In Bitcoin we trust — faith and cryptocurrencies

Alessandro Melazzini
4 min readDec 5, 2022
Willem de Poorter — The Parable of The Talents or Minas

The relationship between religion and currency is at least as old as the Bible.

If faith in an otherworldly creator is perverted into the worship of a golden calf, then there is a prevalence of materiality over the true values of the spirit.

In the New Testament, Jesus is careful to separate that which is Caesar’s from that which is the Kingdom of Heaven, showing that he is able to place value on both, even in the different realms of judgment.

And although he drives the merchants out of the temple, he also knows how to appreciate that young man who is able to put his talents to good use, “talents” in the literary sense of currency, so as to multiply them with true entrepreneurial spirit, as in the famous parable.

Ultimately, however, for Christianity, currency remains the reason why Judas betrayed Jesus, and for centuries the business of lending money was relegated to merchants of the Jewish faith, contributing to the spread of an economically motivated anti-Semitic prejudice in Christian circles.

And yet until Porta Pia, the Vatican never denied that the Kingdom of Heaven should have a concrete material representation on earth, expressed in a state stocked with tax collectors and an accumulator of wealth and treasure.

Protestantism, then, if it arose precisely as a rejection of the papal practice of beating the cash under the guise of cleansing the consciences of the faithful, is perhaps among the variations of Christian belief the one that most establishes a direct connection between wealth and faith. This was taught to us by the masterful lesson of a sociologist like Max Weber that any demonstration of wealth is, for the true believer, above all a tangible proof of one’s otherworldly salvation.

Even today, the narrative imprinted on the Church by Bergoglio, the Franciscan pope, turns the noses up at those in the clergy and outside them who ill tolerate from God’s representative on earth such a manifest demonstration of humility and poverty, which critics see as a dangerous drift into pauperism.

Even from these few examples, it is evident how religion and wealth (or lack thereof) are interconnected in a relationship that is not always linear, but constant. Moreover, the phrase stamped on dollar bills, “in God we trust,” is enough to remind us of this.

Then again, Faith itself, the certainty in something higher, in a value to which to vow oneself, for many believers is the most important wealth one can possess, and poor are those who lack it.

And yet faith is such a broad concept that it can also be used in many other areas of human knowledge. For often having faith — in a God, in a team, in a mission — is the vital engine by which we proceed through life’s adversities, tolerate them, face them, perhaps overcome them, guided by a force that has very little material about it.

At first, then, although it may seem bizarre to speak of “faith” in the cryptocurrency sphere, it is a fact that even this nascent universe is driven by a belief that is far from scientific.

In fact, I am not referring to the cryptographic security of the blockchain, the decentralized database on which the Bitcoin narrative is based, which as it is designed ensures mathematical certainty about the immutability and irreversibility of transactions, proof against any attempt at counterfeiting.

The fact that movements on blockchain need no intermediary to be considered valid, rather everything rests on a decentralized network of actors communicating via cryptography, is a momentous invention for which I hope Satoshi Nakamoto receives the Nobel Prize in economics in absentia.

When I speak of “faith” in the context of cryptocurrency, I am referring to the fact that even an intellectual and mathematical construct as mighty as the Blockchain needs faith to grow and establish itself.

The faith of its users: a handful of cryptopunks ten years ago, now more and more, albeit still considered a niche. The faith of those who “believe” in the adventure set in motion by the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto(s), that is, the hope for the planetary success of a decentralized global currency.

If Bitcoin will establish itself as a global mainstream currency, this will ultimately not be because of its excellent mathematical conception, not as obscure as it may seem, but in fact in need of some study to become comprehensible.

On the contrary, the success of Bitcoin in particular, and perhaps a few other cryptocurrencies such as Eth, will occur because more and more people — experienced and not — sense how vowing to cryptocurrencies is part of a larger mission, for which — at the moment — it is worth taking no small monetary risks, and being regarded with suspicion by those who refuse to understand what is at stake. Believing in Bitcoin’s success, despite all the criticism, if not outright insults, bestowed by those who are averse to the idea of a decentralized currency, currently requires an act of faith.

And yet I am convinced that these “fools,” charged with a faith in something intangible perceived nonetheless as extremely real, will reach a critical mass sufficient to usher in an epochal shift in the monetary paradigm. And the more they insist that their victory will have been won because of the mathematical purity of their currency, the more obvious it will become that without an element of insanity, or at least great faith, no one would have succeeded in making the outrageous conceptual pebble developed by a stranger, one of the greatest financial revolutions in human history.

Translated from Italian with https://www.deepl.com/translator

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