Re: The Extropian Religious War--thank you

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Fri Jul 13 2001 - 22:36:22 MDT

"Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" wrote:
> Samantha, I do think you're being too tolerant here. Can you give me an
> example of a correct conclusion or useful strategy that can be arrived at
> by being religious and cannot be arrived at in any other way? Actually,
> let me ease that requirement; can you show me a strategy or knowledge
> which is easily *invented* by religion but is harder to arrive at through
> rationality?

Is life only about "correct conclusions"? If a different way of
looking at my life, what I am doing, what we are all doing and
what can come of it integrates into something that strengthens
my ability to contribute maximally and may help others to do so
then that is in itself quite important.

Can a vision of the type of future you wish to create come only
from rationality or do you need to add quite a few different
elements and include a large dose of what you would most like to
see, do what you can to weave it into a unity and then look for
tools and memes to encourage it to come into being? Is this all
a rational process or are only rational tools such as science
and logic allowed in forming the vision and in encouraging it
into reality?

Religions are great tools for weaving visions. For good and
ill. They are also quite good for cohering societies devoted at
different levels to common goals. And I believe some of these
systems have quite a lot to say about letting go of your current
mental/emotional lockstep and redefining and reintegrating
yourself. This is a very important skill for what most of us
contemplate doing and becoming.

> Even so, I wouldn't want to be religious because, to my mind, it's better
> to be rational and strive to improve that rationality than to do something
> that has short-term benefits but is crippling in the long term. But what
> I'm asking for here is an example of even a short-term cognitive benefit,
> and by that I mean "coming up with a right answer", and not alleged lower
> stress levels and so on.

Isn't this a bit circular? You say it is better to be rational
and improve that rationality but exactly what is that to you and
what do you use to validate that conclusion as best? What makes
you believe that all spirituality/religion is crippling in the
long term? In point of fact it seems not to be so for many
spiritual/religious-ly inclined people.

Is the 'right answer" the only thing important? I growing into
a saner, more caring, more generous person of less worth than
getting some cognitive "right answer"? Is living life with an
inner calmness even in the midst of the most strenuous and
hectic activity so worthless that that without any extra "right
answer" is of no worth?

> I do want to strengthen my challenge a little bit beyond asking for an
> instance of when a normally confused person will benefit from religion,
> because some minds out there are so disorganized that essentially random
> behavior sets are categorized as "religious" or "rational". I've known
> people, for example, who thought that deliberate "rationalization" of
> false beliefs was a recognized part of "rationality"(!).

Between the first part of your question and the rest I am not
sure what you are after. Care to phrase it again?

> What I'm asking for, then, is a case where religion provides a cognitive
> benefit to someone with moderate strength and depth of rationality.

I don't consider whether it provides a *cognitive* benefit to be
of primary importance.

- samantha

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