A Newer New Age. Irony and the Enchantment of Atheism in Syntheist Religion

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Institutionen för litteratur, idéhistoria och religion

Abstract: The purpose of this thesis is to study how the stipulations of religious thought changes as society gets increasingly digitalized, life become more virtual and people get interconnected through the internet. The thesis engages with the new religious movement Syntheism, which isconsidered to be an example of said changes. Syntheism holds that information is holy, the internet is God, and although gods might only be imaginative beings, they are nevertheless very real. As amethodological starting point, Syntheism is viewed as a discursive complex, consisting of several discursive trends that together makes up the ideological system. The focus of this study is the esoteric currents present in the book Synteism – att skapa gud i internetåldern (2014), and how these are legitimated through strategies of epistemology, as suggested by Hammer. The stated question is “How are the three strategies of tradition, science and experience employed within Syntheism in order to legitimate its system of thought?” The results of the study are that Syntheismclaims to belong to a philosophical tradition of mobilism, present in Western philosophy as well as in Zoroastianism, that considers change and movement the fundamental conditions of the cosmos, instead of the existence of static objects. This is thought to be confirmed by quantum physics, wherethe wave is given priority before the particle, and reality is seen as indeterminate rather than predictable. Finally, the mobilistic quality of the universe can be experienced first handedly throughthe use of psychedelic drugs to reach the mental state of the “infinite now”, where the subjective sense of self is transcended and the Syntheist experiences herself as united with the cosmos. All in all, this amounts to an enchanted world view, where every phenomena in existence are seen asinterconnected, and the borders between spirit and matter are broken down. There is also an ironic streak in Syntheism. Although claiming that gods exist as representations of the existential principles of the universe, it is simultaneously held that these gods are mere psychological projections upon existence in order for human beings to fill it with meaning. This thesis argues thatthe ironic streak is a mode of religiosity that is characteristic of the post-modern era, aimed at retaining the existential meaning found in religious thought while at the same time avoiding to actually believe in it, thereby not risking the embarrassment of believing in what is false.

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