The Intersection

Maybe teenage geeks and fantasy-loving atheists have a shared faith after all? As Dylan Otto Krider reports over at the Colorado Daily, a University of Colorado postgraduate named Theo Zijderveld is making a serious argument to this effect:

For the paper, Zijderveld applied the French sociologist Danil Hervieu-Lger’s four dimensions required to be considered a religion: community, ethics, culture and emotion.

He believes playing with friends constitutes community, the rules of the game the ethical dimension, the “Warcraft” mythos the culture and the feelings of belonging the emotional dimension.

Well, this should certainly provoke comment.


  1. #1 Sven DiMilo
    January 30, 2009

    I guess it depends on whether one buys the French sociologist Danil Hervieu-Lger’s four dimensions required to be considered a religion. This concept seems to include the Marines, the Boy Scouts and trekkies as well. I bet I can find another sociologist to propose a definition of religion that would implicate ScienceBlogs as a religion. *shrug*

  2. #2 James F
    January 30, 2009

    I wonder how he would classify Second Life, or even Dungeons and Dragons. I question that a religion can exist through someone’s online persona – how does this impact how players behave in real life? Of course, there’s always The Guild….

  3. #3 Ashutosh
    January 30, 2009

    “community, ethics, culture and emotion.”

    I hope that that all-encompassing ingredient- faith without evidence- is subsumed among these.

  4. #4 NoAstronomer
    January 30, 2009

    I don’t think that you can classify the rules of the game as ethics. Ethics is doing the right thing in the absence of rules. Besides the rules are hard-coded, you couldn’t break them if you wanted too (hackers not included).

    However, within the World of Warcraft community there are behaviors that are considered ethical and others that are not. Violating the code can lead to the same consequences that you might experience within a religious community for similar transgressions. Exclusion from the community, denial of privileges and persecution are all commonly practiced.

    Like Sven points out, though, those four dimensions are pretty darn pathetic. My job could meet all four dimensions but I don’t think anyone would call it a religion.

  5. #5 Lilian Nattel
    January 30, 2009

    It would be interesting to find out more about those four dimensions. What is the difference between a community that has a shared ideology and religion or is it the same?

  6. #6 Jon Winsor
    January 30, 2009

    I recently read this book on Nerd subculture that was pretty good. I wouldn’t qualify it as a religion, though. Although there are interesting parallels…

  7. #7 Arikia
    January 30, 2009

    By those criteria, ScienceBlogs is a religion.


  8. #8 tricky11
    February 3, 2009

    Just create a church on the game itself and don’t bother to apply it in real life. Players please focus on farming wow gold instead of discussing this.

  9. #9 WoW Black Book
    February 19, 2009

    If you call being in front of the computer 24/7 just because of playing as a religion, then be it.

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