Fear and faith

So, one of the problems that I face is that I have a lot of trouble believing that the world I want to live in exists – even when I’m already confronted with it. One obvious example of this was that I couldn’t really be in a poly relationship with Vinnie because I didn’t believe that she would actually be able to accept that I would have other lovers and still continue to love me. I get that while it may or may not be possible for me to do things that I would consider impossible – like fly – it is more or less guaranteed that if I can’t believe I can do it, I won’t ever even try. Part of what I’m trying to do is build a distinction in my mind between when I am in a world with strict rules (like Earth, unless there are people flying around out there I don’t see – and I don’t discount that possibility) and worlds without strict rules like for example a world I might experience while lucid dreaming. Right now, my level of faith when I’m dreaming is much *lower* than my level of faith when I’m awake – I don’t believe I can fly, I’m not even sure I believe I can walk. My inner pessimist definitely has a lot of power over the worlds I experience while I’m dreaming. I would really like to be able to experience my own holodeck while I’m asleep – and it seems to be doable from a technical perspective, but at the moment my mind is too limited to be able to actually embrace it. The short version of this would be that I’m not free first and foremost because I don’t believe that I am free. This is upsetting and I slowly chip away at it.

One problem that I’ve identified and will be working on is that there are significant portions of my neural network that insist on thinking about things in strictly boolean ways. Now, I partially blame religion for this, but it may not actually be religion’s fault, it may just be that the parts of my mind that are the most immersed in religious (as opposed to spiritual) thinking are the ones that have the most trouble thinking in terms of probabilities instead of certainties. I do think that rigid, in-the-box thinking is a huge detriment to our free will and a severe limitation on our freedom – and I think that the world I experience contains both channels/signals/whatnot that encourage this type of thinking and channels/signals that discourage it. I need to spend more time hanging out with the people and signal sources that help me grow my ability to *not* think in boolean terms. I actually suspect that asberger’s syndrome (sp?) may mostly be having the majority of your neural networks programmed to think in true/false, yes/no, democrat/republican, heaven/hell – boolean pairs instead of baysian values.

While there are some problems that boolean thinking helps with, there are undoubtedly also some problems that boolean thinking is not appropriate to. I in particular am very suspicious of using boolean thinking to examine the spiritual universe. I saw a post on Facebook today that said something to the effect of “I am a Christian. You can ridicule me, you can hurt me, you can kill me, but you can not change my mind”. I posted a response:

Jonathan Sheer Pullen That’s really kind of scary.
Jonathan Sheer Pullen I agree that Christianity can do that. Which is why I’m putting so much effort into unloading it.
Jonathan Sheer Pullen Which is not to say that it’s all bad. But it sure can lead to some impressive cognitive distortions.
Jonathan Sheer Pullen You may have it loaded a ‘good’ way – i.e. it may be entirely positive in your life. If so, kudos and carry on.
Jonathan Sheer Pullen But it’s *really bad* for some of us.
Jonathan Sheer Pullen And Christians should *really* think twice before proselytizing given that it can be a *hugely damaging informational virus* to certain types of minds.
Jonathan Sheer Pullen I am not a bad or flawed person. I’m just a different architecture than you.
Jonathan Sheer Pullen Me being a Christian is like trying to run ARM code on a x86.

The thing is, I agree with a lot of the Christian values.. forgiveness, love, even the idea of a higher power. I just don’t agree with their conception of the higher power as being something vastly superior to anything we will ever be, and I don’t agree with the idea of anyone being tortured for all eternity except by their own choice, and I don’t agree that I’m fatally flawed and that anyone should have to die for me to be forgiven, and I find the whole “In Jesus’s Name” thing to be a impressive demonstration in stupidity.. if you think that it *matters* what Jesus’s name was, I think you might have missed the message and you might need to go back and meditate some more on how good things happen in a team. If Jesus’s ego is more important than getting stuff fixed, then Jesus is not enlightenment, he’s a confused puppy.

But, there’s no name out there for what I believe. It’s a mishmash of ideas that have grown steadily more resonant as they were refined, and I think it’s a beautiful, sparkling, awesome belief system. And if you think your God is going to torture me for all eternity for believing it, or even *allow me to be tortured*, I think you’re confused. I’m pretty sure I’ve got a lot of awesome and a few bugs that I’m still addressing. I think a lot of you do too.

Another thing I want to get on the record – absent any proof to the contrary, I assume *we built this*. It’s clear humans can build worlds. It’s clear we can edit DNA. I don’t see any reason to think we’re not the people who built all this, and if that’s true, then believing we’re *not* is probably a very unproductive and damaging thing to do. Also, in ‘we’, I don’t limit that to two-foots. I’m fairly comfortable in saying that I see all kinds of signs that the dogs and cats in my life are people too, so I think it’s likely anything that *looks like it’s self aware* *is*.

So, hopefully I haven’t kicked anyone’s sacred cows too much there.

3 Responses to “Fear and faith”

  1. sheer_panic Says:

    I guess I should clarify that what scares me about the “you can not change my mind” is “even if data comes along that indicates you are flat out wrong you will not consider it, and you think this is a *GOOD THING*.”

  2. sheer_panic Says:

    I actually think that having that view “I won’t change my mind no matter what” is a indication of a powerful *lack of faith*. That’s a problem I see in Christians a lot.. I’ve probably written about that before and I will probably write about it again. Being too afraid of the future surface of your experience to be willing to consider that you might be wrong about spiritual matters is *both* a lack of faith in you and a lack of faith in your God, whoever that may be.

  3. Jonathan Pullen Says:

    Note that I’m not positive on the whole Jesus’s name thing – I do think it’s important to give credit where credit is due. On the other paw, shouldn’t we all be praying using our own identities? If God thinks the only worthwhile identity is Jesus’s, I’m a bit afraid of God.

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