From Klaus Luehning: Micah, Faith, as I have written, is a practice removed from reality. Still, it is part of the mental life of people who have conscientiously held that what other people have written/expounded is worthy of their trust as valid. That is their reality, and as history has shown, again and again, the best and worst of human behavior has been expended in its service. The faith has created some of the most sublime works of art and literature, as well as the death of millions of people and atrocities truly unmentionable. I have tried to grasp the essence of the power but have yet to succeed, and I even told my dentist that transcen–dental meditation was not working as he poked and prodded.
The Abrahamic religions were from over 3000 years ago, and other belief systems are even older. Still, all started as stories constructed to give a source and meaning to humanity's existence during illiteracy and ignorance. Their power to influence and give meaning to the conduct of their lives was, and still is, insuperable and, therefore, merges into the polity of human affairs. People believe in their faith as a given, knowing full well that the power of professing it will guide them through some of the most horrific cataclysms, finding grace and assistance in its rituals and routines.
I have experienced, in my diverse life, instances where I was close to death or personal harm and found that all I had was the collective experience and skills to extricate myself from calamity. I know the phrase, "God helps those who help themselves," and I am still around and functioning. Despite my imperfections, I do not worry about going to hell for eternity, a construct to scare people into submissive, unctuous behavior to telegraph their inviolability to the faith. Amen.
Yet, I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and a Happy and fruitful New Year on this occasion, which has the charm and depth of feeling for each other to be a valuable exercise in communal appreciation for all the delights and cherishable moments of past smiles.
This is excellent.
I respectfully disagree with your position that faith is a practice removed from reality. For many of us, it provides a transcendent explanation for unanswerable questions. Your experience with church discipline and certain specific, no-doubt-personally-delivered opinions about eternal judgment from human beings is well-earned. Sometimes, I must remove my faith from church polity, politics, and even ethics and say, "This is the best explanation I have for questions with no reasonable scientific answers."
As I recall, in the early 90s, many quantum physicists came to have faith in a God, although I never followed it very closely. They saw, measured, and experienced inexplicable connections entirely outside what was understood to be possible in the Newtonian or even Einsteinian universe. One of my friends even joked, "All these physicists have clawed their way up the dunghill of faith only to find the church fathers sitting there eating sandwiches, saying, 'What took you guys so long?'
With that, I know you know I consider your Weltanschauung wonderful and refreshing—especially for guys like me who have heard a lot of the other for a long time. I think what you wrote in your last paragraph about AI's inability to deal with the genuinely complex questions of human living, many of which result in doubts and second-guesses about what might have been, could have been better, well, hell, it's water under the bridge now.
I recently searched for and found, to my delight, something I had read and remembered from years ago that a female mathematician—Ada Lovelace—wrote about an 'analytical engine, or a 'machine' that could be taught to perform incredible tasks, like composing music, writing, etc. Lovelace was one of the first people to envision anything like today's AI and to ask and articulate a negatory answer to "Can a machine be truly human?' And 'Why not?"
"The Analytical Engine has no pretensions whatever to originate anything. It can do whatever we know how to order it to perform. It can follow analysis, but it has no power to anticipate any … relations or truths. Its province is to assist us in making available what we are already acquainted with." —Ada Lovelace.
Great stuff, friend. You are in good company.
I'll chew on it some more.