Financial Atheism – Hacker Noon

Brian of Nazareth

After the tragic events of 9/11 2001 Sam Harris started writing his book “The end of faith” which happened to be released around the same time as Richard Dawkins’ “The God delusion”, Daniel Dennett’s “Breaking the spell” and Christopher Hitchens “God is not great — How religion poisons everything”. These books kickstarted what in hindsight has often been referred to as the new atheist movement even though there has arguably never been anything new about atheism. Atheism must almost certainly have preceded religion since religious ideas require the person holding the idea to believe a certain doctrine or story. Atheism is just the rejection of ways to describe the world which are not verifiable by experimentation. A fly is probably an atheist by this definition of the word. Atheism is often accused of being just another set of of beliefs when in reality, the word itself describes what it is much better. A-theism. The lack of belief in theistic ideas. It is not a code of conduct or set of rules to live your life by, it is simply the rejection of that which cannot be scientifically verified. Many people, religious people in particular, have a hard time grasping this. If you believe that a supernatural entity created everything in everyone’s life you might not be too comfortable with a word that describes a complete rejection of what you believe created even the atheist that the word describes. The amount of different religious world views that exist is probably equal to the sum of all religious people on the planet but the world view that’s based on a rejection of these views require but one word — atheism. It is not the opposite of religion, it is simply the lack of it. It is the equivalent of the zero in relation to all the other numbers.

In 2008 another sub culture movement of unbelief was born. Let’s call it Financial Atheism — the rejection of un-verifiable value claims. With the invention of Bitcoin a way of rejecting fraudulent expressions of a token’s value was born. Those of us fortunate enough to have been born in secular countries all reap the benefits of not having the ideas of religious demagogues dictating our lives. We can choose what ideas to believe in or not. What we still have very limited means of choosing though is the way we express value to each other. We’re told to use a system in which we all have a certain number of value tokens assigned to our name as a number on a screen and as digits on paper notes and we all live in the collective hallucination that these numbers are somehow legit and that their authenticity is not to be questioned. A Bitcoin balance assigned to a certain Bitcoin address might seem just as questionable to a layman but, if you have a basic understanding of hashing algorithms, they’re not. The hash of the latest block on the Bitcoin blockchain at the time of writing this begins with eighteen zeros in a row. These zeros represent the proof of work that ensure that this block is valid and that every transaction in it actually happened. If you can grasp the concept of a hashing algorithm and if you have an intuition about mathematics you realize the gargantuan amount of calculating effort that went into finding this particular hash. It is simply mind blowing. This must be a legitimate set of transactions. To forge a false version of a hash like this just wouldn’t be economically viable. Don’t trust. Verify.

The plural form of the word cryptocurrency is misleading. The toolset for being a financial atheist is Bitcoin and Bitcoin only. Its consensus rules in conjunction with the iron clad security that its public blockchain provides us with a way of verifying our transactions. The history of Bitcoin, from Satoshis departure to Mike Hearns, from the bcash fork to the failure of SegWit2x, is a testament to its ability to resist kidnapping attempts. The people who invented Bitcoin were uncompromising and principal in their quest for a decentralized currency whos monetary policy was set in stone so that no king, politician or banker would ever be able to inflate its supply no matter how tempted they were. After all, this is what has happened to every other currency that ever existed. Alternative blockchains or altcoins can be viewed as inflation-attempts to Bitcoin. The notion of a competing currency to Bitcoin is an oxymoron since one of Bitcoin’s founding principles is the fixed money supply. Despite all this, rent seeking behaviour can be found all over this space and greed once again seems to be the prime engine for human conduct.

All of this leads to a lot of confusion for those who are new to the idea of a blockchain. They can’t separate the science from the scientology since the loudest voices aren’t those of the anonymous programmer’s libertarian circle of friends but rather those of the snake-oil salesmen who try to ride the crest of a wave of buzzwords before it comes tumbling down to a sobering shore. The so called cryptocurrency space is unique in this way since it’s represented by the best and the worst that humanity has to offer at the same time. It’s like an amplified version of the diversity of ideas found in North America, where both NASA and The Flat Earth society operate at the same time. Bitcoin is not about following thought leaders. Satoshi wasn’t Jesus. Satoshi was Brian of Nazareth telling his followers to think for themselves. Bitcoin is a tool for everyone to eliminate trust in self proclaimed higher truths such as money backed by governments or “alternative” blockchains. Don’t trust. Verify.

Bitcoin is Secularization phase II — The separation of money and state. If you want to reap the benefits of this you need to be onboard. It does not require belief, it requires understanding. Leaving a cult isn’t easy. It requires you to separate yourself from your flock. Be prepared for a mass migration.

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