Guided by Truth

Question of the Day ~ 4th December, 2014 ~ GUIDED BY TRUTH?

I perceive that all great religious teachings attempt to lead us out of an existence driven by lies, fear and death into an existence guided by truth, hope and life.
Do you agree?
How might that relate to your own mode of living?

It seems to me that the only thing that could be said to qualify as truth is “cogito ergo sum” – the fact that I am thinking indicates that in that instant of thought I exists as a something. It says nothing about the nature of the thing thinking, or the matrix within which the thinking happens.

All else seems to be a matter of probabilities.

Religions, in so far as they carry some forms with proven social utility, seem to me to be mostly rather simplistic approximations to the sorts of answers that are now emerging from the continual questioning and ever more refined tools available to scientific exploration.

So it seems to me that most truth is illusion, most particularly when it comes to religious truth.

And like Eric – I rather like the story of Jesus – good Jewish boy goes out into desert alone, has epiphany, comes back telling people to stop judging others and all live in peace, cooperate, trust, give what you can. All the god stuff just seems to be a context that seemed probable at the time, but doesn’t seem nearly so likely in the light of what we now know about biochemistry, evolution, games theory, computation theory, and a lot of work on neural networks and AI.

It seems to me that most major religions are more about control than they are about teaching individuals to question everything and to trust themselves enough to find useful answers for themselves. This is encapsulated in the very notion of truth.

[followed by]

To me Tagore’s view contains some great insights, but is based in ignorance, which leads him to many invalid conclusions.

He makes a fundamental error of logic in respect of the nature of reality. In this respect I think Einstein and I would agree.

The evidence we have now is overwhelmingly supportive of the interpretation that what we perceive of as reality is not reality, but a model of reality created by our neural networks.

While it thus seems to Tagore that “the world apart from us does not exist”, this seems to be an illusion generated from making the assumption that the model of reality that we get to consciously experience is actually the reality from which the model is constructed.

It is easy to understand why few in history could make this distinction, because until very recently we did not have digital computer systems that allowed us to make comprehensive predictive models of things that are kept entrained by data from sensors. So in this sense, we had nothing physical on which to make models or hang explanations.

In the absence of the data we now have about the structure of our neural networks, and the methods of creating and updating models, then it is fully understandable that people came to the conclusion that there might be “one eternal entity”. But given the knowledge we have available now, such conclusions are no longer supported as in probable alignment with the evidence sets and interpretive schema we now have available.

Tagore asks “How otherwise can we know truth?” – to which I respond that the notion of truth that Tagore is using seems to be an illusion (based on both logic and the evidence of neurophysiology).

It seems that reality is what it is, and our personal models of reality are close approximations at some scales and less close at other scales or levels.

In the sense that no limited model can ever completely match a thing that is vastly more complex than the model, then the very idea of truth (as in perfect knowledge) of anything is an illusion – an understandable illusion, and an illusion none the less (of logical necessity).

So in this sense, it is fair to say that science has invalidated the fundamental assumptions of Tagore’s model of reality, at the same time as explaining why such mistakes were so common given the circumstances of history.

In a sense, Tagore’s attachment to the notion of “Truth” is an example of hubris – and an understandable one.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see
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