Chapter 2: Religion And Crowdsourcing

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Children Stories  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 180

A: I still don’t see where this God of Fairness is coming from.  Nobody else talks about him.

M: I know.  I wanted to make a point.  We need things to believe in.  I like to believe in fairness, so that’s why I said “God of Fairness” when you asked me if there was a God.

A: Why do you say that we need something to believe in if you don’t believe in supernatural people?

M: I thought your experience with Emma was as good an example as any for why we need beliefs.  You did the thing that anybody would do who cares about fairness.  You defended her.  Still, it turned out that Emma didn’t thank you for it, and it was very understandable why she wouldn’t.  She was hoping for the Team of the Week award, and then you didn’t get it.

A: I shouldn’t have shouted quite so loudly.

M: You can’t always know such things.  You were trying to defend her.  As they say, hindsight is 20/20.  It’s a lot easier, in hindsight, to know what you should have done.  I think sometimes we just have to say “tough luck”.

A: So then why does that say there’s a God of Fairness?

M: If you believed in a God, I’m sure you’d have felt something like “Well, at least God knows that I tried to be nice” and it would have comforted you.  I think it’s a nice thought that there is somebody who understands fairness even if it doesn’t get rewarded immediately.  

A: Isn’t that just fooling yourself?

M: Not if you discuss your actions with other people, and you did come to me, right?  It was a good thing that you came to me.  

A: So why didn’t you just say, “I think you did the right thing”?

M: You asked me if there is a God.  I think a lot of people like to believe in a God because they feel that it makes them better people.

A: Well does it?

M: I think that if you can believe in a God who is really fair, it will help you be fair too.  I see the God of Fairness as a symbol of fairness.  Religions have a lot of symbols.

A: So then religious people are better people?

M: Anybody can have symbols and discussions about symbols.

A: That doesn’t explain why you should call it a God.

M: What would be a better name?

A: I don’t know, Keeper of Fairness?

M: If you think that works better for you, that’s fine.  What I want you to understand is that we need to work together to achieve the things we believe in.  I think that has a lot to do with how religions developed in the first place.  Everybody has to pitch in.

A: But if I say that I believe in a different God than other people, doesn’t that cause them to hate me?

M: It might, and I didn’t mean it that way.  I think all people believe in fairness, so it’s not really that we believe in anything different.  What I wanted to get across is that a shared belief can help us achieve things.  Fairness is already a belief that most of us share.

A: I guess so.

M: Shared beliefs are actually used a lot on the Internet.  Wikipedia is one example.  The people who contribute to Wikipedia don’t get paid for it.  Still they’ve built an encyclopedia that has similarly high quality and is much more complete and up-to-date than traditional ones.  Everybody pitching in is a great concept.  It’s called crowdsourcing.

A: Reminds me of the story of stone soup.

M: That’s right, it’s exactly like that!  The soldier said he could make soup from a stone and people didn’t believe him.  But then, when the water was being heated, everybody pitched in, and it became a great soup!  I like that story. You know that most people on the Internet help digitizing old books too, right?

A: That can’t be right.  I’ve never heard anybody say they do that!

M: Have you heard of people who buy concert tickets online?

A: Of course!  But they don’t do anything with books.

M: When you buy tickets you are often asked to read some wiggly text that’s called a Captcha. 

A: Yes, I’ve seen those.  They test that you aren’t a computer.  That’s what they are for.  Not for books!

M: That’s correct, but for many of them you have to enter two words.  One word is to test that you are human.  The other word is to help digitizing books.  In that way, a lot of people help with the digitizing.

A: I suppose that’s ok, but people don’t really know they are doing it.  They don’t have a choice.

M: Good point.  It’s still crowdsourcing, and I think that in a lot of ways religions are like that.  They want people to behave nicely, so they find ways to get everybody to pitch in.  Everybody watches out for everybody else, and when somebody doesn’t behave nicely, people defend what’s right.

A: So why don’t we go to church then?

M: Well, the issue is about what really is nice behavior.  Have you read in the Bible?  I don’t mean the Children’s Bible you asked for in Kindergarten but the regular one.

A: I remember reading that Children’s Bible!  

H: The Children’s Bible only has nice stories.  The adult version has a lot of things that are not so nice.  Even in the Ten Commandments it says that God is “jealous”.  I remember reading that in school and wondering why that would be a good thing.

A: Maybe the word meant something different when the Bible was written.

H: I don’t know.  You should read it yourself some time.  It sounds aggressive to me, but maybe that’s just me.  One problem is that “hate” is mentioned a lot in the Bible.  Social sciences have shown that it’s not good to teach people to hate. 

A: So why don’t people use a newer document.

H: That’s a difficult question.  For some people it’s because they think that the supernatural God tells them to use the Bible.  Others like the idea of love, and they associate that with Jesus.  In a lot of ways, Jesus stands for love the way Santa Claus stands for generosity.  When people give gifts at Christmas they call it Santa.  When they show love they call it Jesus.

A: Did Jesus believe in the Ten Commandments?

H: I haven’t heard otherwise.  Of course, Jesus is discussed in the New Testament.  That part of the Bible was written much later than the Ten Commandments in the Old Testament.

A: So maybe Jesus was mostly right but the Old Testament isn’t.

H: I don’t think Jesus made much of an effort to be fair to people who don’t follow him.

A: How about Gandhi?  Or John Lennon?

H: I think both of them are great symbols, but personally neither of them led perfect lives.  

A: How about Batman?  Or wait a second.  He isn’t even real, right?

M: That’s a great question. Let’s talk about that some other time.  I still have some work to do tonight.

Submitted: March 28, 2015

© Copyright 2021 One Anonymous Scientist. All rights reserved.


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