Create Your Own Religion


Religion provides theories for morality, narratives for afterlife that continue conscious experience, and a sense of higher purpose (answers to the question of "why am I here?"). You can answer these questions using science, which is a tool to navigate uncertainty. Certainty isn't a state of mind, it is an emotional feeling. I can be certain that I think though. 

If something is said clearly, that doesn't mean it is true. If something is vague or obscure it may indicate falsehood. If there is a contradiction, there is falsehood. That is how you approach Truth. The science community is the only one I know where you win status points for proving yourself wrong. 

In a dogmatic religious setting, the person you are most afraid to contradict is yourself. Dogma depends on an "infallible leader" or an "infallible text." A source you are not allowed to challenge, or question. That is why it is called blind faith. Curiosity is a wondrous thing, and you should always question authority. I am a fallibilist. 

All knowledge is theory. The common state of knowledge is error and is no shame. The theories we provisionally adopt are the ones that withstand the most rigorous criticism. You can't prove anything (outside of mathematics and logic philosophy). You can only prove something false. I believe objective truth exists, and although we can't pinpoint it– we can infinitely approach it by searching for Truth and finding contradictions. I build upon that and strive for the best explanations.

The future of religion will be decentralized because there can't be a one-size-fits all. Everyone should choose for themselves how they want to live, considering it doesn't harm others. Even still, morality boils down to theories about conscious experience. This is something we can now begin to quantify, visualize, and measure with modern brain science, and by checking physiological markers such as hormone levels in the blood.

Emotional and physical pain are reported to trigger the same regions and process similarly. From here people can hypothesize about and compare different states of being (i.e. suffering vs general wellbeing), examining how thoughts and actions affect themselves and those around them. Even lacking sophisticated instruments people can weigh themselves in the laboratory of their own minds, testing if certain claims to be true.

Traditions, Cultural Appropriation, & Ritual 


The Four Agreements is a Toltec wisdom book about "the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering." The four agreements (listed above) require effort, self-reflection, and honesty. In the short essay Lying Sam Harris "argues that we can radically simplify our lives and improve society by merely telling the truth in situations where others often lie."  

Complementing The Four Agreements (which I've heard humorously referred to as The Forrest Gump strategy), Create Your Own Religion is a "call-to-arms" which basically claims everyone does this already. The world's major religions have many branches, with subscribing individuals picking-and-choosing which texts to live by accordingly. By embracing appropriation, and considering human behavior in different cultures and traditions, we can learn to see doubt as a defense to dogma and uncertainty as an exciting and desirable feature of life.


Weighing pros and cons, people must decide for themselves how much they apply inclusiveness and exclusiveness policies. My belief is that on the whole openness is essential for a global civilization, and the only policy that would enable us to have one. But regarding smaller groups and communities such as friends, families, and clubs (what-have-you)– that should be left to the mutual discretion of the people maintaining the bonds.

Not believing in a monotheistic God shouldn't eliminate "God" from our vocabularies. Look at nature and see all existence and realize it is a manifestation of the same thing. Like Taoists who embrace paradox – an atheist can believe the universe, and all existence is God. You are a manifestation and expression of God. In that sense, like the Azteks believed, you are God.

Besides providing rituals and ordaining judgements to codify sexuality and community organization, most religions give answers about the afterlife, others don't. Those that don't, tell you to focus on maximizing your happiness in the present life (opposed to sacrificing for the afterlife). However, this causes deep conflicts for a lot of people due to the perceived inevitability of death.

There is serious hope though, the transhumanist movement wants to extend human life indefinitely. I've met Christian, Mormon, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, and Muslim transhumanists.

Order and Chaos

Everything is random and Chaos. But order emerges from Chaos. Chaos theory shows randomness is not exactly random. For example, each Oak tree we plant will produce a random Oak tree. We won't be able to predict exactly what it looks like, but we will still have a close idea; we know it won't look like a person. The Mandlebrot set is the graph of randomness. People are often fooled by randomness. James Gleick's book Chaos: Making a New Science explains the significance of Chaos theory, and how it makes modern computers and eventually A.I. possible. 

Patterns - Jason Silva

Truth be told, when I read God in a sentence, I often see it as a metaphor for the Chaos. Disorder unfurling to order.

Some people still believe the mind and soul are separate. All neuro-scientific evidence suggests they are the same. I believe my mind is my soul. You might believe there is an "unchanging soul" or essence in you– I do not believe that is so.

Buddism teaches "the self illusion," meaning there is no self. It doesn't mean it doesn't exist, but it means it is not what it seems. There is no "you" inside of you. You are raw conscious experience. You are the story you tell yourself; you are what you think. The story you tell yourself depends on what you think, what you think others think, and what you think others think of you. Modern neuroscience validates millennia of Buddhist theory.


Conscious Experience

Individuals can customize lifestyles, and enjoy the psychological benefits of spirituality without faith in divine providence. 

I'm an atheist (in the monotheistic sense), but technically agnostic. I think near-death experience survivors, people who've had good and bad trips on psychedelics, and conjectures— have collectively informed the legends we have about afterlife.

These are my thoughts on death. When we die we have a DMT trip, and that ride or show our brain experiences when we go out, will reflect whether we felt/or did create more heaven or hell on earth. I also don't think self delusion will be enough to tip the scale in your favor- it will be a genuine reflection of your internal experience and the experiences you gave to others. I don't believe in a literal heaven or hell, I see these as states of consciousness that exist in the real world.

I don't believe in an afterlife. I believe death is likely, but not inevitable (because of modern scientific advancements). I think if my life ends, my conscious experience ends. I am at peace with that, but I don't want it to happen! If I needed an afterlife narrative to cope with fear I would want a "scientific explanation" for heaven or reincarnation. Though I wouldn't want to dull Occam's razor: "among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected."

The "scientific" explanation for reincarnation is a theory our consciousness will return to an outside source then be recycled. People who've taken DMT commonly report seeing hyper advanced sentient beings at the end of the trip. Some people have interpreted this as a signal our consciousness exists outside our body and our minds are tuners that receive it. Many people interpret this as the message of psychedelic DMT trips (but good and bad DMT trips could easily be interpreted as peaks at heaven/hell afterlife).

There's also a chance we live in a "matrix" simulation like Elon Musk believes. So the "scientific" explanation for afterlife may be we currently live in a simulation- this theory proposes how it could exist. So while I think that is unsatisfactory and fails Occam's razor, there it is.

I interpret the reported sentience in DMT trips as our deepest subconscious, revealing a fractal blueprint and primordial existential desire. I believe it's our innermost soul that wants it to exist and an indication that information is driven to create that existence (through Chaos and the singularity). An outer sentience-for-us doesn't exist yet. We wish it did exist and people want to create it and become a part of it, symbiotically and as a whole.

Note: we are creatures of information. Our minds literally and physically emerge from the genetic code in our DNA; our minds emerge from and are guided by information. It's no coincidence we have memetic (ideas) and genetic (genes) evolution. Memes and genes are both made of information bits. This is why Kevin Kelly believes technology is emerging as the 7th kingdom of life.


Religion Evolves - Baba Brinkman

ArchAngel - Didon

ArchAngel - Didon


So even as people may surf the singularity and strive to become superhuman and godlike, the Nordic version of the apocalypse, The Ragnorak, tells a legend where all gods die. Knowledge is power: reflect; it's better to be a warrior in a garden, than a gardener in a war. Stories like this are designed to help us face death, in order to survive.

The big leap with transhumanism does eventually involve augmenting your brain with machines and technology. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency - DARPA already invented the brain-to-machine interface. Mind you, I wouldn't want to do any of this stuff for a long time. Google is also working on the external neocortex (which would allow you to outsource higher level thinking, give you perfect memory, etc). It would "change" who you are in some sense, but you are changing all the time– "the same man never steps in the same river twice." The intent with augmenting your brain would be to evolve it, without ending your conscious experience. Because of neuroplasticity– the location of information in your brain can shift, it's wiring can shift, and your nervous system can link with machines.

DARPA - Bionic Spine

DARPA - Bionic Spine

DARPA - Robotic Sense of Touch

DARPA - Robotic Sense of Touch

There are a couple of theories, and time will tell which ones remain the most popular. The one I like is like the "Ship of Theseus." Gradually augmenting your brain, until less and less of it is organic, and eventually none of it is. Your mind is an emergent phenomenon from the genetic code in your DNA. If we create new wetware that is compatible and synced to an internet, the neuroplasticity will allow the locality of your brain to move from one region to another. The goal would be to eventually upload your mind in this way to a blockchain-type-server, through attrition and gradual replacement.

What Will The Future Economy Look Like?

image credit Pixabay

image credit Pixabay

If one could visualize our economy what would it look like? Would it look like a graph, or a string of numbers? Our economy represents a collection of transactions, and if one recorded and traced each transaction geographically an image would emerge like a flat web among constellations. If one pinpointed each location of concentrated wealth to scale the image topographically, we would see many peaks and valleys. But none of these locations are fixed– their values change and individuals, institutions, and their extensions roam. The result is a boiling image, resembling the patterns of Chaos and harmony of the universe itself, like the surface of the sun.

This is a description of a complex system. They occur everywhere in nature on different scales. The universe is a complex system, our brains are complex systems, trees are complex systems, so are hives and the weather. So when people talk about the unpredictability of the economy, some claim that we don’t understand it as a “dismal science.” But we do know things about defining characteristics of complex systems.

Lack of stress weakens them. Chronic stress that doesn’t go away breaks them. Stress that resolves makes them stronger.



Something that grows stronger from stress is antifragile. Our bodies and minds are antifragile. Nature is antifragile. The economy is antifragile. This is important to grasp. It is important to understand how lack of stress weakens a complex system, making it vulnerable to break and collapse. It is also important to know that a chronic stress, meaning a stress that doesn’t go away, breaks antifragile systems. For the strongest complex system, you want to maximize its stressors that resolve.

A laissez-faire economy grows faster than any other economy. It maximizes market stressors, making everything stronger. We do not live in a capitalist or socialist society. There is a tug-of-war between the two. The debate: either government is not doing enough to make things more equal and fair, or the government is the source of the problem making the system exploitable, crushing the middle class and keeping poverty where it is.



This is how we treat our economy now: we impose regulations on the economy attempting to make it fair; our attempts deprive the system of natural stressors, resulting in unintended consequences. We compile regulation on top of regulation, depriving the system of more stressors, simultaneously creating chronic stressors that build up and never resolve.

This is how you break an antifragile system.



I tell people I don’t care about the divide between the richest and the poorest, as long as everyone can expect their quality of life to improve. In a hypothetical future, I don’t care if the richest man has fleets and planets, as long as the poorest man has access to healthcare, food, shelter, and entertainment– while enjoying vast and expansive opportunity for upward social mobility.

Money is the currency of our economy, but money is just credit representing human value and work. So even in a future where “money” is obsolete, or different, there will always be an economy; a fluid system connected to human value to facilitate transactions, and make bartering possible. When I was at sleepaway camp, candy bars was our black market currency. Our access was limited, supply was low demand was high, one could use sweets to barter. In prisons cigarettes are used as currency. In a world without “money” or in a world with or without abundance, things will still be coveted. There will always be limitations to one’s access at any point stradling time. And this is not a bad thing, this is a good driving, motivating force.

When people think about equality, a common misconception I encounter is that the economy is a finite pie. There is a finite amount of wealth and everyone can only have a limited slice. In truth, the economy is like a bubble that inflates and deflates. The more free the economy is, the more everyone’s slice will grow. Meaning innovation will happen faster, become economically affordable sooner, and everyone will have more opportunity to improve their lot. This is a law of laissez-faire economics.

However, it is also true that in a free market pre-existing wealth grows at disproportionate rates. In a laissez-faire economy, the rich will get richer faster. Still, everyone’s general quality of life will steadily improve at a faster rate than otherwise, and it is the best environment to maximize everyone’s upward social mobility. I think the environment that benefits the most number of people, and maximizes well being is the one we should choose for human flourish.



You may have heard about a Star Trek economy; being able to do things or go to places because you feel like it, but don’t forget there's a hierarchy on the ship! There will be no world of perfect egalitarianism, but a world of maximum freedom. There are many people who imagine a world of perfect equality and abundance, but I believe they are naive to how complex systems operate.

I’ve heard people lament that individualism and western ideals are bad and that we need more eastern ideals that embrace the group... I agree there must be balance.


I suggest thinking about western and eastern perspectives like a yin-yang; the best hybrid combines eastern and western cultural perspectives; and sees how to flip back and forth. No doubt we are all in this together, and we want to facilitate the best environment for human flourish and our survival throughout time.

In a future with AI guaranteed basic income, we will still need a free market to operate on top of it. Otherwise we'd risk stagnating our system and make it more vulnerable to unforeseeable events. It'd be impossible to equally distribute everything! Sure we will mine for minerals on asteroids, the ocean floor, and other planets, but this is not a property of scarcity and abundance, but a property of complex systems.

image Credit Fast Future Publishing

Even with overwhelming abundance there would be no way to remove hierarchies and different roles (no matter how fluid or interchangeable roles are). Egalitarianism becomes less stable the larger the system is. I know this first hand as a polyamorist, but also from my research and understanding of complex systems in nature.

As a species we want to grow as a machine civilization as fast as possible. There could always be bigger fish out there. The free market needs to be able to operate on top of the guaranteed income layer to maximize the system’s strength. People should be able to participate in a free market and compete. 

Eventually, it might become moot. There may come a point when we are all members of a plugin-plugout hive-mind augmented by artificial intelligence. Your brain will be backed up in the cloud, you can have multiple bodies anywhere, doing anything; some in VR, others in the real world. You'll sustain yourself on solar energy, so food will be a luxury; food might even be banned and you might have to get chemical/neurological triggers for illusions of food, because people might decide that it just doesn't want to end life anymore because it can get all its energy from the sun. And at that point we’ll all be one saying “I am legion.”

But before we get that far, it is important to know Marx is a historicist. The foundation of Marx's theory is not evolution. The foundation for Marxism is Hegel, History Theory, and the Dialectic. While Marx makes many astute claims about evolution, science, and the enlightenment, the bridge he uses to connect, justify, and claim his ideas don't have solid pillars to stand on.

Evolution is the result of antifragility. Anyone who learns how complex systems work in Chaos, can see we need to employ biomimicry and learn from the wisdom of nature as we self direct it. We can build and design our systems, but we cannot change the laws of dynamic physics.

The Perfect 46

This brave and thought provoking film tastes like watching history. By stepping beyond science fiction into the realm of factual science, this film brilliantly opens the door on eugenics. By examining the rise and fall of a genetics company (similar to some operating today), The Perfect 46 challenges audiences to think between Huxley's vision and self-directed evolution.

This micro-budgeted film takes off and lands on its feet, gripping throughout with its smart narrative. Artful presentation and layered storytelling make it all the more compelling and entertaining to watch. This film might not be for everyone, but anyone curious with a palette for thoughtful dramas should definitely check out this new modern classic. Look out and keep your eyes peeled for this one. 

Intelligence Squared Debate: Are Lifespans Long Enough?

Host and Moderator of Intelligence Squared John DonVan 

Host and Moderator of Intelligence Squared John DonVan 

I attended the intelligence squared debate for aging. The motion was “Are Lifespans Long Enough?” Honestly, it almost seems like a rigged question.

However, its framing does challenge a common philosophy language trap. “Are Lifespans Long Enough?” What is “enough?” Is it what we have? Is it the minimum to expect? Is it always more?

It was fitting to see Ian Ground, a Wittgenstein scholar, in the debate. Wittgenstein is a philosopher known for his views on language and how it constructs our reality. Many have interpreted his teachings as there is no objective truth, there is no meaning, and we are insignificant. A lot of cosmic pessimism and postmodern thought can be traced to Wittgenstein.

The question leads, if lifespans are not long enough, then we should strive to make them longer. Otherwise we should not fight death and instead should consign ourselves to contently die without impeding its approach. This is deathist.

Ian Ground and Paul Root Wolpe

Ian Ground and Paul Root Wolpe

So why argue we shouldn’t strive to make lifespans longer? Afterall, it’s an insidious suggestion. Well, the opponents of longer lifespans didn’t quite take that position. Instead they respectfully attempted to reframe the discussion, arguing it is narcissistic to want to live longer. That striving to make lifespans longer in order to defeat aging is a misguided effort. They claimed it would require us to examine our human values and sense of identity, and that it might force us to reconsider our understanding of what it means to be human. They brought up disruption to society, have-and-have-nots, and overpopulation.

The philosophers’ arguments weighed empty when scaled against the weight of their opponents’ arguments for why lifespans should be longer. The two who argued in favor of longer lifespans were two scientists, and not strangers to philosophy: Brian Kennedy and Aubrey de Grey. They articulately sliced through language entanglement, and clearly focused the debate.

Aubrey De Grey and Brian Kennedy

Aubrey De Grey and Brian Kennedy

Scientists today are striving to extend lifespans along with health-spans. In the pursuit of engineering longer life, these two things come hand-in-hand. De Grey and Kennedy pointed out their attempts are not merely to make milestones in geriatrics, prolonging decrepit and sometimes painful life. Their goal is to keep people healthy for longer periods by slowing down and maintenancing the aging process using modern technology; a noble pursuit considering 100,000 people die a day to age related disease.

Technologies need to be developed before they become economical. When cellphones were first invented– few could afford them. Now they contain more computing power than 1960s NASA and billions of people have them. That is how economy of scale works.

At the end of the debate, a friend of mine in the audience was called on to ask a piercing question. Here’s what transpired:

Keith Comito: But I kind of want to bring this to a little bit of the philosophy because it's sort of been glossed over I think in certain aspects. So if I understand it right, one of the cruxes against life extension is that in a true Wittgenstein kind of way, life or the form of it needs to be defined by its negative space, by death, like it needs to be there like some Hobbesian leviathans who give our choices meaning. And I want to say, "Is it fair” -- my question is: Is it fair to say, to assume, that this state of existence is necessarily more ideal than one in which we have learned to take the reins of our own development unforced by external conditions that can rob you of the goods of life?

John Donvan: Okay. Okay. Let's take a -- I thought you were going to be going down the -- that was good -- you landed that well. Ian Ground.

Ian Ground: That’s a good question and thank you for it. It's not so much what's defined by the negative spaces, as you put it, by death, but that we -- even from within life make choices that presuppose that time is finite. Okay. That's how it works. We have to put down -- say we put down roots, okay. You can't be a being that puts down roots if you're going to jump up in 50 years' time and go somewhere else, okay. It's a different way of conceiving of the human, okay. I'm saying well, fine, maybe you really don't like the human, okay, and you'd rather have something else. I've got no argument against that. I know what I prefer. That's all.

John Donvan: Aubrey De Grey, would you like to respond? And if you can come in --


Aubrey de Grey: I'm a practical first things first kind of guy. I don't want to get sick. I don't want you to get sick, and I really don't think very much about philosophy. And I think I'm okay not doing that.


Are lifespans long enough? No, I don’t think so.

// Images courtesy of // Click here for a full transcript of the debate //

Robots Threaten Stock Analyst Jobs

The Wall Street Journal wrote an article "Can You Tell the Difference Between a Robot and a Stock Analyst" discusing how the future of big bank financial analysts might not be so profitable. The reason being they won't have their jobs.

Of course, it won't be because the banks won't exist. They are merely driven to cut costs and increase effciencies. Use of automation with algorithms is now common practice in financial services.  Companies like Narrative Science are being employed by Deloitte, Credit Suisse and Mastercard to automatively transform big data into narrative reports to make decisions on investments.

Ray Kurzweil, oft sited author of The Singularity is Near and director of engineering at Google, pins the arrival of artifical intelligence on 2029. Regardless of how accurate his date might be, jobs in the financial sector, as well as in many other industries, will easily be replaced long before that. Driverless cars, which are already clocking miles on the road in some states, are expected to be ubiquitous within five years.

Today we can see technology that exists and understand how it is used. As computers and machines become more capable, people will need to find new ways to stay relevent in the work force. Over the course of humanity jobs have always been replaced by technology while the kinds of work people have performed has always changed.

This doesn't mean we won't have any jobs left. It means the nature of our jobs, the roles we need filled, and the manor in which we perform tasks will change. For people who value the future of their financial security (no matter what your job is), it is worth considering what will be our most valuable traits. Creativity, adaptability, and the ability to learn.

image from Wikimedia Commons