Curiosity Over Pride (FYI: To comment, send an e-mail to scifidink@gmail.com)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Thought for the weekend

So all this chat on non-zero sum/zero sum has me thinking about a phenomena I'm sure you have noticed as well...

Is there a relationship between zero-sum and the particular attraction people have towards the idea that Jesus Christ died for your sins?

How often do you hear "he died for you"?

I can't be alone in this experience.

All thoughts appreciated

28 comments:

Thai said...

For comments

Dink said...

I got hooked on this song from a zombie movie of all places. It got me into some rabbit hole about plows and oxen. Also, I found out that Johnny Cash attended Queen Elizabeth's coronation.

But that's off topic.

What I've always thought odd about that statement (HDFY, sinner!) is that lots of people have died for us (soldiers, cops, childbirth). And beyond that, wouldn't most people sacrifice themselves if put in the same situation?

And why was he put in that situation? What a bad-tempered diety! And according to the trinity, wasn't he both the bad guy and the good guy? And wouldn't he/they be bored if there weren't any more people? And since there's an afterlife he didn't really die (as defined as cognition ceasing to exist).

Perhaps ironically, I'm not religious but I think that I'd get along well with the various prophets if I met them. They seemed to genuinely want people to be nice to each other. Then their followers go on crusades and jihads. Terrible.

Thai said...

All true

AND

HDFYS ;-)

Thai said...

As did all those others as you correctly point out

There have been a lot of people over the ages watching our collective backs.

All I can say is "thanks" over the internet to all of them

Dr John said...

I was raised Catholic so of course heard this often as the idea Jesus died to cleanse us of original sin is central to Christian faith. What is fascinating is the connection between the doctrinal mission of Jesus and his death and the Eden myth.

I slowly came to the conclusion that religious belief had no place in my life over time in my late 20's and early 30's. This was primarily based on the long standing philosophical question of the problem with evil and an inability to shoehorn the religious narrative into unconvincing explanatory models of natural theology.

None the less, I continue to find the study of religion and religious belief fascinating, in particular the psychology of religious belief. I once read a paper on religion by Carl Sagan where he talks about cultural influence and why people in the middle of Texas never have religious awakenings and wake up one day suddenly believing in a Ganesha the elephant god as remover of obstacles. Hysterical.

The Eden myth and original sin is central to the concept of Christ coming to earth and dying for our sins. You really cannot have one without the other yet most Christians see the former as an old testament fairy tale not to be taken literally while still buying into the latter but having no idea why Jesus needed to die for us. Just that he did. No one I have ever met really has examined their belief system deeply enough to even spot this inconsistency let alone make an attempt to resolve it.

Since recorded history there have been over 10,000 known religions reportedly. If you are interested in why people believe these things this is a good book.

On a day to day basis I do admit I see religion giving people a great sense of comfort during difficult times despite the just criticism of how such ideology can be used for great evil. None the less it has been said that when you go to church one must check ones brain at the church house door. I would concur.

Thai said...

Since it is such a fun subject but in armed only with an iPhone, perhaps JP will honor us with a post on religion and fractals. ;-)

Dr John said...

Thai, thanks for the pot link. Lots of interesting debate. In particular on the second hand smoke issue and psychosis issue. I am less convinced than that guy on those issues as being of significant concern but that is another post.

Dink said...

"I once read a paper on religion by Carl Sagan"

Wasn't he awesome?!?

"The Eden myth and original sin is central to the concept of Christ coming to earth and dying for our sins. You really cannot have one without the other"

This I did not know! I thought God was just fed up in general with humanity so was going to wipe us out until JC intervened.

And there would be precedent for this omnipotent moodiness:
*Messing with Job just to see what would happen
*Kill Isaac, no wait, just kidding!

"On a day to day basis I do admit I see religion giving people a great sense of comfort during difficult times"

I'm conflicted. It stops the pain of loss, but perhaps people need to reason through the pain to become fully mature. "Mature" may not be the word that really relates what I mean.

Maybe "agree with me" is the term ;) You know, that this finite time of conscious experience is incredibly lucky and is the result of some really outragous and statistically near-impossible events. Appreciate it and try to use your neurons for the best experience. Including cooperating so other sapients(including future born) can have pleasant experiences as well. Not as nice as "you get to live forever in heaven" I admit, but not too bad either.

"despite the just criticism of how such ideology can be used for great evil"

Huge evil. It overrides the instinctual safeguards of "This act is wrong. I don't want to be a bad person. I won't do it" with "This act is wrong. God wants me to do this act because the victim is bad. I will still be a good person. I will do it". So freaking dangerous.

"armed only with an iPhone"

And still the sensei will manage to whip our asses. Plus, JP only fights on weekdays.

Dr John said...

Yes Carl Sagan was awesome Dink.

It is a testament to the nature of man as well as the malleable characteristics of religion that this little fact of Christ visit being do to the need to absolve us of original sin is no longer that important or even trotted out in anything but the most fundamental of Christian theologies. I can see why you would think it was just do to a crazy God.

I wonder what those whose fellows in the 4th century were thinking when they put the old and the new books together. Angry, jealous, crazy God now with new and improved on Prozac God.

I do not mean to sound elitist but I do not think most people are capable of a world view without religion. It can be too scary.

Thai said...

I'm sympathetic to that idea

Okie is right, I have found a kind of religion in fractals nature of the universe (if nihilism can really be considered a religion) and it does take the sting out of the worst aspect of nihilism, at least for me.

I accept cooperation willingly having found no other alternative.

I do not accept it blindly however for all forms of cooperation, except to the nebulous concept of the collective. But understand this is not to any one person's particular view of what the collective should look like.

In the end we all make our own reality.

By the way, nice comment Dink

Dink said...

"if nihilism can really be considered a religion"

We need a nice name for this belief system.

Klugism?

Dogma: Existence is kind of a mess, but lets try to make the best of it since were here anyway?

JP said...

Thai says:

"What I've always thought odd about that statement (HDFY, sinner!) is that lots of people have died for us (soldiers, cops, childbirth). And beyond that, wouldn't most people sacrifice themselves if put in the same situation?

And why was he put in that situation? What a bad-tempered diety! And according to the trinity, wasn't he both the bad guy and the good guy? And wouldn't he/they be bored if there weren't any more people? And since there's an afterlife he didn't really die (as defined as cognition ceasing to exist)."

I'll take a crack at this, Thai.

It helps to have some understanding of religious and psychological development along with the "logic" of sacrifice for this to make any sense (at least from my point of view).

Mental, psychological, and reglious life did not arise in a vacuum. Just think about the very odd transition from the content of the mind of the proto-human into the content of the mind of "modern" man.

The "logic" of human sacrifice dealt with appeasing the mostrosus "gods", really (for lack of a better word) psychological projections of some kind. Look to the Aztec for example. "Let's ritually kill lots of people so that our "god" will be appeased.

Look at wikipedia, under "Human sacrifice in Aztec culture", which states:

"The Aztec priests defended themselves as follows:

“ Life is because of the gods; with their sacrifice they gave us life [...]. They produce our sustenance [...] which nourishes life.[10] ”"

So, the Aztec "god" needs lots of human sacrifice to be happy, right?

Now, with the concept of the Christian "sacrifce", you "solve" this "problem" by having Christ die for everybody.

It's no longer zero sum, i.e. "someone has to die (on a regular and continuous basis) to appease "the gods". Now, it's "Christ died for everybody, so no more human sacrifice is (ever) necessary (again)."

Non Zero-sum. No more people killed for no real reason whatsoever.

In order for the "he died for us" to make any sense, you have to realize that it's psychological purpose is to (permanently) circumvent the logic of sacrifice.

JP said...

Thai says:

"I accept cooperation willingly having found no other alternative."

That's because there isn't actually any alternative.

It's kind of fundamental to "actually accomplishing anything of any value".

Thai said...

And the externality is... ? ;-)

Thai said...

Amen

JP said...

Thai says:

"Okie is right, I have found a kind of religion in fractals nature of the universe (if nihilism can really be considered a religion) and it does take the sting out of the worst aspect of nihilism, at least for me."

So, you're saying that you are a nihilst who believes the universe is fractal, that cooperation is critical, and that you make your own reality?

Thai said...

If you've found more I'm listening. ;-)

Dr John said...

To paraphrase JS Mill: A personally rewarding faith is needed to replace the untenable belief in eternal life and for everyone to feel in some way they are contributing to human progress.

We all must have our "religion".

JP said...

Thai says:

"If you've found more I'm listening. ;-)"

It's just that you sounded like you were saying "I believe that 2+2=5". Nihlism and "we create our own relality" seems incompatible with the entire fracal/cooperation idea.

Dr. John says:

"It is a testament to the nature of man as well as the malleable characteristics of religion that this little fact of Christ visit being do to the need to absolve us of original sin is no longer that important or even trotted out in anything but the most fundamental of Christian theologies."

Wasn't it Augustine who came up with original sin?

He certainly had a wild youth and did quite a lot of original sinning.

Thai said...

No, let's say I think I'm probably wrong but I want to defend something

Thai said...

The fractal/we create our own reality thing is the part of the system we participate in with our daily lives. This is only one boundary in the system however.

How do you reconcile your own observation that the universe is fractal?

JP said...

Thai says:

"The fractal/we create our own reality thing is the part of the system we participate in with our daily lives. This is only one boundary in the system however."

I assume that this universe has certain fixed geometric boundary conditions. I prefer the double calabi-yau manifold as my current working model for its geometry. All sub-fractls within this universe are dependent upon the main fractal. Sub-variations on a theme.

We can only "create our own reality" to the extent that the "reality" created does not violate these boundary conditions.

We make choices. If these choices are cooperative and result in non-zero "games" being played, things get better. If these choices are evil and result in negative-sum "games" being played, things get worse.

I'm not sure I've answered your question.

I'm not quite as much as a fractal-holic as you, Thai. I really didn't have much interest in the subject until a few years ago.

I just accept that the universe is fractal and we have to cooperate.

JP said...

" A personally rewarding faith is needed to replace the untenable belief in eternal life and for everyone to feel in some way they are contributing to human progress."

I assume that I had a beginning, but have no end.

I'm a bounded infinity, yet also possibly a B-E condensate!

JP said...

I also sometimes suspect that I'm some kind of weirdness magnet.

Thai said...

LOL!


Trust me, no fractal talk in real life so I doublt I would seem so odd (who knows?)

Please understand JP that at some level, I agree with Dehaene that math is an illusion. So in a sense, the fractal becomes an artifact of our mind trying to understand things.

JP said...

From Thai's article:

"It is his view that the human brain does not work like a computer and that the physical world is not based on mathematics -- rather math evolved to explain the physical world the way that the eye evolved to provide sight."

I think the physical universe is bound by certain irrational (in the number sense) geometric boundary conditions. That is to say that the value of e and pi are fixed where they are for this universe due to the underlying geometry.

I also believe that this universe is both fractal and finite (although an open system).

Thai said...

Re: "I think the physical universe is bound by certain irrational (in the number sense) geometric boundary conditions. That is to say that the value of e and pi are fixed where they are for this universe due to the underlying geometry."

Agreed

These are not incompatible concepts

Think of my nihilism as saying I see a viewpoint where there must therefore be all these other universes.

Byt from the viewpoint of mine/our universe, nihilism is a relative.

I'm kind of flipping viewpoints a bit casually.

We agree that our universe is both fractal and bounded if that makes sense.

JP said...

Thai says:

"Think of my nihilism as saying I see a viewpoint where there must therefore be all these other universes."

I don't think we are using the same definitions of "nihlism" and "illusion".

But that's commom around these here blog boxes.

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