Re: Extropianism & Theology & dopamine

Thu, 04 Mar 1999 12:05:40 +0100

It appears as if Spike Jones <> wrote:

|> 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.

Please note that the "sexual orientation" consists of many layers, from the direct biological mating urge to the feeling of love towards a person.

Some parts of the sexual preference appears to be programmed at a young age by the cultural and social environment.

We need more culturally and socially neutral research on this subject.

Anders Sandberg <> might have answered:
|Interesting. I seem to lack that instinct, and have a hard time
|understanding it. Of course, I like being awed, but most of the time I
|set up things so that I'm the one responsible for the awe (like
|learning math to understand a great concept like the de Rahm
|Cohomology, my archetypal example of mathematical profoundity).

I lack that "instinct", too. To me the worship meme is akin to slavery.

Again, it appears as if Spike Jones <> wrote:
|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.

Compare this to John Stuart Mill. His father was a stern believer in the philosophy called utilism (or utiliatiarism), the ethical standpoint that the value of our actions depends on their utility for the society. His son was raised in this philosophy. Anything he did had to be useful. No playing around.

John Stuart Mill as an adult wrote the book "On Liberty" in which he took the standpoint that everybody should have LIBERTY. He revolted against the stern upbringing he received from his father.

You need not postulate the existence of a gene. It's all in the memes.

It appears as if Spike Jones <> continued:

| 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.

You can use exactly the same dopamine method to reprogram you to love Big Brother, Adolf Hitler or Stalin. No religion required, unless you define politics as a special form of religion (makes some sense).

I would rather this the "brainwashing dopamine". Any group programmer can use it to rewire your programming to love the alpha unit of the group.

Same difference if used to program you to die for our beloved Führer, to kill the infidels for our Saviour, or to save the human race from the evil Capitalism. OLDTHINKERS UNBELLYFEEL INGSOC.

|Religious ecstasy can definitely be understood, even if studying it
|might be tricky. However, religions isn't just about making people
|feel wonderful, they have other properties too. And feeling wonderful
|also has many components (pure pleasure, meaningfulness, happiness,
|community etc.) that we might want to separate out. Many of these can
|be reached without changing brain chemistry from the outside.

Much of these can be accessed through the normal braina I/O channels, such as eye and ear. Consider the brimstone sermons in some religions, the NSDAP Nürnberg days, the Communist mass rallies, or random cultists.