[ 4/January/23 ]

Theism makes perfect sense from an evolutionary perspective, even though it is most probably wrong, it is a useful approximation to the complexity present and it delivers simple rules for action in most contexts.

By the time you get to evolved systems as complex as us, the levels of complexity present are profound, and it takes quite a few years of study into quantum theory, biochemistry, non-binary logics, games theory (in non-binary logics), strategic topologies, behavioural biology, history, cosmology, computation, theory of search, …. to get a reasonable intuitive handle on just how complexity can evolve in certain very constrained contexts.

When one makes such a study, it becomes clear that reality is far more complex than any computational entity can deal with in anything approaching real time, and thus all computational entities must, of necessity, create some level of sub-conscious simplistic model of the reality within which they exist, that becomes the basis of their conscious experience.

Evolution necessarily heavily biases neural networks to prefer simple models to more complex ones, provided that the outputs those models are survivable.

The big issue for us, is that many of these cultural models effectively become mimetic organisms, and evolve their own forms of “immune systems” that tend to prevent invasion by any “foreign” mimetic complexes. No such things can be perfect (even in theory), but they can be remarkably effective in practice.

The big issue that we have, is that we are moving from simple technologies like fire and spears, to exponentially more complex technologies, with exponentially greater impact on the systemic contexts that make life such as us possible.

Once we learned enough to learn about what caused the extinction of the dinosaurs, then we knew that we had to have very powerful technology if we want a really long term future. That much was reasonably obvious.

What is far less obvious to most, is that the evolution and survival of complexity is actually (at every level) founded upon and maintained by, cooperation. Any level of competition that is not firmly based in cooperation must lead to the destruction of that level of complexity. This is a level of complexity too far for many.

Many take the first steps into science and away from the security of the social dogma of their birth, but without letting go of the security of “Truth” and embracing the fundamental uncertainty (and consequent humility) that is required for any real exploration into any infinity. And we all need to operate in reality, so we all need operational heuristics that we use in practice, and we need to see them as “useful approximations” rather than as any sort of “Truth”. Some levels of theology seem to have quite usefully captured aspects of this notion, while still retaining other simple aspects of “Truth”.

So it is easy to find scientists with PhDs who firmly believe “Truths”, and theists who have accepted the ineffability of God – life really is that complex.

We all necessarily have neural networks strongly biased to accept the simplest model that actually works. In this sense, every carpenter uses “flat earth”. When building a house, a spirit level is used to give angles accurate enough for the purpose. At that scale, the world is flat, within the level of accuracy of any tool available. If one is sailing across the Pacific, one had better be using some approximation to round earth, if you want to get anywhere near where you want to be going. If building a GPS satellite network, then you need both quantum mechanics and general relativity.

We, as a species, need to accept that all models are most probably wrong in important ways, and some are much more useful in some contexts than others.

We need to accept that cooperation is fundamental to our long term survival, as is the ability to search at the boundaries (freedom).

So we need technology and social cohesion, as well as individual security and individual freedom – both are required. Security cannot ever be an absolute, and it can be usefully approximated at various scales. And no system of rules can ever work in all contexts; it is always and necessarily more complex than that!

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) with reasonable security, tools, resources and degrees of freedom, and reasonable examples of the natural environment; and that is going to demand responsibility from all of us - see
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