Sunday, May 22, 2011

Redefining "Religion"

The Awareness Problem
They say that in any organization/tribe/civilization, approximately 95% of the decision-making power is held by 5% of the people.  Empirical evidence suggests that relationships are a stronger factor in decision-making than actual correctness.

This happens partially because we are genetically hard-wired to seek approval as a form of motivation.  That, combined with the fact that one person can not effectively process more than a person's worth of information causes our minds to think in terms of specialization.  We delegate the processing of "surplus" information to others in order to preserve precious attention bandwidth.

Delegating Awareness
This cycle of converting information into decisions is the dominant pattern of how humans deal with the unknown.  We leverage trust as the commodity that allows us to trade certainty for peace of mind.
"I do not know the answer, but I know somebody that does..."
We are genetically hard-wired to trust.  This is not going to change anytime, soon.  From the moment we are born, we want to trust and derive pleasure from being able to trust.

Giving Form to the Unknown
Religion is our personal relationship with the unknown.
"I do not know the answer, but I know that there is an answer..."
It may manifest as an anthropomorphized deity representing "the trusted one", or it may simply manifest as avid Atheism and dedication to science.  Whatever form it takes, religion is essentially our personal compass that gives us a working mental model that we trust for making optimal decisions with the subset of information available to us.

Faith in Truth Outside the Self
We can not fight the fact that relationships are a more sustainable mechanism for decision-making than correctness.  The human brain is optimized for operations within a social structure.  Being correct consumes more mental energy than maintaining relationships.  Relationships offer a promise of stability in a world where truths can either be unstable, lost in translation, or ineffectual; one's relationship to truth is more stable than actual truths due to the degree of control we are afforded over that relationship.  In other words, it is much easier for our human brains to manage a relationship with truth than it is for brains to manage the overwhelming volume of unprocessed raw facts.

Religion is our relationship with everything outside of the self.
We want to trust our mental model of how things work, and some of us may even go so far as to engage in "faith"... trading certainty for peace of mind so that every possible question that could ever exist has a sense of closure that is intrinsic to the mental model we choose.  Instead of truth, we appoint a method that represents that truth.

The Code We Live By
Religion is the algorithm by which we program our brains to deal with uncertainty.  When established recipes for verbs become insufficient, we synthesize new plans by running available data through established algorithms... written either by the self or by another.

The personal Code we live by exists because we have an identity that requires an interface between the self and the non-self.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Triangular Theory of Friendship

Inspired by the Triangular Theory of Love

Friendships often begin as kinship. But then... marriages can happen, cities might change, babies might get born, and lives become different in ways that alter the common grounds that hold many friendships together.

Availability may not come naturally when the commonality is lost. Sometimes, you choose to make the time for a friend that otherwise has no place in your life.

Vulnerability can be the hardest thing to expose. The choice to be a friend and the choice to stay a friend begins and ends with this.