Re: Reliberion (was Re: How To Live In A Simulation)

Date: Thu Mar 15 2001 - 12:40:37 MST

T0M writes:
> The entities running
> our simulation do so not merely for entertainment but, more importantly, for
> reproduction. As they quite naturally exist themselves in computational
> space, they generate new entities via computational means. And just as we
> generate our children by the same means that our parents begat us, so too the
> god (or gods) hosting our simulation rely on the rough-and-tumble of
> self-interested agents (albeit simulated ones) to give birth to new gods.
> Our simulation thus functions something like a petri dish, and we sperm and
> eggs striving to transcend it.

I forget the biological term for this kind of reproductive strategy.
Some animals have lots of babies and only a few survive. Think of frog
eggs spawning hundreds of tadpoles, most of whom are destined to fail.
Inevitably this strategy is associated with an absent or uncaring parent.
Mammals on the other hand have only a few babies and invest tremendous
effort and care in raising and nurturing them so that they have a good
chance of survival.

Tom's gods seem to have reverted to the frog strategy. It seems callous
by our standards to take your children and drop them into a Darwinian
sink or swim competition, in order to see which survive.

> One practicing the reliberion I'm describing would thus take as his or her
> goal growing into and thus joining the god(s) hosting the simulation we, ex
> hypothesi, now live in. Note that this by no means ratifies prayer,
> self-abasement, or other such humbug. Nor does it necessarily imply outright
> rejection of all rituals. One would test such practices for their efficacy
> in promoting the goal of achieving godhood. (As a side benefit, it bears
> noting, such a reliberion, even if at best harmless, might help to block
> infection by more virulent strains of theology.)

The idea that we should not ask for help and raise ourselves by our own
bootstraps is appealing in some ways, but isn't the only possible strategy
in life. One might consider it as an essentially masculine approach,
contrasted with the feminine strategy of forging close relationships
and relying on others for assistance when it is needed. The masculine
approach reaches its zenith in the stereotype of the male who refuses
to ask for directions when he is lost.

Is it really so bad to ask for help? Independence and competence
are virtues, yes, but being able to recognize and admit weakness and
incompetence can be just as important. From this perspective, prayer
is an appeal for help from a weak individual to one who is far stronger
and more powerful. Our masculine aspects scorn such weakness, while
our feminine aspects want to extend succor and aid. ("Succor" reminds
me of "suck", as when a female nurses a baby, but apparently there is
no etymological connection.)

One other problem I have with this religion is that its prescriptions are
essentially the same as what we would do if it were false. If there is
no simulation and no god, the best we can do is to strive to improve
ourselves. If that is the same thing we are supposed to do in the
simulation, then the religion has no actual prescriptive content.


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