Sacralizing Reality Digitally: YouTruths, Kennewick Claims and the First Americans

in Journal of Religion, Media and Digital Culture
Open Access

Marshalling scientific arguments and methods for religious ends is certainly not a new trend in religious expressions, but new modes of writing scientifically legitimated myths has developed online. Computer-mediated communication provides new tools for such a fusing of religion and science, and the present article asks what this entails for categories of religious authority and authenticity. Taking online expressions of the Neo-Pagan faith called Asatrú, a 9,500 year-old skeleton and an associated modern North American conspiracy theory as the starting points, a configuration of religious authenticity derived from scientific sources is analysed. The case is made that through hyperlinks, YouTube videos and discussion forums, religious communities such as the online Asatrú groups strategically assemble religious authority on a foundation of science, tapping into non-religious ecologies of knowledge available online. This puts into question theoretical premises such as notions of the secular and differentiation of rationalities. Research in CMC and religion, it is argued, must take into consideration the specific hybrid knowledges facilitated by online structures and technologies.


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