I call myself a functional athiest – in that any sort of god seems extremely unlikely to me; yet at the same time I am a great fan of Jordan Peterson and his work, and align closely with the vast majority of what he says.
To me, the very idea of truth now seems to be an illusion.
It seems the best that any of us can hope for in any non-trivial situation is some sort of useful approximation to the amazing complex reality within which we seem to find ourselves embedded.
And as Jordan says, there are many layers, many levels, to us and what we seem to be embedded in.
It seems that our experiential reality is not “reality” itself, but rather a subconsciously generated model of reality, and as such subject to a vast array of biases and errors (Eliezer Yudkowski does a great job of identifying many of them in his tome – Rationality: AI to Zombies).
It seems that we must all develop our awareness from simple beginnings.
We all get to start with the defaults of the genetic and cultural systems we happen to have/exist within.
From that start, we either develop within that framework, or we question it and explore beyond it.
As someone who has been actively questioning and investigating all aspects of life, from quantum mechanical, to biochemical, to systemic, to strategic, to cultural, to technological, to ethical, for over 50 years, it seems clear that we are extremely complex systems, with many aspects that embody lessons learned across vast numbers of generations (from instances long before writing was invented).
In this sense, it seems entirely sensible to me that our ancestors would develop the stories they did to try and make sense of the complexity they observed and to preserve the lessons deeply learned.
In that sense, the sense of the mythological, the distilation of patterns required for long term suvival, then I completely align with Jordan.
And as Darwin day (12th Feb) approaches, it is worth spending a few paragraphs on evolution.
The balance Jordan speaks of between order and chaos is fundamental to the process of evolution, and the emergence of complexity at all levels.
Too much order, and there is not enough variation, and little happens.
Too much chaos, and complex patterns cannot survive.
Evolution of complex systems requires a very delicate balance, on that boundary between order and chaos, at many different levels (about 20 in the case of most people).
For all the evolution is a basically simple process requiring only three things:
variance (looked at either as errors in replication, or as degrees of fidelity in replication – both aspects offer important insights);
differential survival in different contexts.
And there are many subtleties.
What is it that is replicating?
What are the nature of the boundaries that define a replicating entity (genes, molecules, cells, multicellular organisms, multi-organism societies, multi society groups, ……
What is the nature of the strategic (threat) environment within which those “entities exist”
The nature of the cause of differential survival is important – fundamentally so.
Classical notions speak primarily of competition, but that is only half the story.
Where the primary sources of risk for individuals within a population comes from other members of that population, then the tendency is for that competition to drive to simplicity.
Where the major sources of risk come from outside the population, and can be mitigated to some degree by cooperative action, then cooperation can dominate, and new forms of complexity may emerge.
As human beings, we seem to embody about 20 levels of cooperative systems.
Cooperation (provided it is accompanied by sets of strategies that can effective detect and removed cheating strategies) is by far the best survival strategy, long term – provided there are sufficient resources.
So we exist right now in profoundly complex strategic territory, where many of the paradigms that have served us well in the past are now, because of fundamental changes, becoming direct threats – the ideas of money and markets high on that list.
So I agree that Jesus seems to have gotten many things right, in ideas like universal acceptance of diversity, universal cooperation, forgiveness, tollerance, etc.
And there are deep warnings in both mythology and systems about the dangers of imposing too much order or disorder. Balance is required – all levels.
And we do need to move beyond scarcity and into universal abundance, that will demand new levels of responsibility from all of us.