I wonder

Lately I've been wondering what drives people to do certain things. I recently read this quote from Einstein, tipped off by Pinan:

' I maintain that the cosmic religious feeling is the strongest and noblest motive for scientific research. Only those who realize the immense efforts and, above all, the devotion without which pioneer work in theoretical science cannot be achieved, are able to grasp the strength of the emotion out of which alone such work, remote as it is from the immediate realities of life, can issue. What a deep conviction of the rationality of the universe and what a yearning to understand, Kepler and Newton must have had, to enable them to spend years of solitary labor in disentangling the principles of celestial mechanics! Those whose acquaintance with scientific research is derived chiefly from its practical results easily develop a completely false notion of the mentality of the men who, surrounded by a skeptical world, have shown the way to kindred spirits scattered wide through the world and through the centuries. Only one who has devoted his life to similar ends can have a vivid realization of what has inspired these men and given them the strength to remain true to their purpose in spite of countless failures. It is cosmic religious feeling that gives a man such strength.'

I guess an oversimplistic view of what einstein is saying is that these men had hope in something greater than themselves, hence the spiritual and religious connotations. Although the explanation is eloquent and seems to answer the question of why these men were so motivated, it really only raises more - why does this supposed cosmic religious feeling even exist? Religion in general? Is it the feeling that one is part of something greater?

If so, I wonder what happens when technology reaches critical mass of connectivity. Meaning when our devices connect the world so tightly that you can't help but feel connected to something so enormous and powerful: the rest of society. Feelings of isolation end up becoming implicitly mental, and where once before we viewed isolation as negative and community as positive, perhaps the opposite will be true and every possible chance we get we'll say, "GO AWAY!" because connectivity will be so overwhelming.

But to get back to the point, will this technology become our religion, if it provides the same comfort in something greater than oneself?

Kaveh says:

it seems like the paradoxical thing about all of this "connectivity" is how rootless and isolated it makes people feel even as they're in constant contact with others. the challenge is always to take new technologies and fit them comfortably with social needs for community and understanding. it's weird how the internet connects so many people even as it creates all these solipsistic little virtual cliques that start materializing in the "real" world too.

AaronDBaron says:

technology will simulate fullfillment of need, and then will develop into its own need. and people have been known to be happy with simulation. the simulation used to represent something other than itself...but then eventually it will become self referential. ideas from jean baudrillard. technology can help with interconnectedness to other people...to other thoughts... ..
what do you mean ..become our religion? if you mean will it become part of our cultural practice in which we choose to find meaning and purpose for our lives? i'd say it's already happened. in online communities...that's what some people do ...they live online lives and forsake the ones they have in the real world. ....that can have very serious consequences....healthy and unhealthy.

beethoven says:

Religion: Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.

A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship.
The life or condition of a person in a religious order.

A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.

A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.

i think it already could be viewed as one, but there is no spiritual leader

mikelove says:

Einstein is a crazy mother as is this thread. another famous Einstein quote: Time and space are modes by which we think and not conditions in which we live.

To me this quote goes against the part about the rationality of the universe. What does it mean to have a deep conviction in the rationality of the universe? What about the universe other than the living things with brains could be called rational? Aren't causation, classical mechanics and relativity all modes of thought also?

hannah says:

between religion and rationality, which is more fundamental to the human mind? while my post-enlightenment ego is tempted to claim the latter, i think einstein discusses religion and rationality in a way that resists such opposition. if we define religious feeling is the psychological need for coherence and context for some kind of faith (whether in god, progress, order, capitalism, etc), a person's lifelong devotion to proving the rational nature of the universe stikes me as deeply religious.

i understand technology as that which conditions all systems of belief by redefining experience. i'm not sure how technology itself could be considered a religion.. i guess you could insert a religious element into technology, like "it will save us," but i think that's just part of a larger, religious narrative about the inevitable progress of humankind.

3leet says:

Wow, everyone is using such big words. Farsheed, to answer your question(s), you are not oversimplifying, in fact you could simplify more. Science is the business of measured facts and evidence. But most of the time if you do something new, there isn't any measured stuff yet. So you must believe (where the religion reference comes in) that there is more than what meets the eye, and then go find and measure it.
Second, the connectivity thing, the idea you talk about is similar to the small town mentality where everyone knows everyone, and half the people want to get out of town because they feel repressed. However I don't think that will be the case, it will be more like new york city, where everyone _sees_ everyone, but nobody _knows_ anyone.
Finally, the quest for greater "technology" is already an ideology for some. It's, in a way, part of the culture of consumerism.

xbeethovenx (not verified) says:

RIP Society