Ask A Genius 345 – Snakes: Religious Politics, Political Religion
January 8, 2018
[Beginning of recorded material]
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: IC leads to infinities: different types – and relations amongst and between the types.
Rick Rosner: So, that gets scary. Because anytime that you say there is an infinity or that there is anything that is unlimited, then that implies some kind of infinity and all of our experience of the world tend to fully add the possibility that our world is huge but not infinite.
Jacobsen: But I like the phrase “functional infinity” or “functional infinite,” which means a very large finite but an unknown number for that finite number.
Rosner: But the whole idea or the whole question of infinite versus finite is: either way, there’s a huge but finite number of things of all possible things. That is problematic and then also it is problematic with this or that infinity, or maybe not.
Jacobsen: I remember hearing as a far-left philosopher who is dead, who stated that in a similar way with “to be” or “not to be.” Although, he didn’t use it in that phrase. He was talking about the arguments of “being” and “nonbeing.”
If you talked about the “tuned in” and the “not tuned in,” so something is tuned in or not, but the degree to which is tuned in is the degree of fidelity. That not necessarily being tuned in to someone does not necessarily mean nonexistence.
It means not tuned in, so it may exist or may not to some degree or other, but it’s not tuned in and other things that are within our experience within our consciousness are tuned in to varying degrees of fidelity.
And he used that to kind of shut it down to 2,500 years of arguments around being and nonbeing. I get that from what you’re saying in a similar way with infinity and infinity.
Rosner: The best that you can say now in that infinity versus non-infinity would be something that we or our descendants will be arguing about for quite a while.
Jacobsen: It will be a question that will be asked to make either of those answers meaningless.
Rosner: Yes, true, that and it may be infinity versus non-infinity; maybe, that will be one of those things that turns out deriving the solution to the problem.
Jacobsen: And that’s what I like for it with “functional.”
Rosner: The question for free will is that you’re maybe not framing things properly when you’re asking is there free will. The idea, I see the universe is a self-consistent information system; that any large system is a system built from information, which is a step back from a purely cold Godless Big Bang science framework that we’re currently under.
That it doesn’t impose God the Creator, but that it does suggest a proliferation of consciousness in entities across the universe and that the universe has something like ten to the twenty-second stars with something like half of those stars potentially having planets.
So, you have at least a billion billion environments for life to evolve; that if you look at the evolution of life on Earth, there is a good chance that cognition evolves. So, you get both the probabilistic argument that it’s unlikely that we are the only conscious beings in the universe.
You have the idea of consciousness being a technical aspect of information sharing as not miraculously originating things, but is a natural consequence of large self-consistence. That means that you’ve got a universe that is naturally full on conscious entities – not meaning the kumbaya like mystical, crystal on the wall of my bedroom to get my power, but in the sense that there are more conscious entities than us and than those on thin surface of the Earth.
The thinking beings who probably rise in a bunch of places and those thinking beings would often have consciousness and the universe itself may have consciousness, so some of these thinking beings may survive for millions of years.
In the case of the universe, perhaps, many hundreds or thousands or billions of billions of years, which presents the idea that there are conscious entities with God-like complexity versus which it’s like – I don’t know it’s – a baby step away from the fully cold universe.
Jacobsen: What about the pre-fully cold universe that arose within primitive – by which I mean antediluvian – or original major religions? I guess, that also makes it like Orthodox Judaism, Confucianism – within their views of the world.
Rosner: When you talked about there is a certain philosophy, religious philosophy, that lives in the cracks and then you search to fill in the blanks. I forget the name. But there will always be blanks to fill in and people will always, and what comes after people will always, yearn for science or a purely mechanistic explanation for things. Not only that.
People evolved to search for significance; we evolved as omnivore survivors. We look for explainable regularities in the world to survive, so people will always look for patterns within patterns, patterns beyond what’s known and the inevitable, the possible wondrous things that exist.
But beyond our understanding too; so, religion will never go away, never go away. Otherwise, they will continue to be squeezed – one would think in a way that religions have been squeezed for hundreds of years.
What they thought they understood, they were squeezed out. What is understood is wonderful, and also there is the possibility that comes with what becomes understood involves things that would be considered wonderful by religious people of past eras; the idea that the unification, the unified nature, of the universe, how the universe knows about every point in the universe, has a rough idea of what’s going on in every other point of the universe.
That every point of the universe speaks for a cohesiveness that perhaps is having a satisfying cohesiveness that does offer a satisfaction in the wondrous ways that this happens.
Jacobsen: This segues into a topic we were talking about off tape.
Jacobsen: Which is conceptions of the world apart from factual knowledge, we take the scientific knowledge. We take failures from the past. They are applied to describe the real world in some way either to derive meaning, functionality, or both.
Another way that this is shifted is then into a political tool. We were talking about some ways how spiritual conceptions of the world then become used as political tools for some people in general.
Rosner: We were talking about the exploitation of the, to be specific, Evangelicals in U.S politics.
Jacobsen: I would not merely state some Evangelicals, but I would state that as a big category. But I would state religion at large in much of the Middle East North Africa region.
Rosner: Then that being a big example. Another example might be Saudi Arabia is whipping up anti-Americanism to serve their own purposes in a religious way. Various regimes have anti-Western purposes, say with Saudi Arabia with politicians using religions for further cynical purposes.
Jacobsen: I would extend that by the way to Catholics and Eastern Orthodox as well, which are big hunks of the population.
Rosner: You’re from Canada. You see things happening, similar things happening.
Jacobsen: Take, for instance, Alberta. It is a province where, or you can use Saskatchewan, too, where, there is controversy around the implementation of a single school system for all citizens.
Where non-Catholic citizens are paying for their kids to go to Catholic school and Catholic parents pay for their kids to go to Catholic school – apart from the contentions around labelling kids Catholic for the kids with Catholic parents, the Catholic parents are paying for kids to go to Catholic school, but the non-Catholic parents are paying for their kids to go to Catholic school.
That seems disproportionate to me if not outright unfair. Many parents have to move, for instance, so there is a proposal for a single educational system without any particular religious or other brands, so some of the single secular schools.
Rosner: I’m sure that this is a bunch of Catholics.
Jacobsen: Sure, it’s forty percent of the population, roughly, who are Catholic. So, it becomes a matter of contention, but it might also become a matter of contention for other denominations because they might watch this and think, “Okay, what about us now? I am homeschooling nine kids, for instance.”
Rosner: Let’s talk about the whole deal where the use of Evangelicals in politics.
Jacobsen: The political use of religion; the co-opting of religions for political use.
Rosner: When you get things with the energizing of it, still not the right word.
Jacobsen: The zeal.
Rosner: No, where you roll out and implement what you want anyway, it feels like traditional values of Evangelical voters. This is something that has been going on for more than one hundred years, but it is the exploitation of Evangelicals and the political right that is only thirty, forty years old.
It is a consequence of conservative think tanks researching: how do we get leverage over the American populace? How do we get voters out to vote for people? Before that, at least in America, you have more now hen nine versions of Evangelism and of Christianity.
You can call it Christianity close to home, where the fifties, the forties at least, in the idealized version of America; you have a bunch of towns backed with a bunch of churches. Most people went to a church or places of worship like synagogues.
Everybody worshipped in their own way roughly the same set of Christian values. They all looked out for each other. In some more sinister cases, they kind of looked like busy bodies and looked down on other people – perhaps whose behavior fell short of their ideals.
But all an all, it felt like a fairly benign version of pervasive religious values. Not particularly coercive but with some aspects of coercion, but not strident, not feeling threatened, not trying to impose religious values by any means necessary.
Not seriously infringing on politics. The current brand of politics, the conservative side, is propped up possibly by a forged number of Evangelical voters and how every politician, regardless – any major politician, has to claim, whether liberal or conservative, to be religious.
It’s a very brave and exceptional politician who doesn’t claim to be religious. It’s a rare group of voters who vote that person in, but all the religious test in politics for a politician’s base.
They can make a public statement that contains certain things appealing to non-religious voters, but the religious voters understand the politician to say, “I’m with you. I’m going to defend your values.”
Anyways, that’s all fairly new. Cynically though, instances of it, there is always a potential for it as long as there has been religion and politics.
Jacobsen: It went back as far as when Emperor Constantine made Christianity the state religion, basically.
Rosner: We don’t throw people to the lions. We don’t urge people to say all that stuff is done at the intersection of religion and politics. So, it’s always a possibility and by embracing science you don’t necessarily avoid it.
But you open yourself up to all different sets of tragedy, the atomic bomb can go off now and then everything is obliterated.
Jacobsen: What does this continued encroachment of more accurate views of the world mean for religious faith or faith in general, because the trend over centuries has been a decline in outright belief in and the liberalization of those that do believe in traditional religion?
Rosner: Generally, there’s a low cost to have large philosophical beliefs about the way the world is, believing in God or a bunch of Gods or no God, whatever you believe. Unless you’re working in the field; unless you somehow run afoul of some grinding mechanism where religion meets politics, it doesn’t affect your day to day life because you navigate your day to day life using a bunch of specific knowledge of situations.
These allow you to cross the street on a red light. You don’t drink a draino. You cook chicken before you eat it. None of those things have large religious import; that’s all a different set of knowledge.
People will continue to believe; people will continue to tell the hopes about what the world is; people’s beliefs are to some extent religious, and over time on average more informed by actual information about the world.
It’s a rare person who continues to believe the Earth is flat because nobody believes the Earth is flat anymore, except lunatics. It doesn’t mean that within the flat Earth there is a naïve belief from thousands of years ago; that that naïve belief has gone away either.
It doesn’t mean that religion will go away. It is a specific area of knowledge, which will squeeze out perhaps religious belief in certain scenarios. But there are certain areas, but there will always be room for religious or mystical or philosophical feelings and beliefs about the world, even if a fully scientifically explained world.
Science itself will change, but even that fully explained world will still have room for religious overlays. There will always be stuff to discover; there will always be places to conserve mystical beliefs.
There is a thing in quantum mechanics. Einstein had a problem with quantum mechanics, where he thought you can’t have a world this randomly. He thought that maybe there was a structure behind the structure to explain the lack of structure of quantum mechanic’s apparently random action.
But there was another layer of information that wasn’t accessible to us that makes the random not random, and the things like those since quantum mechanics have been particularly proven to work.
You can’t have secret mechanics going on behind hidden mechanics determining outcomes. However, I see that you do have out of the things that happen apparently randomly in quantum mechanics; those things bring information into the world and I see that information reflects the state of something.
The state of say information being brought into being; the universe is accumulating information and newly acquired information has to be about by something, so it does imply a kind of framework behind the random action that will not express itself in the way that Einstein believed, but in a similar way there is always room to say, “I got this system. There is still room,” and to say that this also exists.
You got a scientific world, but there is also room for beauty; there is also room for good and bad; there is also room for truth; and that will always be the evidence and theory based great work, which will continue to shape not scientifically but non-scientifically.
[End of recorded material]
American Television Writer
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing
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