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Pytharwinism is an attempt to solve a fundamental problem of modern society. Science has gradually been replacing religion in the role of explaining the universe for a long time. Most of the answers science provides easily survive even the highest forms of scrutiny. Much in the way of dogma contradicts the teachings of science, and cannot survive similar attacks. Many people no longer finding any practical reason for religion in their lives are abandoning it without finding a suitable replacement for the other functions that religion provides. The most important being a moral community.
History has taught us that when science, and technology are used without moral concerns we can end up with tragic consequences such as the use of weapons of mass destruction, nuclear, chemical, biological, and others not yet conceived.
Traditionally religion has been our teacher of moral values. I believe that not only are the old teachings insufficient to deal with the horrors of the modern world, but that the teachings that are relevant to today's world are either falling on deaf ears, or that people are not even in situations where they are likely to hear about them. Many of the old teachings are still true, but which ones, and what new teachings should be added to cope with modern life?
What is pytharwinism?
Pytharwinism attempts to provide a solution to the above described problem through the creation of a moral community that establishes a code of conduct around modern moral values that even atheists can accept.
How can one arrive at moral values that aren't faith based when science has no way of determining weather one thing is more moral than another? Aren't we likely to end up with a list of values that people believe to be moral because of the conditioning dominant religions in the area have subjected people to?
I believe there is a way if we can agree on a few key ideas.
1. The universe is logically consistent
2. Partial truths such as "This statement is false" do not prevent
understanding as long as one recognizes them for what they are
3. It is possible to deduce the whole of mathematics from only the
concept of the number line, and the principles of logical reasoning
4. The mathematical incompleteness theorem may state that we will
never understand everything because there will always be more to
understand, but there isn't any reason to believe that just
because some event eludes are ability to explain it that we will
never be able to explain it
5. Science may not provide the perfect indisputable answers that math
does, but it has in careful hands produced very good results that
are most likely true, mostly true, or at least a good
6. Evolution may not be a perfect theory, but it has such
overwhelming evidence to support it that there are no other
7. If one accepts evolution, biology, chemistry, physics, the sciences
that describe life then one must accept themselves as part of it.
They must accept that they are part of nature that they are an
Scientists don't take much on faith. They want concrete evidence for pretty much everything before they will accept it as fact, and then they will still come back, and question it regularly. There is one thing I think they take on faith though, and that is "It is possible to logically understand the natural world". This might not seem like a big concept, but I think it is essential. I don't think all early scientists had this assumption. I think they believed only some things were explainable, and others would have to be left to faith. Now I think it has become an assumption that everything can be explained given enough digging.
Mathematicians take even less on faith. Everything needs proof, and mathematical proof is as good as it gets. It has been argued that all of the rules of math can be deduced with just the concept of the number line. Now what I would like to argue is that math is not an invention of man but a discovery of the natural rules of logic. It is one of the few places you can make discoveries about the natural world without using scientific experiments.
Math is the language of science. In fact is it so tightly bound that any math discovery no matter how obscure, and how little the mathematician was thinking about solving real world problems it is likely that some day a scientist will find that it is a property of nature. One might even argue that the rules of science are the rules of math, and as an extension of what math is an expression of pure logic. Is the universe simply the only thing that can exist in a logically consistent way, or perhaps just one of many ways? If it is one of many are there other universes for each of the ways that it could be?
Is the universe deterministic, or probabilistic? Probabilistic might make quantum mechanics, and thermodynamicists happy. Those fields of physics have a lot of stuff where you can't be certain of an outcome. I favor on the side of being deterministic primarily because I don't think it is possible to fully understand a universe where things happen by chance. That would mean that some current theories are only approximations of the truth. It would also mean that we do not have free will as people. Of course we can't be sure about it with our current knowledge, but it is a possibility.
If the universe is only based on the rules of logic, and it is deterministic then the question remains is it possible to accurately simulate on a computer. Not necessarily. It depends on the answer to another questions I don't seen anyone else asking. Are space, and time infinitely dividable, or are there fundamental units. A quanta of integer time, or space. Then no round off would be necessary, and it could be possible to simulate the early universe moment, by moment assuming that you could build a computer large enough to compute it.
In a logical deterministic world with integer time, and space natural selection may start to feel more like fate than probability. Though there still isn't any guarantee of a grand future, at least not one that people can predict. All that we can predict is that the universe will continue to be logically consistent. So here we have an elegant clockwork that we may all be living in. Though trapped, existing as a group of parts too numerous to count in many lifetimes we do not have to fear a life of meaningless boredom. It seems unlikely that it is possible to build a computer powerful enough to perfectly simulate the future universe inside the current universe, and the incompleteness theorem seems to have already proven that there will always be something left to explore.
Now where do moral values fit into a giant clockwork. Well logically if you are living in a world where everything happens because it can't happen in any other way then it may seem that morals exist because they have to. But why? Morals give an evolutionary advantage to a group. From simplistic punishment avoidance and reward seeking morals "be nice to others, and they will be nice to me" to much more complicated group protecting values they tend to make either an individual, or a group thrive. Individuals that do well with a value they have learned tend to both reproduce passing on a tendency to follow the same rules, and they tend to pass on the values themselves.
From this perspective moral values are simply about behaviors that are good for your memes, and your genes. Even "don't touch hot things or you will get burned" is a moral value with this perspective. Anyone who has been a human for more than a few years knows that it isn't always an easy task to decide what is good for you. This brings us to the first value.
Know what you are. Know what you need. Know why you do things. Know your strengths. Know your fears.
In America today there is enough abundance that the average living conditions would have been reserved for nobility when the nation was founded, yet depression is an epidemic. Why are people so unhappy in a land of plenty? It's because they are missing something. Something that is not in abundance.
To understand why people are so unhappy in today's life style one mustconsider that society is developing much faster than biological evolution. Evolution takes a long long time. Humans are probably still adapting to a life of farming. Humans are still probably most adapted to a life of hunting, and gathering in northern Africa living in small villages. Oh, and lets not forget that we are adapted to being naked.
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So it isn't nearly finished. It is starting to feel like a book, and I really don't know when I will have it done. I hope it is interesting. I'm not totally sure if I am going to move in this direction. I think I might fork, and have one side be the numerical evolution stuff, and another community for activism separate from any dogma, or world views, but I'm not sure yet.