[ExI] Which scares me more

Keith Henson hkeithhenson at gmail.com
Sat Mar 14 18:35:00 UTC 2020

John Klos <john at ziaspace.com> wrote:

> I don't know which scares me more - that people adhere to the idea of an
> omnipotent being powerful enough to create the universe, but whose
> supposedly most cherished creation is a race modeled after himself which
> can't stop hurting and killing each other, or the idea those same
> cannot or will not consider the possibility that the universe is
> random and unfeeling, and it's up to us to create order and beauty out of
> chaos and entropy.

The universe is random.  The concept of "unfeeling" does not apply to
the universe.  (To feel requires a living being with a limbic system.)

All else, including the widespread human trait of religions/belief in
gods/etc. is the result of the random variation and non-random
selection of DNA.  (What else *could* it come from?)  I strongly
suspect the selection force for religions was wars that shaped humans
to be able to believe in and pass round xenophobic memes.

Humans in the environment up to the current era had no choice.  Once
the big cats were subjected to rocks and fire and were no longer able
to kill humans, they had to kill each other (or sometimes migrate)
when the population got out of balance with the productivity of the
ecosystem in which they lived.

Killing conspecifics for resources is a general feature of animals
(such as the big cats) who don't have predators.

"Out of balance" or a resource crisis is an effect of population
growth and/or productivity variation such as droughts

The capacity for population growth is utterly necessary or humans
would go extinct from disease or other disasters.  Other animals just
starve in place or attempt to migrate.  Humans also fight neighbors
for resources.

The selection of genes for fighting looks like it comes from the
effect on gene survival of the human trait of incorporating the young
women of a defeated group as wives.  The bizarre effect is to make
going to war substantially better for genes (on average) than
starving.  (I can repost the model if you don't remember it.)

The model does indicate how to prevent humans from killing each other
in wars and related social disruptions.  If times are good, going to
war is worse for genes by a higher amount than the advantages of going
to war with a resource crisis.  I.e., going to war when you are not
facing bad times has been selected against.

I think the trip into war type thinking is related to income per
capita.  As long as it is stable or improving, there is a strong
genetic bias against going to war.

You need to be careful about mapping psychological traits that evolved
in the stone age to the modern world of nation-states.

But there is a lot of historical evidence supporting the causal
relation between resource crises and wars (or related social
disruptions) following.  A long list,of examples have been discussed
here before.  I can repost if anyone wants.  Or make your own list.

It seems up to us to spread life into the universe.  But I think it
will be a requirement for humans to understand themselves and the
evolutionary forces that gave rise to our species.


PS  https://arxiv.org/pdf/1806.02404.pdf

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