut the fuck up and go help someone out.

    @Saganist: You lost me at hard work.

  27. I subscribe to the Church of the Shordurpersav. Not my own invention but it does fit my hyperactive personality. The Church of the Short Duration Personal Savior has helped me to find salvation through the Hamster on a Piano, Gary Busey, Kate Moss, Star Wars, Burritos and guacamole, James Randi, and on and on. It requires no clinging to faith or embarassing double think or backpedaling.

  28. I would start the Church of the Skeptics. The doctrine is simple: Prove it.

    If it can be proven (to the extent we can prove anything/up to 99.999999% certainty) then it becomes part of the Church’s teaching.

    Philosophy/Ideology/Politics needs to be logically based. Logic and Science are the cornerstones.

    Hell is listening to Bush, Palin, Dobson, Beck and Limbaugh for eternity…

  29. @tmarie

    You got THAT from my comment?

    That’s almost as funny as skeptics who think the current strategies are making a significant difference.

  30. My religion would be called Honorable Skepticism. Here are its teachings:

    Question everything you see, not taking what you are told at face value, but demanding proof, evidence, and corroborations before accepting something as true. When it comes to skepticism, don’t discriminate! Doubt everything!

    Hold honor more dear to me than your life, and allow for no exceptions whatsoever. Hold all people to the same absolute standards of right and wrong.

    Never paint the members of any group, whether political, religious, or national, with the same brush.

    Be willing to concede points made by your opponents in debates with them. This should never be seen as a sign of weakness. If we do not listen to others, how can we ever grow in knowledge?

    No matter how great the pressure, never “sell out”. It is being able to stand up to the urge to conform to the shallow desires and priorites of others who have a limited vision that makes one truly heroic.

  31. I already have several religions, the latest and most important to me being:

    The Church of Eternal Life

    Everyone has a duty to respect other humans as set forth in the attempts at defining human rights and in the basic tenets of humanism.

    As the only known intelligent life in the universe, we have a duty to leave room for other life on our planet.

    As the only known intelligent life in the universe, we have a duty to strive for the continuation of the life we know of. Including striving towards enabling ourselves to permanently take it beyond this planet and ultimately beyond this solar system.

    CoEL is a fairly abstract and open religion, which shouldn’t be the basis of rituals and symbols. One could even be a christian, or moslem, CoEL’er. (As long as no-one invokes the “no true *-ian” clause.) But as I’m neither I want a rack to hang rituals on:

    The society of moss eaters

    The religion of moss eating is an atheistic religion of symbols and rituals that are intentionally without inherent meaning. It’s up to every moss eater to find and define his own meaning in the rituals. Personally though I recommend tying the rituals to the ideas of CoEL and humanism.

    The most central ritual is the consumption of candy, preferably m&ms, in the holy communion. A central mock belief is that this candy undergoes transubstantiation into moss.

    Co-opting the existing rituals in your religio-cultural background, replacing the original symbols and meaning with moss and whatever your prefered meaning is, or simply subverting the existing symbols, is strongly encouraged.

    As an example, my moss eater easter involves decapitating eggs and devoring their nutritious insides. The eggs stand in for evil.

    One of my best friend’s daughters, my “god child”, is being brought up in this religion and already thinks of m&ms as moss. We’ll get to other forms of indoctrination when she gets a little older.

  32. The Third Gospel Of The Police Box Of Blue:

    1.) Thou shall believe and be granted 12 lives

    2.) Thou shall wear celery on shirt to to allow the essence of the man known as David Tennant to live on in parallel worlds.

    3.) Thou shall admit that there there is only ONE timelord.

    4.) Thou shall not be deceived by the exterior of the Blue Box, as the stronger your faith, the bigger it is on the inside.

    5.) Thou shall take a retcon pill before ever questioning the continuity from any works The Third Gospel Of The Police Box Of Blue


  33. Well… I can found my own religion. I just haven’t, because I’m not that cynical, motivated, or charismatic.

    If I wanted to succeed, I would found a religion based on a personal revelation from God, something soupy and sort-of universalist.

    God’s New Plan would be revealed to me because Mankind has screwed up Christianity, Islam and even Mormonism by perverting the true wisdom of God.

    New Rules:

    1. Marriage is a sacred institution between any three adults. Thus is the holy trinity reflected in mankind, or something. Obviously, there would be some rules here, specific roles that had to be played, but not gender roles precisely. Something weird and attractive.

    2. Priests not only CAN marry, they MUST marry. No celibate clergy.

    3. Tithes are discounted to 5% of household gross. God recognizes that the modern family faces a tough road.

    4. Debt is totally evil (going for the Dave Ramsey audience here).

    5. Because sinners go to hell, you don’t have to punish them on earth. Crime and punishment is an earthly matter, the concern of secular authority, and crime is not the same as sin. God doesn’t care if you’re a criminal, and god doesn’t care if any given sin is considered an earthly crimes. God can take care of his own damn justice, thank you.

    Yes, I’m keeping hell. How else do you get converts?

    6. There are two routes to heaven: 1- accept the revelation of St. Seth, preach the revelation of St. Seth, and tithe to the church of Seth. 2- spend thrice three by three (that is, 27) years in hell for every sin you’ve committed in life, all the while having that terrible feeling you get when you know that you’re missing a really great party. This is going to take a while.

    7. Heaven is not boring or weird or filled with Jehovah’s witnesses. It’s really cool, and I’d tell you all about it but if I did you’d blow your head clean off in your hurry to get there, and if you do that, you have to spend more time in hell, even time for the sins you would have committed if you hadn’t shot yourself, so I’m not going to.

    8. Good works are their own reward.

    9. Everybody gets to heaven eventually, but not everybody gets to sit at the cool kids table with St. Seth, so you should probably take the easy road.

    10. Stop asking stupid questions about a God you can’t possibly investigate and start asking smart questions about the world that you can.

  34. Mine would be based on chocolate, and to replicate its goodness in one’s behaviour. ^_^ There is only one rule: Though shall not add peanut to chocolate.

  35. Even when I was a fundie, my brain worked and I had thoughts like “Why is God God and not me?” and “I’d like to be like Martin Luther and start my own religion.” I never got past the vaporware stage, though. Now that I’m an atheist UU folkdancer, I think my religion would have dancing as a sacrament, ritual orgies, and lectures/demonstrations of scientific principles.

  36. @Resfirma: I was going to compose a long and fascinating discourse about the religion I firmly intend to found some day (mostly for the tax write-off), but then I read your description and that’s pretty much exactly what I had in mind.

    One of the reasons I studied paganism for so long was for the ritual and community that it afforded. I never bought into the deity aspect of it, but the idea of communing with nature and attuning yourself to the turn of the seasons is something I really liked. Plus, someplace to go every week, or every month, or even if only for the sabbats, to spend time with people you share commonalty with is really nice.
    But, of course, a lot of pagans buy into a lot of woo so that doesn’t work for me.

    So, my religion would have nature and environmentalism and gardening and flowers and being nice to aminals and books and some sort of regular meeting/ ritual and community and community service and fun. Oh, oh, oh, and boobies. For sure.
    So, kind of like FSMism, but with regular pasta dinners and a community garden.

  37. Lar, God of Wardrobe Malfunctions. His holy sacrament is chocolate cake, eaten during the annual festival of FCC Broadcast Fines. After the eating of the holy cake, and imbibing Holy Pepsi, the worshippers disperse into the streets and pull people’s pants down.

  38. I think that any religion that concentrates upon faith, compassion and wisdom is valid.

    Hence, if I were to make my own, I would lean towards anything that examines deeply, the nature of mind, through meditation, faith, compassion and wisdom (Shunyata Skt.)

    Without examining mind’s nature, there is no hope of finding the ultimate nature of things.

    “When you understand mind, you understand everything” (Nagarjuna).

    Looking for the nature of reality under a materialist / naiive realist paradigm is a bit like trying to find uranus by looking up your own arse.


    Incedently, Skepchic, is calling psychic phenomena ‘b.s’ really the behaviour of a skeptic? Or is it one of a pseudo-skeptic?

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