Sidian Jones

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After 8 years I believe I've cracked the code for Open Source Religion.

Hi everyone, I run a website called and recently published my Discourse on Open Source Religion here:

I started evolving this idea years ago and didn't do much with it at that time except to talk to people about it and post in a lot of forums for critique. There were a lot of issues with the idea back then, hurdles that kept it from entirely making sense to me. But after many years of polish I do believe I have the working prototype for Open Source Religion.

The working definition:
Open Source Religion is the global phenomena in which multiple beliefs (eg: salvation and karma) from both religions and personal beliefs are utilized within an individual.

I'm aiming to create a website that allows people to explore their own OSR. I've got some very well thought out ideas on this but don't have the skillset (coding) or funding to get it done. I do save money time to time and hire a coder here and there but the process has been taking forever.

Anyway, take a look if you like and feel free to ask me anything about it.

EDIT: For some reason, it seems the TED forums are glitched for me, as I am unable to respond to anything in this discussion anymore! I can sometimes reply in other discussions but not this one. Beats me but I'll keep trying. :(

  • Dec 1 2011: Thank you, Sidian, for your efforts to improve our world. I live in a free country so I decided to create my own religion. I call it RHONAISM. I believe what I believe and I live according to what I believe. I believe in positive anything/everything. I believe in truth, love and joy. I believe in a whole bunch of things, e.g., we were born to have fun, it's a good idea to hang out with your peers. Keep doing all the positive things you do and pretty soon we can co-create a wonderful world for all. In fact we are doing that right now.
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      Dec 1 2011: If everyone shared your believe Rhona, no religion maker ever would stand a chance to attract a soul.

      Maybe you're the first belief-module.
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        Dec 1 2011: The Belief Modules presented in Rhona's reply would be "positive anything/everything", truth, love, joy, that we are born to have fun, and positive peer influence.

        Each of these is a Belief Module.

        Now let's try CONTRASTING part Rhona's OSR system, for the sake of clarity about OSR.

        She believes in hanging out with peers. Another persons OSR system might have a Belief Module that does not favor interaction with peers, such as an Asceticism toward society or company in general, perhaps in the pursuit of Enlightenment (another Belief Module).

        So we can begin to see how Belief Modules can interfere with one another and also how contrasting from one obviously positive module, does not necessarily conclude in a negative module.

        I 100% believe, if I had the resources, I could build the world a website in which we could list, share, delete, and evolve our personal sets of Belief Modules.
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      Dec 1 2011: A great example of OSR, Rhona. The truth is (whether we call them this or not) we all have our own isms. I have my Sidisms, Frans has his Fransisms, etc. And the way I'd categorize this under one umbrella is Open Source Religion.
      • Dec 3 2011: Fine with me. Right on. Let's just keep doing whatever we do to elevate the joy level of our contemporaries. Let's all feel good about life. We can do that. Let's not let religion be an obstacle to human happiness and well being.
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    Dec 1 2011: I do not understand much about OSR religion but I do believe that those who can understand little about religion.

    Religious systems are philosophical insights converted into cultural behavior. It is no program nor a belief although those that follow any cultural outline believe it to be beneficial to do so. That same outline binds people into a community that share and defend their way of operating in the world at large.

    One religion is no religion it is human nature at its best.

    Give me an example of a belief module? To bring this word about you must at least have one of your own.
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      Dec 1 2011: Hi Frans. I'm not sure I understand most of your first propositions. But I can certainly give you examples of Belief Modules as you have asked.

      I replied above to Rhona and pointed out some modules. Here I will list more. You will notice that they tend to fall in two broad categories (as mentioned in my discourse) of religious and non-religious beliefs. Note these are not my personal Belief Modules.

      1. Minimalism
      2. That you are a "cat or dog person"
      3. Reincarnation
      4. Salvation
      5. Love at first site

      ALL beliefs are Belief Modules. The only reason I refer to them with this new terminology is to further exemplify the perspective of OSR: that people these days are interweaving beliefs and belief systems more than any other time in human history. Our beliefs are more modular than ever before.
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    Dec 1 2011: This is something that I have never come across and find the idea fascinating. I have always called (or rather labelled) myself an agonistic with a mix of Buddhist Christian and Jewish beliefs. This is largely due to the distorted image most people have of religion nowadays, where if you are a Christian then that means you fit in this category or a Jew in this box and so on.

    This is something I will have to think about more and is definitely an idea worth spreading!
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      Dec 1 2011: Ben you are exactly the kind of person I wish to connect with. There are an innumerable amount of people in your same situation. And you are forced to say well I'm part this, some of that, and this one thing from over here. Really you are a practitioner of something we've all been experiencing for quite a while - Open Source Religion.

      Glad to meet you. :)
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        Dec 1 2011: This is something I will have to bring to the dinner table and the workplace because it is an idea that fascinates me. However, there is only one point I would make that a lot of this is true of all religions and has simply been lost through fundamentalism.
  • Dec 3 2011: Frans, it's okay with me if "religion makers" don't attract a single soul. Much of religion is powerandcontrol nonsense. People who can't control themselves try to control other people. "Religious" people pretend to be higher and holier in order to manipulate others to serve their own selfish interests. I am willing to be the "first belief-module." POWER TO THE POSITIVE. I know life is supposed to be a positive experience for all. Happy Today to you and all you love. That is the religious holiday I celebrate in my religion of RHONAISM......TODAY! TODAY is my highest holy day.
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    Dec 2 2011: I “believe” in the necessity of a new, global approach to beliefs and religious beliefs altogether, which, in many people’s view, have become obsolete by now.
    But by “beliefs” do you intend “an idea or thing that is passed from person to person and is being (…) adopted for its usefulness or other purpose - in some cases becoming a wildly popular idea that can't be stopped” or that, at times, if proven useless, is “abandoned to die a quick and ignoble death” ? If such, you could be referring to “memes”, a concept dear in consciousness studies. As each era has its own, yours might prove useful and timely, or even, at some point from now on, “unstoppable”, who knows…
    I also agree with you that it is precisely this unprecedented surge in the “global mind”, or global consciousness that might allow non-confrontational and constructive (religious or not) encounters for the first time in human history, in terms of empathy and unification. Therefore, you could be right in your predicting that religion, (the three monotheistic ones that you call “proprietary religions”) no more can survive the way it has so far (as regional dogmas), but it has to suffer “natural progression and maturation” as you say, and acknowledge the “customized beliefs”.
    I have only one, major objection here, since we are talking about religion. Regretfully, as experience has taught us, it repeatedly happened in old and recent history that someone, having had some subjective, non-ordinary experience, has decided to found a new,“truer” religion, with himself at the helm, in an aura of divine light – but he only brought more ego inflation into the world: “I’m the One into the Right Religion!”. I’m only saying that, not knowing how to read what you say: you foresee “ a virtual empire and a new era in religio-spiritual experience”, “it is my dream to help bring Open Source Religion into that light”, and “I intend to be the Steve Jobs of religion”. Forgive me please, for being too cautious.
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      Dec 2 2011: No forgiveness needed, as you've not stepped on my toes at all.

      Open Source Religion, by nature, cannot suffer the same ego-faults that religions of the past have. The reason for this is that there are ZERO beliefs/dogma within OSR. Zero.

      OSR is a foundation upon which people can build in whatever beliefs they so choose. This being the case, there can be no prophets, save for the prophets of people's specific belief systems (Jesus, Buddha, or even modern people like Neal Donald Walch). OSR cannot ever be hijacked by anyone's personal beliefs, including mine, because the very foundation of OSR is that we all build our own religions. I hope this helps clarify, please let me know.

      I should better explain the statements you quoted as well...

      "Virtual empire..."
      This is in reference to a literal "virtual" (read as digital) empire of websites that would allow us to explore Open Source Religion together. Not that you can't do this on your own already, but it would be so cool to do this online, don't you think?

      "Steve Jobs of religion"
      This is my favorite because it's kind of ridiculous. :)
      What I mean by this is very oriented toward a sort of innovation and product development perspective. I feel I have a natural knack for putting together the current shaky state of religion into logical, useable ideas and products and services. OSR is the first example of this and I have a couple more I've already been working on a few years which I'm very excited about.

      Short answer, no, I don't intend to be a messiah of any kind. Personally I'm very Pantheistic, but you'd never know that by looking into Open Source Religion.
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    Dec 1 2011: What separates your idea(l)s from religious naturalism and irreligion (ignosticism)?

    How is this unlike Baja'ism process of connecting the Abrahamic religions?
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      Dec 1 2011: Religious Naturalism appears to be "spirituality that is devoid of supernaturalism". I'm not sure why you would compare OSR and Religious Naturalism. Open Source Religion is the global phenomena in which multiple beliefs (eg: salvation and karma) from both religions and personal beliefs are utilized within an individual. So OSR does not, in itself, dictate your beliefs, therefor it is neither devoid of nor full of supernaturalism.

      Irreligion is defined as an absence of religion or an indifference towards religion. I also don't understand this comparison. Open Source Religion is defined by your beliefs, so it is not the absence of religion, nor are the practitioners indifferent.
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        Dec 1 2011: I believe "globalization" is the idea behind this "global phenomena" of multiple beliefs. By this I mean, technology and information (internet) become more readily available, it becomes easier to existentially nit pick beliefs from different schools of thought.

        I understand full and well individuals have a Belief system in which branches down into multiple belief systems (philosophical, religious, ideological and/or a combination of the three).

        However I do not see the point of OSR. I read the webpage you provide and all I think about is how Gandhi approached religion, which was ignostic-hinduism in a sense. He took his religion and made it relevant to other religions through education.

        If OSR does not dictate your beliefs, it would dictate that you are ignostic - to which you investigate religious ideologies prior to creating static claims towards them.

        If OSR is naturalism, might as well suggest religious naturalism. Which is not primarily what you stated. "Supernatural" means what is not yet understood in nature or beyond what is understood in nature. A religious naturalist will understand that humans have a spiritual drive, but will always maintain a focus at looking at scientific advances. It is more of an anticipation than a belief system.

        If the point of OSR is to hold no claims but to come together for humanities sake, well then OSR is missing out on a fundamental part of being human. That is the anthropocentric mindset every human has who does not self actualize through meditation. We want to be the best individually and that projects into our Belief systems. Thus, if OSR would to take off, it would follow the same patterns any other organization (religion-like) would go through as Tim states.
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          Dec 1 2011: Each of these nuanced philosophical stances you've referenced still feel very "thrown in" in regards to trying to relate them to OSR. Did you read the article?

          You say you don't see the point of OSR and then parallel it with Ghandi's philosophy. This seems contradictory. Whether I personally believe they parallel one another? I'm not sure.

          Ignosticism has certain underpinnings and assertions about "God", it's existence, and it's relevancy. OSR in of itself is not concerned with any of those questions.

          Again, naturalism has certain suppositions about the universe. While such a philosophy fits INSIDE of OSR, OSR is not itself defined by any such philosophy.

          It is also not necessarily about "coming together".

          Please read the article before commenting, or ask me to explain if you don't feel it's explaining itself well enough.

          If it helps: think of each of those philosophies you have referenced as Belief Modules. In Open Source Religion, one recognizes these Belief Modules in themselves and in others, and recognizes the global phenomena in which we construct belief systems from these modules.

          Again, OSR in of itself comes equipped with ZERO Belief Modules.
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        Dec 1 2011: Gandhi's philosophy, was this science fiction writer's prediction of the human race,

        All you are saying is that "this really isn't anything to conform to, it's just something people can come together and share." Changing around ideas of words, I do the same thing for (semantic) argument sakes, not for organized belief sakes (organized to get popular). You are offering; a social network to join under to anticipate (learn, adapt and discover) beliefs. - Why else would you care about anyone's +1 on your e-mail list? OSR-like organizations/groups/gatherings/communities/websites already exist.

        OSR is trying to be unique and original. Which is impossible, we live in the 21st century. All ideas today are compilations, enhancements and/or restorations of others that have existed for thousands of years updated with technology.

        Also, with the word RELIGION, will come the question of "God(s)." What, who, why, how, where and when is God(s)? It's important. Personally, I - sometimes, do, don't, AND am not sure to believe in God. Since we can make up new terms here. I'm a practicing irreligious ignostic-naturalist. I'm guilty of "neologism fraud" as well.

        "Religion" indicates a religious community. Whether they are religiously a community (AA meetings) or religiously shared beliefs (Christianity) is besides the point - they still come together.

        Belief module, nice word. The "anticipation of a recognized belief system" better get it copyrighted ;-)

        A quote to leave you on your quest of gaining fans and devotees,

        The purpose of a fishtrap is to catch fish, and when the fish are caught, the trap is forgotten.
        The purpose of a rabbit snare is to catch rabbits. When the rabbits are caught, the snare is forgotten.
        The purpose of words is to convey ideas. When the ideas are grasped, the words are forgotten.
        Where can I find a man who has forgotten words? He is the one I would like to talk to.
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          Dec 1 2011: Interesting how you began by proposing that OSR is like these 4 or 5 other philosophical stances, then I very specifically noted how they are not. Yet now you render your proposition down to some very generalized accusations that OSR is "trying to be unique and original. Which is impossible".

          Many things you say show that you don't understand the idea of OSR, which I fully admit may well be my fault. But allow me to point these out so that you can see we are not even on the same page to BEGIN to discuss the implications of OSR.

          1. "You are offering; a social network to join under to anticipate beliefs"
          No. Beliefs already exist. People are free to create more, sure, but that's not the "purpose" of OSR.
          2. "with the word RELIGION, will come the question of "God(s)."
          If you insist, but the definition of religion does not necessitate a God:
          3. ""Religion" indicates a religious community."
          This also shows a misunderstanding of the definition of religion.
          4. "Belief module, nice word. The "anticipation of a recognized belief system""
          This shows you do not understand OSR. Again, OSR does not "anticipate" belief systems or beliefs themselves.

          Each of the statements above show that you either do not understand Open Source Religion (which may be my fault), and that you are using a personal definition of religion.

          I'm sorry OSR doesn't conform to one of the very many philosophical practices you are familiar with. It isn't about creating one new perfect religion. It's about recognizing and helping evolve the billions of very unique religions, each existing in every individual person. Yours being irreligious ignostic-naturalist, and perhaps spiritual hipster.

          To quote a man who's enlightenment favors words to be forgotten is also quite ironic.
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        Dec 2 2011: "a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs."

        Indeed, many people "hybrid" their belief systems with variations, varieties and/or as I enjoy coining it "existentially nit picking" from different sources, mentors, parents, authority figures etc. constantly. People who hold faith in their beliefs will always pass them down, even if their anticipated belief systems (belief modules) is to be "wise," "enlightened," "over-men," "intelligent," and/or "balanced" in a multicultural sense and a philosophical one. (I mind you religion is based on fundamental beliefs being indoctrinated.)

        The reason we are nit picking beliefs is interesting.
        Two parts:
        A. It's ancient idea of mimesis, modernly more advanced into the assumption we all perform 1. mimetic doubling, 2. mimetic rivalry, and/or 3. bandwagon personalities - consciously and unconsciously.
        B. Internet. Advanced rapid information. We are in a boom of information; I can learn about Hinduism (history, mysticism, leaders (lessons), teachings, and more) by a few key strokes. Technology is evolving rapidly today; again making information all the more readily available for nearly anyone.

        My point is, anyone with an interest in other religions will automatically have an ignostic approach to religion studies.

        If your claim is that OSR unique in some way, it is a delusional thought.

        Well no duh people create their own religion, all the time.

        1994? This whole thing is hipster, man. I know hipster when I see it, B. ALL OSR sounds like is an attempted of a social/religious movement. Good luck, at least your motives are thoughtful and "open."

        Also, you do not understand "irreligion" as it is historically in India.
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          Dec 2 2011: I'm sorry but there isn't enough content here relevant to the discussion for me to continue this conversation.
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        Dec 2 2011: Perhaps do some real religious research once in a blue moon?
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    Dec 1 2011: Fascinating concept Sidian. A big question I have though is - will you have some means to distinguish the heretics from the true believers?

    One thing I’ve come to realize about religion is that it not only creates community, but also defines who is outside the community. So once someone defines their customized religion will there be some algorithm to determine if someone else’s definition is compatible or not?
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      Dec 1 2011: Good question Tim, and I happily answer that OSR just doesn't work that way.

      The thing about Open Source Religion is that it sets a foundation for all belief systems to be treated the same within it. Also billions of people are already practicing the methods I outline in the discourse.

      In the end the only beliefs remaining that will decide who is "in" and who is "out" in people's views, are the same religions and beliefs that have existed before the coinage of Open Source Religion. OSR opens up the system, but it's up to the users to choose empathetic Belief Modules.
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        Dec 1 2011: OK Sidian. I see your point that in current practice many people do essentially create their own religion by assembling a set of beliefs and practices that they are comfortable with.

        Nevertheless, I do think that tradition is an integral aspect of religion. In fact the word religion is derived from the Latin word ligare - to tie, or to bind. It is tradition which ties us to the past and binds us to the community. What role will tradition have in your schema?
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        Dec 5 2011: So Sidian. Seeing that you failed to answer my last question, I’ll assume that you don’t see tradition as a defining element of religion as I do.

        The thing is, if we want to overcome the negative aspects of religion. We need to comprehend well what religion is. So going back to the roots - studying early forms such as the precolonial religions of America, Africa, Australia, etc. - might be a good place to start. It is my contention that religion in these contexts was not an amalgam of personal belief modules, but rather a set of traditions (beliefs and practices) shared by the cultural group which served to provide cohesion to the community and define differences to contrast with the “other”. Do you disagree with this interpretation?

        BTW - I’ve checked out your website. It is an impressive work.
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          Dec 5 2011: Tim I'm surprised by your explanation of religion as a tie to tradition.
          In practice it mostly worked that way that I didn't think of before.
          To tie to spirit, God or creator always was my idea of "to tie" in religious sense.
          A common practice, observance and all tradition was always meant to meet that goal and not a thing in itself. Do you see it different?
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        Dec 5 2011: Hi Franz. Please correct me if you think I’m missing something, but I’ll try to explain my viewpoint more clearly.

        First of all - can we view “spirit, God or creator” as a metaphor for that which is unknowable, but unites all things?

        So whether the tie is to the community or to “the greater whole” we are really saying the same thing - traditions tie us to something greater then ourselves, both in space and time.

        Can we also accept that traditions (and religion as a whole) have evolved (developed) over time? So why did they evolve? What need did they adapt to meet? It seems logical to me that they must have developed in order to unite the community and serve as a cohesive force when battling other communities which were a threat.

        So, I don’t think that I’m saying that tradition is “a thing in itself”, but rather that it served a much broader necessity.

        I know this is a non-standard way of viewing religion. But in what ways does it fall short from defining what religion in essence is?