Micah Redding — Christian Transhumanism: faith, technology & the future

The Flip

When you flip a coin, it's customary to ask the other person, "heads or tails?"

That choice is meaningless.

You picking "tails" doesn't change the probability of you getting what you want. It could just as easily have been assigned to you by someone else. But what it does do, is establish buy-in.

From the moment you call "tails", you've bound yourself to abide by the result of the flip. And that's really the point - nobody cares whether you're heads or tails, they just care that you agree to it.

That seems to me to be kind of an intriguing little insight, a glimpse into the way the human mind has arranged its little rituals and social games. We could probably find parallels everywhere. But the most obvious one to me is the democratic process.

The democratic process is an interesting little game, where we are given the choice between two ostensibly different candidates. But the choices are never really what we want - they are always, from our perspective, the lesser of two evils. This means that year after year, we are voting for evil politicians we do not want.

So why vote?

When we vote, we establish buy-in. We convince ourselves it was our choice, and we give others the ability to blame us for the problems that arise. "If you didn't vote, don't complain" the saying goes. Or, "Don't blame me, I voted for Mickey Mouse!"

When things go wrong, we blame the other party, the other side of the coin flip. Rather than address the problem, or the candidates, or the system that put this all in place, we blame it in on the other group. After all, they bought in; they called it.

nate:

Goodness. the theological implications of this are almost frightening... well not really almost, they are.

micah:

I'd love to hear what you're thinking. Care to share some things you see?

Mark:

The same can be said for any way of thinking, including this one. There are responsible voters who vote and hold candidates accountable, there just aren't enough of them. A profoundly better solution, but more difficult, is to think: how can we create another option?

micah:

That's exactly right. My aim isn't to tell you not to vote. It's to point out what's happening.

nate:

well, ministers go through a long ongoing process to get more members of a congregation involved in specific ministries and the best way to do that is to establish "buy-in" or investment. Make the people feel that they had choice and decision in the ministry, and quite honestly this often looks a lot like asking someone to call the coin flip. If you can get a group of people together and ask them their opinion on the latest ministry then they have personal investment in the ministry. If things work out against their idea, they are still much more involved than before. The baseline of what is frightening about this concept is the use of control and manipulation. It can serve a functionally good purpose but is still troubling. Furthermore there's the whole element of a church's theological/doctrinal views. In reality we don't know what the coin flip says on these things, meaning that we may have some good ideas about God, creation, and how things work, but we don't actually know anything at all. That not knowing leads us to "call the coin". As we bunch ourselves up in smaller and smaller groups that are making different calls or making them for different reasons we first divide ourselves into polarized groups, much like as you mentioned how voting can further political divide. This happens easily with politics and its easy to explain. Where is the hope of a republican loyalist? With the republican party. The hope of voters is often placed into the individual parties and not the ideals of government. Thus dissension, distrust, and conflict spread. We often see the same types of feelings between churches, denominations, or even ministers, and its all because we establish the same buy in system. The reality is that none of us could ever know anything absolutely about God and thus the wise thing to do is to avoid buy in. Our faith should not be in proclamations about God but rather that we believe one day the coin will fall and things made clear. I think we all know people or have atleast heard about people who've said they could not worship God/Jesus if he didn't... (fill in any criteria). The question here though is whether or not said person would actually deny the supreme being of all existence if he/she didn't fit their criteria. The statement that a person can't worship a Jesus they could beat up, or any other variety of criterion, comes from putting more hope and faith in the call of the coin flip than the we put in the coin itself. Then of course there's the question of who's telling you how the coin is gonna land...