I love to see my friends do well. This week, two people I respect and admire negotiated acquisitions of their respective companies. Smart people with good hearts; nice guys finishing first…

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I love to see my friends do well. This week, two people I respect and admire negotiated acquisitions of their respective companies. Smart people with good hearts; nice guys finishing first…

I love to see my friends do well. This week, two p…

I love to see my friends do well. This week, two people I respect and admire negotiated acquisitions of their respective companies. Smart people with good hearts; nice guys finishing first…

Mapping the Universe

My father once said to me that (his) religion is like a map to the universe. I thought of this while some friends were discussing free will and fate and other light dinner conversation. If you believe that our thoughts and memories exist physically in our brains (it’s hard to imagine anywhere else they’d be), then it follows logically that our understanding of the universe is always, necessarily, deficient in some way. At least it seems obvious to me, given the difference in scale between the number of neurons in our brains and the bits of information in the universe.

I see religion as a useful approximation of the universe, in the way that a street map is a useful approximation of a city I may visit. (An aside: Mistaking the map for the city… When I see buildings exploding on TV these days, I think of people trying to change the world to make it match the map they carry around in their heads.) We (humans) seem to be very good at managing abstractions of this type (See my earlier post on approximation and schemas…). This trait, being “wired to believe”, appears to be very useful for survival: if we couldn’t use maps to get us around, we’d get lost a lot more often, or maybe stay a lot closer to home.

At least, that’s approximately what I think. 😉

My daughter, the river

My daughter, the river
My daughter, the river,
originally uploaded by Fergusson.

My daughter. We sometimes call her scooter, because of the way she learned to move at first, undulating like a caterpillar. She went directly from that to walking, never crawling.

To me, she’s like a river, full of motion across dimensions. Slowly, the banks widen. Here: rushing water over clattering stones. There: slow water running deep. A permanent mark on my landscape, dividing my life into now and then. The closer I get, the more I see, fractally.