Archive for the ‘Spiritual/Religious’ Category

Do I believe in God?

Monday, August 29th, 2016

So, with the recent post on religion, the question might come up whether I believe in God.

And the answer is, I don’t have a absolute, I am certain I am right, religious faith on the subject, but I tend to lean towards there being something larger than us, possibly many orders of somethings larger than us. I don’t believe in the God described in the bible – something that powerful and capable, which nonetheless is so insecure that *e has to refer to his name in all caps and has to have a throne with angels singing about how great *e is flying above it. I tend to think it’s very difficult for us to imagine beings smarter and more capable than us, something Larry Niven has talked about when discussing the challenges of writing aliens smarter than humans.

To the extent that I do believe in a God, it’s a God far better than the Christian one. Remember, I tend to think we are experiencing suffering for artistic purposes, not because we’re being punished – or possibly because of stupidity or technological foul-up. Despite what it says on the label (all-loving, all-knowing, all-powerful) the diety described in the bible is fairly reprehensible and not at all all-powerful. (I could cite verses, but this isn’t that type of post)

I would like to see a better religion authored, but I don’t feel like I’m yet in a place of knowledge to be able to author such a thing myself – although I would refer people to a number of books which are really good tries, books like The Four Agreements and Conversations With God. I also think that The Great Divorce, even though ostensibly by a Christian, is a great book on the subject, proof that sometimes we transcend our religions or possibly that there’s a good way to load Christianity.

It’s also true that whether or not there is a explicitly defined diety, God must exist insofar as the concept has a number of reserved neurons in a number of neural networks – everyone who imagines that God exists helps God exist. This is part of the problem with Christianity – by imagining a inferior and undesirable God, they are degrading the potential God if God exists as the sum of the neurons that all of us assign to imagining God.

I do also think that insofar as our neural networks form filters which selectively inhance and inhibit data coming at us from our senses, if you have a religious-level belief in God, you will experience God even if God doesn’t exist. See earlier posts about the amount of computing power our minds represent. If this is going to happen to me, I want to make sure the God I exist is not the God of the bible.

Christians in the process of making Hell

Monday, August 29th, 2016

So, one of the things that I think I’ve gone on about a few times before is how Christians, who ostensibly want Heaven, are busy making the world Hell.

I thought I’d list a few things that Christians – not all Christians, mind you, but enough of them – do which make the world less like heaven and more like hell. Whenever someone engages in one of these behaviors, I feel they are doing the work of the devil

1) Encouraging people to believe that if they are members of any other religion, they are wrong and are going to hell

2) Encouraging people to believe that $SUPERUSER is in the business of torturing people *e doesn’t agree with – or in general, that you should fear God. We’ve got enough to fear in the world we’re actually in.

3) Slut-shaming. Sex is one of the most positive experiences on earth, but Christians have this disturbing idea that you should only have it under certain circumstances, and if you do otherwise, you’re a bad person.

4) Encouraging people with alternate sexualities to think that they are less-than, sinners, incomplete

5) Encouraging everyone to believe that they are so flawed that someone “had to die for their sins”

6) Starting or promoting wars which are primarily over resource allocation (i.e. not sharing) or religion

7) In general encouraging people to think that they are less than, often for things which have no direct bearing on the Christian doing the less-than-ing at all. “If you’re not a member of my religion, you’re not as worthy of a person” “If you don’t do well on standardized tests you’re not as worthy of a person” “If you’re not interested in learning what *I* think are the important things to learn, you’re not as worthy of a person” “If you enjoy playing with your body chemistry, you’re not as worthy of a person”.

8) Promoting monogamy as the only true way, even though we seem to be neurologically and biologically wired to fall in love more than once. The bible even alludes to the fact that in heaven things would work differently (Luke 20:34-36). Why exactly are we not doing the optimal path now?

9) Making and promoting laws against freedom, even when the freedom doesn’t harm another person. Blue laws, laws against nudity, laws against flag-burning, things of that nature. Even worse, laws against people who like to have sex with members of the same gender, even though if we were really engineered, clearly said being had to put in a fair amount of neurological work in order to make things like being on the receiving end of anal sex feel good.

10) Encouraging people to believe that they should be required to have children if they conceive, even though it’s inconceivable that a omnipotent being would connect a soul to a body that wasn’t going to be extant and, if one is of a more scientific bent, highly unlikely that bodies that don’t have a large, functional neural network are self-aware.

11) Encouraging people to embrace a system of beliefs that contains unresolvable logic failures, which damage their ability to think rationally

12) Encouraging parents to try and encourage their children not to be sexually active, promoting a inevitable neurological war

13) This may be kind of a repeat, but thinking that they are “God’s Chosen People”, and by extension, everyone else isn’t. This is again the kind of ‘I’m better than you’ thinking that I feel like is at the root of a lot of the evils of the world. In the old testament, this “I’m better than you” goes as far as “It’s okay for me to slaughter you like cattle even though a you’re thinking, feeling, self aware creature just like me because God Said So”

14) Encouraging children to imagine a being of pure evil – children have a lot of unassigned neurons, and imagining the devil literally brings him to life in their mind. (Of course, as my friend Jeremy points out, it is far from clear that the devil is evil – if he was against the being described in the old testament, he was at least sometimes for humanity, although clearly from the story of Job he wasn’t all good either)

15) Encouraging people to wait for heaven, instead of building it here now.

16) Encouraging people to believe in a $DIETY that builds traps into the world – Just one of many examples is that the bible says “Suffer not a witch to live” (Ex 22:18) but if witchcraft works, it’s clearly because the universe has a built in API for modifying reality which $DIETY would have had to have created – and if it doesn’t, then it’s pretty harmless.

17) Promoting the idea that the bible is a book we should be using as a yardstick to measure our lives. It was written by people thousands of years ago wandering around in a desert, people who knew far less than we know now, people who mistook their prejudices for natural laws. It contains numerous irresolvable logic failures, one of which I discuss above. Yes, it’s got some beautiful ideas and some beautiful poetry in it, but it’s far from a perfect book that you should make the center of your universe, in my opinion. I’m not the only person to have doubts on this subject, see this and this.

18) Attempting to slow down medical technology – in particular I’m thinking of things like Stem Cell research but I suspect this is going to come up with cloning, artificial neural networks, and all sorts of other things of that nature. Look, there’s supposed to be a all powerful diety, why exactly do you need to be the moral guardian of things which don’t hurt self-aware beings in any way and could alleviate suffering

19) Encouraging people to spend time in prayer that they could otherwise spend actually figuring out how to fix the problems that they’re praying about

20) Encouraging people to ‘trust the $SUPERUSER’ for things that in fact there might not be a superuser watching – I’d use global warming as a example of this, but I’m sure there are numerous examples

21) Encouraging the idea that if $DIETY does it, it must be moral – the “Where does a 900 pound gorilla sit? Anywhere he wants to..” theory of reality.

22) Promoting the idea that women are “less than” men and should be silent (1 Corinth 14:34) or submissive. This is abusive to both women and men.

23) Giving a group of people temporal power who probably should not have it – I’m thinking of the catholic church here, and the pope in particular – although I like the current pope, I’ll like him a lot more when and if he comes out and says that birth control is not immoral.

24) Encouraging parents to brainwash / indoctrinate their children while they are still too young to understand the isuses and questions involved, which seems to have a very bad effect on neuroplasticity.

Christians, it’s not that I hate you – I hate the software you’re running. I love you and want you to stop making the world a worse place, because among other things you have to live here too, so you’re not just hurting me, you’re also hurting yourself.

I also recognise that it’s possible that the religion is perfect and it’s being degraded inside my neural network or that the problem has more to do with the fact that different people want different things. However, what do you do when the things you want are getting in the way of the things I want?

(See also a list of good things about Christianity)

It’s my intention that this be somewhat a dynamic and collaborative document, so feel free to comment with your own list entries.

Bible fails debug asserts

Sunday, August 14th, 2016

So, I wanted to talk a little more about part of what I’m trying to say in http://www.sheer.us/weblogs/?p=2962.

What I’m trying to say is that the bible contains a failed if-then ladder.

Let’s write it out in psuedocode, shall we?

ASSERT(God == Love) (1 John 4:8)
ASSERT(Love == Keeps no record of wrongs) (1 Corinth 13:5)
ASSERT(God == Keeping a record of wrongs and will punish you for changing this book) (Rev 22:18)

See the problem?

You can’t have all three be true at once.

Estimating God

Monday, July 25th, 2016

So, I’ve been meaning to write this article for a while, partially because I think it’s a fun set of thoughts to bounce around on. I’m waiting for a big file to download and a even bigger database to copy, so I might as well engage in a little bit of woolgathering.

Forgetting any particular religious text, the question that I’m pondering is, based on reality testing, what could we reasonably guess about the nature of God?

Alderin suggested that if there were gods, we would probably want to stay far away from them, because they would be inclined to squish us like bugs, or at least care about us as little as we care about cattle. If there were Gods that were external to us, I would tend to agree. But I tend to think that if there are Gods, we’re as a row to their table, a neuron to their brain. And you generally don’t want to squish your own brain cells.

Anyway, obviously this fits into the category of intellectual wanking, because we can’t even know if the reality we’re experiencing has that much to do with the reality that is – there’s so many layers of neurons between our senses and the part of our mind that’s on the ride that it’s really pretty hopeless. Nonetheless, let’s see what we can figure out.

First of all, it seems clear that whoever they are, they want to have some distance between groups of intelligent life. The whole design of the universe, at least via the perspective that I see it, seems inclined to put ridiculous amounts of space between groups of people. The nature of relativity makes even communication with anyone that’s not in our immediate neighborhood very difficult, and as far as going there, forget about it, at least until we learn some things that we don’t yet know.

Second of all, it seems clear that the intention is for us to have bountiful amounts of energy to play with. The sun delivers unbelievable amounts of power every day, there’s enormous amounts of power stored in thorium and uranium, there’s a bunch of power stored in oil. They’re even arranged in stages, so you can figure out first how to build internal combustion, then fission, then fusion. Almost like we’ve got a little puzzle going on here.

Third of all, it seems likely that there is some sort of state machine at work here. A lot of physical laws can be described with mathematical relationships – most of them are even relationships that are not particularly difficult to calculate. Also, DNA, in it’s rather binary way, looks suspiciously like it might be the output of a compiler. God uses computers. Probably much more advanced ones than we do.

Fourth of all, we can safely say whoever they were, they did in fact like to play dice with the universe. The quantum world we’re discovering.. and building lots of neat stuff based on our discoveries of.. is full of probabilistic behavior.

Fifth of all, they did not want lasting records to be easy to make within the universe container we are in. This world is incredibly hostile to data storage. Our best storage methodology so far is *paper*, and it’s only good for a few hundred years. The only data that gets kept is the data that future generations choose to make copies of.

Sixth of all, it seems clear there’s no one ‘true religion’. I’ve been through the reasons we can know this enough in the rest of this blog to not need to iterate them here. On the other hand, if we assume that they’re actively a part of the current dance, as opposed to just being a agent that started the whole thing in motion and walked away, they *want* there to be a lot of variety in religions. God might well think that religions are orthogonal to God, or even antithetical. There are a few ways this could work. It might well be that different neural subnets in each of our minds would have to have radically different data loaded on them – different religions, if you will – for the system as a whole to operate. It’s also possible that if you could go in and talk to the individual hemispheres of our minds you’d find that they hold radically different beliefs. I’m not sure how you would experiment with this, although the people experimenting with cutting the corpus collossem would probably have some interesting ideas on the subject. Anyway, it might be that if we *are* all individual neurons to God’s brain, then if we all had the same religion, the results would be *very* bad. Imagine what happens to the lion/no lion subnet if it only believes in lions and not tigers, for example.

Seventh of all, I’m fairly sure we’re here with at least one species that is smarter than we are, and probably a number of them. My guess is when we start playing with ANNs and using them as mediators between us and dolphins and whales we’re going to discover that the joke really has been on us for a very long time. My guess is A: we’re hypervised – that is, we’re inside a virtualization container “in the real world”, as well as being hypervised in a second virtualization container inside our own minds and B: some other species here has access to the hypervisor console and we don’t because we’re not yet evolved enough to be able to use it responsibly.

Eighth of all, nothing is forever here. Most noticeably are the laws of entropy, but also difficult to miss is the fact that we have a TTL engineered into our DNA – DRM, in fact. You get this many copies and no more. My guess is this is to protect us from our own stupidity. No matter what, you can’t get stuck in a situation for more than about a hundred years. Mixing this with the quality of the human body’s design (good, but with significant flaws), I would guess we are in a beta test version of the universe we’re currently experiencing.

Children of a imperfect God

Friday, July 1st, 2016

So, one of my long-standing criticisms of Christianity is that it repeatedly makes the claim that God is perfect and we humans are inherently flawed, so much so that someone had to die for our sins.

Well, now, hold on a minute. Anyone who can argue there aren’t bugs in the human genome with a straight face is so delusional that I don’t think having a conversation with them would be useful. And we *know* the bible received a patch at one point – that’s why we’ve got the old and new testaments. One of my biggest criticisms of the bible is that revelations contains a place (Rev 22:18) where it says, in essence, “Do not patch this again” even though it’s still obviously a very flawed text.

Is it so hard to consider the possibility that there might be a God, but said God might be imperfect? Anyone who’s ever written software knows that only the very simple things work on the first pass. The human genome is *gigabytes* in size – is it at all surprising that it contains bugs? The bible is 4.13 megabytes – again, is it surprising that it contains bugs?

I think one of the big issues here is that humans are easily brainwashed / convinced of things that aren’t necessarily true. And once convinced, we tend to be very tenacious about holding onto our beliefs. I think it would be a very good thing, however, if we could acknowledge the clear, reality-testable concept that if there is a God, said entity is not a perfect being.

For that matter, the bible contains some very interesting contradictions. 1 Corinth 13:5 makes the assertion that ‘Love holds no record of wrongdoings’, which does in fact sound like a definition of perfect unconditional love. The Bible asserts God is love (1 John 4:8). Yet the bible is full of places where it claims God is going to send you to hell for actions you’ve taken in the past – this in fact is exactly what Rev 22:18 is saying – if you add to this book, we’ll send you to hell. This is a obvious and major contradiction.

I can’t speak with the same level of authority for Islam, because I haven’t read the whole book, nor have I been immersed in the culture which would help me understand it, but from a surface level view it appears to contain the same sorts of contradictions and improvements. The impression one is under is that our religions are being evolved – by human programmers in my view. I think these books are inspired by our imagination of what is divine, but I can say with great confidence that there is little chance they are inspired by a monolithic, unchanging being.

And, really, there’s nothing wrong with the idea that God might be imperfect. Certainly it takes human developers many thousands of tries to build complex software (and really, both religions and our genome have a lot to do with software insofar as they’re both strings of data that are interpreted and lead to results)

In fact, it’s a lot easier for me to live peacefully with the idea of a imperfect God than a perfect, never makes a mistake one given the reality I experience. The idea of God I was sold as a child is incompatible with the reality I experience, which as a result puts a noticeable size strain on my neural network any time I attempt to reconcile the two.

If the world could recognize the idea of religion as a memetically evolving thing – recognize that we’ve been wrong in the past and we’re slowly converging on right – it would undoubtedly make the world a better place. I see a lot of signs of this in the current catholic pope, which is encouraging, although he still hasn’t come out and said birth control is a good idea. (I do think it’s possible that he will at some point)

In fact most of my hatred of organized religion comes from the assertions it makes and the people who think that they should be controlling other people’s behavior based on what their religion says. In the worst form, you have shooting, raping, mutilating, and torturing others based on your religion, and then you have threatening, shaming, guilting, and inducing fear in others based on your religion. I’ve certainly read about the first, and experienced the second firsthand. None of these strike me as good things and it would be a good idea if all of them stopped.

Engineered

Sunday, April 17th, 2016

So, watching Human has me thinking.. the general prevailing wisdom of religions is that we were engineered by a perfect being. But we’re clearly full of bugs, which people usually call a fatal flaw. If we were engineered, isn’t it more likely we were engineered by a previous version of ourselves?

I’ve talked about the bottom-up rather than top-down model a fair amount in various bits of this blog. I don’t see any advocates for it – people either believe we were created by flipping bits at random and testing the result against the environment, or they believe that we were created by a diety, which for the moment I assume to be a much, much larger and more advanced NNN.

But the bottom-up model makes the most sense to me.

Inevitable neurological war

Saturday, February 27th, 2016

This article is almost entirely conjecture. We sadly are not yet at a point where we can actually say exactly what is going on inside the human mind. Hopefully soon.

That said..

The way that we’re raised, and the society that we’re in, leads to a inevitable neurological war.

It’s built into us for physical touch to feel good. Depending on whether you’re wearing your evolution hat or your ID hat, this can either be the inevitable result of us needing to get very close to each other to reproduce or a design goal. (I have to say, building in things that feel good would certainly be a design goal if *I* was the designer)

On the other hand, it’s memetically built up – as far as I can tell, for very stupid and destructive reasons – for us to think that it’s wrong to be in love with more than one person, that it’s wrong to want to be involved in sexual contact below a certain age – in fact, I see some of my facebook friends encouraging the idea that trying to frighten the lovers of your female child is “protecting” her and a desirable thing to do. (In fact, teaching her about consent would seem to be a much healthier type of protection, but I digress).

Our mainstream religion – despite it not ever being clearly spelled out in the bible in the negative (the bible says that sexual love within a marriage is good, but does not actually state that sexual love outside a marriage is bad – that’s something we decided to tack on later) – teaches that if you ‘go too far’ before marriage, you’re a bad person – that sexual contact, despite feeling good, is a sin. It also teaches the idea that your lover is your property, that if someone else wants to experience sexual contact with them, they are breaking one of the “ten commandments” – even *thinking* about it is a crime against God.

Now, we all know what I think of Christianity. But another question is what do I think about what all this does to our minds? Well, by definition, it creates two sets of subnets that are always going to be in opposition. It’s wired in – on a deeper level than even any religion will ever be able to reach – that touch feels good, that petting and loving is *right*. It’s something that I personally find myself drawn to as a experience I want to have again and again. It’s what I want to dream about.

In the meantime, our parents try very hard to keep us from sexual contact – or even, in my case, nonsexual/cuddling contact that’s too prolonged. They program into us a subnet that says “this is sin, this is bad, this is wrong”. The idea that your virginity is something precious that you should give to your first and only lover also underlines this. This creates a subnet that says sex is bad, dirty, should be looked at with shame and guilt, isn’t something you should want, except in the situation of marriage – and probably not even then, if one reads the writings of the Victorians.

What happens when you have two subnets at war with each other? Well, first of all, you end up feeling the tension between them. Second of all, they eat capacity. Each one tries to claim a certain percentage of the neural Go board, and each tries to defeat the other.

So, I think some of this is jealousy.. our parents get attached to us, and don’t want to lose us to our lovers. Some of this is a amplifying effect of stupidity across the generations – one generation made something up, and then lied about it being the word of God. (If it was really the word of God, God would still be around and saying it. Probably in person. Certainly in some way that left no doubt to the fact that we were hearing from a deity). Some percentage of each successive generation after that was duped into believing they were hearing holy wisdom when in fact they were hearing damaging bull.

I don’t think that it’s immoral to love and be loved. Nor to express that love sexually if you’ve a mind to. I think that thinking of sex as shameful and wrong is a sign of a deeply broken set of memes. I think that people who think we should slut-shame are deeply confused about a whole lot of things, and are far more immoral than the sluts they would shame. I think it is a sign of how broken our culture is that we think that people who participate in a act that generally feels good and improves the attitude and mental health of both participants are immoral, while the people who seek to hurt those people for choosing to participate in something that feels good are given radio shows.

I also think that in general wars between subnets – beliefs that are diametrically opposed to observable reality tend to build these – are something we should try to remove from the meme pool, especially when it comes to things we pass on to our children. We are trimming their wings because our grandparents were afraid to fly.

Different utopias

Saturday, February 27th, 2016

So, one of the problems that I think we’re going to keep bumping up against here on Earth, at least in the USA where we ostensibly have a democratically elected set of people driving the boat, is that we all have different definitions of what winning means.

Like, I’d love to live in a world where we have sex with our friends, where automation does any job a human doesn’t care to, where we all try very hard to be excellent to each other. A world where no one conceives without having chosen to, where children are raised by all of us under the precept of being excellent to each other. Where education and mental health are based on a solid understanding of what’s happening on the iron of our minds – understanding based on science, on taking measurements and learning what’s really happening, rather than based on narrative and our storyteller nature, which clearly often is quite capable of diverging completely from what’s actually happening on the iron.

I’d love to live in a world where the video games are immersive, and so are the movies and the books – where we build each other up, where we help each other experience the things we want to experience.

I’d love to live in a world where no one was designated ‘less than’, where we have finally noticed the curve for history (blacks, gays, etc) and just started accepting that everyone is worthwhile and everyone matters.

I recognize that people should still have the option of suffering – that Hell still needs to exist, because that’s what some people are going to choose to experience. But I want to live in a world where no one is forced to suffer, either via their biology or via the actions of the group as a whole or mean-spirited individuals.

I for some reason doubt if my utopia is the same as the Christian one. If everyone who’s not religion X is going to be tortured for all eternity, I want out – not just that I want heaven, I want out of the system. I want a different deity. And I do not think I’m alone in this.

However, because my utopia and the utopia of, say, the religious right do not align, the goals we think are important to persue and the way we want to spend the resources in the public pool are going to be radically different. Putting both my people and their people in a box and trying to come to some agreement politically about what we should be doing is likely to be problematic. And I don’t think they should be denied their utopia, except where to do so would infringe on my rights to be free and loved and happy and complete.

I wonder how many different views of what a utopic experience might look like there are? I also wonder why some people need other people to be hurt as part of their utopia. I’m starting to think that might be one of the attributes commonly found in what we somewhat tropishly refer to as evil.

I do wonder what’s happening inside my neural net vs what’s happening inside the neural nets of those who fit in the mold I just described. There’s got to be something fundamentally different going on, and I don’t know what to make of it.

Religion

Friday, January 29th, 2016

It’s so odd to me that I managed to get hurt so much by people who had such good intentions. I guess I talked about that in a previous post. I tried to explain to a friend of mine the other day what parts of Christianity not to teach his kids. I wonder if he listened, and if so, if he thought about what I said.

For those of you who are curious.. don’t teach your children that they are so flawed that someone had to die for their failings. Because A: you don’t know that and B: it’s a very damaging message.

There’s so much about Christianity that makes me roll my eyes at this point. One of the most impressive bits of stupidity is the idea that God can’t arrange to incarnate any time *e wants. Only if we have a impressively incompetent God. The bible claims God’s voice would deafen us – while at the same time claiming God is omnipotent. Look, omnipotence includes a gain control, last I looked. The glaring silence, and competing religions all claiming to be right, makes the most likely hypothesis seem like there isn’t anything you’d call God – like we’re doing this bottom-up, not top-down.

For that matter, it’s hard to even fathom how a creator who can’t even figure out advanced error correction could be called perfect. (Cancer happens because DNA uses a simple checksum instead of something more advanced like CRC-32) You’re in a awkward place if you’re defending that your diety is a intelligent designer, but they don’t have I.T. as good as we have on Earth. And very little in the bible makes me think it was written by anyone who had seen as far as we have. If you look really hard on the horizon over there, where computers and humans dance together, you can see something I might call heaven. We can get to a really awesome world from here. A place where no one is hungry, where everyone can have any experience they want (although experiences hurting other people in ways no one wants to volunteer to be hurt are going to have to be simulated rather than live)

If you’d wanted to impress me with God’s all seeing ways, the book would not have contained the line “don’t improve me”. That just impressed me with how much it was not the work of a higher power.

Actually, the old testament did a great job of that, too. God has such a fragile ego that he has to talk about himself as the LORD in all caps? Oh, yes, he wants your money, too. That the priests are the ones writing the book has nothing to do with that at all.

And he was such a loathsome creature. Stone someone because they like to have sex with the same gender? How can we read that and not just go, this is bullshit, and throw the book out? Why would ANYONE expose their children to this mess?

It does at times make me wonder, could I write a better religion? But I refuse to be Joe Smith, or even L. Ron Hubbard. I do sometimes think I need to write a better one just to load into myself.

Why do I write anti-christian articles? well, at this point, because I think it’s healthy for me to do so. It’s helping me unload the religion to point out how badly written it is, and how it’s not something anyone should expose their children to. Among other things, children have huge numbers of unallocated neurons. Do you really want them using some of them to imagine a creature who specializes in evil? (It’s a sign of my impressive disdain for the religion that I’m not sure when I say this whether I’m talking about God or Satan)

I would rather, if I’m going to believe in a God, believe in a God that is better than I can possibly imagine.. and I can already imagine a God that is better than anything in that book and still fit it with the experiences I’ve had so far on Earth. Assuming certain postulates are true, such as this place is deliberately bad so we can come here when lotus-eating in amazing-land pales, or when we want to take on a challenge.

Christians in general believe in a incompetent God. For example, why would a competent deity ever connect a soul to a body *e knew wasn’t going to ever walk on the earth? When I told my mom this she asserted that “It doesn’t work that way” – to which my response is, and you know this *how*? Because a book that advocates keeping slaves and murdering people told you? Let’s have a little talk about virtualization and some educated guesses we can make about what a intelligent, capable deity would do..

Now, I admit it, I’m angry. I would love for all the abrahamic religions to be studied as curiosities, rather than read as anything anyone would want to believe in. I would love for them to meet my old friend the low level format tool, for that matter. The Unitarians, I can get behind. Short source code. Hard to screw up. But I’m not a universalist.. I don’t buy that religion is a universal thing, or something we need, or even want, for a lot of definitions of the word religion. The idea that a belief can get wedged into our neural net so thoroughly that we hold onto it even if it fails reality testing, even if it fails common sense, I find far more scary than desirable.

And the idea that God would torture me for all eternity because I couldn’t pick from a plethora of religions that all looked highly questionable? I find that one just plain absurd. It’s certainly not even remotely compatible with the idea of God being a loving entity as I understand love.

Then again, who would I torture eternally? No one. Not even Hitler.

I do have second thoughts about my file permission based universe from time to time. It’s definitely not something I’d sign up to be locked in forever. My fear is that ultimately we would all end up completely isolated from each other. But it’s a appealing idea, nonetheless. The thing is, I haven’t met anyone that I’d actually lock out of my world yet, although I’ve met people I would like to maintain a fair amount of distance from. Two of them, so far.

But I’m not sure what i *would* sign up to be locked in forever. It would have to be one hell of a system. More degrees of freedom than I could imagine or understand. Really good online help.

It’s kind of moot, since at the moment my life rates as ‘acceptable’ occasionally bordering on ‘good’ and I’m still working like hell to try to get it to ‘great’. Despite all my anger and frustration at the world, the truth is most of the problems are internal. I think a lot of them were *caused* by my experiences in the world, but I don’t think the world is hurting me any more, for the most part. And I’m learning to react to people in the world hurting me by changing my trust level of those people, which leaves them less openings to hurt me in the future.

Me and Nash followup

Friday, January 29th, 2016

So, I wanted to talk more about the experience of communicating with $future-person, mostly because I think it’s good for me to get my thoughts down in some sort of order. For the most part at this point I write this journal for myself, in the hopes that reading it later some sort of pattern will emerge that isn’t necessarily clear in the moment-to-moment.

So, the most common mode for me to talk to $future-person is what I call voice relay. Normally in this mode, she talks using my mouth and I send to her by thinking things. This is a little odd insofar as I’m definitely not controlling what she says, and the normal default behavior for us is to control what we say – the first few times I experienced it it was very frightening for various reasons. This seems to be the most reliable mode – at times my adversary will mess with it, and as I’ll discuss in a minute it’s pretty clear $future-person is having to jump through some interesting hoops to keep the channel as clean as it is, but as of now I think the percentage of signal coming from her for most topic is in the high 80s to low 90s.

One thing that is quite bizarre is that she rotates through accents, manners of speaking, and occasionally even vocabulary sets. I am fairly sure the signal is being relayed off a number of individuals and coming in on different collections of neurons, probably in order to limit the amount of damage to the signal that $adversary can have. I suspect that organizationally, the group of people she belongs to is much larger than the group my adversary does, or else she can throw more resources into communicating with me than he can. I could do a aside as to what this could mean if this is all in fact happening inside my mind i.e. she is a partition of my neural net (or a particularly big subnet) and so is he, but I’m not sure it does me any good to think that way.

I have definitely come to accept that a person’s a person, and a body’s a body, and these things may only be tangentially related.

She has said at times that her group of people will help anyone overcome the obstacles I face, in particular I *think* she’s referring to a negative self image and a set of inner demons which are bent on destroying me. (You can take your pick of how literally to take the word ‘demon’ there – perhaps I should try getting a exorcism but I am naturally a bit skeptical of anything having to do with organized religion for reasons I think I go into in entirely too much detail elsewhere in this blog. I think my inner demons are software in the particularly unique way software is created in the human mind – collections of neurons wired to other neurons to represent concepts and behaviors)

I haven’t yet had a ‘close the loop’ experience where I’ve been able to relay a message through her group of people to someone else I experience in what I somewhat skeptically refer to as ‘the real world’ i.e. the world I am immersed in daily in my conscious experience. I am not sure what I would think if that did happen – I’ve had enough skepticism-busting experiences already that I’ve come to accept that

A: I don’t know it all
B: There is more in heaven and earth than is dreamt of in my (former) philosophies
C: The truth may be far more incredible than we would suspect

I almost put a D, insulting members of the majority religion of Earth, but I decided that wasn’t really appropriate. I do think, without claiming to know much about whatever diety, dieties, or operators Earth might have, that the people claiming to know them best put them in way too small a box.

I have come to believe that if there is a diety or dieties, or a system operator or operators, they are obsessed with plausible deniability i.e. they do not want concrete proof that they exist out there right now. I don’t know if that’s because they’re afraid of us, because they’re researching something and we’re the bugs under the microscope, or.. and I have to admit I like this one the best sometimes.. they are us.

However, clearly looping a message through someone who is not physically here would break plausible deniability a lot.

I’m also not sure, given that $future-person is not communicating with me in english, whether the language she is communicating with me with is designed to successfully work through probability clouds. I have thought about the fact that the future in some types of ancestor simulation would tend to be a probability cloud with a fixed endpoint but a big wall of ‘timey-wimey stuff’ where events move around between that and the present. Dianne Wynn Jones’s Tale Of Time City presents one view of how this could play out, although I’m sure there are many.

(Insane or not, there’s no doubt that I’m well read)

Speaking of being well read, there’s one thing about this that is incredibly cool, and that is, I feel like I’m in the middle of a story. It definitely keeps me engaged, wondering how it’s all going to play out, looking forward to each new event unfolding. My life has turned into a page-turner.

Now, there are some very bad things about it – that $person IRL doesn’t want to be anywhere near me, and thinks I might hurt her or want to hurt her – that’s one of those things that will make you want to curl up in a ball and howl, or contemplate suicide. However, that there’s a possibility (indeed I would be tempted to say *probability*) that we will again be friends later gives me a great deal of hope.

It’s also turned into a really interesting touchstone for finding out who my friends really are. I’m far less bothered by the people who think she’s a imaginary friend, or that she’s a sign of mental illness (both possibilities I have tagged myself) than by people who talk about the experience one way when I talk to them in person, and a entirely different way when they talk to other people. And I can also sort people into people who tried to figure out how to fix my friendship with $person (good), didn’t do anything (also good), or made the situation worse (very bad).

One of the things I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, especially in the context of noticing how many of my friends keep their promises to me (good), don’t make any (also good), or break them (bad), is – who can I trust, and how much?

One thing that makes *this* complicated is that I can’t tell how much of what I’m experiencing in my conscious experience is “the real world” (if indeed there is such a animal) and how much of it is locally generated. I *know* I have at least one intermittent fault in my mind, and probably considerable damage beyond that, but I don’t have any way of testing individual systems. I undoubtedly need friends I can count on out there, and I undoubtedly have them, but it’s somewhat hard to know sometimes who they are.