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Monday, July 21, 2008


I want to believe the future is going to have more opportunities than the present. I want friendly robots and perfect simulations of people to talk to (like myself!) and clones and full-blown transporter-accident human duplications. I think it's theoretically possible to perfectly predict humans by understanding the brain. And I have faith in science to get us there eventually.

Naturally, I don't believe in souls. We exist entirely within the little box that is the physical universe. We start in the universe, we play around in the universe and we end in the universe. We don't come from understanding everything and "forgetting", we come from lifelessness. It all needs to be built up. And then when it's built up, it doesn't lead anywhere. It just goes back to lifelessness. No heaven, no hell. We don't get to leave the box. All that matters is what you do inside the box.

This does not clash with my belief in God. God is on the outside of the box, and he/she/it put us in here. We are no higher than animals, except for the complexity of our intelligence -which allows, among other things, for rationalizing what we see. We can judge the walls of the box, and imagine that there is a box. That allows us to be mirrors, of sorts. The inside universe, dimly reflecting the outside of the universe. Like art imitating life, life imitates truth. But there is a clear and unbreakable hierarchy here. Reflecting God is an artistic flourish, not an escape.

What this does clash with is conventional Judaism, unfortunately. I can't go two paragraphs in the prayers without reading about some sorts of angels and demons and spirits and the like. None of which we should have any way of knowing about. Other than God, we don't know anything about the outside. It could be anything, or nothing. We know that God exists only because we see his creation and it couldn't be so elegant without him. But all the rest is fairy-tales. What do we see, that can't be explained sufficiently by saying that God is great? So all those other spirits, I don't believe in. I mean, I can't say they're not there. But I also don't see any reason to say they are. So I have a problem with a lot of the davening, as well as some other practices.

But that's not reason enough for me to spend a lifetime thinking about religion. If I haven't quite found my niche, that's okay. The usual Orthodox Judaism is close enough for me.

A person with no understanding of God who does things of value in the world is a hundred times better as a person than an intelligent person who has spent his life studying god, who has failed to do anything of value. Life is not preparation. Life is it. Get up, play your part, get off the stage. If you do a bad job, it doesn't mean you're going to suffer. No, it means something even worse: You did a bad job. No, that really is worse. It's the only job you have!

..but what do I know. I'm just a toy in the box.



I feel I can agree with everything you have written, except I can't come to the same conclusion of believing in God (and I am not as optimistic about hyper intelligent AI).

In your opinion, God answers the question of how and why the universe is as it is.

In my opinion, I would rather leave those questions without answers, as it leaves me more space to think.

I am interested in understanding what advantages are found in believing in God.

Well, I think the most important thing is humility. When we don't see a god, under whom we're all (more or less) equals, we tend to place ourselves in the very center of the universe. This is a natural human tendency which hurts the people around us as well as ourselves to a certain extent.

Aside from that, believing in God isn't for our own amusement or satisfaction so much as it is so that we can play a better role in the world.

Nice post! But I do feel somewhat skeptical about the statements on the powers of science. No doubt all complex phenomenons (eg: the brain) work according to definite rules and causes, but to assume these can be analysed, categorised and translated into a language we can discern (much less controlling them) is to credit science with a power that is out of the "box" it is supposedly describing. Aka it's a natural utopian / idealistic sentiment, but there's a reason science isn't called omniscience, and it's the fact that it can't transcend the practical side of its application.

You and your reasonable statements. Bl'bah. I just want to meet myself already! It'll happen. Just wait. You'll see. Any day now.


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