AQ&A Topic 3 Date: 3 September 2017 : Maybe "God" is a brain bot for avoiding responsibility ..

The good guys use their god (whatever the religion) for modestly justifying their good deeds. The bad guys use their god for shifting responsibility for their worst behaviour, even murder. So is this god-brain-bot a sort of evolved protector for the human psych? Like many other brain bots (for sex, food, companionship etc) the god-bot also has well developed tools for social networking, an important survival element. [In current parlance a 'bot' (from robot) is a semi independent computer program tasked with gathering resources to achieve a particular end. The Internet for example is now crowded with all kinds of busy, hidden bots. The bot concept is also a useful way of describing various human drives and autonomic behaviours].


Focus questions

(feel free to add more of these) . Clearly not all of these questions can be covered in a meetup, but they give us a conscious choice about what to talk about while making the background context clearer.


1. Why have all cultures historically had some notion of god(s)?


2. The existence of supernatural god(s) seems to lack evidence in terms of modern scientific method, but the concept of 'god' is universal. Could this suggest that god(s) is some property arising from the organization of human mental systems? [reference the new science of complex systems]


3. The 'software' in the wet computer of the human brain makes extensive use of agents to achieve particular tasks over time. These agents are complex subsystems and semi-autonomous. They could be called 'bots'. Many human drives take this form (food, sex, security etc). What evolutionary advantage could a 'god bot' offer?


4.  All human societies build some concept of moral purpose on top of their supernatural god(s) ideas. The moral purpose claims to justify the relevance of god(s) to humans, usually through a holy book or legends, with a promise of future rewards. However, the actual outcome of individual human lives seems to have a rather random relationship to any moral purpose connected with god(s). Why have people accepted such an obvious god-connection moral failure for thousands of years?


5. When individuals act against the values and expectations of their culture group, they often experience guilt (a kind of cognitive dissonance). Traditionally god(s) has been understood as an agent with the power to resolve this guilt. Similarly, when an individual feels injustice, god(s) has been seen as an agent with the power to rectify the injustice (perhaps in 'the next life'). Is there any need for this kind of god(s) to be supernatural, or could it be an executive mental bot emotionally separated from 'I' and tasked exactly with absorbing responsibility for these mental conflicts?


6. Humans seem to be largely a herding or pack species. Most are uncomfortable acting entirely as lone actors. Although the idea of god(s) has mutated in many ways, it accumulates much of its power and attraction by adapting to the shared needs of a group. Thus the organizations associated with god(s) acquire many functions, some benign (e.g. mercy) and some not (e.g. intolerance). Since most institutions are built around human psychological drives, is there any good reason that god(s) has to be supernatural rather than a particular kind of psychological drive, a mental god bot?


7. Although there are strong gender overlaps, men as a group seem to make use of the god bot in somewhat different ways from women. That is, the organizations arising from god(s), religions, tend to be dominated by men and exercised for political advantage (even war). Women as a group, on the other hand, seem to persist with religious practice more than men, and in larger numbers, often as a medium of social interaction. Is the male god bot different in its core design and purpose from the female god bot?


8. The idea of god(s) as a supernatural force responsible for the origin of life and the universe can be traced in the mythologies of all human societies. The connection of the origin idea with human psychological needs and morality has never been logical in a mathematical sense of logic. It has had more to do with mollifying whimsical unseen powers to bring good luck in pre-industrial societies. This connection has lost its power for large numbers of people with the advance of science and education (e.g. few Australians take the notion of 'heaven' seriously). If the idea of god(s) as the creator is stripped out, what important roles remain for a mental god bot?


9. If the idea of god as an executive mental bot came to be widely accepted, what would be the consequences over time for existing religious organizations and their actors?


10. Artificial intelligence has had a chequered developmental history. Its present applications are still primitive in many ways, but the rate of development is not linear, it is logarithmic. Within a generation, maybe less, much in our lives is going to slip beyond the control (good or bad) of human actors. This will include critical decision making in ways that humans are not equipped to comprehend. How will the human god bot integrate and rationalize management from forces that are known not to be supernatural, but which nevertheless are irresistible?


Extra reading


Barber, Nigel (October 24 2013) "Is Religion Any Use?". Psychology Today online @ https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-uman-beast/201310/is-religion-any-use

Delaney, Brigid "The census shows there’s a gap in the spirituality market. Is yoga filling it? ". The Guardian online @ https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jun/29/the-census-shows-theres-a-gap-in-the-spirituality-market-is-yoga-filling-it

Gordon, Olivia (12 October 2016) "The science of dank memes". The Science Show, Youtube video online @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HV9WEqLeBuo&feature=youtu.be  

Hughes, Bettany (30 March 2017) "The Islamic Enlightenment by Christopher de Bellaigue – review". The Guardian online @ https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/mar/30/the-islamic-enlightenment-christopher-de-bellaigue-review 

King, Colbert I. (18 November 2016) "In the age of Trump, what is a Christian?". The Washington Post online @ https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/in-the-age-of-trump-what-is-a-christian/2016/11/18/11fab326-adb6-11e6-8b45-f8e493f06fcd_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-e%3Ahomepage%2Fstory

May, Thor (2015) "The Peculiar Interest of God(s) in Human Morality". [note: this article includes a large number of reference links for further reading]. Academia.edu online @ https://www.academia.edu/19528937/The_Peculiar_Interest_of_God_s_in_Human_Morality

May, Thor (2014) "Does religion emerge as a product of complex systems? – exploring an allegory".  Academia.edu online @ https://www.academia.edu/9924682/Does_religion_emerge_as_a_product_of_complex_systems_exploring_an_allegory

Pomerantsev, Peter (10 September 2012) "Putin’s God Squad: The Orthodox Church and Russian Politics". Newsweek online @  http://www.newsweek.com/putins-god-squad-orthodox-church-and-russian-politics-64649

Power, Julie (17 August 2017) "Shot in the hip, doctor Jemilah Mahmood sewed herself up and helped save others". The Brisbane Times online @ http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/shot-in-the-hip-doctor-jemilah-mahmood-sewed-herself-up-and-helped-save-others-20170817-gxybrn.html

Rapley, John (11 July 2017) "How economics became a religion - Its moral code promises salvation, its high priests uphold their orthodoxy. But perhaps too many of its doctrines are taken on faith". The Guardian online @ https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/jul/11/how-economics-became-a-religion

Reuters (24 February 2017) "Pope suggests 'better to be atheist than hypocritical Catholic'. Reuters Newsagency online @ http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/world/pope-suggests-better-to-be-atheist-than-hypocritical-catholic-20170223-guk61c.html


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1. All past topic questions are now listed at http://thormay.net/unwiseideas/DiscussionTopics/DiscussionIndex.htm

 2. From another meetup I run for English learners, twenty-four sets of 10x questions (from Thor) designed for students of  English as a Second Language are online at

http://thormay.net/lxesl/Discussion%20Topics/Adelaide%20ESL%20Meetup.htm

 



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