Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with my stance on technology and how I believe it is going to shape the future of humanity. However, there are things that are starting to happen right now that if we do not recognize could be with us for the next 1000 plus years whether we like it or not.
In the past information wasn’t readily available like it is today and bad opinions could die out with people dying. The problem is we are rapidly approaching a time when dying may not be an immediate (100 years) reality. The idea of life extension and the end of aging has profound implications for the human race; it would represent a fundamental paradigm shift in how we view our lives. There is, however, a problem with life extension and that is bigoted views will become even more difficult to eradicate.
Bigoted views can still continue today by them being passed from one generation to the next but with the introduction of massive life extension it would mean that the most outspoken and passionate individuals will remain alive to continue their thoughts. This problem cannot be understated.
Without death the rejuvenating power of new ideas could be lost. We are regrowing organs, going to space, and doing trillions of calculations but it must be realized that cultural trends and opinions established within the next 100 years could persist and stay with us for the next 1000 years. It is now more important than ever, as a race, to decide what we truly want moving forward.
In seeking truth I have interviewed different religious converts from various religions and I always found a familiar sequence of events. They would all proclaim that their lives were saved by the religion they were now a part of and then they would give a story about their previous “dark days”. Further, they would proclaim that their faith was validated by their internal change.
I quickly realized that humans long for change and it wasn’t the religion that changed these people, it was themselves. The religion they converted to or in many cases became stronger advocates of were usually a result of either environmental context, or situation context. These people knew their lives were terrible and they wanted to change, religion was just their excuse.
I wish I could say that convert from religion X was better than religious Y but the cold hard reality is that strong believers in every religion talk with the same gleam in their eye as any other convert. It is impossible to be both spiritually objective and religiously objective.
It might sound as if I am patronizing religious converts or that it is unfair of me to speak of “faith” in such a way. However, the unchecked faith and gleam in the eye has lead to literally the death of millions in religious wars based on the fallacious idea that if you 100% believe in something than your truth must be the right truth.
A recent article discussed how a radical Saudi writer named Abdullah Mohammad Al Dawood spoke about how men should molest women to keep that home. Anyone with any shred of decency can understand how molesting anyone (not only women) can’t possibly be a good thing in anyone’s eyes, human or God alike. When we read about these kinds of things we might assume the world is a terrible place or getting worse but in many cases this is actually the opposite of what is happening.
Whenever progressive ideas start to spread the first thing that happens is that the ideas start to get push back. When people believe their ideas and perceptions of the world are being threatened they will lash out in any way possible to maintain their perception of the universe. The pushing of progressive ideas will bring corruption or out dated individuals to the surface.
These outdated individuals will slowly become more radical in an attempt to hold on to their views. While this increase of radicalization is bad, it also accelerates the demise of their views. As people with outdated views become more radical, they isolate themselves. While their extremism might give them momentary fame, it will ultimately end with rejection. Extremism only holds when the extreme view is actually what the majority of people want. Further, if the person in question moves from merely speaking ideas to criminal activity, this could result in an almost complete and perfect credibility loss for the radical.
It is important to remember that a lot of humans don’t really have the faculty to change their core views. A human is completely capable of going to their grave believing the world is flat, but this capability does not make them any more correct. In these situations we must work around these radicals until either they die, fall in to obscurity, or change their views. If we focus on changing the world around radicals, instead of trying to change them directly, they will either change or die unaccomplished.
In the Bible there is not a single reference to the rejection of slavery. At that time in history slavery was just a normal part of life. As our civilization matured we realized that slavery lead to all kinds of abuses of humanity and that we could rise above it. The modern problem is the fact that religions are increasingly having less answers on not just the universe but also on moral issues. Usually what happens is that the truth becomes so blindingly obvious that the various religions will either adapt or die off.
A good example is cloning, the various issues regarding it are not discussed anywhere in religious texts. Our relationship with how industry should relate to nature is also not discussed in religion. When talking about the modern problem an example I like to use is leprosy. During the time of Jesus leprosy was a pretty big issue, and Jesus could apparently heal it. Today, we can cure leprosy without any type of divine intervention. What we once would of considered a miracle is just business as usual today. Another major issue religion might face in the next 200 years is the end of aging; something else that will have deep philosophical and moral implications.
Standard religious views have changed with time such as the idea that the earth is the center of the universe. The fact that we were not the center of the universe had deep philosophical implications because it would seem to imply that when we were “created” God didn’t give us any preferential treatment, a staple belief of the selfish human. Today of course, the issue is rarely discussed.
One of the last standing vestiges of religious “theory” is of course creation. Despite the tremendous amount of circumstantial evidence for evolution, the fact that macro evolution cannot be produced in the lab yet is the last string of hope for people who require a creation myth story. If we can produce macro evolution in the lab and or show the creation of some more complex proteins in the primordial soup, smarter and younger generations will not buy into any creation myths. Of course religions will adapt, the creation myth will become a metaphorical story instead of a literal one and people requiring religion will use a combination of tactics including pseudo logic to justify their beliefs.
“You would not get angry at a record player for not being able to play a CD.”
Unlike many critics however, I see religion as a catalyst for scientific progression. This might sound completely absurd, but let me explain. Religion in many ways has forced science to go above and beyond to prove points. Without religion there would be very little value in aggressively trying to show macro evolution in the lab. Further, I believe religion had a very small part in pushing scientists to find other means of acquiring stem cells for research.
For many religious adherents, there is a point of no return. It is a point when there beliefs are so integrated into their personalities that no amount of data will change their minds short of methods we have yet to realize as a society. A good metaphor would be a record player trying to play a CD, at a certain point new data becomes incompatible with previous modes of thought. This isn’t a characteristic restricted only to religion, it happens in science as well. Keep in mind, that we don’t necessarily want a record player to play a CD because the record player acts as a historical reference.
As Architects of order we do not limit ourselves because of change, however, this cannot be reasonably extended to the rest of the human population. Only so much effort should be exerted in an attempt to gain compatibility of thought because ultimately characters with archaic forms of perception will die. There is a separate issue of perception transference from parents to children, but the modern problem will resolve the majority of that issue. It might be easy to get angry at these people who do not seem to grasp certain modern concepts but anger and hate is not only frivolous, it is irrational. You would not get angry at a record player for not being able to play a CD. In the same way an architect should not get angry at a religious adherent for being incapable of accepting certain lines of modern thought.
One of the easiest ways that we as architects can shape the best possible future for ourselves is to figure out the things that indirectly kill people. Whether we like it or not every action we do could potentially kill someone. How responsible we are for death is linked to how many “hops” there are to an event. If you do an action which causes a series of 15 connected events that leads to someone dying, you can’t really be held responsible. You also can’t be held responsible if you’re not really aware that what you’re doing is killing people. If you are aware that an action is killing someone, you are responsible.
Recently there has been a lot of commotion over gay marriage, particularly in the states. On one side of the issue you will have Christians who recite scripture saying and believing that this issue can lead to the downfall of civilization. On the other side of the issue you have people requesting equality. Generally I would not waste my time talking about civil issues because I believe most civil issues get resolved democratically. That said, I believe this is a special case scenario that can be utilized to show how lack of moral objectivity can lead to the death of humans.
So the church by not supporting homosexual marriage is by proxy not supporting homosexual monogamy and therefore is contributing to death by proliferating HIV.
A core concept in Christianity is the idea of monogamy. Monogamy has actual biological benefits that extend far beyond simple religious ideals. Monogamy decreases STDs, birth rates, and also contributes to having a proper framework in place for raising children. Monogamous relationships are by no means exclusive to Christianity but Christianity plays a role in supporting monogamy. From a general Christian perspective there is little difference between a homosexual who is monogamous and a homosexual that is promiscuous. So if you happen to be a homosexual looking for religious guidance you will quickly discover that if you cannot repress your homosexuality, you will be considered purely evil. What I mean by this is that to a lot of conservative Christians you will have no redeeming characteristics until you “free” yourself of homosexuality. This is hypocritical of course because Christian don’t do this with other types of sins, homosexuality is treated like leprosy.
A certain percentage of these homosexuals will be compelled to become promiscuous because a large group of people indirectly tell them it doesn’t matter. This promiscuity leads to all kinds of terrible things including the proliferation of HIV. So the church by not supporting homosexual marriage is by proxy not supporting homosexual monogamy and therefore is contributing to death by proliferating HIV. This is not the first time the Church has taken actions that contribute to the death of humans. The Catholic church has refused to send condoms to Africa before believing that doing so is promoting premarital sex but completely ignoring the fact that many Africans are not Catholic. In this way the Catholic church attempts to push their ideological views on other humans by allowing them to die.
I want to make it perfectly clear that I think homosexuals are perfectly capable of monogamy without any religious intervention. However, the reality is that humans draw strength from social groups and can also be devastated by social groups that reject them. If homosexuals were allowed to be both married and part of the church they would have a support group that they might not otherwise have and this in turn would contribute to better humans behavior such as monogamy.
While I am picking on the Church, this same idea can be applied to anything that needs moral direction. Humanity is the most important thing humans have. If we give up humanity for perceived morality, it is not actual morality.
Whether you believe Jesus was a prophet, messiah, or a myth he remains one of the most influential characters to date in the human race. As a brand Jesus has influenced every form of media. Jesus is one of the most obvious architects I could think of but I had difficulty actually figuring out what his primary characteristic was. Each religion has a fundamentally different view of Jesus and this made it difficult to evaluate, but after deep though I discovered that the trait that made Jesus, Jesus was his direct opposition to existing norms by means of supporting rational morality.
In Christian theology Jesus is the messiah who opposed what is called the old covenant or the 613 mitzvah (rules). In Islam, Jesus was a prophet who foresaw that the future messiah was not Jewish. In both these cases Jesus was a messenger who opposed current existing religious thought. His opposition to stagnation and non progressive thoughts, as a side effect, made Jesus a marketing genius. Unfortunately the very essence of what Jesus stood for is all but forgotten by every modern Jesus based religion. Jesus’s common sense approach to morality has been traded in by all modern religions for rule of text. During Jesus’s time being holy consisted of how you groomed yourself, what you ate, and even what you wore. Jesus justified the only true basic tenet of all morality, loving your neighbor, and this made him incredibly popular.
This very simple truth apparently was not enough because almost all the religions that were based on him engaged in bloody warfare at some point. Christianty vs Islam, Catholic vs Protestant; it would almost be comedic if it wasn’t horrifyingly sad. If Jesus was real, and was a prophet, when he said “forgive them for they know not what they do” he was surely talking about us in the future. He despised what we would consider Bible thumpers today, following rules for rule’s sake instead of being rational. Nothing was more evident of this when he stopped the stoning of the harlot by saying, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”
All religious theology and miracles aside, the core concept of Jesus I agree with. We must oppose anything that is not rational and that hinders the progress of the human race. Following rules simply because we think they justify some divine entity does not benefit us. Human progress should come first and above any text that any human claims to be a divine rule book that we must follow.
We talk about balancing forces regularly. The most common is this concept of Karma. Since Karma is religious concept with after life meaning, I am instead going to call it balancing force. There are two types of balancing forces in our world direct, and indirect. I am going to touch on both of these types in this article and also explain how you can utilize both of them to improve your life.
Indirect Balancing Force
A large amount of the time I hear people use the term karma in a sentence it is out of smite. You’re cut off while driving, someone gets the promotion you wanted, or you are bullied in high school. What do you say? “Those people are going to get what is coming to them!” The problem with this is that not only does this not help you, according to the way we believe balancing forces to work, you are probably completely wrong. Let me give you a scenario. Every day you got bullied in high school and all you could think was, “one day that bully will get what is coming to him.” The only problem is he actually did get what was coming to him every day when he went home and got beat by his parents. In this scenario, the positive points he gets at home is negated by his bullying. If there is a universal score board, he has nothing to lose or gain.
The real truth is that the universe doesn’t always work out the way we want it to. People who are mean and aggressive become rich and successful while other people who are very nice won’t be able to afford their mortgage. Now it is very true that there is a common story that exists where the mean jock will go on to work at a grocery store for the rest of his life and the quiet nerd will go on to be super successful, but this isn’t always the case.
If you want to believe in an indirect balancing force (Karma) you need to completely change how you view events that occur to you. When someone cuts you off in traffic instead of saying, “that person will get what is coming to them!” you need to say, “Thank you, this negative event you have caused me will make my future brighter.” Since you don’t have access to the universal score board, you have no idea what another person’s “score” is.
I personally don’t believe in a universal score board but I do believe in an indirect balancing force for another reason. We are all connected through our interactions. If I hold the door open for someone there is a connected event with that person that is created. If there is a person watching this occur, there is another connected event created. The combination of these connected events can have consequences on an individual. While it is impossible to predict ultimate outcomes, being mean to everyone is not going to have the best outcome.
Direct Balancing Force
Obviously relying on an indirect balancing force isn’t something most of us can be satisfied with. That is why we created systems of justice. Now these systems don’t always work as they should, but they are our first pass of bringing an ideal to reality. A direct balancing force also applies to when a person works very hard and is then rewarded for that hard work.
When it comes to direct balancing force there is really not that much to talk about because it is a force of our own creation so we have a general understanding of how it works and its current flaws.
Creating Reward Scenarios
Have you ever done something that you knew you were supposed to and then something positive happened shortly after? When positive things happen within a short time frame of an action we did, we sometimes like to create a relationship between the two and this is a very good thing.
Good things actually happen to us all the time but the problem is we can never be 100% sure why these good things happen. It could be that you are some how being rewarded for something you did, or it could be random. Regardless of why a good event occurs, you should associate it with an action you think most benefits your life.
This is partially deluding ourselves but it works out in our favor. If something good happens to you randomly and you accept it as random, besides possibly making you feel more lucky, the event has no force. Now if you believe the positive event was caused by something you did, then that event has more meaning. Depending on the positive event it may be impossible to know what actually caused it. It might very well be that it was caused as a reaction to something positive you did. If you can’t know, it is better to give the positive event some force to allow it to help shape your life for the better.
Suffering is responsible for every accomplishment, happiness, and transcendent experience imaginable. The suffering of boredom, lack of success, or lack of quality of life drives us to do the things we do. Almost every spiritual system that currently exists revolves around reducing suffering. We are constantly trying to reconcile the fact that our entire reality is shaped by suffering but at the same time try to avoid it as much as possible. Our success at life really revolves around our pain tolerance for life in general. The lower our tolerance for suffering the greater our drive will be to try to escape it.
We don’t usually think in these terms, instead suffering is considered wholly evil. The world tells you that if you’re not happy there is something wrong with you and you should get the problem “fixed” through any means possible. This is not to say I don’t believe that people can have true biological sicknesses that can make them depressed but mental illness doesn’t seem to be declining. The people that manage to break free of restraint though monetary gain will often times become like fish out of water flopping around on a deck hopping from one religion to another. The others who have freedom but don’t do spiritual or religious jumping jacks instead achieve by creating a new level of personal suffering for themselves that they can beat.
Spiritual leaders of old have mislead the world. What they either don’t know or hide from the world is that suffering can be as addictive as joy. People will plunge themselves into suffering because they are drawn to it. People in perfect relationships will destroy them. People with empires will burn them to the ground. When these things happen we dismiss them, call them crazy, and then move on. Teens will often test the waters of suffering which will make them act in ways that seem completely irrational to their unfortunate parents. Since we have classified suffering as evil, people who are drawn to suffering will often times consider themselves evil and may incorrectly feel the need to do evil acts.
What we must understand is that the reason people are drawn to suffering is not because they are insane but instead it is because their lives have lost purpose and it is only through suffering that they can regain purpose. How deep they go into their personal suffering is really how far they are from their objective. We have created systems that monopolize on this in the form of religion. Humans will constantly plunge themselves into suffering drugs, violence, and criminal acts where they will then get to a breaking point where they will become “seekers”. Once they are in seeker mode the first religion to get to them with the most community support will usually be the religion they convert to. The religion will then, of course, take credit for changing that person’s life when in reality they changed their own life through self-inflicted personal suffering.
Suffering is necessary for progress but what is not helpful is when people are destructive and pull us backwards. The idea of constructive suffering needs to be explored and we need to give people the opportunity to suffer in a way that will not permanently damage them or society. We must embrace the fact that people pursuing suffering are seeking purpose and not simply dismiss them or get them to go on drugs.