Creating God

I do not believe that the concepts of “god” and science are incompatible. Provided we accept that we have created the concept of “god” in the first place and that through science we have the means to become godlike.

Qualiacomputing is run by people with the impressive aim of discovering what triggers our feelings, our emotions, our “qualia”.   These people believe that qualia have a mathematical, scientific basis and hence can be re-created and manipulated. That qualia represent certain brain states – those of harmony (in the case of pleasant states) and disharmony in states of malaise and pain.

I follow their website with interest. Like their friend the fascinating philosopher  David Pearce, they wish to save the world through science. To make us happy and good, well and altruistic through altering our genetic make up.

I responded as follows to a recent post:

My own worldview seems to accord mostly with your own. Of course I have no scientific basis for my view, merely intuition and disconnected theorizing. Nonetheless for what it is worth my conclusion is that everything we conscious entities feel, suffer or enjoy is, at bottom, a quale. Spirituality is, for example, the quale we “enjoy” when certain external factors put our mind into a certain state.

By way of example ritual (church music, incense, incantation, intonation of the psalms) can put me into a state where I feel at one with the world and seem to be connected to some sense of the numinous.  And I am an atheist or at best agnostic.

How does this come about? And does it suggest that there is a deity “out there” or perhaps at least some pantheistic or Jungian uber consciousness?

My belief is that it comes about through electrical and chemical reactions in my brain which smell, music and rhythm cause. Call this reductionist if you will. Hence I do not believe that a deity is “out there”. Nonetheless like Pascal, I believe we should act as if there was.

I believe in a sense that we make our own deity and certainly our own meaning. But at heart we do so through the basic laws of physics. To use your own terminology through “harmony”, by creating certain states of rhythm and harmony in our brains which cause us to feel in a certain way. To experience certain qualia.

And we “should” feel those qualia for the world to evolve in a better and kinder way.  We “need” to feel those qualia. To manufacture, bring about and encourage those qualia. Hence I firmly believe in the sort of project you are aiming at: to alter our qualia for the better, to raise our hedonic set point.

I believe that to do so makes for a better world. I believe that the application of science through the methods you have suggested (genetic engineering for instance) will enable us to create what the religious has never been able to create – a heaven on earth.

Is that spirituality? Or is it reductionist and bare, feeling-less science?  I do not believe you should separate the two. If “god is within” as so many of the world’s religions postulate, then surely we should use science to amend and adjust the “within” to achieve the bliss, beauty and love we so sadly lack. We created “god” in our own image. It is we who now have the chance to become godlike – perhaps in the way that Frank Tipler envisaged. Or, in a slightly more traditional and religious way, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

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