The first nervous system, an electric communication channel between cells, was evolutionary adaptive for making a binary decision: forward or backwards, which can be explained in different but actually similar terms: eat or don’t eat, left or right, fight or flight, reproduce or don’t reproduce. It is said that fight/flight includes a 3rd option, freeze, but it still a dual decision: 1) make decision or 2) postpone decision. So, always dualism. Always nature’s love of symmetry.
Our brain still works in the same manner as that first primitive nervous system did, still the same neurons firing of ‘yes’ or ‘no’, just many more neurons with many more interconnected decision trees. Like binary code, but interlinked binary code.
It’s the interlinking part that makes a nervous system self-conscious, that makes a neuron metaphorically say ‘I am part of the whole but I am also me’ and makes a human literally say ‘I am part of the whole but I am also me’. A computer can be programmed to say it, but not to understand it. Per Jim (PJ), artificial intelligence turns to be hard to figure out, with currently developed computers merely getting better at missing the point. We lack the ability to artificially create adaptive feedback loops.
Our brain cells are adaptive feedback loops. Mutation makes it so they often miss the point, but over time natural selection makes for resilient neurons. Thus humans are wired for optimum decision-making, which is to say they make decisions well above the threshold of ‘let’s jump off every skyscraper roof’ because natural equilibrium drifts towards safety barriers.
Do our brain cells function like a democracy? No. Nature is generally to our right, so likely a lot more dictatorial, in that some neurons overrule others. But there are connections and feedback loops between all nodes, so not absolutism either.
Does a neuron have consciousness? Can it separate itself from the brain of which it is part? No, it can’t, unless you’re the kind of person who believes hugging trees and not killing wasps raises your status, in which case you’d still be wrong (about the consciousness, not always about the status).
Do humans have consciousness? Yes. We can separate our individual meat vessel from the genes that created us. We can look at our body and say: every cell in this body is made and inhabited by genes, about 30.000 of them, packed in 46 chromosomes, safely hidden in cell nuclei.
Which leads to the realisation our genes don’t really care about us.
It’s not like they hate us, just that they are indifferent. To our genes, we’re just temporary vessels waiting to die. To us, they’re just little immortality factories waiting for us to die.
Yes, we are guardians to our genes. We protect and spread them. But we do it because we are programmed to do, like the puppet obeying the puppetmaster. If one gene combination won’t do, there will be others. Plenty of duplicate chromosomes in the genepool. Genes have safety barrier insurance against malfunctioning guardians. Said differently: from the point of view of our genes, there is no free will involved. It is evolve or die: you either evolve in accordance with your genes, or you die and are no longer relevant.
Though our relation is not exactly that of a puppetmaster-puppet. As said, we are conscious about our puppetmaster. The nature of the DNA survival strategy makes it so that while DNA is floating in a tiny space of cell fluid, we are walking and lifting meat machines. Your DNA is stuck with you, whether it likes it or not.
Still we are very strongly nudged in certain directions, in fact our decisions are defined by the nervous system created by DNA. This is why the nature/nurture-debate is post-modernist bunk. The answer to the debate is: nature. Nature wins. Nurture, or more accurately, meatspace, counts. It is good to have nice meatspace, very important even. But we modify the environment to fit ourselves instead of modifying ourselves to fit the environment, no matter how much veganists try to convince themselves of the opposite. Nurture is only important insofar DNA allows for cell plasticity. You may throw buckets of water at my feet or stuff kilos of oven-baked pork into tree hollows, you will not overcome nature.
Phrased differently: does magic dirt change tribalists into feudalists? Does a chimpanzee learn English if you teach it? The answers are no and no. [Are there more factual Nrx posts on nature/nurture are floating around…? As I understand one-egg twins separated at birth grow up to be fairly similar but not identical. Adoption children have close to zero resemblance to foster parents. But can not back that up. Links appreciated.]
Another modern debate that is bunkum: is there free will? The answer to this question is: well, a little, if you allow for a very broad definition of ‘free’ and ‘will’. But mostly it’s just people making themselves way more important than they are. You are a guardian for your genes, that is your designated role. How you choose to fulfil that role is about as much freedom as you’ll get.
In the end there is no escaping Gnon.
Of course, not for our lack of trying. We try to overcome Gnon at every turn. Take Jesus, who had no kids but has made much larger cultural impact than Genghis Khan who had tons of kids. But then you can say that Jesus was completely in line with Gnon in that he was good for the Jew gene pool, or even more broadly, good for cooperative genes similar to the ones Jesus had. But as the Jesus-propagated gene pool is cucked and and on the retreat, so does Jesus’ legacy diminishes.
Similarly, there is the archetype of the villain obsessed with eternal life, but then again there is the even stronger archetype of the vampire with eternal life. The former archetype is morally signalling that you are holier than Gnon. The second archetype is admitting that Gnon rules. Vampires are cool.
So no escaping Gnon.
Like it would be an insult to a chimpanzee to expect a chimpanzee to be human, it would be an insult to the sun if Icharus didn’t get knocked down a peg.
The question is, where does Gnon end and God begin? Probable answer: we never get to see God, only Gnon. We see a lot more evidence for Gnon than for God. God is fickle and vague, only talking to us through mostly Jewish texts. Why shouldn’t a man sleep with another man according to God? Because it is written. OK.
Why shouldn’t a man sleep with another man according to Gnon? Because gays are like eunuchs, in that they have no interest in society beyond their death and thus would rather have sex with children than care about them. [a cursory google search on ‘how many pedophiles are gay?’ links to indignant scientists telling me with statistics that I am horrible for even thinking there is a link, but personal observation tells me gays are obviously overrepresented in pedophilia, similar to how jews are overrepresented in Hollywood.]
So Gnon seems more accurate than God. And the earthly incarnation of Gnon seems to be genes.
But it is kind of cold to worship genes, especially when we observe genes’ indifference towards humans. So easier to worship God and have His commandments be completely in line with Gnon. Morality becomes intertwined with natural law. That is the symbiosis between biology and theology.