What kind of god would you LIKE?
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19-11-2011, 04:37 PM
RE: What kind of god would you LIKE?
(19-11-2011 04:14 PM)Zatamon Wrote:  ... we would not have to poo, ...

Wait ... what? I like to poo. Do some of my best thinking there.

As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
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19-11-2011, 04:44 PM
 
RE: What kind of god would you LIKE?
(19-11-2011 04:37 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  
(19-11-2011 04:14 PM)Zatamon Wrote:  ... we would not have to poo, ...
Wait ... what? I like to poo. Do some of my best thinking there.

GirlyMan, I don't know how to put this delicately enough, but,.....is there a connection between the product of your thinking and the product of your....ehem,... you know what I mean?

Big Grin

PS. Sorry , GirlyMan, you walked into that one and I couldn't resist it! Sad
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19-11-2011, 05:21 PM (This post was last modified: 19-11-2011 05:24 PM by GirlyMan.)
RE: What kind of god would you LIKE?
(19-11-2011 04:44 PM)Zatamon Wrote:  
(19-11-2011 04:37 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  
(19-11-2011 04:14 PM)Zatamon Wrote:  ... we would not have to poo, ...
Wait ... what? I like to poo. Do some of my best thinking there.

GirlyMan, I don't know how to put this delicately enough, but,.....is there a connection between the product of you thinking and the product of your....ehem,... you know what I mean?

Big Grin

PS. Sorry , GirlyMan, you walked into that one and I couldn't resist it! Sad

Wait ... walked into what? Of course there is a connection. I mean they both amount to the same thing don't they? Wink

As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
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19-11-2011, 07:05 PM
RE: What kind of god would you LIKE?
Look, If god would be so nice as to make us the way you have described, I would imagine he would give us some kind of extra special interpersonal toy to play with, don't you think?

Blush

Who can turn skies back and begin again?
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19-11-2011, 07:16 PM
RE: What kind of god would you LIKE?
If a god existed, and had the powers usually attributed to gods, I would like...

Instant justice. If a person committed a deed that harmed a fellow human being, they'd never feel that they "got away with it"... and punishment would be appropriate to the crime and come instantaneously, with no doubt as to where it came from or whether it would happen again the next time.

Rewards. I'd like people to be rewarded for good deeds in an appropriate way. Wouldn't you help a fellow human being in need if you knew you'd get the same help when you needed it?

Consistency. There would be no doubt about how your requests would be answered or your acts would be treated.

Instead, we've been promised a being that punishes after death, rewards after death, and doesn't treat everyone the same way. I got to live many more years than your average crib death (SIDS), and neither of us "sinned" before being sentenced to our fates. I guess it's a good thing that there isn't a god to blame for such acts.

My girlfriend is mad at me. Perhaps I shouldn't have tried cooking a stick in her non-stick pan.
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19-11-2011, 08:20 PM
 
RE: What kind of god would you LIKE?
(19-11-2011 07:16 PM)Starcrash Wrote:  Instant justice. If a person committed a deed that harmed a fellow human being, they'd never feel that they "got away with it"... and punishment would be appropriate to the crime and come instantaneously, with no doubt as to where it came from or whether it would happen again the next time.

Sounds like Arthur C. Clarke's sf novel "Childhood's End", in which the powerful alien Overlords prohibited bullfighting. When a Spanish city defiantly went ahead with a bullfight anyway, the Overlords didn't say a word, but everyone sitting in the plaza de toros felt exactly what the bull was feeling when the first sword pierced its flesh.

There were no more bullfights.

Except, at the end of the book we find out that the Overlords were responsible for the myth of the Devil! Big Grin
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20-11-2011, 08:10 AM
RE: What kind of god would you LIKE?
Hey, Peterkin and Zatamon.

Peterkin Wrote:Huh? If it's all the same selection process, and if it's all based on acceptance of the reality of predation, pain and privation, how can culture be altered?
Zatamon Wrote:Peterkin made a very important point, Matt, which highlights a contradiction: either we are the same kind of species as all the others, governed by the rules of evolution (in which case our culture is a mere by-product and peripheral) or we are free from the rules of evolution and then we can alter our evolutionary destiny (in my view self-destruction) by altering our culture. For me, culture is a thin veneer to be shaken off if and when our genes 'feel' threatened.

Culture evolves. See:
-Rise and fall of Catholic Church
-Civil Rights movement
-Calvinist movement
-Social genocide of aboriginal tribes
-Women wearing pants
-Suffragette movement
-Gandhi
-Missionaries
-Nelson Mandela
-Cromwell
-Queen Elizabeth
-The industrialisation and opening the borders of Japan
-Creation of Hutu and Tutsi designations by Belgians
-Acceptance of the word "bitch" on television

The list of societal change is too extensive to even attempt to catalogue.

Culture is subject to selection, just as organisms are.

We can directly influence selection. When we breed for pugs, we're influencing selection. When we build intentional communities, we're influencing selection. In both cases, we are facilitating the replication of genes and memes that we want. That's slightly different from natural selection in that there is intention behind it, but it's still selection because we're selecting for traits. When we genetically modify an organism, we're influencing selection. We have yet to discover effective methods of memetic engineering because we have yet to identify the structure of a meme in the brain, but it's not outside the realm of the possible.

The point is, we can alter culture. It's actually easier to alter culture than it is to alter organisms. Altering organisms is a generational affair. We either have to breed or genetically modify something existing and then observe the changes in the offspring and then go from there (there is lateral gene transfer, and perhaps the technology will allow this in the future, but for now, it's essentially generational). This is because of the nature of the DNA molecule. It only truly replicates when it creates an entirely new organism through horizontal, or hereditary gene transfer. But when it comes to memes, we don't understand the storage unit yet; the DNA equivalent. But we do know three very important things. First, the storage of memes in the brain is transient and alterable during the life of the host. The clothes that I wore as a kid in the 70s are different than what I wore in the 80s, 90s, 2000s and today. The fashion trends that I drew from were cultural. There were memes with large representations in the cultural meme pool that coded for bell bottoms in the 70s and skinny ties in the 80s and cashmere sweaters in the 90s and so on. Over time, new memes appear in the meme pool and the representations of different memes alter. People still wear bell bottoms, but very few. We've since moved on to wearing your pants past your ass. My skin colour has not changed once since I was born because my genetic traits don't alter during my lifetime, but the cultural traits that I host and express change all the time. This is because whatever the storage unit for the meme, it allows for the constant disarticulation and rearticulation of memes in real time. I could market a new type of hat tomorrow, and if it caught on, millions of people would be wearing it by year's end. The second thing we know is that memetic transfer is not horizontal or vertical, but omnidirectional. I cannot transfer genes to my mother. Period. Maybe that will change one day with engineering technology, but for right now, it’s science fiction. But I can totally teach my mom to use a computer, and I have. I can change her clothing style. I can teach a little girl in Sri Lanka to like death metal. Memes transmit in all directions and they do it irrespective of genetic relationships. The third important thing we know is that a single memetic transmission event can broadcast to, conceivably, every single human being on the planet simultaneously. It's impossible today, but it's not been unheard of for over a billion people to watch something like the Oscars or the Super Bowl or the World Cup. These three things, transient storage, omnidirectional transmission and broadcast, means that it is infinitely easier to alter culture and that cultural evolution happens at a much faster rate than genetic evolution.

As important as all of that is, this is more important. Memes and genes are in inter-competition AND intra-competition. Genes compete with genes and memes compete with memes but memes and genes also compete with each other. Genes can influence which memes get selected and memes can influence which genes get selected. They can also co-evolve. Culture is not peripheral. Culture and organism look like a Venn diagram. They both operate on their own, but their activity also overlaps. Memes are not a dog walked by genes. Genes are not more important than memes. Memes and genes are equals.

There is zero contradiction. We are subject to selection. Period. Just like every other species. But humans, as far as we know and that's not very far, are the only species that can influence selection at will and that can engineer our replicators.

Humans behave. That's a fact. The question is, is our behaviour hardware (genetic, nature, universal) or software (memetic, nurture, culturally limited)? It’s both, different ones at different times, but when we’re looking at specific behaviours, we can identify which it is.

When we look at genetic human behaviour and at the genetic behaviour or all other organisms, what we see is a series of mechanisms that impel us to live in harmony with our surroundings. We also see that human behaviour changed, became as destructive as we've seen today, 5 000 years ago. We also see that there are extant tribes today that still live in harmony with their surroundings. Meaning that that change was not a genetic change. If it was, it would have been universal, which it is not. So that change has to be cultural, which it is.

This is why I capitalise the Our in Our culture. Our culture is one culture, not The culture. Our culture is extensive. If you're the citizen of a state then you're pretty much a member of Our culture. But there are still cultures outside of Our culture.

Now, there is an argument that this change came about because of Our culture's ability to, at will, alter our energy input. We can mine fuel and use tools and animal labour and increase our food supply. Very few other species, outside of ants that farm fungus, have this capability. By and large, limited competition exists because energy restrictions impel all organisms to hunt and settle disputes with the least amount of energy. But because we have surplus energy, we can make a number of decisions that other species can't. If that's the case, then any species, given enough energy, would overwhelm and overload their environment as Our culture is doing. The problem with this idea is that there have been civilisations with surplus energy that have lived in harmony. Thus having surplus energy does not necessarily mean that you will overwhelm and overload your environment. That is to say, it is not a universal. So we need another answer.

The answer is that it is memetic in origin. Granted, if the meme is present and the surplus energy is not, then nothing will happen. But we already know that replicator expression is greatly affected by the environment. We call this the phenotypic expression. But when the meme is well-represented in the meme pool and the environment facilitates it, look out.

We're headed for, if we haven't already reached, peak oil. Very soon, our surplus energy will begin to decline. On a long enough time line, that will stop all of this. It will also mean catastrophic population crash, but it will stop it. So at the end of the day, we can always rely on that. But option number two is for us to alter our culture.

Now I need to be clear. It's not easy to alter culture, but it's entirely possible. The better we understand memetics, the easier it will be; unfortunately, it will also be easier to make things worse to the benefit of a select few. But if we want to land this plane, we'll need to change Our culture's culture.

Our species is not the problem. Our culture is. If God changed Our culture, it would make life simpler. But we don't need God to do that because we have the capacity to do it ourselves.

So we don't change the world when we change our nature, because our nature is what it is. It's my nature, the scorpion said as he and his poisoned ferryman sank to the bottom of the river. But we do change the world when we change our nurture, because our nurture is transient.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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20-11-2011, 08:37 AM
 
RE: What kind of god would you LIKE?
(20-11-2011 08:10 AM)Ghost Wrote:  Culture evolves.
......
As important as all of that is, this is more important. Memes and genes are in inter-competition AND intra-competition. Genes compete with genes and memes compete with memes but memes and genes also compete with each other. Genes can influence which memes get selected and memes can influence which genes get selected. They can also co-evolve. Culture is not peripheral. Culture and organism look like a Venn diagram. They both operate on their own, but their activity also overlaps. Memes are not a dog walked by genes. Genes are not more important than memes. Memes and genes are equals.

Matt, thanks for the long, detailed and thoughtful reply. I will need to think about the details but I would like to reply to what I quoted above.

First of all, I have no doubt that culture evolves. That's pretty obvious, you don't have to prove it to me.

It would be nice to believe that what you said is true, however: I don't see how you can explain what seems to be the sudden, drastic and dramatic resurgence of genes over culture when the pressure on individuals reaches an unbearable threshold, like it happened in Rwanda, Yugoslavia and many other places.

In those places people who lived together all their lives, neighbors whose children routinely played together, went to school together, suddenly started hacking each other's children and wives to death. Jared Diamond, in his book "Collapse", describes beautifully what, how and why Rwanda happened.

Same thing in Yugoslavia, when Serbian soldiers were ordered by their officers to gang-rape 10-year old girls in the villages "to break the morale of the enemy". I toured Yugoslavia in the sixties and it seemed like a heaven of prosperity, peace an culture. What happened later would have been unthinkable. Or what happened in India, during the partition years when the Muslims and Hindus were indiscriminately murdering and massacring each olther's families. Or what happened in Hungary in 1956, during the revolution, when ordinary, 'cultured' citizens were gleefully stringing captured state-security agents up on lampposts and setting them on fire.

These were not individual, isolated incidents but mass hysteria and brutality, involving the entire 'culture' and 'culture' was just sitting back and letting it happen.

It is difficult to see how genes and culture are equal, in view of what history demonstrates to us over and over.

You said:

Quote:memes can influence which genes get selected
.........
Our species is not the problem. Our culture is.

This sounds slightly circular to me: we need to change the culture (by changing the memes), in order to change the genes (by gene selection influenced by the new memes). This may be true, but it does not change the fact that our genes are what they are now, so it is the species, as it is today, that is the problem after all. It may be true, that over time, cultural changes will change our genes enough to make us a less destructive, less violent species, but how long will that take? Thousands of years? Millions? We don't seem to have a lot of time before another Jared Diamond-type collapse happens, except it will be nothing like what we have ever seen before. Globalization will see to that -- it will be a global collapse.

However, as I said, I will think more about your post and will let you know what conclusion I arrived at, in view of what you wrote.
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20-11-2011, 08:56 AM (This post was last modified: 20-11-2011 09:06 AM by Peterkin.)
RE: What kind of god would you LIKE?
Quote:Ghost:
Culture evolves. See:
-Rise and fall of Catholic Church
-Civil Rights movement
-Calvinist movement
-Social genocide of aboriginal tribes
-Women wearing pants
-Suffragette movement
-Gandhi
-Missionaries
-Nelson Mandela
-Cromwell
-Queen Elizabeth
-The industrialisation and opening the borders of Japan
-Creation of Hutu and Tutsi designations by Belgians
-Acceptance of the word "bitch" on television

It's a list, not an escalator. No evolution: the catholic church is still very much in evidence and power during Queen Elizabeth (I and II) trousers and civil rights movements. If it's fallen, nobody told the infallible Ratzinger. Genocide is going on now, as it did during Gandhi's time and missions and the suffragettes. You can say bitch on television, but a lot of bitches still better cover their faces or get stoned...

Cultures change fashion, and move it around the globe; they choose aspects of human interaction to encourage or discourage, emphasize this, suppress that, for a little while - but they don't change basic human behaviour. Peace is preached; war 'erupts' (We attack somebody and then pretend their retaliation came out of the blue.) Equality is proclaimed; disparity 'happens' (we make greedy choices and pretend nobody could have foreseen the results.) And there is nothing new under the sun.

ETA : from another thread, today:
Quote: A few students of the 'Occupy'-movement were just blocking the road at the Californian university UC Davis. A police officer decided to pepper spray them all, even though they were not threatening anyone. It really is a free country...
Not such a long way from Cromwell.

Civilizations that lived in balance with nature and themselves? I've yet to hear of one. What climate? What period? How long did they last?

But, yes, we could select better. We could make better choices, better plans, better cultures. I suggested we start by rejecting the metaphysical, theological, superstitious idea of suffering as a necessary ballast for achievement and happiness.

If you pray to anything, you're prey to anything.
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20-11-2011, 09:22 AM
 
RE: What kind of god would you LIKE?
(20-11-2011 08:56 AM)Peterkin Wrote:  Civilizations that lived in balance with nature and themselves? I've yet to hear of one. What climate? What period? How long did they last?

Jared Diamond, in the "Third Chimpanzee", describes how the Americas were populated over a period of 1000 years, during which the expanding human species over-hunted the large-game population (mammoths, mastodons, sabertooth cats, lions, camels, horses, etc) of their current territories to collapse and extinction and then moved on south to do it again.

Now that was about 12,000 years ago and does not speak of "balance and harmony with nature".

I still think that if their numbers were a lot larger and their technology a lot deadlier (they had stone-age tools and weapons), it wouldn't have taken them 1000 years to accomplish the same result.
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