Re: RELIGION: The meaning of Life

Gregory Houston (
Sat, 15 Feb 1997 12:56:56 -0600

Reilly Jones wrote:

> It's called adapting in a co-evolutionary environment, survival of the
> fittest. Are you wishing away the physical laws of evolution?

Nope. We are going to use science to remove evolution's constraints on
us. How? When we finally create the enabling technology necessary to be
"immortal", we will no longer be participating in evolution. We will no
longer have to reproduce in order to perpetuate the race. We will make a
shift from species evolution to individual development.

Evolution has got us where we are today. For that I am appreciative. But
it will one day be obsolete to me when I have developed beyond its
primitive ways. Evolution does not have the necessary self-consciousness
to see beyond violence. I do.

If I attain immortality via science, I doubt I will forever remain in
this universe. It may take thousands or even millions of years, perhaps
only a couple centuries, but I am optimistic that one day as a highly
*developed* entity I will learn to create my own universes, my own
realities. I am just as optimistic that I will have by then developed
something better, more *useful* than evolution.

Does evolution itself not evolve? No you say. You say its laws are
absolute and I must not question its laws of violence. Here is yet
another ontotheological sublimation.

Heres an analogy of how we progress in moral matters. We once allowed
and even advocated slavery, even George Washington had slaves. Good
businessmen had slaves, but we overcame that. Our modern enslavement is
employment. The general masses are given minimum wage, hardly enough to
survive, so that they must work endless hours, thus giving them no time
to question the system, but some day, perhaps very soon, sciences such
as nanotechnology will allow us to overcome this modern form of slavery.
When we can make anything we need on demand from self-replicating
devices, we will no longer have a need for money, the single most
corrupting concept in our modern times.

Just as we can overcome slavery by degree, we can overcome violence by
degree. Your difficulty in understanding this may lie in a black and
white perceptiong of violence vs non-violence. There are degrees between
them. All that is required to begin moving towards non-violence is to
take steps by degree.

> Wow, I'm
> impressed with what you can do once you've chucked truth out the window.

Its more amazing than you seem to have the capacity to realize.

> You move through life, from conception to death, appropriating space and
> time, energy and matter from the living entities in your environment.

Yes I do, but by degree I do so in a much less violent manner than many
of my ancestors, and I certainly, by degree, do so in a much less
violent manner than many of my contemporaries. I am developing towards
non-violence. Eventually we will learn to tap into the energy in empty
space. We will no longer be required to take it from the other.
Eventually we will be able to create our own space, no longer having to
take it from the other. We are begining to enable the technology now to
make this possible.

> You
> are violently appropriating these all the time, whether or not you have the
> capacity to appreciate or desire such violent appropriation. This is the
> truth. If you jettison truth, I guess you can usefully delude yourself
> that you have not been committing acts of violence all your life against
> other living entities, whether you knew you were or not.

I never said I had not taken part in violent activity. All competitive
activity is violent. I said I had never been in a physical fight. It is
your authoritarian truth sublimated in evolution that does not allow you
to see beyond violence.

> You can try to define this aspect of life away, but you will not change the
> reality of it.

The reality of? The absolute and unquestionable, unchangeable truth of
it? I am not going to define that aspect of life away, I am going to
determine it as unuseful and thus in *action* create and alternative.

> What right do you have to exist at all, where did it come
> from?

Why are you ceaselessly attempting to bring authoritarean concepts into
these matters? Your argument has been based on evolution up to this
point, and now you bring the concept of "rights" into the picture,
something that does not exist in evolution. Evolution sees no rights.
Via natural selection it removes the least fit. The least fit are given
no rights by evolution.

> Again, I see here a utopian dream to revoke evolutionary laws.

By *utopian* you mean nice but *impossible* to achieve. A round earth
was imagined impossible by those who lacked the capacity to imagine
otherwise. Space travel was thought to be impossible by those who lacked
the capacity to imagine otherwise. The atomic bomb was thought to be
impossible by those who lacked the capacity to imagine otherwise. Just
because you lack the capacity to imagine a non-violent world does not
mean that it cannot or will not be achieved. Science eventually
penetrates such obstenance.

> One of the
> best descriptions of evolution I have seen, is a famous passage by Joseph
> de Maistre from his book "Soirées de Saint-Pétersbourg":

How could that be one of the best descriptions of evolution when it
focuses primarily on killing. What about the natural selection part. You
are focusing on one out of many parts of evolution. I will grant you
that the part on killing is a suitable definition. This is why science
will eventually overcome evolution.

> I suspect this view of evolution is uncomfortable for you.

No. I do not find words or groups of words uncomfortable. Once again, I
am not trying to redefine evolution. It is what it is. I am merely
attempting to illustrate how such will be transcended by future science.
You can choose to take part in this now, to wait til later until more
people have, or to wholly deny it forever ... but in either case, it
will occur. I am dynamically optimistic of this.

> It is far
> easier to indulge in psycho-babble to divert attention from how things
> really work.

I see how things work now just fine. I think the psycho-babble as you
call it is being used to inhibit a progressive view on what is possible
in the future. You are clinging to how things are *now*, and are thus
unopen to change.

> If you view the truth to be committing violence, and you dislike violence,
> no wonder you dislike truth.

What? Stop confusing truth as an entity. It is not a person, a god, or a
thing. It is a concept. Truth cannot commit an act of violence. Truth
cannot commit an act of any sort. This is one of the fundamental
problems. You mistake what I am saying as something entirely different
from what it is. At first I thought the problem was in your method of
decontextualization. But now I am uncertain that you are aware of it at

> Modern neuroscience, particularly in the nineties, has pretty much done
> away with the last disreputable vestiges of this Freudian propaganda.

Has it? Please elaborate for the sake of argument. I do not believe this
to be the case.

> Our emotions don't make us robots, they make us human.

To the extent that our emotions determine they do make us robots or
automaton. And I am not going to fall into a trap of limiting what it is
to be human, but transhumans will certainly have taken much more control
over their emotions than contemporary humans. They will be able to lose
their emotive control less often while being able to become impassioned
and ecstatic more often.

> Your distaste for
> truth again shows itself by inverting reality. Trust your emotions, give
> yourself a break.

I will not trust my emotions, I will not have *blind faith* in my
emotions. Your advice is particularly non-extropian.

> Just because people have claimed that eating Twinkies
> caused them to commit heinous criminal acts doesn't mean they can escape
> responsibility for their actions.

The law holds these people responsible, but the people do not. You are
showing me an inability to take responsibility for your violent desires.
You say it is the fault of evolution, and that evolution cannot be
questioned. Thus you claim that evolution is at fault or is responsible
for violent desires. Fine, perpetuate it as long as you can, but it will
not last.

> <This need to show others that we are stronger is caused by excess dopamine
> in the central nervous system. It is primitive.>
> Sheesh, what do I know, huh? Here I thought it was a fiendishly complex
> adaptive evolutionary strategy to survive. The world is so much simpler
> when that pesky truth isn't hanging around being such a wet blanket.

Nope, I was illustrating the particular cause. There are many levels of
cause determining every event. We could never mention them all. Not
everyone has the same level of dopamine running through their system.
People with less dopamine and more seratonin tend to think more
rationally on these issues, they tend to be less violent, because they
do not have as a great an urge to prove that they have bigger balls.

> <Look at our entertainment industry. It is fueled by our appreciation of
> violence.>
> It is fueled by dumping truth in favor of utility. Violence has great
> utility for the barbarians of today who have grown up spoon-fed a steady
> diet of your brand of relativism.

This is contrary to the rest of your argument. Your theory is the one
which embraces violence. Mine is the one that does not, thus your theory
is the one which promotes and supports the appreciation of violence in
entertainment, and mine does not.

> <People have violent urges when they feel insecure.>
> There are a lot of elderly individuals who feel insecure in their own
> neighborhoods because of the roving barbaric thugs, steeped in relativism
> and chock full of self-esteem, outside their doors. Do the insecure
> elderly in this situation have violent urges?

Nope, in general they no longer have the dopamine levels necessary. Some
do, but most do not.

> Is it these raging grannies
> we need to slip an emotive education to?

Nope, they are moving towards death themselves. Their phenotype is no
longer required by evolution to prove that they have bigger balls.

> Are you getting this from "Psychology Today"? Barney the Dinosaur? The
> Ricki Lake Show?

No, I do not watch much television. I believe it was you who was quoting
someone from "Married with Children" in another post. My life is a hell
of a lot more interesting than anything they can show on some sitcom. I
find sitcoms and television in general to be of little value to me. So
please do not infer that your because you value television, our modern
opiate of the masses, that I do also. I have chosen to take a degree of
responsibity for the quality of information I consume.

> Do you mean like "Love your neighbor" and "Turn the other cheek"? How
> novel.

Nope. You do not have to love someone in order not to be violent against
them. And no I am not saying turn the other cheek. I am saying to first
seek a non-violent alternative instead of immiediately responding to a
situation violently. In this way we will move towards non-violence by
degree. It is your over simplification of the complexity of my thought
that is not allowing you to see its validity. This is not to say that it
is very complex, just more so than you are willing to deal with.

Gregory Houston