December 13, 2023

(Copying my response to FB friend Chad Robb's talking about religious journey)

Couple of notes from my journey:
* I think the traditional practice that most resonated for me was daoism. My favorite guide to it was "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" which winds its way through the conflicts in western ways of thinking of the world to find at something it realizes is described in the not-really-puttable-on-in-words of the Tao. Part of the Tao is the border where two somewhat opposite things come together in a "the opposite of a great truth is another great truth" kind of way. (In terms of books "The Tao of Pooh" is another, shorter intro to a more classical form of Taoism)

* It's not quite a religion or practice, but I admired how Alan Lightman's "Mr. g" outlined a new mythology more compatible with how science sees the universe to be - a god not totally disjoint from some of the Christian view, but not as "all dials of power knowledge and love turned to 11" - kind of harkening to the old "watchmaker god" version, god as a loving experimenter who creates universes, but in some ways the whole point of running those universes is that he can't know how they will come out - that the chaotically-unpredictable emergence is what generates the suffering and sin but also all the good stuff that wouldn't exist if the experiment hadn't been run.

* My own view is probably a bit of a hodge podge. I find myself not trusting anything that relies on a special, one time revelation to someone else and would even having trouble accepting an epiphany I had. And that seems to preclude most "supernatural" explanations of the universe, like a top-down creation. So I look to emergence - just like in theory economics is just psychology is just neurobiology is just biology is just chemistry is just physics, but still atomic theory won't help you think about the last recession - each layer adds something that is fundamentally unpredictable from almost any analysis of the layer beneath it.

So I'm left with the idea that it's the shared objective reality that matters most (even though, objectively I have to recognize how important subjectivity is to so many people! and scientists or atheists who claim "objectivity" are often jerks who can't acknowledge the presumptions that led to their scientific enquiries) but also I embrace the uncertainty in a way most other faiths don't. Like Goedel says there are things true about the universe that can't be proven within the universe. So the "Faith" aspect comes in for me that everything is emergence, and that objective reality is shared and our best guesses/estimations about what is most likely *universally* true should guide our individual actions-- but we have to be humble and recognize they are only best guesses/estimations (when you talk about "accurate template for extrapolation into the outer cosmos" -- well, it's the "accurate" part I am not sure anyone can help you with - it seems like uncertainty is baked into everything, and so I will always be suspicious of sure and certain Faith.)
Time is always ticking... which is better than the alternative.