Daily Writing Prompt ☞ Do you believe in God?

I’ll borrow from Dr. Jordan B Peterson: I behave like someone who believes in G_d.

I have lots of evidence from my understanding of physics that there can be no such power in the universe that we as a species have classically thought of as “supernatural”.

There is the natural, and, parts of it are deep mysteries.

I have no doubts whatever that the “dumb” physical matter (if there is such a thing — see Donald Hoffman’s theory combined with The Holographic Universe in combination with Eric Weinstein’s ideas about The Observerse), when arranged the correct way, can become self-aware and its behaviours begin to — somehow — influence matter by that very self-awareness.

I have no doubts of this because I, myself, seem to be such a thing.

How the bits of dumb matter that are arranged in such a way that the interactions between them all keep running in a self-perpetuating looping process that — as a side-effect of how it keeps out of the way of outside influences that would negatively impact the process itself — have come to think of itself as a “self”, and more specifically as me — as “Chris Corwin” — can possibly be is a great mystery.

Therefore, I do not insist that some other arrangement of matter, operating on scales of time and space and in dimensions I know nothing of, simply could not exist.

So “G_d” could exist. That doesn’t mean what most people think it means. I think. … ?

Let’s take as examples these well-known passages from the Christian sacred text:

For a thousand years in your sight

are but as yesterday when it is past,

or as a watch in the night.

Psalm 90:4 ☞ English Standard Version


But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

II Peter 3:8 ☞ English Standard Version

Now, I do not believe we ought take either author literally here for the ratio of 1,000:1, but, there are interesting ideas about gauge theory to consider here.

Physics has shown us why time seems to pass faster as we age

Mind time and clock time are two totally different things. They flow at varying rates.

The chronological passage of the hours, days, and years on clocks and calendars is a steady, measurable phenomenon. Yet our perception of time shifts constantly, depending on the activities we’re engaged in, our age, and even how much rest we get.

…time as we experience it represents perceived changes in mental stimuli. It’s related to what we see. As physical mental-image processing time and the rapidity of images we take in changes, so does our perception of time. And in some sense, each of us has our own “mind time” unrelated to the passing of hours, days, and years on clocks and calendars, which is affected by the amount of rest we get and other factors.

Time is happening in the mind’s eye. It is related to the number of mental images the brain encounters and organizes and the state of our brains as we age. When we get older, the rate at which changes in mental images are perceived decreases because of several transforming physical features, including vision, brain complexity, and later in life, degradation of the pathways that transmit information. And this shift in image processing leads to the sense of time speeding up.

Clock time and mind time perception over a lifetime.

Another factor in time’s perceived passage is how the brain develops. As the brain and body grow more complex and there are more neural connections, the pathways that information travels are increasingly complicated. They branch like a tree and this change in processing influences our experience of time…

From: https://qz.com/1516804/physics-explains-why-time-passes-faster-as-you-age/

The Bible passages quoted above refer to G_d’s perception of time passing, and how that compares to humankind’s own perception.

Some — naively — will insist that G_d is “entirely outside of time” but that doesn’t hold up — an agent entirely outside of time would be unable to perceive time at all.

The emergent process that has come to think of itself as G_d — if such a process has emerged that is like what humans have tended to describe to each other as what they think that means — must have as one of its attributes, a complex network of information flow.

It would follow, based on what we know about how information flows through a network that that this agent’s (G_d) perception of time will be radically different than beings of a comparatively diminutive scale — like us — though our brains are surely in the running for most complex thing we know of, and yet… our perception of time must pale in comparison to the uncomprehendingly awesome entanglements that G_d’s thoughts must necessarily be.

All of that assumes that this emergent process has a sense of “I-ness” that is in any way similar to the one that we tend to experience in our day-to-day existence.

It does not seem obvious to me that this must be so.

Most people — having never examined the philosophy nor the physics, let alone introspected and examined their own first-person experience — spend their entire lives fully believing they posses free will.

Ten minutes of careful self-examination seems to dispel that myth.

It is also easy to arrive at an understanding of the myth of free will without any sophisticated understanding of the physics or psychology of time — I have thought free will to be a myth for a long, long, time now, simply based on the idea of G_d’s omniscience.

Brief Aside

It is also interesting, in light of this line of thought, to note that in that blog post it can be seen that my previous naive view was that G_d was that it was “outside of time”, rather than subject to it.

I also stated that G_d was omniscient —and made plain that my understanding of the implications of G_d’s “omniscience” required that free will not exist.

Here’s to constantly attempting to find new understandings of nuanced topics!

It is fun to witness growth in Wisdom — even in one’s “self”.

Similarly to the illusion of free will, most people never tend to notice that The Self — that sense of a permanent “I-ness” that rides around in our head — is not actually there to find in any “real” sense but is, itself, an emergent property of the loop that seems to be running in our Bayesian prior updating functions.

(See my blog post, “My self-awareness is a trick of the shape of the universe I occupy”.)

To quote Sam Harris:

How could consciousness itself feel like “I” if the feeling of self must appear within it to be known?

And how could you feel that there is a self unless such a feeling appears, to be known?

If G_d has a “sense of self”, then G_d must have some sort of awareness at all, some prior condition within which G_d’s sense of self — and everything else G_d experiences — must appear.

That being true does not, however, imply that “G_d” must have a sense of self any more than other very complex long-running processes (see evolution, weather, the expansion of the universe) must have one.

It is entirely possible that we humans are simply anthropomorphizing a process in retrospect, applying a sense of awareness where there is none.

We are constantly doing this with all sorts of things — applying agency to processes that do not actually have any — simply because our narrative-based understanding and language all but force us to do so.

Attempting to completely avoid anthropomorphication of processes and things erects unwieldy barriers to communication.

The application of things like Wisdom, and Intelligence, and Design, and Control to a process as G_d allows us to communicate “deeper truths” in a way that allows for narrative and condenses and distills otherwise unwieldy baroque topics into memorable and actionable memes that can travel through our human societies in such a way that emerges as our collective “beliefs” about “G_d”.

Do I, personally, believe in G_d?

I try my best to behave like someone who does.