Computerism

You know what would make an excellent religion? That the world is a computer game and so we must make offerings to the players controlling our lives and our universe.

What would an offering consist of you ask? Why, whatever you think would make your player happy. If you believe helping out the poor and the sick would make them happy, do that. Think amassing vast amount of resources while others starve is what would grease their gears? Get after it! The best part of being a Computerist is that you can tell if it’s working! Do the thing, if your life gets better, it is working! If it doesn’t try something else until it does work.

Of course then we have to decide what it means for a life to get better. This is also pretty much trial and error. Don’t like where you’re living? Move. If you’re always honest and your life sucks, maybe you should try lying. That might impress the player. Should I capitalize player? Nah, I like the idea of a lower case deity. It’s just some outer space nerd playing video games after all.

Wait, you might be say, shouldn’t you avoid insulting your player? I have no idea. Despite founding the religion, I have no more knowledge as to how to benefit from it than you do. So far it seems like my player likes me ok, knows I talk a bit of shit and the player doesn’t mind, at least if the quality of my life is any indication. It hasn’t been perfect, but I have to say, it’s been good. A few ups, a few downs, a lot of decency. Player, you’re doing fine by my book. Hopefully the fact I discovered you doesn’t fuck with the algorithm.

So, you make offerings to please the players, you have to just guess what your individual player wants from you, and you gauge the success of your offerings on the quality of your life, and adjust accordingly. I’m going to need someone else to take this on though, I already have a religion to run.

Religion? What the hell is Religion?

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At 7:30 this morning I wrote the following:

Religion is a big deal to a lot of people. The majority of world leaders severely impacting the lives of their citizens invoke it as justification. The overtly Islamic governments the Middle East do so in restricting women’s rights, while the government of the United States, secular by law, founded by atheists and skeptics, but recently some kind of Christian in practice, invokes it in ripping small children away from their mothers and fathers. So, with women being stoned to death and little kids crying themselves to sleep, alone on a cot in an old Wal-Mart,  because of religion, we should probably try to figure out what the it is. 

Religion seems to be a particular set of beliefs. If you believe a, b, and c then you are a Catholic. If you believe b,c, and d, then you are a Protestant. If you believe c,d, and e you are Muslim, and so on. 

It is now 7:30 in the evening. 7:34 anyway, about 12 hours later. I spent today cleaning out the shed in my backyard, I actually started yesterday. I took everything out of it, swept and vacuumed, put aside a pile to garage sale next weekend, threw a ton of stuff away, and then put everything back in a way that is logical and maximizes the space well.

I took a break in the middle of it, went to Lowe’s with my wife and son. I got some perennials for the yard, a table saw, pretty excited about that, and a big tub to put all my camping gear. Not all of it, actually, it doesn’t hold the sleeping bags and whatnot. Instead I filled it with all the stuff I forget whenever I go camping. I just went camping, and forgot everything, so that what made me think of it. Actually, now that I’m thinking of it, it was my friend saying he was going to get a tub for all of his camping stuff that made me think of it. Thanks Adam. Anyway. Chairs, coffee maker, pan. I also put the tent in there, so that I don’t forget to bring the tub.  On the way home we stopped at a garage sale, a couple was moving to Honduras so they were selling everything they owned. We got a good sized picture frame, a pole saw and a weed whacker, both battery powered and we we got a couple batteries and couple chargers as well. My wife got a dress, then as we left they threw in a Stephen King book that I haven’t read in a long time, and a Dean Koonts book. I’ve never read Dean Koonts, he has kind of the same reputation as Stephen King though, so I imagine it might make for some decent laying in the hammock about to take a nap reading.

Anyway, we got home, and I got back to it. Listened to the Mariners game as a I swept and vacuumed and piled and sorted and reorganized. They lost, but that’s ok, it’s just baseball. I’m not even on the team.

This morning, before I started really getting into it, my wife made me an omelette and hasbrowns for breakfast. It’s Father’s Day after all, though she does often make breakfast regardless. I make breakfast when she does not. Omelettes are pretty hit and miss for me, but this one was a major hit. Everything about it, the texture and degree to which the ingredients coagulated with the egg, just beautiful. For lunch, nachos. A Thai restaurant made us dinner, which was nice of them, all we had to do was give them money. It was delicious. The coffee was bountiful all day long.

As we ate dinner my wife and I played a game of cribbage. Our son finished and put him in the bath. He has a little portable tub, so he took a bath right there in the kitchen while we kept playing our game. On the table was a board printed with several photos of my son and I, as well as a little handprint art project my son made for me at daycare. We haven’t finished the game yet, our son wanted to get out of the bath and go to bed. My wife is in with him right now, reading books. (He isn’t acting sleepy anymore, cheeky monkey. Not really though, the monkey part. He, like you and I, presumably, is an ape. It is evidenced by the fact he resembles a monkey in many ways, but lacks a tail. That’s pretty much how you tell. It’s an important distinction. We really are very similar to gorillas, orangutans, especially bonobos. It might be harder to drive them into extinction if we, the human subspecies, recognized that, and, perhaps, subsequently, more difficult to destroy the existence of every other species as well). I have a pretty good hand sitting on the table too.

Anyway, I had a great day. Spent time with my boy and my wife, ate good food, accomplished a fairly laborious task with an aesthetically and pragmatically satisfying result.

So then I came into finish this sermon. I missed it last week already, and if I ever invent a god to accompany this religion I don’t want it to get mad at me, so I figured I ought to bang it out. I read what I wrote.

Religion seems to be a particular set of beliefs. If you believe a, b, and c then you are a Catholic. If you believe b,c, and d, then you are a Protestant. If you believe c,d, and e you are Muslim, and so on. 

Fine. I mean, it means that. Words are defined by use, and that is the way the word is used. I could spin an argument showing it means this or that, but it’s getting late and I’m tired and frankly I don’t care that much right now. I had a good day, I just want to sit on the couch and end it in peace.

The relevant fact is that religion doesn’t have to mean which building you go once per week to everyone. I mentioned Jack D. Hughes defines it as  something like the sum of your actions, which I like. I like that definition a lot actually. For some, their religion is separating children from their parents, both of whom are fleeing possible death in their own countries, in order to prove a point about law and order or something. I didn’t save any lives today, didn’t even try. But I feel good about what I did, and so I will try to have more days like this. That, being productive while spending time with my own family, for the moment, is my religion.

George Carlin

 

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There is a lot going on in this bit!

-Among the first is the quandary of how a being can be all knowing, all powerful, and all good, and yet sentence human beings, who are flawed by his design, to an eternity of suffering.

-The monetization of faith.

-Going back to the supposed omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent nature of God. If that is true, what the hell is going on? How did humanity become such an unhappy and unsuccessful enterprise? Given the widespread existence of poverty, disease, greed, corruption, and violence, even if God exists, why should anyone be impressed?

-Worship as a form of reverence. George talks about worshipping the sun, but he is really just talking about appreciating it as the all giving life force that it is. No need for supernatural phenomenon or life-after-death resurrections, just an appreciation for life.

-The paradox of prayer and God’s plan. God, being omniscient, knows what is best for you, and, being omnipotent, can make that happen for you, and, being omnibenevolent, desires what is best for you. So God needs no input, and your trust should be entirely in God’s plan, irregardless. Yet, prayer exists, and prayer is the often the asking of change, which suggests that they prayer believes God’s plan could be improved upon. Seemingly disrespectful in itself, made even more egregious by the fact these suggestions of improvements to God’s perfect plan occur, in their greatest frequency, on his day of rest.

– Prayer versus action. Instead of praying to a mysterious man in the sky, why not simply ask somebody on Earth for help? God works in mysterious ways, but Joe Pesci doesn’t. You want a problem fixed? Call a human with the tools. Perhaps a reference to the idea that if God exists, he equipped the earth with the necessary means to all possible ends, and so he expects you to make things work on your own.

-The equivocation of God, prayer, and religion with superstitions regarding shooting stars and four leaf clovers. Do humans just have a natural tendency to assume random events in the universe are directly related to themselves? Could we be that egotistical?