essays by Chris Tolworthy
 

Why I am an eighth-theist
my 12 articles of faith

1. Eighth-theism

I believe in one eighth of the Bible. I believe in the parts that teach us to worship logic, and to practice sound economics:

  • The gospel of Mark: 16 chapters.
  • The epistle of James (the best commentary on Mark): 5 chapters.
  • The gospel of Thomas (a personal favourite): 1 chapter.
  • The law of Moses (Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy): 40+27+34 = 101 chapters (lol, religion 101)
  • The first half of Genesis (up to chapter 25, the death of Abraham: I just find this really interesting historically): 25 chapters.

The total is 148 chapters. That is, one eighth of the 1,189 chapters in the whole Bible. Hence I am an eighth-theist.

The rest of it? I believe that the other seven-eighths is a warning of how religion can go wrong. In short, I believe we should be like Eve, not David. Be like Mark, not Paul.

2. The Bible

I believe (as argued here) that with the Bible, only proof matters. Which means logical theology, and sound economic models. I believe that other Bible scholarship (which is based on deciphering what people believed) is a fool's errand.

If our theology is based on logic then logic is our final authority: logic is our God. This is perfectly consistent with the Bible, and I discuss it here. When we start from that position, Bible stories look very different. For example, the "lord" who caused the flood becomes the bad guy.

Of course there are more popular ways to believe in God. But those ways are not based on logic, so they don't interest me.

Regarding sound economic models, I argue for ground rent as a better alternative to taxation. I argue on another page that this is taught in the law of Moses. That is why I find the law of Moses so interesting. On another page I argue that the law of Moses might look very different if we start from a position of economic equality.

3. Compound growth

I believe (based on these calculations) that if we had followed the land laws of Moses, we would all be rich by now. No, not just "rich". The word "rich" does not even begin to describe it! Every man, woman and child on Earth would now earn a billion billion times more than the entire wealth that exists in the current world. Every second.

Sounds crazy? No, that won't sound crazy if you're a mathematician. That's how compound growth works when it applies over a couple of thousand years. The land law of Moses really is that powerful.

4. Atheism

I believe in logic. Logic is my God. I cannot deny that God.

I believe in evolution. That is, I believe that if something is widespread and very powerful among our social groups, then yes it might be just a freak accident, but it probably has some powerful role in survival. Religion can unite people in ways that no other force can. Except maybe nationalism, and nationalism is just another form of religion (with the state acting as a god).

I believe in imaginary beings. As Yuval Noah Harari argues in his book "Sapiens", human progress is based on our ability to create imaginary people: gods, nations, corporations, etc. As apes we are hard wired to only cope with maybe 50 to 100 other people. But by inventing imaginary meta-people we can ensure that whole groups will think and act as one, allowing humanity to take over the world.

Put another way, I believe that gods both created and saved the human race as we know it.

5. Irony

I believe in irony. By creating gods to serve us, we became their slaves. By conquering the world we were conquered. And (I will argue) by rejecting religion, atheists are the most devoted servants to the true gods. An even greater irony is that this enslavement - and inevitable destruction of humanity as we know it - is probably a good thing for all of us.

I believe (for reasons given here) states, corporations, etc., should be classified as a distinct species, with their own needs and priorities. Just as a human is distinct from the cells that make up its body. Here is a 90 second video I made to illustrate the concept:

So, when humans created gods, and took over the world, they gave up being rulers of the world, and accepted roles as servants to these gods.

The most enthusiastic technologists I know are atheists. They are, perhaps inadvertently, creating technology that allows our ruling species to slowly replace humans.* So they are the biggest supporters of the gods.
*(Our masters do not need to replace all humans, they only needs to replace enough of us so that the rest of us are terrified for losing our jobs, so we will always obey the system and never rebel. They are regulating us, just as we regulate our cells.)

6. Hobbes

I believe our becoming cells is a good thing. I believe that Thomas Hobbes had a point. Humans are incapable of running the world well, even though our needs are very simple. Why? Because our brains are not big enough to solve all our problems, and so we fight. But states have no limit of brain power: they can just network more human brains (or create mechanical ones). They still take centuries to learn, but at least they can. I believe that history shows that, on average, the more that states control us, the less violent we become, and the more able we are to meet our needs.

Ironically, I also believe that Rousseau was right: we were happier as hunter gatherers. However, civilisation is more powerful than us so it is here to stay. And on balance I believe Hobbes was more right: by submitting to being enslaved by civilisation, eventually we will be happier. True, there will be wars along the way: cities need to evolve through mistakes that kill them, just like any other organism. But statistically we humans are always better off when we are not in charge.

I believe that the final proof of Hobbes' position - our stupidity - is that a simple solution to all our problems has been known for all history, and is even the basis of our most famous and popular book. The whole point of the story of Moses was to escape slavery and get your personal share of land. But we ignore that point and focus on the wars and kings because that's what our ape brains prefer. Our ape brains cannot really grasp the concept of economics and compound growth.

7. Mormonism

I believe in Zion. I was raised as a Mormon. I was obsessed with making a Zion society: that is, a better world. But as I grew older I felt frustrated: the outside world seemed to be progressing faster than the church! And I believed I could do better if I was not a member: I was too Mormon for the church.

8. Jesus

I believe in the Jesus I read about in Mark. I used to spend a long time studying the life of Jesus. But I finally gave up studying his life when I got to where he rode into Jerusalem playing the part of a king. It seems to me that he was trying to say that "the son of man" (i.e the common man) was going to rule. But history is full of revolutionaries who said "I represent the common man" and went on to become tyrants. So I think that the triumphal entry into Jerusalem was either a misjudgment, or a sign that what Jesus was attempting could never work in a top-down movement, and maybe he knew that.

9. Pantheism

I believe that the universe is God. Or technically, logic is God (the final cause and authority on everything), and the fundamental forces of the universe arise out of pure logic. So, technically, I am classified as a pantheist. But my respect for Jesus and for land laws mean you could also call me a liberal Christian

10. Immortality

I believe that consciousness is information, and is therefore shared every time we communicate with others (and especially when we have children). So I believe that the death of our initial body is trivial, because by then we have already spread out far and wide. (Or if we die in infancy, our ideas and genes are very similar to our family and continue in them.)

11. Time

I believe that time is discrete: the "me" of a second in the future is a different person. The "flow" of time is simply the easiest way to visualise how different rmathematical realities fit together. So caring for my ideas that spread to different bodies is no different from caring for my ideas that stay in this body: both are different people. So we all live after death. And every moment in time is eternal.

12. Heaven

I believe that through good economics we can have heaven on Earth. Within our lifetimes if we want it enough.

 

Aaaaand... I've run out of things to say. Thanks for reading.

[end]