Archive for September, 2014


Sunday, September 28th, 2014

I talk from time to time about how I was originally introduced to the bible as the words of a supposedly perfect monolithic God. Well, clearly it’s not, and clearly believing that involves a impressive level of insanity – either that, or people are reading a different book than I am.

But, here’s the thing that surprised me. *I’m* not monolithic. I can identify influences on my mind that come from a number of discrete identities. This isn’t that surprising when you consider what neural networks are, but the odd thing is I experience the world as if I’m one individual, but in my mind a debate ranges. I think of myself as Sheer, but I can recognize connections with a whole host of different people inside my mind. And yet, I don’t think I have DiD or schizophrenia (the big problem with the former as a theory is I’ve never caught myself losing time – except about a quarter second every minute, but I try not to worry about that – and the big problem with the latter as a theory is that not only do all my discussions with these identities make lucid sense, I can also do things that clearly require the ability to think reasonably and rationally)

So, I think of myself as one cell in God’s body, one row in God’s table – I think of all of us as summing up to something bigger than we are. But I also feel like there are smaller elements that sum up to form me – I’m a bit of a patchwork quilt myself. And I wonder if maybe we all are, and it also seems possible to me that there’s a little bit of all of us in all of us – so I have a little bit of everyone I know in me, and they have a little bit of me in them. And, if it turns out we’re all connected in that way, it makes a lot of sense to me that we’re all experiencing a certain amount of suffering insofar as a number of us seem really determined to behave as if we’re not all connected in that way.

Common ground

Saturday, September 27th, 2014

The problem I have with being too critical of Christianity (and I know I probably am) is that I *seem* to have the following attributes in common with Christians

1) Belief in forgiveness and gratitude as healthy mental attitudes to have
2) Belief in a higher power i.e. I am not the most advanced creature around
3) Belief in intelligent design i.e. there is at least some engineering in the bodies we are wearing
4) Belief in immortality i.e. we were somewhere else before we were here and we will be somewhere else after we are here
5) Belief in messengers that carry the message of love (‘angels’)
6) Belief that it is possible to communicate with higher powers via metal effort (“Prayer”)

Then there’s some attributes that I *hope* I have in common with Christians but am not sure they share

7) Belief that war is a undesirable activity to be foisted off on innocents. I have no problem with people having wars for fun so long as everyone opted in, but I draw a clear distinction between that and the type of war I commonly think I’m seeing here
8) Belief that love is far more desirable than hate, that acceptance is better than rejection, that acceptance is better than judgement
9) Belief that hurting people that don’t want to be hurt is wrong
10) Belief that except for cases where their actions infringe on the freedom of another, people should be free to do pretty much anything
11) Belief that there are some actions which are wrong – will lead to undesirable outcomes. That doesn’t mean I think people should be prevented from doing these things, but I do think it’s a good idea to document what they are and what undesirable results come from doing them
12) Belief that love and acceptance will ultimately win out over hate, prejudice, fear, and rejection

Then there’s some attributes I’m pretty sure we *don’t* agree on

13) I believe that everyone is beautiful and amazing and worthy of love. People who want to damage other people should be placed in virtualized jails where they can experience hurting said other people without said other people getting hurt, or connected to people who want to be hurt.
14) I believe that to the extent it’s feasable, everyone should get what they want. At the very least everyone should get what they need, and we should work towards a world where this is possible
15) I believe that we should not be multiplying like rabbits. People who are happy and well balanced and able to transmit that on to their children should have children. Everyone else – shouldn’t.
16) I believe that monogamy may not be the best state for humanity [although interestingly, I think the bible says there will be no marriage in heaven]
17) I believe that the people of the past are not likely to be wiser or better informed than the people of the future. I believe we should throw a lot of the past away and try to come up with something better.

Was Christianity written by a black hat?

Saturday, September 27th, 2014

First of all, if you are Christian and it actually loaded in well for you and runs well, I am not here to say you should unload it. Hopefully anyone who’s gotten to know me knows that I believe in using what works. Just as I might choose vi over emacs, you might choose Christianity over the hodgepodge of beliefs I am currently running that *do* work for me. That’s fine. I wish you all the best, and I don’t want to start any holy wars over here.

However, Christianity bit me. It helped participate in breaking my mind in significant and bad ways. I’ve repaired a lot of the damage – enough to actually start to understand some of the hows and whys of how I got bitten, and the question I’m left asking – not that it matters who’s fault it is – is, was this deliberate? Is this a collection of ideas and beliefs with some hostile intent, or did I just “load it wrong”?

Now, I’m not going to claim that it’s not possible that the fault is mine. I certainly have been known to make mistakes from time to time. I’m also going to observe that it’s certainly possible to write a bad belief system *without* hostile intent – the people who wrote it were wandering in the desert with very little data to go on after apparently landing on earth with no backstory. It’s easy to see how they could have made a whole lot of mistakes in authoring a religion – it’s not like there was a handy manual lying around, “Writing good religions for dummies”. It’s not like there’s even such a book lying around now that I’ve noticed.

I’ve talked about my concerns about Christianity a number of times before, but let’s examine a few of them.

1) It claims to be the only way to heaven – the truth and the life – but it clearly coexists with a bunch of other religions, many of which claim the same thing. Now, it’s entirely possible that the authors *knew* it wasn’t the only way, but still thought telling the people who were loading it in that it was the only way would make it more powerful for them. It’s also possible that given their lack of communication with other tribes, they honestly thought (the authors) that it was the only way. This tends to give us the idea that they were not divinely inspired, however. The God of my understanding is inclusive, and builds a whole lot of ways to get wherever you’re going. That’s because the God of my understanding is, frankly, us. If you hand me a document that says God is worse than us, I’m going to treat it with a whole lot of skepticism. If you hand me a document that describes a God that is genuinely better than us, I’m going to respond by trying to learn from said God.

2) It clearly contains glaring errors. If you run the numbers on Noah’s Ark, it becomes clear it’s a work of fiction *or* we’re in a hypervised environment or some other situation where changing physical constants and sizes of things and whatnot is easy to do. I don’t have a problem with the second idea – I’m not *positive* that I’m not inside a video game where the coder made a significant mistake that made the instruction manual impossible to find for example – but you can’t take Noah’s Ark on it’s surface and say, “yes, that happened” in the same reality we currently inhabit, because of a whole lot of numeric, shall we say, issues with it.

Even more significant and obvious – if you’re a engineer creating the first body of a species, you’re going to make a female. Why? It contains a debugging host environment (i.e. you can keep the power on for Baby while you debug various things like digesting, breathing, etc) AND a bootstrap environment. (Obvious statement: You can make a male body from a female body. Going the other direction has some significant issues with it)

I’m aware there’s a counterargument.. a male might be easier to make first because of the lack of a need to include any reproductive capability at all.. but I still think that a body engineer would generally make the female first if they intended to make more than one and not copy them via something like cloning.

3) The bible neglects to mention some of the best and most amazing things about the world we’re in, which we only are finding now as we study the quantum world and space and whatnot. Quantum mechanics can suggest strongly that there might not be a monolithic reality at all, that we’re all connected, and a bunch of other amazing things.

4) The document’s description of heaven falls rather flat. My heaven would have a lot of sex, a lot of music, a lot of crazy adventures like wearing various bodies (I’d love to experience being a cat and sproinging, or being a dog and having as much bandwidth to my nose as humans have to their eyes), a lot of really wild experiences that I can’t even describe yet, the ability to temporarily share a mind with another person or group of people, telepathy, I could go on.. it certainly wouldn’t be a materialist heaven with a lot of gold and ivory, because I don’t even really *like* gold and ivory that much.

Anyway, so, the net result of all this is you have a document that claims if you don’t believe it you’ll be tormented for all eternity, while simultaneously making itself very difficult to believe. It also does some other things which make it hard on the mind of someone like me, like claiming that I’m so horribly flawed that someone else had to die because of my sins. I’m not going to catalog the many dark and disturbing things between the covers, because I think other forces on the net have done a admirable job of that.

One possibility I can’t discount is that the document is intended to be multiple paths. If you want to hurt and suffer, it’s intended to lead you to that. If you want to experience a wonderful world, it’s intended to lead you to that. But, to me, it lacks a bunch of information that I’d want my $RELIGIOUS_TEXT to have, and has a bunch of information that inflicted not inconsiderable harm on my neural net.

Put simply: Christianity started a holy war inside my mind, with various factions taking various sides. Different neural nets assigned it different probabilities of truth, and I experienced considerable and visceral anger and emotional stress whenever I thought about it. I am not convinced that children should ever be exposed to it. What I’m trying to decide is, was it written by a hostile force?

I don’t think that we didn’t have malicious individuals – or black hats, if you prefer – before we had computers. I do not at all doubt that someone with malicious intent might have decided it would be entertaining or interesting to craft or modify a existing religion to their ends. One thing that makes me *especially* suspicious of the book is the bit in revelations where it says you’ll go to hell if you edit it.

Look, truth shouldn’t have to say that. Truth shouldn’t be afraid of being improved upon. As I’ve pointed out elsewhere, even someone who *honestly thought they were a all powerful God* might be inside a hypervisor and not know it. That’s the irony of the Red Pill. You just can’t know. In general, it suits me just fine at this point to say “There are good ideas in here, and I’m gonna take them, and really really bad ideas and I’m going to stay as far away from them as I can.”

I feel like I have a spiritual connection with some people and things that I can’t easily see who have taught me a lot and I am happy for their lessons. I feel like I am not someone who should be tortured for all eternity (I rather doubt if *anyone* should be tortured for *all eternity*).

One particular bit that I come up against Christians on – is the idea that God is some being separate from me. I very much feel like I am a part of God – I’m like a row of a table, a cell in a body, whatever analogy you would like to use. When I think of myself as separate from God, I feel, to use a 12-step phrase, less than. Not a part of. When I think that *we* built all this, and *I helped*, I feel pride. I also feel shame and fear, but I think those are coming from the *damaged parts of my mind* that are *determined to think they are not worthy of being part of God* *AS THE DIRECT RESULT OF CHRISTIANITY*

Now, I’m convinced, from seeing various Christians, there is a good way to load the thing, that doesn’t allow it to cause much damage. I’m not clear on whether this is about the mental space you are in when you are loading it, or your internal architecture. I think it’s entirely possible that Christianity failed to load in such a impressive way because I’m a x86 and it was written for a ARM (so to speak). If it wasn’t written with hostile intent, I’m pretty sure it was written for people with a different mental and emotional architecture than I have.

However, I feel better and better about unloading it. Which is good, because unloading something you absorbed when you were a toddler and up is hard work and definitely a task for the patient and creative. Whether or not the religion is wrong or evil, the way I had it loaded had me convinced God was evil. Especially given that what you believe most definitely colors your experience, that is *not* a good thing to have floating around your mind.

Now, one big problem I have is that in general it’s not considered polite to talk about religion, and it most definitely is a source of friction in a number of environments. However, I’ve got a religion that was pressing hard on my sanity in a whole host of bad ways, and I kind of need to talk about it as I unload it because sometimes the only way to identify infected or miswired nodes is enumeration. Now, the one good thing that I notice is that I am not alone in this.

I do definitely think I’m a lot less in Hell with Christianity mostly unloaded. I still believe in the idea of higher powers.. God, angels, what have you. I just don’t think I know very much about them. And you know what? I’d rather not know – then know something that’s provably wrong. I’d certainly rather not know than believe that a higher power was ever in favor of stoning people because they were gay. That screams the opposite of higher power to me, and it hurts my head – literally – to think about. Or makes me angry, and I don’t like the feeling of being angry, and, as we say, I don’t have to live like that today.


Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

I have concluded that ego gets in the way of a lot of good things, a lot of the time.

Now, I have to differentiate here between ego and identity. Identity is awareness of who you are and what you’re capable of and what you’re trying to achieve and whatnot. Ego is being emotionally invested in identity – I.E. feeling bad when you don’t succeed. Beyond that, ego is a lot of other complicated things that I haven’t defined yet. Among other things, it’s comparing your identity the the perceived identities of other people around you.

Now, I have both positive and negative ego, and they both cause me considerable grief. My negative ego is very convinced that I suck in every way it’s possible to suck in, that I’m the worst of all possible humans, etc. I know that this isn’t true, but there’s still a part of my mind that really thinks that it is. My positive ego is also all invested in the idea of me being the best, among other things. Both of them get me into trouble, although what really causes havoc is when they get into wars with each other and intrude into my conscious experience while I’m trying to do other, unrelated things like recording tracks or coding or fixing problems with servers or whatever.

What I’m really trying to do is null them out – to not be comparing myself against other individuals at all, to be unconcerned with failure and enjoy the adventure rain or shine. I have not thus far figured out how to do this, but it’s a project I chip away at.

Fear and faith

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

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.