Archive for the ‘Spiritual/Religious’ Category

More antireligious thoughts

Tuesday, June 28th, 2022

So, I’ve been pondering the behavior of God in the book of Job, and how Christians always assure me that God should be allowed to behave like that because *e was here before we were and therefore is under no obligation to behave morally, decently, or reasonably.

Now, I remain convinced the Christian God is a work of fiction and that we should all be profoundly grateful for that fact. But I also remain convinced that Christians think evil is good and hate is love – and one example of this is that they want to worship a diety that they think plays games with them and deliberately torments them to test their loyalty – or through inaction and encouragement, allows said torment to happen and makes bets on it. What would we think of a human who behaved as God did during this little endevor? And how horrifying is it that Christians assure us God gave Job back everything at the end – except, um, his daughters were dead, so he gave him different daughters, but hey, humans are interchangable, right?

Heinlein pointed out most (fictionally created) Gods have the manners of a spoiled child. This isn’t surprising, humans can’t imagine things smarter and more capable than them – it’s the same problem as sci-fi authors writing smarter aliens – and of course most of the people writing religions are doing it because they think they should be allowed to tell other people what to do (and usually get paid for it) and therefore have the manners of a spoiled child themselves.

I do remember a recent argument with someone who is convinced I’m going to hell for not beleiving in Jesus (and one indication I have that Christians have flawed morals is *they’re okay with this* – as Spider Robinson once observed, you’d think if Christians really believed in God they’d be trying to figure out how to declare war on h*, not worshipping h*) – kept saying over and over “You’re not God”. It’s true, but I’ve built worlds, I’ve used evolution as a force – I think I’m probably in a better place to get inside the mind of a God than most people and I don’t find their God of hate and evil believable at all. That type of creature would never create something with the beauty and subtlety of this universe. I understand that selling their God of hate and evil lets them do the horrible things they want to do. But I also have hopes that someday we’ll refuse to buy it any more.

Religious thoughts (tinfoil hat)

Tuesday, May 24th, 2022

So, one of the interesting variants of the religious thoughts that go through my mind is the possibility that certain aspects of Christianity are right and they explain the wrongness of all the rest of the religion.

Here’s the setup – one of the things that they do say is that hell is the absence of God. What if what this actually means is hell is the absence of the *memetics* of God – that is to say, we remove all the best ideas. So, no polyamoury? Strongly pushing pair bonds even though humans are wired to fall in love more than once? Pushing the idea that you’re fatally flawed and someone had to die because you’re so broken? All in fact not the best truth, but because we’re not in Heaven (i.e. in the zone of good memetics and good information) we’re assured by the priests, who are among the most confused of all, that we don’t deserve good memetics and we should be punished for being what we are. Get closer to the zone of not-insane-memetics and you’ll find some of the nuttiness fades – i.e. no more worshipping paper dollars over real value, no more telling people sexual hunger is wicked or they should only want to pet their One True Person, no more the republican party is pushing authoritarianism – basically the idea here is that you can steer for the world that you want to live in by coloring your beliefs and if you see the above sorts of nuttiness you’re aimed in the wrong direction.

Which gets tricky. What is it that I’m not believing that’s excluding me from utopia? I mean, lately I expect humans to hurt each other, to spend their technological energy on tools for hurting each other, to hurt each other over stupid reasons, to lie, to start wars, to try to punish people for having sex, to try and claim that babies belong to indiviudals rather than to all of us and that individuals should have to suffer because they chose to have them even though evolution has wired all of us to be real stupid about reproduction.

I’m sure you’ve all see me go on about all these topics elsewhere in the blog, but I am starting to wonder if part of my problem is I can’t stop believing the worst about us. I need to believe that we are better than this, can be better than this, and will be better than this. It’s obvious there’s no moral deities here.

It’s also obvious that everyone could easily be experiencing a custom variant of reality, and that there’s very few guarantees about how those realities even overlap. I just can’t believe that people can’t come up with a better future than what the GOP is currently pushing – while in the meantime I like the future the Democrats talk about but they seem like they don’t want to actually implement anything – they’ll even let the GOP cheat (Refusing to nominate judges for example) – I can’t decide if the problem is they all want slightly different things, can’t triage, and each think their one hobbyhorse is the most important, or they’re actually a bunch of scammers who really just want to donation farm and collect money from the electorate and they have to be very careful never to actually get anything done because they’d have less issues to use to push people’s emotional buttons with.

Anyway, I guess the thought that I was playing with the most here is that Earth’s religions are all so obviously wrong *because* we’re far away from the utopic axis. My sense that things are getting progressively worse is either just that all humans feel that way about all change or that I’ve been steadily sliding down that axis as my beliefs decay.

One of my problems with religion

Sunday, March 20th, 2022

So, I was just involved in a argument on facebook with someone who was under the illusion that there are no stupid people. I mean, I would love to live in a world where that was true – but it just really isn’t. Recent things coming from this person’s corner make me suspect that they have recently succumbed to a damaging information virus (translation: religion)

Anyway, this is one of a few different times today when I’ve been bothered by people who obviously believe things which are not true because of the religions they are infected with. Normally I’m all for whatever gets you through the night, but I think these beliefs in things which are not true are really starting to hurt us all. I mean, you have all the people who voted for Trump due to deeply delusional beliefs, but it goes a bit further than that. You have people pretending peak oil won’t happen, global warming isn’t real, and that if we just pray real hard everyone in the Ukraine will be okay. (You also have people ignoring that the US has over and over provided the weapons – and sometimes the soldiers – to destroy people’s houses and kill folks just as Russia is currently doing to the Ukraine – generally because we didn’t like their ideology surrounding resource allocation although occasionally just because it was profitable for US corporations)

Anyway, my point is, one of my problems with religion is that it makes people believe things that are clearly not true, and then make decisions based on those beliefs. I’m not saying this is the biggest problem facing humanity but it clearly is a problem.

I don’t know why it rubs me so much the wrong way today to have people making clearly untrue assertions and suggesting useless actions in response to disasters. Maybe I’m just in a bad mood because of other factors. But the appeal of just deleting my facebook account seems larger than usual today. I do continue to think it will be useful as a vehicle for getting people to listen to my music, although it also may be that I’m never going to have that large a audiance because I am not sure I can be what most of the world would apparently want me to be – I mean, the odds of someone as anti-religion as me being cancelled seem pretty high.

I did unfriend the person – they haven’t contributed anything positive in my life in the last several years and various aspects of their smug superiority combined with lack of connection to observable reality made me think I’m better off without them. My patience with people who are convinced they are vastly superior to me seems to be wearing very thin.

Christianity and that rat bastard Paul pt 2

Thursday, January 27th, 2022

So, one interesting question that occured to me is whether Paul genuinely believed that worshipping Jesus was the best idea – that God wanted worship, that one shouldn’t emulate Jesus but rather consider Jesus above one and a different type of creature – whether in fact the message of the sacrifice being necessary for God to forgive us and Hell being what would happen to anyone who didn’t believe in the sacrifice – and of course the ever-dangerous-and-stupid message that Christianity was the One True Way and all non-Christians were Less Than – whether he believed all that, or whether he found it a convenient thing for Rome to make others believe that.

Remember, Paul was originally Saul, who was tasked with squishing these peace-loving hippies before the love started to overrule the desire to run a militaristic empire. Gee, this story’s never happened before – or again … anyway, maybe he figured out that he couldn’t *actually* squish them like grape, but what he *could* do is subvert and confuse their beliefs into patterns that were useful to the empire, or at least not as dangerous to it.

Or, maybe he genuinely believed himself in all the things he wrote. He clearly had some moments of genius – as I said, 1 corinthians 13 has the ring of eternal truth and is some of the best poetry in the whole book – but he also had a lot of moments of confusing local truths (the customs of his tribe) for eternal truth, and he encouraged a lot of things that have hurt us memetically for centuries.

Christianity and that rat bastard Paul

Thursday, January 27th, 2022

So, the other day I was musing about how that rat bastard Paul, who otherwise caused all sorts of unfortunate things to occur, may have written the most beautiful lines of the entire Christian Bible (1 Corinthians 13)

Howsomeever, he also did a lot of really awful things. Not that Paul started the patriarchy, but he certainly codified it into a document a awful lot of people have believed was the word of god.

And, as I’ve been discovering, he did something else that in some ways is even worse. If we accept the idea that Jesus existed as canon – and even if he was a fictional character I think we can safely accept he was created in the mind of his author – or lived – or something – around 30 AD – then I would hope we could all agree that Jesus’s message was “Be excellent to each other”. Over and over he talks about empathy, talks about using your gifts, talks about being a good friend, citizen, neighbor, etc.

Paul warped this into being all about ego, all about names. Got people to worship Jesus, worship Jesus’s name, to think that they needed to pray in Jesus’s name. He turned a “treat each other well, love each other well, be wonderful and live well” cult – a bunch of pot smoking hippies basically – into .. well, what we’ve got now. People who think God wants and needs worshipped. People who think they should be judging other people not just based on whether they treat each other well, but based on some very strange ideas about what is “sinful”. People who are anxious to condemn for everything from sex to being a “illegal immigrant”. And, people who think that God is completely broken internally and insane.

One of the basic tenets of Christianity is that the reason Jesus had to die is “God is a just God, and therefore requires a sacrifice to avoid torturing people for having made mistakes”. However, if you’re me, what this actually reads like is “Two wrongs make a right”. There’s no way that hurting Jesus because other people were hurt makes anything better. That’s not justice, that’s just insanity, the same sort of insanity that keeps revenge going for cycle after cycle – exactly what Jesus himself preached against when he talked about turning the other cheek.

It does explain a lot of the bad behavior of the Christians that they completely missed the point, and thought they should be worshipping Jesus himself. Just as Buddhists do not worship the Buddha, but merely practice in a effort to become more like him, Christians shouldn’t be worshipping Jesus, they should be emulating him. Again, as I’ve mentioned, people who need and/or want unwavering worship – yes-men, in other words – are not all there. Stable, well developed personalities don’t need that sort of thing – I would think this would be *extra* true in the case of a larger neural network – which, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, if God is anything that has a personality I would think God would have a larger neural net than humans and be *more* capable, *more* stable, and whatnot. That isn’t to say that there isn’t a place for both gratitude and positive reinforcement, because there certainly is – as there is in all our friendships and connections.

God and infinity

Wednesday, January 5th, 2022

(Note: This is going to go some places that most folks are not equipped to follow.)

So, I had a thought the other day – as you know, I’ve debated whether or not God is (or has) a neural network, whether or not God is static and unchanging, and talked about how even if God is static and unchanging our experience of God can change in much the same way that when you move a static and unchanging tape past a play head you experience dynamic and changing music. And, I know there are people who declare that God is spirit.

However, one thought that came to me on facebook the other day is that infinity – the infinite set of sets – must perforce be bigger than God, unless God is in no way a individual or self aware at all. The infinite set of sets also by definition displays a limit to God’s omnipotence, because no one can remove anything from it. You can remove data from the world, but you can’t make 3 not be between 2 and 4 on the number line no matter how hard you try – and this idea can be expanded multidimensionally in all sorts of ways. For that matter, I still believe God can’t change the value of pi – it’s defined by the relationship of two lines at 90 degree angles to each other, and nothing you can do will change it.

Nor can true infinity – the infinite set of sets – be a self aware individual, because it cannot exlude or remove or rearrange *anything*. This would seem to even exclude awareness as we understand it, although I won’t go as far as to assert that is true (after all, many native Americans speak of everything as being aware and I’m not in a good position to say they’re wrong)

Nor can any one entity claim ownership of the infinite set of sets. One of the sickest and most disturbing parts of capitalism is in order to make the system work we’ve got people claiming to *own* ideas, even though clearly other entities in other parts of the world or galaxy or universe or multiverse might be having those ideas at the exact same time, or had them long before. “Intellectual property” shouldn’t be property at all – this represents a fundamental phoniness, fundamental way of lying about the universe to ourselves and each other.

In any case, surely any “God” couldn’t know there wasn’t another “God” in another frame with access to the same set of sets. In a multiverse, you might have parallel Gods next door to each other thinking the same thoughts – or different ones. That the bible doesn’t speak of these things is part of how I know it isn’t really divine inspiration by a creature more advanced than humanity was when it was penned. These are thoughts that are much easier for people like me who have been immersed in everything from set theory to quantum mechanics, and even tried to accept and grok Copenhagen, MWT, and PWT to grok than they would have been for the folks wandering around 2000 years ago. But a religious text that was truly inspired by a diety would already know these things. I think part of what’s most annoying to me about the bible is that it’s so clearly a lie. Any *real* God would know these things.

(Of course, if God *isn’t* aware and *is* static – that is to say, God’s just a tape – this could fit the Christian bible in that a non-aware God would have no need to be ethical. It would make less sense though in that a static God certainly has no need to be jealous. Of course, the best explanation, by far, of God’s jealousy is it’s actually the jealousy of the priests, who need people to keep believing in this particular set of fictions if they’re going to keep getting paid.)

On my “list of reasons christianity is bad for us”..

Monday, November 1st, 2021

The KKK is apparently still with us because it was revived by a methodist preacher. I was $TODAYS_AGE years old when I learned this.

..

Tuesday, October 5th, 2021

Be very suspicious of any information that is tagged with instructions to make a copy of it. (This includes most religions). In general, useful truth does not need to be tagged with a engram making it a virus in order to be viral. Therefore you have to question the validity and value of information that is tagged with viral engrams, as well as the motives of the people who made it viral.

Christians worship Loki

Thursday, September 30th, 2021

I have tried and tried, and I cannot come to any conclusion other than Christians worship Loki, and all of humanity’s memetics suffer for it.

I mean, consider, they worship a god that’s using a genetic algorithm to design bodies – as a side effect of this, we can safely bet there will be all sorts of things encouraging sex – starting out with it feeling good, then adding in that males (and for all I know females, no one tells me these things) experience stronger and stronger irrationality when they’re not having it regularly – and yet has declared sex a sin. Our perfect all knowing God is deliberately setting us up to lose and then blaming us for it?

They’re also worshipping a God who arranged for there to be a whole plethora of equally probable (or if you prefer improbable) religions but will only reward you for picking the right one. If you happen to be of a certain evangelical stripe, you also think God will torture you for all eternity for picking the wrong one.

And, of course, we have a God who is nowhere to be found – of course because of the way our minds work if you listen real hard you will hear signals that are not there, but as far as signals that clearly are, God does not appear to have a phone number, a email address, or be saying anything meaningful that everyone can agree on. In addition, we *know* humans make up stories when it benefits them, and we know that Christianity benefits the priests – who of course push it harder than anyone. So God is asking us to believe something that is on the face of it extremely improbable. Hello, Loki?

Of course, it gets better. You have young earth christians who believe God created fake dinosaur bones and fossils and even fake but completely internally consistent science like carbon dating just to fool you. Heh heh heh! To lead you *away* from having a good outcome when you die.

I’m serious, can you all not see the trickster-god-ness about all this?

Now, if we had memetics that *matched* the fact that we’re wired to fall in love more than once, and also didn’t try to punish individuals for having sex, and also encouraged decisions that lead to greater happiness for individuals and for the race, Earth could very easily be a paradise. Instead, though, we have people trying their hardest to imply that hedonism is a sin, is wrong and bad, and that you should wait for your pie in the sky by and by. As Utah Phillips said, my my, that’s a lie.

I of course want my society to not push monogamy as the one true way, and to take care of everyone’s children – and everyone. To keep everyone housed and fed whether they want to do something productive or not. To not punish people for “crimes” that hurt no one but them, and to try to lead people towards love. To encourage people to enlarge their family when people “cheat” instead of breaking more hearts and leading to more sadness. To stop behaving as if lovers are each other’s property. To not ask people to behave in ways that are contrary to human nature. And so on, and so forth.

I do also seriously think we would be better off with a decentralized authority system than with any system that made one entity control everything. I also think it’s interesting that Christians have declared that God is static – unable to think, unable to transition between states. I tend to think if there is a God or Gods, they’re bigger neural networks than we are. This, of course, puts me at odds with anyone who thinks that God could make a mistake.

(Again, with the loki thing, we are born *tabla rasa*. There are multiple ways for God to get perfect beings that are exactly what GOd wants. One is to have them born with the neural structures already in place to behave the way God wants and the other is to use something like a computer instead of something like a NNN. One presumes God knows this, being all-knowing and all that. God is punishing us for being what we made us. Christians will assure us over and over that it’s man’s bad, fallen nature that is why God doesn’t like man, that in fact Jesus was the perfect human and everyone else is awful and needs Jesus’s death to redeem them. OK, I call bullshit on *so many levels* on that:

#1: God is setting the rules. Therefore a sensible, moral God would say “no one needs to die for people to be forgiven”. Now, I realize most Christians deny God free will and say “God is just. Therefore he has to kill his own son to forgive us.”. Translation: God is less capable of changing his mind, growing, or ethical behavior than humans. [This is a common problem I have – Christians appear to me to put God in too small a box. Then they’ll assure me that “But you are not God!”. The next person who says this I’m going to respond with “Prove it.” – Not that I think I *am* God, but I think they aren’t either and neither are the people who wrote this whole mess. Either that, or we all are, but I don’t see much divine about Christianity except the words of Jesus himself – and not even all of those.]

#2: God created us to be what we are, or at least left a mechanism in place and running that led to our creation. Perhaps *e didn’t expect a evolutionary algorithm to exhibit signs of free will but this definitely calls bullshit on the whole “omnicient” thing

#3: There is NOTHING I have done in my life that warrants killing someone to forgive. I’ve made some mistakes, as have we all, as we are destined to do because we start out blank and our options are to either make mistakes or do nothing at all. NNNs learn by making mistakes and then integrating the results of them.

#4: The whole “Jesus died therefore you are forgiven but only if you believe in Jesus” thing makes no sense, no matter what you do. It seems like most Christians finally just turn off part of their brain so they can believe it, but there’s no logical series of steps there. I sometimes think it was *supposed* to not make sense, because it’s part of a virus crafted to disable part of the infectee’s brain

Yes, I realize this was a very long parenthetical.)

While we’re talking about confusing stuff, we’re supposed to be afraid of Satan, because Satan is trying to lead us into a life of sin. Why? Because he wants company in Hell? Are we *sure* Heaven is better than Hell? The description I heard of Heaven from a young earth christian made it sound like wireheading, and we already know that ultimately wireheading turns out to be unsatisfactory. It turns out just being forever perfectly happy isn’t what creatures that are part of time want – we *want* the story, the narriative, etc.

I was always afraid of Satan because I thought he wanted to torment me, and indeed the Satan in my head – probably constructed out of neurons in response to my parents’ forced religious indoctronation – does seem to often do exactly that – when he isn’t trying to jam communications with other entities. But the *real* Satan presumably is being tortured himself – or else it turns out that a complete absence of God is actually quite a livable state and maybe even enjoyable in it’s own way. If God is convinced that everything but monastic life in prayer is sin, then maybe I’d enjoy hell more than heaven. If hell is deliberately painful, though, then I start to question both God’s motives and God’s ethics. Which leads us right back to..

YOU CHRISTIANS ARE WORSHIPPING LOKI!

The nature of reality and how it informs decisions

Tuesday, August 17th, 2021

So, one of the things I occasionally feel resentment about is my desire to spend large numbers of hours exploring music combined with the recognition that the world almost certainly does not *need* these things (and the odds of me being better than anyone else at creating music are vanishingly small). One thing I have thought about is how my actions would be different if I *knew* the nature of the universe.

In particular, if I knew that I was in a single-person video game style simulation, I wouldn’t be concerned about the needs of the world and just what I could get away with.. I work more than I need to to support myself, partially to help out other people and partially to hone my skills in the hopes that I can participate in either the singularity or the mass automation in such a way as to help increase the general freedom of humanity.

But, I have to go with the assumption the reality that is presented to me is “real” and that the suffering of people is likewise real. On the other paw I am not willing to be completely selfless and give all my energy into things that advantage other people. So I try to balance out time to do the things I want to do (like exploring music and artificial neural networks) with things that the world will pay me to do because presumably it needs them done (system administration and a lot of not very exciting coding, mostly)

Some of the possibilities as to “what’s going on” that have occured to me

*) This whole thing could be a accidental side effect of some other system – our type of life inserts itself into entropy flow – we might even be moving from system to system, tapping different entropy flows, without us being aware of it.

*) This could be the work of a creator or creators. That might *also* be us, or it might be a seperate, distinct entity.

*) This might be a massive multiplayer simulation. In that case, it might be that the plot is driven by our decisions or it might be that the plot is on rails.

Unlike other people I have met I tend to think the people I talk to are not me, so I tend to think whatever we’re in has some sort of networking or multiple participants. I do wish sometimes that I knew what the most efficient choices to make were in order to optimize for reducing the suffering of others, and then could do cost-benefit analysis of the various actions I am taking in order to find some sort of optimized path forward that contains adequate time of me doing the things I want to do for my own reasons vs helping others.