PLAYING GOD

PLAYING GOD 2Imagine yourself the god of a large, early-historic tribe. So what kind of god will you be?
Of course, some of your decisions will depend on the specific context in which your tribe finds itself. A god-strategy optimized for a large, powerful, agricultural tribe might not work well for a smaller, weaker, nomadic tribe. A strategy that works for a god of the desert might need tweaking for a jungle god, river god, or island god. If your tribe is situated in a region with many competing ethnic groups, you might find it necessary to treat outsiders differently than if your tribe lives in a more homogeneous region. If your tribe has recently flourished, or lives by itself on an island, they won’t need as much help thinking of themselves as special or set-apart. Etc.
playing godYou might want to break your strategy down into the sub-goals of fidelity, fecundity, and longevity. These are the three important components of any evolutionary strategy, e.g. biological replicators.
Fidelity — you’ll want to preserve your doctrine/concept/religion as faithfully as possible, so later generations will abide by your original intent as much as (humanly) possible. Fidelity mechanisms include scriptures, punishment of heretics, reverence for ancestors, etc.
• Fecundity — you’ll want your religion to spread to as many minds as possible (which is your explicit goal, after all). In the name of vertical transmission, you’ll want your followers to make as many babies as possible, and you’ll want to pay special attention to their indoctrination. In the name of horizontal transmission, you may want to encourage traditions of evangelism and/or military conquest.
Longevity — you’ll want both your religion and your tribe to live as long as possible, especially since the tribe embodies all the cultural, structural, and institutional mechanisms for enacting your strategy. To that end, you’ll want your followers to have high solidarity (so they will work together as harmoniously as possible). This is where morality, ethics, and politics come into play. Schisms probably aren’t going to help your cause, and though they may be inevitable, you’ll want to mitigate their effects (e.g. using various fidelity mechanisms).

religion 3

The relationship between god and tribe is symbiotic rather than parasitic. It’s critical to have a solid understanding of the constraints of the problem space. You will, of course, have to take the physical world as given (sorry no miracles). You’ll also want to understand how the natural world affects the meat-based brains in which your message will live. Much more important, however, is to have a deep understanding of human nature of the psychological, social, and political realities your message will face as it gets transmitted and transmuted across space and time. Overall the question I would like to inquire is if this strategy works in establishing and promoting gods and religions and can this also work with countries, corporations and individuals. Also can individuals eventually stand the test of time just as our gods and when is that moment when the lines get blurred.

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