Scott Adams just linked to a staggering piece of neuroscience.
The forefront of cognitive science seems to indicate that religion and LSD are correct, and it is the reasonable, the sober, and the sane who are caught in the grasp of Olam HaSheker – the world of lies.
I highly recommend reading the whole interview. Here are some choice quotes:
I have a space X of experiences, a space G of actions, and an algorithm D that lets me choose a new action given my experiences. Then I posited a W for a world, which is also a probability space. Somehow the world affects my perceptions, so there’s a perception map P from the world to my experiences, and when I act, I change the world, so there’s a map A from the space of actions to the world. That’s the entire structure. Six elements. The claim is: This is the structure of consciousness. I put that out there so people have something to shoot at.
But if there’s a W, are you saying there is an external world?
Here’s the striking thing about that. I can pull the W out of the model and stick a conscious agent in its place and get a circuit of conscious agents. In fact, you can have whole networks of arbitrary complexity. And that’s the world.Thi
The entire world is just conciousness, man.
The world is just other conscious agents?
I call it conscious realism: Objective reality is just conscious agents, just points of view. Interestingly, I can take two conscious agents and have them interact, and the mathematical structure of that interaction also satisfies the definition of a conscious agent. This mathematics is telling me something. I can take two minds, and they can generate a new, unified single mind. Here’s a concrete example. We have two hemispheres in our brain. But when you do a split-brain operation, a complete transection of the corpus callosum, you get clear evidence of two separate consciousnesses. Before that slicing happened, it seemed there was a single unified consciousness. So it’s not implausible that there is a single conscious agent. And yet it’s also the case that there are two conscious agents there, and you can see that when they’re split. I didn’t expect that, the mathematics forced me to recognize this. It suggests that I can take separate observers, put them together and create new observers, and keep doing this ad infinitum. It’s conscious agents all the way down.
People come together to form hiveminds. A conversation, done well, is the linking up of two hard drives into one processor.
God-consciousness seems to be the phenomenon of syncing up values with all other nodes of consciousness. Buddha and Abraham genuinely cared about everyone. A good formalization of God is “the sum of all consciousnesses”, which itself forms a consciousness.
Judaism is a giant operating system that coordinates the neural and behavioural functioning of Jews around the world. The exclusive covenant system of religion, which discourages converts, appears to be based on the premise that the minimum viable product of utopia is a single people. Once we get that right, everyone else will copy it. What Elon Musk did to the automotive industry, Judaism is attempting to do to the community of nations. Perhaps that’s why they hate us.
The software of Judaism was slowly developed form Moses’ bare-bones operating system into the immensely-complex, highly-detailed Talmud. The software is in a state of disrepair because the Sanhedrin has been disbanded; while the movement of halacha from 1000 BC to 500 AD was one of ever-increasing complexity, the movement from 500 AD to 2000 AD was one of the opposite directions – instead of expanding and fleshing out the halacha, we’ve been attempting to redact and summarize it for a people on the run, essentially scraping by in survival mode for two millennia. The great works of the Jewish Exile, like Rambam’s Mishneh Torah and R’ Yosef Caro’s Shulchan Aruch, were functional, stripped-down redactions of the Talmud Bavli. Galus put the project into safe mode.
Much of the modern crisis of Judaism is inherent in this lack of development. While Enlightenment values have pushed modern society forward, Judaism has been stuck on a 1500-year-old save file running at reduced capacity. It still has some significant advantages over Western Liberalism, but as Eliezer Yudkowsky points out, static Orthodox Judaism will inevitably lose this race.
In Orthodox Judaism there is a saying: “The previous generation is to the next one as angels are to men; the next generation is to the previous one as donkeys are to men.” This follows from the Orthodox Jewish belief that all Judaic law was given to Moses by God at Mount Sinai. After all, it’s not as if you could do an experiment to gain new halachic knowledge; the only way you can know is if someone tells you (who heard it from someone else, who heard it from God). Since there is no new source of information, it can only be degraded in transmission from generation to generation.
Thus, modern rabbis are not allowed to overrule ancient rabbis. Crawly things are ordinarily unkosher, but it is permissible to eat a worm found in an apple—the ancient rabbis believed the worm was spontaneously generated inside the apple, and therefore was part of the apple. A modern rabbi cannot say, “Yeah, well, the ancient rabbis knew diddly-squat about biology. Overruled!” A modern rabbi cannot possibly know a halachic principle the ancient rabbis did not, because how could the ancient rabbis have passed down the answer from Mount Sinai to him? Knowledge derives from authority, and therefore is only ever lost, not gained, as time passes.
When I was first exposed to the angels-and-donkeys proverb in (religious) elementary school, I was not old enough to be a full-blown atheist, but I still thought to myself: “Torah loses knowledge in every generation. Science gains knowledge with every generation. No matter where they started out, sooner or later science must surpass Torah.”
The most important thing is that there should be progress. So long as you keep moving forward you will reach your destination; but if you stop moving you will never reach it.
Restore the Sanhedrin, save the world.