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February 13, 2022


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Agreed, with your values-based argument. Agreed, at one level it makes no difference at all if we are indeed illusions.

Actually, that sums up my position as far as our "self". I've tried, fumblingly perhaps, to put forward this idea a few times in comments here. When people say things like "the self is an illusion", or the "self isn't real", my gut reaction usually is, What utter bull that is. We've come a long way to understanding what the self actually is, thanks to science; but that doesn't mean we aren't, somehow, "real". If transient chimera is all we are, then that's merely a descriptor for the reality of us, and not something that somehow negates our self!

Of course, should we be able to actually experience no-self directly and at first hand --- as many claim to have done --- then perhaps that might make a difference to the argument, at least to oneself. Just like if, while living in an illusion, if we could awake from it to the reality beyond, then that might make a "real" difference to how see the issue, at least speaking for oneself. Otherwise, I agree, it makes no difference at all, for all practical purposes.

The human brain reconstructs our preceptual reality. We are all living in that reconstruction in our brain.

And many things influence that reconstruction. It has influences from our senses and from other parts of our brain. We see through the construction of a complex neural network containing billions of connections.

So yes we live in a virtual world. Our brain projects that world many times a second just like a computer screen.

And much of our brain is at work constructing that virtual reality in which we think we really live.

We are largely unaware of how much processing our brain goes through to make the virtual world look and feel real.

"One of the world's most powerful supercomputers is still no match for the humble human brain, taking 40 minutes to replicate a single second of brain activity.

" Researchers in Germany and Japan used K, the fourth-most powerful supercomputer in the world, to simulate brain activity. With more than 700,000 processor cores and 1.4 million gigabytes of RAM, K simulated the interplay of 1.73 billion nerve cells and more than 10 trillion synapses, or junctions between brain cells. Though that may sound like a lot of brain cells and connections, it represents just 1 percent of the human brain's network."


We are actually living in a controlled hallucination 100% of the time.

Is the brain's reconstruction accurate?
Only for what we need to survive. The brain leaves out most of the preceptual input, heightens things we need such as edges and faces, completely covers over with background color anything that it can't fix, such as blind spots, straightens some edges or believes should be straight, and depending upon our conditioning slaps on emotional response to certain shapes and images. The brain corrects it visual exposure through multiple images stitched together. What a camera image records as over or under exposure in foreground or background, our virtual reality version is corrected to show decent expose. What any camera image shows as distant, such as the moon, or virtual reality version magnifies out of all proportion.

Nearly all matter is translucent, ie, empty space.

But we need to see and feel the hard borders of matter, so we see and feel these things as solid.

Spence has it pretty much right re our brains creating our reality - we are our brains.

And the self being an illusion - an illusion in the sense that it is not an actual separate entity, but a construct comprised of data (our experiences).

@ Spence : [ K simulated the interplay of 1.73 billion nerve cells and more than 10 trillion synapses ... it represents just 1 percent of the human brain's network.
We are largely unaware of how much processing our brain goes through to make the virtual world look and feel real ]

Stunning artistry going on behind the curtain... I'm amazed at
even the simple preparatory act of melding right/left eye images
into the one we perceive. All this after inverting the upside-down
images that appear initially on the retina too.

@ Ron E. [ And the self being an illusion - an illusion in the sense that it is not an actual separate entity, but a construct comprised of data (our experiences). ]

I know "self is an illusion" is a popular mantra here but
there are compelling hints that this sense of self could
arise from something other than being pranked by a
"bundle of data".

I would agree that the thought now arises from this
"bundle of data" that this has been discussed many
times ad nauseam. As Yogi Berra famously said:
"It's deja vu all over again."

Absolute scoundrels and liars are Christian fools because they live in virtual reality of British Mafia, false language and their false existence.

Both Plato and Descarte were theists.

There can be no illusions with a magician to create them.


Not long ago you pointed out that our perception of being in the material world is already an inner experience. It stuck with me.

So you see, I am paying attention in class.

To the general topic of What if? What if there are ways of thinking about God and faith that are different than what our traditions have handed us? A former Christian fundamentalist rethinks his faith after his daughter's birth:

"I reached my hand into the tank and I’ll never forget the rush of energy that flew through my body as my daughter grabbed my pinky and touched me for the very first time. Tears welled up in my eyes as I tried to process all that was happening when all of a sudden an unexpected voice rose up from deep within me. It wasn’t audible. It wasn’t “the voice of God”. Instead, it was a familiar inner voice – the voice of my younger self, the voice of a child who had endured years and years and years of problematic teaching that had been deeply ingrained into his subconscious. At that moment in the NICU this dormant voice sprung to life inside of me, raised his fist into the air and shouted, “Seriously? Do you really believe that this baby is born sinful and that she’s destined for hell if she doesn’t believe the right things about Jesus? You’re really going to pass that garbage on to her?” This is what I had believed for over 30 years of my life because it was all I ever knew, the only narrative I was ever given; BUT at that moment in the NICU with all my years of schooling and study and pastoring under my belt … I was having a major theological crisis.

My book is the story of my crisis. As I mentioned above, it’s called (Re)Thinking Everything and it’s the story of my journey out of the black and white world of Christian fundamentalism and into the wonderful world of color that I find myself in today."


None of these pseudo science highbrow books are much good.

It’s a pity because they look to address really interesting topics, but end up trying to be too clever by half and teach nothing of any interest. This guy chalmers books are as dull as dishwater, so is Brian green and so many others. Just useless - they are academics not storytellers that capture your imagination.

I’d make a handful of exceptions, but the last truly great work of non-fiction pop-science written by an American was Jared Diamonds - Guns Germs and Steel.

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