Excerpts and photo from “God: A Human History” by Reza Aslan
Belief is a very ancient byproduct of evolution.
“Beyond the myths and rituals, the temples and cathedrals, the dos and don’ts that have, for millennia, separated humanity into different and often competing camps of belief, religion is little more than a “language” made up of symbols and metaphors that allows believers to communicate, to one another and to themselves, the unexplainable experience of faith.”
“If the propensity for religious belief is inherent in our species, then it must be a product of human evolution. There must be some adaptive advantage to it. Otherwise there would be no reason for religion to exist.”
“Even those contemporary Jews, Christians, and Muslims who strive so hard to profess theologically “correct” beliefs about a sole, singular God who is incorporeal or infallible, ever-present or all-knowing, seem compelled to envision God in human form and to speak of God in human terms. Studies performed by a range of psychologists and cognitive scientists have shown that the most devout believers, when forced to communicate their thoughts about God, overwhelmingly treat God as though they were talking about some person they might have met on the street.” — God: A Human History by Reza Aslan
Somewhere in time, sentient beings developed language to communicate feeling—and then ability to propagate the almighty question. “What do you believe?” is quite possibly the greatest hurdle. If we are ever to overcome evolution it will be on this point alone. Or belief is solely necessary because the illusion isn’t real. Why else would you have to believe it?
It is rather obvious man has created god in his own image, taking the best and worst traits of society and projecting himself on a path to transcend nature.
Do we experience the world as it actually is, or as we need it to be?
Does natural selection really favor seeing reality as it is? Fortunately, we don’t have to wave our hands and guess; evolution is a mathematically precise theory. We can use the equations of evolution to check this out. We can have various organisms in artificial worlds compete and see which survive and which thrive, which sensory systems are more fit.
So, in my lab, we have run hundreds of thousands of evolutionary game simulations with lots of different randomly chosen worlds and organisms that compete for resources in those worlds. Some of the organisms see all of the reality, others see just part of the reality, and some see none of the reality, only fitness. Who wins?
Well, I hate to break it to you, but perception of reality goes extinct. In almost every simulation, organisms that see none of reality but are just tuned to fitness drive to extinction all the organisms that perceive reality as it is. So the bottom line is, evolution does not favor veridical, or accurate perceptions. Those perceptions of reality go extinct.
We’re inclined to think that perception is like a window on reality as it is. The theory of evolution is telling us that this is an incorrect interpretation of our perceptions. Instead, reality is more like a 3D desktop that’s designed to hide the complexity of the real world and guide adaptive behavior. Space as you perceive it is your desktop. Physical objects are just the icons in that desktop.
Once we let go of our massively intuitive but massively false assumption about the nature of reality, it opens up new ways to think about life’s greatest mystery. I bet that reality will end up turning out to be more fascinating and unexpected than we’ve ever imagined.
The theory of evolution presents us with the ultimate dare: Dare to recognize that perception is not about seeing truth, it’s about having kids—Cognitive Scientist Donald Hoffman
Is Biden’s new mandate to vaccinate businesses of 100 or more employees ethical, or even legal?
Concerning bioethics —is it ethical to mandate vaccination of citizens with an unnatural selection processes that, based on fear, have bypassed established checks and balances? Is it an ethical mandate regardless?
Here in Washington state we have vaccine mandates coupled with the threat of jobs and access. Now President Biden offering more of the same. For whatever reason nature has selected this process, yet humanity is serious enough to think it can hold it at bay ad-nauseum. We need 8 billion more people?
Will vaccines end the pandemic? No. But it will curtail some suffering while simultaneously causing other suffering.
“labs are turning to gene-based vaccines. Scientists use information from the genome of the virus to create a blueprint of select antigens. The blueprint is made of DNA or RNA—molecules that hold genetic instructions. The researchers then inject the DNA or RNA into human cells. The cell’s machinery uses the instructions to make virus antigens that the immune system reacts to. Cells respond to the instructions as a normal part of their daily existence. This is the same trait infectious viruses exploit; they cannot reproduce on their own, so they use a cell’s machinery to make copies of themselves. They burst out of the cell and infect more cells, widening the infection.
Who knows where any of this will go from here? What is nature trying to tell us? One thing is clear; humans will fight the natural processes until it all goes out with a bang instead of boredom. This artificial propping of human longevity may very well be its downfall.
It won’t be some presidential whacko to push the button, but will it likely go out with a syringe?
Is Biden’s new mandate to vaccinate businesses of 100 or more employees ethical, or even legal?
I know maybe it’s too late to say this, but the unnatural living conditions, overcrowding genomics to keep capitalism growing evermore is a root cause. Now what do you do about that?
How focusing on the problem enlarges the problem—the art of letting go
Humans have a very narrow range of conscious attention that we allow to define us. Based on our personalities and what values (rewards) catch our attention, it begins to define us as a person and collectively as a specie, while the rest of life passes by—often a very good life that is all around, yet unnoticed.
“Target fixation is an attentional phenomenon observed in humans in which an individual becomes so focused on a hazard, that they inadvertently increase their risk of colliding with the object. In such cases, the observer may fixate so intently on the target that they steer in the direction of their gaze, which is often the ultimate cause of a collision“.
The human neuron is already very much like radar, always scanning the horizon for trouble. When we stay focused on danger, a type of neurosis sets in and we miss the good, open waters through such myopia. When this evolutionary mechanism of protection is embraced as a value, another mechanism engages—tribalism. Then when evidence is gathered to dismiss such behavior, humans employ a final, last ditch defense against reason—the backfire effect, which describes how individuals, when confronted with evidence that conflicts with their beliefs, come to hold their original position even more strongly.
As our christian dominated culture continues to fixate on the apocalypse, that somehow they can win with this mindset, we may just be bound to bring it on. But really they may have to wait a while, because actual life is petty damn good. Not that anything really matters when its all just a part of evolution. Our only chance of survival is to stop fixing everything before we blow it up by taking sides—or is that natural natural selection too?
How humans are a shadow of their former selves through artificial selection.
The difference between the theory of evolution and the theory of god, the formal scientific definition of theory is quite different from the everyday meaning of the word. It refers to a comprehensive explanation of some aspect of nature that is supported by a vast body of evidence.
Like the artificialevolution induced in the Russian fox experiment (breeding for temperament only) created a completely different animal in just a few short years, breeding for belief through temperament (and because of belief) has had the same effect on humans.
Now a shadow of our former selves through unnatural selection, the general population has resolved to belief over substance, faith over fact, essentially giving-up on the quest for a firmer reality, acquiescing to the dogma at the threat of exclusion.
The natural man was no enemy to god—the natural man was god, but through domestication built on one trait, we have become subjects to ourselves. Genetically altered, weak and submissive, we now get what we were bred to be—prisoners with belief in anothing…and smug about it.
How humankind is poised to replace natural selection with intelligent design
Since the appearance of life, about a billion years ago, never has a single species changed the global ecology all by itself… Now humankind is poised to replace natural selection with intelligent design, and to extend life from the organic realm into the inorganic.”
Google task force “Calico” (headed by Art Levinson from Genentech) is currently developing a model for people to live productive lives for 500 years (Imagine your family photo with 20-30 generations) Currently Americans generate just over 4 pounds of trash per day. With a 500 year life span that equals just about 785,000 pounds of trash per person.
At current population rates, the first generation of the world that hits a 500 year life span would produce 14Quadrillion pounds of trash, not including industrial waste.
Having been subject to the ravages of environmental and other threats, some of their own making, humans have attained the knowledge, the will, the organization, and the mechanisms to subjugate every other species on the planet to their will. To what end? What’s the point of adding years to life if we have to live in a cesspool to achieve it?