If I brainstorm, am I?

Materialism, Science and Religion, Capitalism and Calvinism, Anime

We witness the hints of reasoning capability in the large language models today. LLMs most of the time sound more like a mirror, but with occasional surprise of almost reasoning. If Descartes is not right and thinking does not imply that I am, then what does? What is then left for a human to be? If there is only matter, is the human mind also matter, and is the mind replicable in a machine?

What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror. - Ghost in the Shell anime from 1995: 1 Corinthians 13:12

What impact human cultural beliefs have on human societies for example in terms of birth rates? How important are cultural and religious frameworks for technological progress? What is the nature of consciousness?

Materialism and Life

Are there any alternatives to materialism? The belief that life is a primary building block? Religion seems to put the idea of life, the idea of a god, front and center of the worldview instead of a dead matter of materialism. Does this partially explain higher birth rates in religious populations?

Because life is the self-directing, self-replicating, and self-improving so stationarity or uniformity would be against that, and so from this a concept of a central one god would be expected. People find it easier to relate to and follow other people, so it is simpler to understand a god as a person. Notice David Deutsch’s conjecture and criticism (Popper, Xenophanes) and points on disobedience necessity for creation of an AGI.

Was René Girard right that the New Testament Bible’s exposure of the scapegoat mechanism (e.g., Leviticus 16:21-22) in that Divinity takes the side of the victim, forcing self-reflection and independence though from the crowds? Does this shortcut mimetic conflicts, and so is necessary for complex societies?

Had Soviet Russia collapsed, partially because ruling communism attempted to remove religion with their materialist view, but itself had lower birthrates, and so the demographics eventually shifted towards people who grew up in non-communist communities, which eventually rejected communism causing the union to collapse? Look at the chart of the Russian birthrates plummeting after 1910, which coincides with the Russian Revolution. Note that Lenin had no children, Stalin had 3, Khrushchev (de-Stalinization) had 5, Brezhnev (neo-Stalinist) had 2. The problem with this theory is that if everything stayed the same and the higher birth rates were passed to the next generation, we would see an increase in fertility later. However, that is not what the chart shows. On the other hand, the culture has changed in the West at the same time, so I don’t have an answer.

Science and Religion

Here are 4 great quotes from Sabine Hossenfelder’s (contemporary, theoretical physicist, science communicator) book Existential Physics:

However, the God hypothesis has no quantifiable explanatory power. You can’t calculate anything from it. That doesn’t make it wrong, but it does make it unscientific. (Existential Physics)

I begin by asking him (David Deutsch), too, whether he is religious. He answers with a straightforward no. He doesn’t seem to have anything to add, so I move on to reductionism. (Existential Physics)

Scientists can learn from religion that not every get-together needs to come with a teachable lesson. … to share experiences, or look forward to a traditional ceremony. Science is severely lacking in such social integration. … we should talk more about how scientific understanding made a difference for non-experts. (Existential Physics)

Maybe, then, the universe is evolving toward a state in which it understands itself, and we are part of its ongoing quest. This quest began when natural selection favored species that made correct predictions about their environment, moved on to organisms that became increasingly better at understanding nature, and now continues with our (more or less) organized scientific enterprise, nationally and internationally, individually and institutionally. (Existential Physics)

Hard-to-Vary Explanations and Religion

In this video David Deutsch argues that myths or religions are easy to vary explanations because for example we can change the nature of the Gods involved, so they are not good explanations.

This easy variability is the sign of a bad explanation, because, without a functional reason to prefer one of countless variants, advocating one of them in preference to the others is irrational.

Greeks one jot closer to understanding seasons, because their explanation was bad – easy to vary. And it’s only when an explanation is good that it even matters whether it’s testable.

Now our current explanation of seasons is that the Earth’s axis is tilted like that, so each hemisphere tilts towards the sun for half the year, and away for the other half.

If the ancient Greeks had found out about seasons in Australia, they could have easily varied their myth to predict that… So, being proved wrong by observation and changing their theory accordingly still wouldn’t have got the ancient Greeks one jot closer to understanding seasons… If the axis-tilt theory had been refuted, its defenders would have had nowhere to go.

the Enlightenment, a revolution in how people sought knowledge, trying not to rely on authority. “Take no one’s word for it.”

So, for the essence of what makes the difference to enable progress, seek good explanations, the ones that can’t be easily varied, while still explaining the phenomena.

There are indeed many interpretations of the same scriptures. However, only so many mainstream religious frameworks have sustainable populations. But also from this perspective, religions are harder to vary and more of an explanation for staying together than an explanation of metaphysics.

Note that Deutsch’s hard-to-vary principle is relates to more formalized principles in deep learning such as the bias-variance trade-off and Occam’s razor. Hard-to-vary principle can be also viewed in terms of Kolmogorov complexity (~ compressibility), and Rashomon set (~ multiple acceptable models).

Linux Kernel Creator’s Beliefs

Here are two quotes from Linus Torvalds on his personal beliefs:

It gives people the excuse to say, ‘Oh, nature was just created,’ and so the act of creation is seen to be something miraculous.

In the second quote, Linus references the Golden Rule present in the New Testament (Matthew 7:12) and in a different form in the Old Testament (Leviticus 19:18). The second Linus’s personal rule is similar to Colossians 3:23 (ESV) “Whatever you do, work heartily” or Ecclesiastes 9:10 (ESV) “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might”.

“There are like two golden rules in life. One is ‘Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you.’ For some reason, people associate this with Christianity. I’m not a Christian. I’m agnostic. The other rule is ‘Be proud of what you do.

Conjecture and Criticism in the Bible

Science progresses through conjecture and criticism if we follow Popper’s ideas. David Deutsch explained these ideas and popularized them in The Beginning of Infinity.

Regarding the conjectures, the bible verses promote understanding and wisdom.

We have a biblical proverb:

An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge. - Proverbs 18:15 ESV

Rockefeller was a baptist, and on the Rockefeller Center stands biblical quote:

And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times - Isaiah 33:6 KJV

Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. - Proverbs 4:6 ESV

Bible proverbs often praise criticism:

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. - Proverbs 12:15 ESV

Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. - Proverbs 27:5-6 ESV

The scientific method dates from the 17th century and is not mentioned in the Bible, but there are some interesting although scattered quotes:

It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out. - Proverbs 25:2 ESV

Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. - 1 Thessalonians 5 ESV

Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them. - Psalm 111:2 ESV

From where, then, does wisdom come? … God understands the way to it, and he knows its place. - Job 28 ESV

John Calvin and Science

John Calvin’s view on the sciences seems to be demonstrated in these quotes from the Institutes of the Christian Religion. They indicate that sciences are good, but not the most important:

.. admiration of the Divine Architect. In disquisitions concerning the motions of the stars, in fixing their situations, measuring their distances, and distinguishing their peculiar properties, there is need of skill, exactness, and industry; and the providence of God being more clearly revealed by these discoveries, the mind ought to rise to a sublimer elevation for the contemplation of his glory.

Therefore, since it appears that those whom the Scripture styles “natural men,” ψυχικους, have discovered such acuteness and perspicacity in the investigation of sublunary things, let us learn from such examples, how many good qualities the Lord has left to the nature of man, since it has been despoiled of what is truly good.

Another view on this is the idea of vocational calling (Commentary on 1 Corintians 1:20):

… that every one should be contented with his calling, and pursue it, instead of seeking to betake himself to anything else. A calling in Scripture means a lawful mode of life, for it has a relation to God as calling us…

Capitalism and Calvinism Christianity

Max Weber describes Calvinism (Puritanism) in his book The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Max Weber argued that doctrine of predestination placed transcendental God outside the timeline (finitum non est capax infiniti), the removed all mystical, magical, and ritualistic elements in favor of wordly affairs (labour in a calling which serves the mundane life of the community), removed all feeling in favor of systematic self-control and self-confidence (God helps those who help themselves).

On the one hand it is held to be an absolute duty to consider oneself chosen, and to combat all doubts as temptations of the devil, since lack of self-confidence is the result of insufficient faith, hence of imperfect grace. …

On the other hand, in order to attain that self-confidence intense worldly activity is recommended as the most suitable means. It and it alone disperses religious doubts and gives the certainty of grace.

Max Weber additionally argued that the faith alone doctrine removed simplistic “Good works” in favor of “worldly calling”. This in turn he hypothesized caused increase in accumulation and reinvestment of capital. However, Calvinist secularized quickly without passing their religion to their descendants, and so over time the spirit started to disappear by the times of Benjamin Franklin:

Medieval ethics not only tolerated begging but actually glorified it in the mendicant orders. Even secular beggars, since they gave the person of means opportunity for good works through giving alms, were sometimes considered an estate and treated as such. …

One of the fundamental elements of the spirit of modern capitalism, and not only of that but of all modern culture: rational conduct on the basis of the idea of the calling, was born—that is what this discussion has sought to demonstrate—from the spirit of Christian asceticism. One has only to re-read the passage from (Benjamin) Franklin, quoted at the beginning of this essay, in order to see that the essential elements of the attitude which was there called the spirit of capitalism are the same as what we have just shown to be the content of the Puritan worldly asceticism, only without the religious basis, which by Franklin’s time had died away.

While Max Weber thesis lacked quantitative data to prove his point, there are quantitative studies on The Protestant Ethic topic, which show that in some parts of the world the Calvinism faith had effects, but not always and everywhere:

The last one in particular, observed in simplified terms that Protestantism may not make you rich, but makes you unhappy when you’re not rich:

Tests the relation between Protestantism and work attitudes using a novel method, operationalizing work ethic as the effect of unemployment on individuals’ subjective well-being. Analyzing a sample of 150,000 individuals from 82 societies, we find strong support for a Protestant work ethic: unemployment hurts Protestants more and hurts more in Protestant societies. Whilst the results shed new light on the Protestant work ethic debate, the method has wider applicability in the analysis of attitudinal differences. …

Peter Thiel criticizes that predestination’s removal of free will causes removal of personal responsibility. Too much focus on insufficiencies of people of total depravity may cause reduction of conversations. Both causing stagnation.

Calvinist Founding of America?

There is a common opinion that Benjamin Franklin was a deist. But based on his autobiography, I think he was briefly a deist and reverted to something between calvinism and deism:

appear’d now not so clever a Performance as I once thought it; and I doubted whether some Error had not insinuated itself unperceiv’d, into my Argument, so as to infect all that follow’d, as is common in metaphysical Reasonings. I grew convinc’d that Truth, Sincerity & Integrity in Dealings between Man & Man, were of the utmost Importance to the Felicity of Life, and I form’d written Resolutions, … certain Actions might not be bad because they were forbidden by it, or good because it commanded them; yet probably those Actions might be forbidden because they were bad for us, or commanded because they were beneficial to us, in their own Natures, all the Circumstances of things considered. And this Persuasion, with the kind hand of Providence, or some guardian Angel, or accidental favorable Circumstances & Situations, or all together, preserved me

Based on above, the thesis Did America Have a Christian Founding? may be right, that the United States were predominantly founded by Calvinists of Puritan variety. Which however over time declined in numbers.

between 55 percent and 75 percent of white citizens in this era associated themselves with Calvinist churches, and members of the tradition were significantly overrepresented among American intellectual elites. King George himself reportedly referred to the War for Independence as “a Presbyterian Rebellion.”

Criticism of Mystical Pop Cultures

Calvinist criticized all magical and mystical things, but what quantitative studies tell us about it? There is a very unusual book The Pragmatist’s Guide to Crafting Religion, which is a compilation information on cultures, religions, and traditions. It identifies elements of soft or pop culture or soft culture beliefs: wishing thinking, crystals, wow-effect large things like universe, lacking specificity or containing unknowable. While these seem to be similar to intuitive early religions, in wealthy societies these are associated with very low birth rates.

Prayer from a Secular Perspective

Prayer puts locus of control externally, which is suboptimal from agency perspective, but let’s look at other aspects of prayer.

Prayer may also be a seen similar to a problem-solving method of working backward from the end goal (e.g., Amazon), inversion of Charlie Munger, or Polya. We can interpret it as regarding the end goal first, which helps one to create the plan:

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. - Proverbs 16:3 (NIV)

Prayer can also be considered as practicing gratitude, which has positive psychological effects.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)

A prayer can also be akin to meditation, which also seems to have positive psychological effects up to certain limit, when it can become unhealthy like everything.

therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. - 1 Peter 4:7 (ESV)

Some calls for prayers are public, and in that case it can serve as a goal alignment to be acted upon later.

The Bible’s Missing Modern Words

Interesting how the Bible doesn’t have words for things that hadn’t been discovered at that time. For example, “heart” often seems to refer to “brain”. Notice how using the word brain in the place of word heart sometimes changes meaning of some quotes:

have not asked for yourself long life, nor have you asked for riches for yourself, nor have you asked for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice; behold, I have done according to your word. Behold, I have given you a wise and understanding heart;

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. - Proverbs 4:23 ESV

The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure. - Ecclesiastes 7:4 NIV

Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of face the heart is made glad. - Ecclesiastes 7:3

The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out. - Proverbs 18:15 NIV

Similarly, there was no word for DNA, although the concept was also intuitively partially understood. Perhaps we could look at word “image” as sometimes referring to the DNA:

When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth. - Genesis 5:3 ESV

Not-Not Is What? Actionable Commandments?

Here an experimental over-extrapolation from the Ten Commandments of the Bible by flipping them from a prohibitive form into a proactive, dynamic secular form, focusing on what to do instead of what not to do. For example, notice that the Golden Rule “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them” (Matthew 7:12, Leviticus 19:18) is also almost a positive proactive form of The Eye for an eye law (Matthew 5:38, Leviticus 24:19).

You will disagree with these because I cannot precisely invert negative into positive. I also provide potentially supportive quotes from other parts of the Bible. Let me know if you spot an inaccuracy?

  1. Worship only God becomes Find and focus on what increases the good and decreases the bad, and follow the best path towards that. You are responsible for the future beyond these commandments.
    • “Those who devise good meet steadfast love and faithfulness.” (Proverbs 14:22 ESV)
    • “The path of life leads upward for the prudent, that he may turn away from Sheol beneath.” (Proverbs 22:29 ESV)
    • “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.” (Proverbs 4:18 ESV)
    • “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 ESV)
    • “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6 ESV)
    • “So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:12 ESV)
  2. Make no idols becomes Value and prioritize meaningful and lasting pursuits and focus. Conform only to carefully and mindfully selected matters. Fade the foolish things.
    • “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2 ESV)
    • “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23 ESV)
    • “And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty.” (1 Samuel 12:21 ESV)
  3. Do not take the name of God in vain becomes Be grateful for all blessings of your life and stay positive. Steer your emotions and mind towards the meaningful and positive. Persist.
    • “Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.” (Proverbs 25:28 ESV)
    • “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6 ESV)
    • “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15 ESV)
    • “there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused,” (Luke 18:3 ESV)
  4. Remember the Sabbath day becomes Regularly organize events to spend time with your family and community. Meet new people. Seek, share, exchange what is good. Reflect.
    • “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another,” (Hebrews 10:25 ESV)
    • “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” (Proverbs 15:22 ESV)
  5. Honor your father and mother becomes Earn honor by becoming a father or a mother many times and teach children your good findings and beliefs.
    • “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” (Psalm 127:3 ESV)
    • “You fathers, don’t provoke your children to wrath, but nurture them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4 WEB)
  6. Do not murder becomes Protect and increase human life and evolve its capacity.
    • “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10 ESV)
    • “Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.” (1 Corinthians 15:49 ESV)
  7. Do not commit adultery becomes Nurture a healthy and loving marriage and society broadly.
    • “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25 ESV)
    • “An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.” (Proverbs 31:10 ESV)
  8. Do not steal becomes Respect and protect others and share fruits of your labor with wise generosity.
    • “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.” (Ephesians 4:28 ESV)
    • “Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.” (1 Corinthians 4:2 ESV)
    • “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (1 Corinthians 4:2 ESV)
  9. Do not bear false witness becomes Seek, face, and speak the truth, wisdom, and innovation, and improve integrity of judgment, and administration.
    • “The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice.” (Psalm 37:30 ESV)
    • Desire without knowledge is not good—how much more will hasty feet miss the way! (Proverbs 19:2 ESV)
    • “for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;” (Proverbs 2:10 ESV)
    • “The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps.” (Proverbs 14:15 ESV)
  10. Do not covet becomes Wish other people well, learn to be more industrious yourself, and take pride in your unique competitive work in the marketplace and beyond.
    • “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV)
    • “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)
    • “Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.” (Proverbs 22:29 ESV)
    • “But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor.” (Galatians 6:4 ESV)
    • “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10 ESV)

Christian Themes in Anime

Gurren Lagann, the only anime I could watch, kept me thinking after finishing it. Some parts seemed familiar. Then, I realized that the series’ main themes have Christian analogs. The spiral energy is similar to the Holy Spirit; Kamina plays the role of Christ, and the LorgGenome is the Father. Kamina recommends to instead of trying to believe in yourself, to instead believe in God (him - Kamina), that believes in you (Similar to but not the same - John 12:46, John 15:5, 1 Peter 5:7 and other similar passages: Isaiah 41:10, Proverbs 3:6). He has sayings similar to “All things are possible for one who believes.” (Mark 9:23 ESV) Kamina also comes back from the dead once more at the end of the show. The team eventually forms a large body, “Super Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann,” similar to the body of the Church of the bible. You can find more similarities in this link. Christianity permeates today’s culture in unexpected places worldwide.

There is also a bible quote in Ghost in Shell:

when I was a child, my speech, feelings, and thinking were all those of a child. Now that I am a man, I have no more use for childish ways. - 1 Corinthians 13:11 (Ghost in The Shell translation)

Two Usual Philosophers of 1800s

The ninth commandment of not being a false witness contributed to systematic inquiry into science. Scientific inquiry multiplied, aggregated, and executed knowledge. However, the knowledge snapped back and came to be perceived as superseding or disagreeing with parts of the scriptures.

Yet a small light remained after the storm. Perhaps the implicit positive form of commandments pointed upward—towards growth. Also, can we look at the Tower of Babel story as less against ambition and technology and more about preferring diversity of solutions?

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works. (Matthew 5:13)

The 1800s was a rapid development period. There were 2 highly usual writers in the 1800s: Friedrich Nietzsche, and William Winwood Reade.

Man puts an end to darkness and searches out to the farthest limit the ore in gloom and deep darkness. He opens shafts in a valley away from where anyone lives; they are forgotten by travelers; they hang in the air, far away from mankind; they swing to and fro. As for the earth, out of it comes bread, but underneath it is turned up as by fire. Its stones are the place of sapphires, and it has dust of gold. (Job 28:3-6 ESV)

Friedrich Nietzsche

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 - 1900) I read long ago. Reflecting now on him, I think it is not positive despite some qualities. His writing is uplifting at times, but overthinking and living in his head. He had this idea of Eternal return. This cyclical universe, which is interesting idea in the context of astrophysics. For him, it was a motivator - the “heaviest burden” of being forced to repeat the same life. This motivator does not suggest a wish to improve the world. In the end, was he a nihilist, which he wanted to prevent? A mystic who was turning back the clock with Eternal return and with partial reversion to the Roman belief system?

“Behold, I will make the shadow cast by the declining sun on the dial of Ahaz turn back ten steps.” So the sun turned back on the dial the ten steps by which it had declined. (Isaiah 38:8)

Nietzsche was over-focused on the individual and individual progress instead of understanding and contributing to society that would catalyze such progress. That seems to me caused him to misunderstand the collective upside of specific religions or morals that grew in the times between Ancient Greece and his life. This lead him to relativism.

I think Nietzsche was, for example, wrong in that Socrates did not think of life as a sickness, instead Socrates he wanted to offer to a god of medicine and healing. Probably due a bad translation or too much imagination.

Nietzsche also did not have a good understanding of Darwin’s Origin of Species (1859), or perhaps did not have full access to it:

First, he misidentifies the selective criterion in Darwinism, the standard by which natural selection selects: this is reproduction, not survival, and emphatically not the organism’s own coming-into-existence, as in the Zarathustra passage (John Richardson - Nietzsche’s New Darwinism (2004))

Nietzsche wished to elevate human, but his vision was too much about a singular relativistic man lost high in the mountains like his Zarathustra. His writing seems often emotional and over-focused on aestheticism. Still, there are some redeeming parts, and he probably suffered the poorer health than Reade.

William Winwood Reade

William Winwood Reade (1838 - 1875), a different man - a pragmatist. He traveled much more, wrote more about human societies, history, and did more natural research than Nietzsche.

For example, he helped Darwin’s research doing on the ground research:

Indeed, upon his return to the coast of Africa after travelling in the interior for several months, Reade would find a now five-month-old letter waiting for him from Darwin describing in detail just how useful his observations had been. (A good Darwinian? Winwood Reade and the making of a late Victorian evolutionary epic (2015))

Some passages of his work are controversial similar to Nietzsche’s works. But the overall philosophical direction seem more interesting and more positive: to find minimum viable beliefs making them harder-to-vary (see notes on Deutsch above). Consequently, finding beliefs that do not conflict with new knowledge and keep the divine spark.

He wished to incorporate the sciences and good works:

we wish him to have a religion which will harmonise with his intellect, and which inquiry will strengthen (The Martyrdom Of Man)

Those who desire to worship their Creator must worship him through mankind. (The Martyrdom Of Man)

There are passionate desires of virtue, yearnings for the good, which descend from time to time like a holy spirit upon all cultivated minds, and from which, strange as it may seem, not even free-thinkers are excluded. When such an impulse animates the godless man he expends it in the service of mankind;(The Martyrdom Of Man)

He thought there were no Ghosts in our shells:

There is no such thing as a ghost or soul; the intellects of men resemble those instincts which inhabit the corpuscules, and which are dispersed when the corpuscule dies. (The Martyrdom Of Man)

He seemed to be similar kind of semi-Deist like Benjamin Franklin:

One to whom it is profanity to pray, of whom it is idle and irreverent to argue and debate, of whom we should never presume to think save with humility and awe; that Unknown God has ordained that mankind should be elevated by misfortune, and that happiness should grow out of misery and pain. (The Martyrdom Of Man)

He also writes about scientific development.

And then, the earth being small, mankind will migrate into space, and will cross the airless Saharas which separate planet from planet, and sun from sun. (The Martyrdom Of Man)

Finally, men will master the forces of Nature; they will become themselves architects of systems, manufacturers of worlds. (The Martyrdom Of Man)

I may be wrong. Let me know if that is so. I only listened to the audiobooks, read things elsewhere, and re-read some-parts of the book.

Ego Is a Vicious Loop?

Let me define ego as an excessive inward focus or self-centered pride or anxiety, or overly emotional attachment to self instead of outward focus on the fruits of one’s labor in contributions to forward progress. Emotional attachment to one’s past, present instead of perfecting and increasing confidence in action, or self-indulgence, focus internal experiences (immaterial and unreliable - mysticism), or identity.

The ego we see most commonly goes by a more casual definition: an unhealthy belief in our own importance. Arrogance. Self-centered ambition. (Ego is The Enemy)

It is important to avoid excessive inward focus or excessive self-reflection. It easily turns into a self-reinforcing feedback loop vortex that eventually absorbs all capacity to act. Additionally, inward focus corrodes group communication.

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 29:23 ESV)

What fate can be more wretched than that of the man who resigns himself to them (passions)? (The Martyrdom Of Man)

The heart is deceitful above all things, … (Jeremiah 17 ESV)

So, this interesting conflict exists between self-self and self-interacting with the world. This conflict could be one of the reasons for the concept of God, which perhaps tilts the bias toward generally positive results. God could be introducing plurality and external perspective into individuals’ perspective - self-conception as an aggregate (multitude) that pushes focus outwards.

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16 ESV)

But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, (Philippians 3:13 ESV)

Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. (Proverbs 4:25 ESV)

It is not about you. It is not about now. Past immutable turns bring you here, but what you do now on is about a sunny future for others and a great path to get there.

But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. (Jeremiah 29:7 ESV)

… he who endeavours to better his condition, and to make his children wiser and happier than himself; whatever may be his motives, he will not have lived in vain. (The Martyrdom Of Man)

I wonder if the greater capacity of an individual’s neural system correlates with greater danger for ego loops. I also wonder if internal monologue - the ego’s talk - comes with so many downsides, that it highly muted in some individuals. Once, I asked a colleague at university what physics explained then that I clearly sense that I exist. And he responded that he has no idea what I am talking about. Some people do report not having any internal monologue at all, but rather sensing shapes of ideas instead.

Focus on someone else’s inner state or a status within a group can lead to similar vicious loops.

Measurement is essential in the scientific method. Another person’s word is unreliable, but data, if not tampered with, if measuring what was intended, are more reliable. (notes on research reliability here)

A just balance and scales are the Lord’s; all the weights in the bag are his work. (Proverbs 16:11 ESV)

take nobody’s word for it (Royal Society - Nullius in verba)

Persons with feeble and untrained intellects may live according to their conscience; but the conscience itself will be defective. (The Martyrdom Of Man)

Excessive pessimism or self-criticism seems also indulgent. It is good to stay slightly more upbeat and slightly over-estimating output capacity to have something to live up to.

Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?” And Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have made a fool of me. … And the angel of the Lord said to him, “Why have you struck your donkey these three times? 😄? (Numbers 22:28 ESV)

Time is limited, but more is possible!

The End is The New Beginning

So I conclude:

  • Beliefs and religious structures significantly impact societies, including birth rates.
  • Cultural frameworks could have a significant impact on civilizational and technological development.
  • Nature of consciousness or soul remains undecidable.

How does your philosophy shape your life? I hope you became more by brainstorming today with me.

Where do you go from here?

Perhaps I will write later. I need to return to earthly matters.

He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap. (Ecclesiastes 11:4-6 ESV)

I hope this writing is good for something (Civilization 6).

Created on 17 Dec 2023. Updated on: 24 May 2024.
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