Tag Archives: G-d

Mythos: Free Will, free choice?

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Humanity has long pondered the question of free will; and whether  chicken or egg came first. Like Xeno’s paradoxes the questions identify flaws in both language and logic.  What does Free Will (FW) really mean?

Mythos is the ancient Greek counterpart to logos (reason). The two sides of mind. Myths help us understand and live in this world. They carry a deep truth, even if the events are not factual.  This Atlantic article‘s title was “There’s No Such Thing as Free Will –
But we’re better off believing in it anyway.” A mythos.  It was “one of the most read and hotly debated Atlantic pieces this month. The galaxy of philosophical issues called “free will and determinism” is where morals and physics come together. In other words, it’s a subject that genuinely matters, and one that’s a hell of a lot of fun to argue about.”  Want to try?

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Why vegetarian? A cultural journey.

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He asked me, “why are you vegetarian?”  He wanted me to write an article to explain why.  He thought his magazine readers would  be intrigued by the combination of muslim name with vegetarianism. The latter is more associated with Hindu and Buddhist names in the subcontinent.

My vegetarian journey is all about belief.   Science tells me that, cognitively, the most important reason is because of my belief about myself.  I chose to think of myself as being vegetarian. Therefore, I mostly eat vegetarian.

Hang on, he objected, “Are you truly vegetarian, if you don’t eat only vegetables?”.  So, what is a vegetarian and how did I become  one?

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Water is vital for life; sugary drinks not.

“Please give us nothing but vegetables to eat & water to drink” Daniel 1:12

At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food.  Daniel 1:15 (~600BC)

The book of Daniel, is not your typical religious text. It’s part of the Old Testament; part I of the Christian Bible. (In case you don’t know, part 2, the New, is a glorious story of redemption or being saved which may or may not be metaphysical.  It’s so hard to know with words, but the words are indeed very useful.  Which is why they survived.)

The core of the Old Testament is the 5-book Torah given to us by Moshe, our Father.  With no archeological evidence for Moses, could he be a scientific created of the Egyptian elite?  The timing fits with the reign of Akhenaten, the only monotheistic Phaoroh. After him, they reverted to the traditional Egyptian gods.  The speculation is that the religious monotheists established Israel as a colony of Egypt, allowing them to live in peace but away from the new regime of polytheism.

In contrast, Daniel reports a historical character. Like Jesus, Daniel’s story was written long after his death; in Daniel’s case hundreds of years.  The value of both stories is to remind of us deep spiritual and practical truths.  Such as diet health, and feeding our microbiota (bugs).  Eat your vegetables; don’t drink sugary drinks!

I found this pictures on Wikipedia; I hope they don’t mind me using it.  It highlights the simple but hard act of self-denial.  Rejecting sensual pleasure over health.  And his fellows behind him in the portrait show that that Daniel did not do this by himself.  We act best as teams.  And perhaps the result is the ability to go to the lion’s den, by himself.

Are you interested in following Daniel’s dietary advice, and tell me upon its impact on your health?  If so, the first step is: who is the team that will help you?   How can I help you?

And if you have the time, have a look at this project on vaccines as an educational tool.  And why am i vegetarian?.

Moral virtues and intellectual vices: cognitive process tuning

Good parenting rewards positive behaviour, and ignores  the negative.  We wish to encourage our child’s moral virtues that we think of a character and tendency to ‘behave well.  We learn moral virtues through habit and practice rather than through reasoning and instruction.

Education is about learning to think.  To identify and the intellectual vices that arise from the design of the cognitive biases that our brain has in its ‘wetware.  These designs were well fitted to the hunter-gatherer with the complex range of skills that human societies developed, as our ancestors climbed to the top of the food chain, following their Cognitive Revolution of some 70,000 years ago.

The Agricultural Revolution of some 10,000 years as agriculture led to the emergence of surplus values and cities (civilization) .  Skill started to become more specialised compared to the multi-talented hunter-gatherers: growing seeds and fighting for control of the surplus.

A key aspect of the Cognitive Revolution was the development of ‘fictive language’.  Words that do not describe the natural world, nor social relations, but abstract concepts that only exist in the collective subjective.  Three of these, and their manifestation, have driven human history:  Money, Empire, and G-d.

The remarkable fact is that we can learn about, and overcome our cognitive biases.  But this is not an easy task for those who lack intellectual virtue.  We are born with intellectual vice; our brain is designed to fail the fallacy of ‘post hoc, ergo propter hoc’: ‘after this, therefore because of it’.

It is like the optical illusion: I sill see it, even when I know it is an illusion.

Aristotle described the moral virtues, and Socrates was the first to start the process of identifying our intellectual vices.  We can only start from doubt; hope our hypotheses are ‘good enough, and know that nothing can ever be truly known.  And from this strange base an impressive body of Western thought leading to our domination over matter, to the scientific sun.

But too many of us do not understand how our brains tricking us into bad decisions; and make us hate our brothers and sisters, because of difference.  How hard to love humanity close-up, compared from the benign self-feeling of loving the idea of humanity, said Dostoyevski.  But that is only one side of the story; for many in this world tread a path of love and selfless giving.

I want to walk that path; I know you do too.

A G-d who stops after Creation asks Humanity to act for Him/Her

“Except for a God who sits down after the universe begins, all other Gods conflict with the assumptions of science.” says physicist Alan Lightman.  The G-d of most religions (including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism) intervenes in way incompatible with logic, given the premise that G-d may create, but does not break the laws of physics.

The desire for miracles burns bright, continually claimed, yet never survive the light of science. Personally, I have been more compelled by the idea of understanding G-d as the laws of physics of this universe. Does G-d need to intervene in this world to prove his/her existence?

Is not our existence proof enough of something marvellous, wondrous, and beyond human conception?  This being that can understand how small it is in this massive Universe that was once smaller than a proton.  And has achieved such technological and humanitarian progress.  Do we not evolve into G-d if our collective actions are divine?  G-d’s existence does not depend on external belief, it requires subjective conviction that translates into effective action.

And perhaps the most important action is to simply to be in wonder of life, and to recognise ourselves in all forms of life: we are all made from stardust.  And from that to love our neighbour as much as self, even before we can see we are all one.

“For me, there is room for both a spiritual universe and a physical universe, just as there is room for both religion and science. Each universe has its own power. Each has its own beauty, and mystery. A Presbyterian minister recently said to me that science and religion share a sense of wonder. I agree.” Alan Lightman

Happiness is…

…a formula that we can learn to solve, stated as: Happiness = Reality – Expectations.

A tweet widely twittered, the new unit of conversation.

Rightly said,

can change expectations by infinitely more than described reality.

Both levers for happy-ness.  The essence of its scale so fine, not a line, an exponential curve of mine, with value e by your convention.

Got it figured? Just change what you expect, if you wish to be happy. And be grateful.  Or as Buddha says, be detached from outcomes, focus on your efforts.  Mindful, Compassion with Equanimity.