Religion Design and Purpose

Alan G. Carter

There have been a lot of postings on the progstone group relating to morals, religion, anti-social behaviour and the like. Here I'm going to try to set out how all this stuff sits within the Reciprocality map. Before I start two important points.

First, when I tried to make sense of the big map that I'm now calling Reciprocality, I didn't expect what I ended up with. Several times I found myself realising that what I was coming up with was contraversial. I'm putting it forward because I'm just calling it as I see it. As soon as a better map that explains as much with as little comes up, I'll drop Reciprocality and get on with exploring and testing the new one. Second, Reciprocality does not advocate or endorse any religion. In fact, it would seem to render them obsolete. Who needs faith when we have facts? However, it does explain what happens when religions are founded, and what they are for - what their founders were up to. It even explains (to an extent) how they work - as designer memes.

Self-Seeding Self-Organisation

In 3: Reciprocal Cosmology we have a model of a universe with two arrows of time. The creative arrow goes from the Big Bang in our future to a featureless blur in our past. The re-creative arrow goes the other way, and is what we see. The new Big Bang is different to the old one in that it is not a dimensionless point - it has volume and internal structure. When it explodes, aspects of the internal structure re-form through time, such that all structure found anywhere at any time, are decay products of structures in our future. At the same time, we see causal sequences that can account for some of what we see happening around us (although not the observable self-organisation or the observable fractal geometry of nature).

So we can say that there are two causal sequences in operation. Any structure can be accounted for in both creative arrow and re-creative arrow processes. Sometimes however, one arrow's version will be much more plausible than the other. There can be no observable miracles in this model. There can only be events that are plausible on the creative arrow, and implausible (but still possible) on the re-creative arrow.

On our arrow of time, we see simple structures forming, and then growing into bigger, complex structures. From our perspective, we might say that the structures are seeded from the future, and grow on our arrow. This is the core business of the universe. Within the universe, a similar process allows consciousness to occur, because the hidden order in the fractal geometry of nature allows individual brains to perform Bennett exchanges of information and energy with the future, and so create spontaneous insights - awareness. It's a house style. And at intermediate scales between galactic superclusters and individual brains, intermediate scale structures also form, according to the same house style. A seed of data from the future produces causal sequences on our arrow, that end up leading to a sophisticated future structure.

Within this process, there is a bandwidth limitation. The universe does not have seeds of future structures reforming together with little labels marking them as seeds of future data structures. Until one can see the big picture, the goings on will seem very odd indeed.

Son of Man == Son of God

Highly effective aggregates of humans can form up and do awesome things, even to the extent that we must recognise them as having characters of their own. Consider the Linux community. There are some things that are in character for it to do, and some things that it Loathes and Detests. Contrary to packer theory on these matters, the thousands of egotistical individualists that form the Linux community manage to co-operate better without policemen than any dozen packers can, because they use the shared map trick to do it. Move over Karl Marx, the technolibertarianism of Robert Anson Heinlein and Robert Anton Wilson has more to do with it. And of course, many (if not most) of the most active body cells of the Linux community would be diagnosed as suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder.

So the Linux community is an entity that sits between the Whole Thing and an individual human. It is a decay product of the Big Bang (and hence a component on our arrow) and an aggregate of individual humans. In this case it is more plausible to say that Linus Torvalds was motivated by phenomena that are understandable on the re-creative arrow, rather than that the Prophet Linus was divinely inspired on the creative arrow.

Waking the Son of Man

Assume for a moment that in the future, the mass of humanity behaves more like the Linux community than the nasty rabble we have today. It's quite possible, since everyone is born a mapper and hence can do the shared map trick if they break out of M0. What a fortunate community it will be! It will have a very large population, vast material wealth, and a solid physics describing re-creative arrow processes that it would never have had if its forebears had not suffered 6,000 years of M0. Your noble savage is a worthy being in his or her own right, but ability to use feedback in cognition and know which way to jump and so take advantage of creative arrow processes means he or she has no need to master the re-creative arrow. Moreover, pre-M0 peoples don't really worry about what is happening. They just get on with living. They are not best placed to make the full contribution of consciousness to the necessary evolution of the universe.

In this context, Rudolf Steiner's assertion that there must be a "point of absolute materialism from which all future progress will be made", makes perfect sense. M0 can here be seen as a circular (or "hermetic") journey where we lose sight of creative arrow processes, only to find them with deeper understanding and awareness, in the holes left after the re-creative arrow has been studied to bits.

This only works of course, if back-echos of future states can turn M0 off as well as instantiating it in the first place. This happens because from time to time in history, some people have been lucky enough (possible if implausible) to see around M0. They get an understanding of how the universe really works, and an understanding of M0 abnormal psychology. They use this understanding to set in play causal sequences which interact with other causal sequences that co-workers have or will set in play, achieving the necessary co-operation through the old shared maps trick. The net result is the bizarre meme plauges we call "religion".

Religion Design 101

M0 afflicted people have two problems. The best bits of their brains aren't working, but are still there and can get fired off occasionally, giving them bizarre experiences. Also, they insist on logically inverting absolutely everything in their mentation. Religions are big on symbolism. This is because their designers take aspects of what creative programmers call the "deep structure", and mystics call the "immanence of the All", and pre-wrap it in symbolism. Then when the Ghost Not afflicted people learn the symbolic rituals (they love rituals), they negate or invert, or add an additional system boundary around, something that already has an additional system boundary, and get a whiff of the world that so-called ADHD people live in. This triggers their sleeping higher cognitive abilities, and gives them a most peculiar buzz. This trick provides a transport mechanism or vector, which carries the payload component of the religion along with it.

There are several big religions going around. It is the mixing of the payload concepts of all of them that actually have the desired effect planned by the A Team of co-operating religion designers, distributed through space and time. Some examples:

Christianity includes the concept of individual recognisance and considering the merits of individual cases. It's something we don't think about, but it was quite alien to the Roman and Hebrew legal systems that it appeared within. As an anti-robotism, seeing-what-is-there measure, it does pretty well. It also contains the idea that there is another agenda in play as well as the local and social agenda of an individual, that the individual should consider. It carries the cost of spreading the idea that there are "two worlds", one physical and the other spirtual, where in fact there are just two arrows of time and one, real, physical world, but that's engineering for you. The designer of the religion wasn't worried about that cost, because it doesn't harm the objective.

Islam contains the idea that the physical world is the creation of Allah, and should be studied with reverence and diligence. Islam is pretty big on diligence, which is powerful anti-M0 measure. Like Christianity, it carries the cost that its followers are rather keen on enforcing their rituals on others, violently if necessary. But again, ritual addicts always do that, and always have one ritual or another. Think about al-chemy, al-gebra, al-gorithm. Islam carried science north into Chrsitian Europe, where the scholars were sitting and thinking about God, and the result was modern, technological society.

Buddhism contains concepts of circular causality and the internal self-consistency of the universe, which really only mixed with Christian and Islamic culture within living memory. I don't think that the arrival of green ecological awareness and Buddhism in the 1960s was a co-incidence. Indeed, Murray Gell-Mann has explicitly stated that he coined the term "Eight Fold Way" to describe the core ideas of modern particle physics because he was inspired by Buddhist ideas.

So the individual rituals and shalt-nots of individual religions aren't as important as the mass sociological and historical effects of their mixing.

Morals, Conscience, Religions and Game Theory

In Tehran it is immoral for a woman to go around with her face uncovered. In London it is not. Morals are arbitrary, robotic, prescriptive behavioural tramlines. Proto-ISO9001isms. Conscience is something different. Our experience of conscience is primarily aesthetical, and can be described as that behaviour which provides the optimal nett game theoretical payoff. Stealing food from children is unaesthetical in London and Tehran at the same time.

People suffering from M0 really aren't very good at appreciating feedback effects. They can only think one step ahead. Tramlines that can be policed can kind of hold societies of M0 people together, but have no inherent value beyond this, since the universe cannot in fact be understood procedurally. Moreover, people suffering from M0 can always do the unspeakable, and then deny it. The need for self-honesty so that their maps can be maintained accurately isn't there, since they have no maps to maintain. They are sad bastards who must be controlled by force since they have no consciences. They don't grok optimal nett game theoretical payoff, and if they see something stealable, they are likely to steal it.

This leads to a lowest common denominator way of working whereby everything has to be locked up all the time at incredible opportunity costs to effective operation. We cannot solve this problem by inventing better rules for packers to follow. We have to turn them into mappers so that they will be trapped by their own requirement for self-honesty and awareness of nett game theoretical payoff. We must turn the current 3% to 97% mapper to packer ratio into 100% to 0%. Just one "very clever" asshole can wreak untold damage on a community of co-operators. Just think what a certain bespectacled person did to the work of the Homebrew Computer Club and froze the development of mass computing for 20 years. It's rather like in a laser. The laser can only work if all of the atoms in it have electrons in the high, metastable energy state. But if it does, the laser can lase.

Just as it was not possible to describe the mappers' way of working in packer language, it is not possible to describe mapper fairness and equity in packer prescriptive laws. Packers always pretend that the map is the territory, play some silly word games, and then claim that they own integers and so on. This is what Lao-Tzu meant when he said, "The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao." We need mapper-only, mapper language for handling mapper issues.

Yes, there is a lot of work to be done. But see how fast we can make progress in (for example) Linux. The fact that some packers are now arguing that the Linux community must pay them royalties, because they have played hopscotch and now own the very concept of using a disk and a GUI on the same computer just makes the need for a cure for packing all the more urgent.


So there's a long term conceptual evolution tucked away in religions, designed to defeat M0. There's also a "treat the symptoms" component. Reciprocal Cosmology actually validates a core idea in most religions - that structures such as ourselves have relationship to structures in the future. Religious people get it distorted, and of course there is no bearded dude moving the counters around, the whole thing is distributed and only comes out in the long term, but the core idea would seem to be there. It would seem to bring some comfort to many lost and wretched packers. Packers do live most of their lives in fear, after all. And given the vile way packers can behave, can we really be sure that the world has actually lost out from having Christianity in play for 2000 years? How many acts of individual kindness have been motivated by Chrsitian thinking over time, and might not this compensate somewhat for all those burned at stakes and skewered in religious wars? Certainly, anyone who reads Idries Shah's "The Arabs" will be made aware of the profound difference that the Prophet of Islam made to those wretched tribes of desert wanderers, turning them into a culture and civilisation that lighted the world with science and poetry.

And there is a third component as well. 2000 years ago, the bizarre rantings contained in the Gospel of Thomas were dictated. Just over 1400 years ago Mohammed started the chain of events leading to modern science. Today we have an opportunity to understand the one set of sayings in terms of the other set of teachings, as argued in 6: History.

Now packers have a tendancy to perform contempt/threat displays and run away whenever one attempts to discuss the structure of M0 with them. On the other hand, packers with religion memes in their heads have a tendancy to be overly interested in the saying of people who should according to all rationalistic thinking be uninteresting wild-eyed nutters in remote history. What will they do when confronted with 6: History? Deny that their religion has any substance because it has substance? Or assert that it has substance because it has none? Or go catatonic like the computer in Star Trek when Spock told it to calculate pi? Or give it all up and pay attention for once?

I reckon the Gospel of Thomas, and the other examples in other traditions like the Sufi stuff associated with Islam, is a logic bomb, designed to shake religious packers to their core and also provide encouragement enough for religious packers to confront their ritual addiction and logical inversion and defeat it. The last miracle turns miracles into physics and physics into wonder.