Monday, November 08, 2010

Two interesting creation myths

I've never been much of a fan of the theory of reincarnation. As far as I'm concerned, I am my memories and experiences, so it is simply non-sensical to say that "I" can be reborn without them. Which makes this story an interesting read. I can't offhand think of a way to rule out the possibility that memories from other lives are somehow stored in a cosmic backup repository. After all, at the quantum level, the subjective feeling of existing at a particular time and place is as much of an illusion as the seemingly inarguable (but nonetheless false) proposition that there is only one classical universe. (In fact, quantum mechanics predicts that classical information cannot be destroyed, which renders reincarnation merely an engineering problem of extracting the bits from the thermal background.)

I thought this little parable that appeared in the Reddit comments was fun too:

In one creation story, God splits off a portion of itself, names it Maya, and asks to play a game. 'What kind of game?' asks Maya. 'I don't know, that's what you're here for.' replies God. Maya thinks, and finally says 'Okay, but I need three things; A universe made of time-space, a small wet planet, and a machette.'

So God makes these things, and says 'Now what?'

'Close your eyes.'

As God does, Maya brings down the machette, splitting God in two. Then slashes again, and again, chopping God into a billion bloody chunks in less than a moment. She picks up the parts and starts dropping them into the Universe, and as she does they transform into birds, people, oak trees, blades of grass... every possible form of life. And she says 'Okay, here's the game; your goal is to remember who you are and figure out how to put yourself back together.


This idea is developed at some length in this book by Alan Watts. Worthwhile reading for the insight it provides into eastern religions.

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