Re: Extropianism & Theology & dopamine

Spike Jones (
Fri, 26 Feb 1999 22:17:58 -0800

> Spike Jones <> writes:
> >
> > As much as I hate to admit it, humans seem to have an instinctive
> > tendency to worship something. That is not to say that all humans
> > have this, but many do, and I must admit I myself feel the pull.
> Anders Sandberg wrote: I wonder what it is.

I do too Anders.

> The genetic explanation is simplistic and simply
> skirts the issue: what systems in our brains produce an urge to
> worship, and why?

I have a notion that I tried once before, but it didnt catch on: that the first societies to invent god acheived a military advantage. the alpha male could more successfully talk the others into fighting his battles, robbing and raping the neighboring village if he could say god told him to tell them if they died in battle, (or during pillage, mid-rape, etc) then god would reward generously in the afterlife. (And would punish in this life and the next, if they failed to pillage, rape and rob the other village.) The invention of god *might* be as simple as this: it made for more enthusiastic warriors.

> What real evidence is there for an innate tendency for worship?

Anders, those of us who have it need not even ask the question. {8-[ Before, I used the analogy of worship instinct to homosexuality. That analogy breaks down if one pushes it too far, but it works in some ways. For instance, those of us who are straight just dont understand it, try as we might. But I suggest that sexual orientation is somehow hard wired, not learned behavior. Instinct. Like worship instinct, hard wired, not learned. The particular *brand* of religion is learned, the susceptibility to it is instinct. I think.

I have seen it from the opposite point of view than most extropians: children of religious parents are born utterly lacking the religion gene. These parents are often emotionally crushed, self blaming, etc. Its very sad. No amount of brainwashing will reverse the condition, and instill the religion meme, if one is born without the religion gene.

> > Even now, I feel a vacuum in my life that extropianism does not fill
> > (as intellectually fulfilling as it is).
> As I see it, we need to find ways of making extropianism or
> transhumanism as emotionally fulfilling as it is intellectually
> fulfilling. I think it can be done, but it is an unusual (i.e. new)
> use for psychology and critical thinking to come up with it.

Dopamine. If we master ways to create the right dopamines, one should be able to control ones religious beliefs, and sexual orientation for that matter. Consider: there is a special kind of dopamine that is associated with religion. I once could literally make myself high without ingesting chemicals, but by... well never mind how. But if we could make a pill that releases those feel-good chemicals without resorting to religion, well, there you have it. Seems like we should be able to figure out which dopamines go with which activities, and arrange for them to be released whenever it is appropriate. Then perhaps Extropianism can be made as fulfilling as religiona and love. spike