“Cosmos and Taxis in Religious Life: Pattern Regularities and New Challenges”
Studies in Emergent Order, Vol. 3 (2010)
A spontaneous order is defined as an order with abstract rules. The rules structure the actions of individuals and organizations. Decentralized actions may all be in harmony with the order yet reflect mutually incompatible objectives. Most spontaneous order analyses have focused on markets, science and democracy. In some but not all liberal democracies, religious human action is however also structured by a spontaneous order, which is distinct from—although in some ways similar to—markets. Like firms in markets, religious organizations attempt to accumulate systemic resources. But unlike in markets, the religious systemic resource—objective religious commitment—is fuzzier and therefore more difficult to interpret than price signals. A similarity with markets is that religious activity may be suppressed by active government involvement in religious funding and regulations, and that individual choice is influenced by the prevailing system of social values.