Tuesday, 14 February 2012

A new "religion" is founded: Sapienism

I am an ordinary man.  I am not a prophet.  I claim no special or divine knowledge. I have no spiritual visions.  I am just a man with an idea; an admittedly presumptuous idea!

I am hereby founding a new religion, and I am calling it Sapienism, taken from the word Sapiens - as in Homo Sapiens.  Both because this is a humanist religion, and because the word refers to knowing and wisdom.  

I am an atheist, a rationalist, a skeptic.  I am also deeply religious.  Contradiction?  Not if I have a say in it!

You see, to most, religion is synonymous with faith in the supernatural.  In most cases, that's accurate.  But most of the elements of what makes a religion do not actually require such belief.  I studied "religious sciences" in university - basically the anthropological study of religion.  Religion was one of humankind's first inventions.  It may have been evolutionarily advantageous on its own, or a by-product of how our pattern-seeking minds work.  Either way, it's hard-wired into who we are and all cultures have developed their own versions of it, which have certain elements in common.  These range from ancestor worship all the way to major world religions which claim possess the ultimate truth.  But now we know better.  We know that many of the questions we sought to answer with religion are much better answered with science.  However, even though many of us have left our churches, synagogues and temples, we still sometimes feel that yearning for what might be most easily described as "spiritual fulfillment."  We can still have that fulfillment, without recourse to superstitious beliefs in an unseen spiritual realm.  Christopher Hitchens said it well during the Monk debates in Toronto in November 2010, when he explained "the question is how to keep what is of value of this sort in art and our emotions and in our finer feelings; the numinous, the transcendent…the ecstatic, and to distinguish it precisely from superstition, and the supernatural, which is designed to make us fearful and afraid and servile…”  So when I say spiritual fulfillment I am refering not to a literal spirit or soul, but to those emotional qualities common to us that we generally equate with spirituality.  Things such as a sense of self, of purpose, a sense of wonder and awe, a sense of belonging.

Rather than concern ourselves with expounding on what cannot be known: the unseen, the supernatural, we instead focus on this world, this life.  Sapienism believes in making the most of this human life; the only life we can be absolutely certain of.  Sapienism believes in seeking truth - not the esoteric knowledge of "divine revelation" that many claim as truth, and not the sort of equivocal "all beliefs are equally valid" kind of truth - but the truth of seeking the best answers for understanding the reality of the world around us and our place in the universe.  Sapienism promises no eternal reward or punishment, demands no allegiance, and does not enforce any dogma (there is no punishment for Sapienists holding views and beliefs contrary to "official" teachings.).  Sapienism seeks to create a worldwide community where the rewards are found in this life.
What does Sapienism have in common with other religions?  The crucial elements of religion include the following:

  1.  Sacred and profane
    • The sacred includes knowledge seeking, critical thinking, relationships, aspects of human life, reverence for the natural world, reverence for our humanity and the qualities that make us human.
    • The profane includes magical thinking, superstition, dishonesty and misinformation, and other things that are antithetical to the sacred elements.
  2. Unique sentiments structured around the sacred
  3. An overarching view of the world and the individual’s place in it.
  4. Prayer
    • Prayer traditionally serves various functions such as seeking aid, offering thanks, etc.  Sapienists choose to seek these things from the community and have various means of accomplishing the things that prayer seeks to accomplish, except for worship, and we don't actually pray..   
  5. Rituals
    • There will be a book of liturgies.  Both communal and individual rituals, ceremonies, and symbols are part of Sapienism.
  6. A system of morality
    • Essentially humanism centered around the golden rule (One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself), and the silver rule (One should not treat others in ways that one would not like to be treated.), with some particular foci.
  7. A community group
Sapienism includes all of these things, though it approaches them in a very different way than most traditional religions yiou may be familiar with.  I will explain further in my book.


I am in the process of writing a book, which I have titled "My Godless Religion: Building a New Tradition on a Human Foundation."  I will be offering as a "by donation" download once I complete it in the coming months.  In the event that Sapienism takes root and flourishes, it should be noted that neither this or any other book should ever be used as some sort of scripture or definitive pronouncement.  It can and should be discussed critically and not set apart as a sacred cow.

I'll be using this blog to promote the ideas and introduce Sapienism to the world.

In addition to exploring the above ideas more in depth, I will be publishing a book of ceremonies and rituals.  The first one I'll be posting right away in another blog post.  It's a Menarche Liturgy that we'll be using soon to mark my daughter's 13th birthday.



  1. I decided this morning that I might start calling myself a Sapienist. I was curious if anyone had used that word before and found this blog.

    I'm going to a meeting this morning to meet some other people I found online in my city in a similar manner.

    I think this just might become a thing. This and the idea of Secular Churches.

    Thanks for sharing these ideas.

    1. I met with these people:

      They're pretty awesome. If you contact me perhaps we could keep each other updated on similar happenings?



  2. I had a similar idea and started the site http://sapienism.org. If anyone is interested you can join my site which is a wikipedia. you can also follow sapienism on twitter https://twitter.com/sapienismorg

  3. I had started to tell people that i am a form of communist called a sapienist. Before truly expressing that view i wanted to see if anyone had already tainted the term, and after reading this i dont believe that it has.

    I think the idea of it as a religion is an interesting way to go, many people are distrustful of "new religions". As a philosophy which encompasses spiritual beliefs and political ideations it allows more people to want to support its underlying tenets.

    There are a few aspects that i disagree with, but the main concept is what i believe the world needs to hear. We should all strive to include open and honest debate on any ideas that we use to help direct the focus of our lives.

    The evils of current religions and capatlism is the main threat to sapiens as a species. Once the idea of one people who care and help each other is taught and discussed openly it will open the eyes of most people.