I just came across this very interesting video from Religion for Breakfast YouTube channel. It’s about how Big-Tech companies are adapting religious characteristics and assume roles that are traditionally reserved for the classic religions of our world.
Before we get started, if you didn’t know about Religion for Breakfast, consider following the project because they really do produce excellent content. I found them via my younger brother who is an archeologist, and he also finds their videos informative and insightful.
Religion in Hebrew
This video is a great opportunity to talk about the Hebrew word for religion. The common way to say religion in Hebrew nowadays is the word דָּת (dat). It is a Biblical Hebrew word, but it appears only in late period scriptures such as the Book of Daniel, the Book of Ezra, and the Scroll of Esther.
The word דָּת is not of Hebrew origin, but a loan-word form Old Persian that entered Hebrew during the Babylonian Exile. It comes from the word dāta which means law, and it can still have that meaning in literary Hebrew. The word dāta itself is believed to have derived from the Proto-Indo-European root ‘deh-’ which means to give, or from the root ‘dā’ which mean to put, set, or lay down.
Believe it or not, but apparently the techy English word (of Latin descent) ‘data’ has also derived from the very same root as the Hebrew word for religion. Crazy, isn’t it? Data refers to a given set of information, and דָּת (religion) refers to a given set of laws or rules. Other words which are associated with the ancient root ‘deh’ are the words donor, vendor, dose, dowry, condone and even anecdote.
The modern Persian word for law is قانون (kanun) and that’s a loan-word from Arabic which also exists in English in the form of ‘canon’. They may have something to with the Hebrew word קָנֶה (qane) which means reed or a long hollow stick that was also used as a ruler – a word that also means both a tool for measuring and the person deciding and laying down the law.
Stick it to The Man holding the stick
Speaking of sticks, we can also find a Chinese Radical called a Hand Holding a Stick (攵) on the right side of the Chinese character 政 (zhèng – to govern), as well as in the character 教 (jiào – teaching and religion), and in the character 数 (shù – number, also part of the word 数据 – data).
And speaking of religion and data, I can’t help but remember that time when Data from Star Trek – The Next Generation decided to grow a beard (Season 2 Episode 6 – The Schizoid Man):
In the scene right before this one, when Geordi and Deanna are chatting in the hallway on their way to see Data, Geordi says that he thinks Data is showing signs of insecurity, and thus it feels like he is becoming more and more human. It really ties in nicely with the relation between consciousness and uncertainty (and the need to cover yourself), and with the maze from Westworld we talked about recently.
And since we also mentioned the word ‘anecdote’ and how it has something to do with giving, I will leave you with a funny one that relates both to Tech and Hebrew.
Did you know that Facebook’s new name Meta, sounds exactly like the Hebrew word מֵתָה which means dead in the singular feminine? Since Facebook is a company (חֶבְרָה – chevra) it is regarded as a feminine entity, so when you say Facebook Meta, it sounds like ‘Facebook is dead’ in Hebrew.
I don’t know about you, but I certainly hope that this somehow will turn out to be coincidental prophetic symbolism of sorts.