Note on a Table

18 01 2014

diner_table_setting

Had to go to Nebraska for a couple of different reasons. Went to a coffee shop for breakfast and found a note lying on the table. This is what it said.

 

My Future’s Manifesto
by D. B. Wyatt

“Probably”

I can see it and hear it now: Computers so smart they can actually mimic spirituality, because we’ll find that that a sufficient amount of computing power actually leads to an innate exocentricity – the impulse to “go beyond” one’s capacities, and this inevitably leads to a belief in God. The replication of intelligence begets replication, which by law of finite extrapolation, always leads to a desire for more. So get smart enough and you’ll want more than you have, and need more than you are. It’s a natural urge, which means that religion would have been developed whether or not there was a God. This doesn’t disprove the existence of God, but it makes it much less likely that such a being exists.

I can see it and hear it now. Computers so smart they can out-write, out-rhyme, out-paint, and generally out-create us. Because we’ll find certain innate algorithms built into nature that are expressly designed to create, and we’ll be able to replicate (and even manipulate and perhaps even improve upon) those algorithms in computers, but given that their computing power is so much greater, they will be able to out-perform us in creative tasks. So a computer will be funnier, more charming, even more sexy, than its human counterpart.

So religion will become a relic of the past, a natural stage in the progression of human intelligence, as we find that computers themselves begin to get not only personalities, but faiths. And this will prove, convincingly to most people, the true provenance of religious belief.

We’ll also come to the conclusion that we actually aren’t moral animals, we humans, and that our instincts for goodness are actually adaptability strategies in order to get along. We’ll find that there is no right and wrong, technically speaking, and that such concepts are developed for the propagation of the species. We make this shit up in order to survive, in other words. And it usually works, except when it doesn’t. It backfires because nature backfires. Every natural cycle is incomplete. Nature isn’t perfect – if it were, it wouldn’t change. Evolution is the process of attempting to reach perfection, which would be homeostasis. Religions call it eternity.

Anyway, all these religious impulses, all this morality wrought out of guilt, all this inspiration that supposedly came from the gods – all of this will, in time, be understood for precisely what it is – mechanisms built into the process of change for the purpose of insuring the survival of the host. Morality has no actual moral content of its own. Things are what we make them to be, and we make things that reflect what we want to be.

Will this lead to chaos and a rupture in the social fabric? Hopefully not, as people begin to accept that to live is better than to die, and so we must do everything we can to insure not only our own survival, but the survival of our progeny. This instinct alone, the desire and will to survive, will be recognized as the ultimate impulse—the ultimate religious impulse, if you will—that must be protected. Living will become the God. Life will be the God. Life will be God. God will be Life. It will be reduced to that kind of simplicity. There will be no need for sufficient complexity. It will be a call for sufficient simplicity. The simpler, the better, the more elegant, the more economical, the more efficient. Nature is actually on course to becoming more simple. It’s just that the road to get there is pretty complex ~

“I’m sorry this letter is so long. I didn’t have time to write a shorter one.” Blaise Pascal





Intuition vs Reason

3 02 2012

A study at Harvard published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology (Sept. 19, 2011) entitled “Divine Intuition: Cognitive Style Influences Belief in God” concluded that when people use intuition rather than reason, they are far more likely to conclude that there is a God. Intuition is a different way of knowing than reason. Attempts to know God by reason alone will fail. Atheists insist that reason is the only way to truth. That’s why they’re atheists.

I have to laugh at those atheist websites that have a laundry list of “celebrities” who don’t believe in God. That’s like having a laundry list of conservative Baptists who don’t believe in evolution. Probably the single greatest asset to a celebrity is his/her popularity. It’s not very popular in the world of celebrities (of the Hollywood or literati type) to be religious. So what do you get? A list of celebrities who don’t believe in God. Alert the media.

But even if it weren’t that disingenuous and these celebrities actually didn’t believe and had reasons beyond what any idiot might say about the matter, why should I care? If I want my teeth cleaned, I go to a dentist. My heart fixed? A cardiologist. My toilet repaired? A plumber. To be amused? A celebrity. For meaning larger than myself? Religion. I could no more care what Brad Pitt thinks of God than what Rebo the Clown thought of quantum mechanics.

I pity the souls who have willingly trapped themselves inside the Church of Atheism, where the common, everyday realities of love and courage and brotherhood must necessarily be reduced to nothing more than evolutionary coping mechanisms wrought by synapses in the brain. Talk about an impoverished religion.

No thanks. I’ll stick with common humanity on this one and believe (and intuit) that there’s still such a thing as mystery, and among the bigger mysteries, the human capacity at hubris, which is, in the end, what atheism boils down to. But then, isn’t that what Genesis 3 has been saying all along? The unbridled pursuit for total knowledge–to become gods ourselves–always ends in a fall of some kind. It’s Humpty-Dumpty all over again, people.

And all the king’s horses…





Madmen

3 10 2010

As far as I’m concerned, the biggest argument against atheism is that its foundational premise lies afoul of everything I know to be true about life. The people I’ve most admired in my life ~ those who have lived the richest and most honorable lives; the loves I’ve felt at the deepest and most satisfying levels; the writers, artists, and musicians whose works have most moved and inspired me ~ all of these have been connected in one way or another to God. Without God, in other words, nothing seems that beautiful, or makes that much sense. Let me rephrase that: Nothing makes too much sense. In a world bereft of God, love is nothing more than a neuro-chemical response to outside stimuli, a response honed by eons of social conditioning for the sake of the survival of the species; and humor is just a notch above a para-sympathetic nervous impulse; and caring for my daughter is simply natural selection with a little survival of the fittest thrown in at adolescence. In other words, everything is an accident and all outcomes are ultimately contrived.

Turns out, in a purely material world, that may turn out to be truer than we thought. Perhaps everything, at least from a purely physical standpoint — all the laws we’ve come to know and love and depend on for the last few centuries — may be based on contingent systems of temporary laws (that’s right, temporary laws. Google “the small change in the fine-structure constant a”). And to what end? Survival of the species? And for what great purpose? Mere longevity? In the yawning expanse of eternity, longevity is a non-starter. It doesn’t even amount to bad breath.

Furthermore, when the New Atheists come along and beat Christianity over the head because of the suffering it has caused, my first response is, You really want to play that game? Okay, so let’s take a quick peek at just how many lives have been zeroed out by self-proclaimed atheists since about as long as modern atheism has existed (which is but a fraction of the time Christianity has been around): Pol Pot, anyone? Hitler? Stalin? Mugabi? Mao? I mean, it’s not even a contest. And my second rejoinder falls somewhere along the lines of: Get in line… behind other Christians! Blaming the church for atrocities it has taken part in has been a cottage industry within the faith tradition since its inception. You can’t best Tertullian, or Augustine, or Luther, or Barth, or Pope John Paul II.

But that’s just shoddy argumentation, because comparing stats like that is akin to one murderer saying to the other, “Well clearly I’m not as bad as you since I only killed a family. You murdered a whole village.” Christians have long acknowledged the painful fact that terrible atrocities have been done in God’s name that shame the witness of Christ. Not all who say “Lord, Lord” will get into the Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus tells us. The point is, atheists, in trying to impute religion as a whole, are simply hoisting themselves on their own petards with silly arguments like that.

Here, finally, is the rub. God never intended to be proven. He has always intended that our relationship to him would be based on faith, and to prove his existence would be to render faith moot. Jesus got that… he got that believing in him was the challenge. That’s why he said things like, “Blessed are those who do not see and yet still believe.” Think about it: if we could prove God, that means we could reach God by reason alone, and if we could do that, then guess where that leads? To the perfectly reasonable conclusion that we’ve just reasoned our way to God, which more than likely means we’ve created him in our minds, etc., etc.. I never expected to be able to prove God’s existence. That’s like asking me to prove that I love my wife. How would I do that? All I’m left with is anecdotal evidence. Nothing like a scientific hypothesis presents itself to me. Although, if love is nothing more than neurons firing off in my brain, I guess you could isolate the “love” area of my brain, wire me up to some machine, and then stick my wife in front of me and see if the proper synapses start firing away in my head. But then do you see what we’ve been reduced to? Lunacy. Idiocy. Brain experiments. I mean, really… is that the kind of truth you want to embrace? And is that what you mean by love?

If it weren’t so utterly nihilistic, it might actually be funny.