https://bigthink.com/surprising-science ... lity-exist
This delved into some really esoteric stuff, but I really love thinking out of my mormon box these days.
Your brain might be protecting you from reality by altering how you experience it. Which then begs the question, What is reality? Maybe there is not one objective reality.
I think anyone who has watched brain games on Netflix is familiar with how the brain processes things in shortcuts, and can sometimes misrepresent what is actually happening in order to enable efficient processing.What is reality and how do we know? For many the answer is simple: What you see — hear, feel, touch, and taste — is what you get.
Your skin feels warm on a summer day because the sun exists. That apple you just tasted sweet and that left juices on your fingers, it must have existed. Our senses tell us that reality is there, and we use reason to fill in the blanks — that is, we know the sun doesn't cease to exist at night even if we can't see it.
But cognitive psychologist Donald Hoffman says we're misunderstanding our relationship with objective reality. In fact, he argues that evolution has cloaked us in a perceptional virtual reality. For our own good.
Evolutionary Game Theory is what caught my eye in this article and got me thinking about this in the context of faith crises.Using evolutionary game theory, Hoffman and his collaborators created computer simulations to observe how "truth strategies" (which see objective reality as is) compared with "pay-off strategies" (which focus on survival value). The simulations put organisms in an environment with a resource necessary to survival but only in Goldilocks proportions.
The article then proceeds to get into just what reality is, which is pretty esoteric and less interesting to me then thinking about payoff strategies vs. truth strategy organisms from a church perspective.Truth-strategy organisms who see the water level on a color scale — from red for low to green for high — see the reality of the water level. However, they don't know whether the water level is high enough to kill them. Pay-off-strategy organisms, conversely, simply see red when water levels would kill them and green for levels that won't. They are better equipped to survive.
"[E]volution ruthlessly selects against truth strategies and for pay-off strategies," writes Hoffman. "An organism that sees objective reality is always less fit than an organism of equal complexity that sees fitness pay-offs. Seeing objective reality will make you extinct."
Hoffman likens this approximation to a desktop interface. When a novelist boots up their computer, they see an icon on their desktop that represents their novel. It's green, rectangular, and sits on the screen, but the document has none of those qualities intrinsically. It's a complex string of 1s and 0s that manifests as software running as an electric current through a circuit board.
If writers had to manipulate binary to write a novel, or hunter-gatherers had to perceive physics to throw a spear, chances are both would have gone extinct a long time ago.
"In like manner, we create an apple when we look, and destroy it when we look away. Something exists when we don't look, but it isn't an apple, and is probably nothing like an apple," Hoffman writes. "The human perception of an apple is a data structure that indicates something edible (a fitness pay-off) and how to eat it. We create these data structures with a glance, and erase them with a blink. Physical objects, and indeed the space and time they exist in, are evolution's way of presenting fitness pay-offs in a compact and usable form."
The church (most religions in general) has forced us all from birth into this pay-off strategy. If you see the church as a self-contained ecosystem, which is preferably how they would like you to see it, then you are making a choice about which strategy you are going to employ, and frankly neither one might be better than the other. Depending on who you are and what your situation is, one strategy might reduce your fitness over the other. I dont think we can say "truth strategy is better."
I think this is a fascinating concept, in a church context. We (I) often berate ourselves for being dumb enough to be duped, and often berate others (or at least silently judge them) for continuing to be dumb enough to be duped in the face of evidence. This really illustrates to me how there is way more at play here than just rationality, evidence, and truth. There is evolution which has happened over millions of years as well. It is unfortunate that there are people (who shall remain nameless) who have figured out how to short circuit those protection and efficiency mechanisms.