Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Debunking the Matrix (further exfoliated)

Some it-from-bit proponents  stretch this logic still further.  They look on the universe as a giant computer simulation.  Among those who have taken this view  are Ed Fredkin and Stephen Wolfram, both of whom hypothesize that the universe is a “cellular automaton” … Perhaps the most radical cosmos-as-computer advocate is the American physicist Frank Tipler … It involves no actual computer:  his cosmos is all software, no hardware.
-- Jim Holt, Why does the World Exist? (2012), p. 190

This Sunday morning’s New York Times   brings an unexpected double-scoop of intellectual fare (a reminder of why I still subscribe,  despite the spreading stain of the Narcisso-Traffickers  that started in the “Style” section and has infected almost everything else):  not one, but two  lucid reviews  of recent philosophy-porn   masquerading as physics porn (indeed, it is only that beelzebubian visage behind the cosmographical mask, that merits the attention of the non-physicist), by that excellent defender of clear thought, Dr. Edward Frenkel, whom we have previously had occasion to praiseTo have two reviews, by a single reviewer on a single day, is unusual;  one is in the Book section, one in the Week-in-Review.

The first piece, “Is the Universe a Simulation”, is less a review  than a reverie, using a classic old novel of Bulgakov as a (fairly random) launch-point.  Along the way, he restates the thesis that philosophically-minded mathematicians largely embrace, that of Platonism:   Were the Lord to launch another universe somewhen, it might not evolve dinosaurs or Twitter, but Fermat’s Last (or, Wiles’ first) Theorem  will still be true.   Properly mulled-over, a lot may follow from this;  consult our series of essays on the implications of mathematical Realism, begun here:  

            Theologia Mathematica

Frenkel then manfully addresses  the extremely tiresome thesis, that the whole cosmos might be a hoax -- just one gigantic computer-simulation by some pimpled hacker living off in his mother’s basement somewhere beyond Neptune, or whatever-the-hell.   Similar ideas were discussed as far back as Plato (“Plato’s Cave”);   the “Matrix” scenario of current popular mythology  is simply a digital update, without really adding depth or plausibility to what is essentially a theological (specifically:  diabolical) idea.    Abandoning the caution of Plato, for whom the notion was just an allegory, “the Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrum” (Frenkel reports) “has argued that we are more likely to be in such a simulation than not."    (My own hunch:  Bostrum himself is nothing but a fragment of malware, invented to provide a much-needed rhyme for "nostrum"; but the rest of us are real.)

Frenkel then brings something new to the table by bringing our attention to a recent paper, “Constraints on the Universe as a Numerical Simulation”, written by a couple of physicists.   These authors, after some introductory mumbo-jumbo, making a logic-free leap from their own experience fiddling around with our primitive Earth-computers (not even a quantum computer;  more like a Model T), put forward that, if this cosmos really is nothing but a simulation, on some extra-cosmic calculational entity  (which,  in all likelihood,  would bear no resemblance whatever, either in hardware or software, to their idea of a computer -- as, in that hypothesized world, there is no reason to posit a mirrored existence of figments of the simulation -- no silicon, no electrons -- and the entity itself need not be digital, since there exist other types of computation) then such & such anomalies would no doubt appear (the exact nature of these being extracted directly from the podex), and that, training our telescopes aloft, these might detected in, umm,  cosmic rays.    (We pause to give the reader time to gasp at the iridescence of this idea.)  For the ancient Chinese, doubtless a similar insight:  ultimate Reality might resemble a giant abacus.

Note 1 :  This notion, that some tiny anomaly, some ‘wrinkle-in-time’ sort of thing, could tip us off to the amazing fact  that the whole of history, mind, and reality  is all just one big fake, is apparently not new.  Russell Standish (Theory of Nothing, p. 83) cites David Deutsch, John Barrow, and Daniel Dennett  as having each put forward some variation on the basic idea.   Novelistically, the fancy is perhaps congenial, to any who enjoy Sherlock Holmes, who figures out the whole mystery on the basis of some anomaly in a bit of cigar-ash.   But given that the cosmos (of which we glimpse barely a smidgen) is one big patchwork of mysteries and anomalies, a few of which are more or less described (in ever-changing terms) by this or that discipline of science,  one should not expect any such gotcha.   (How about the sudden arrival on our consciousness of “dark” energy and matter, outweighing the homegrown kind several times over?  Is that a roundoff-error?  A software glitch?)

Note 2 :  If leprechauns exist, these too might be somehow reflected in the Microwave Background Radiation.  
[Update 27 February 2014]  The keen-sighted philosopher-linguist Roger Lass  suggests a much simpler experiment that should settle this question  once and for all:

If we had spectacles of the right shade of green, we could see leprechauns.
-- Roger Lass, On explaining language change (1980), p. 86

Meta-note:  For those mesmerized by any invocation of the MBR, cf. Steven Weinberg’s account of going back to the original measurements behind Hubble’s announcement of the redshift law:  Weinberg could scarcely perceive any pattern in the data, and reckoned this another instance (as with Galileo) of an intuitive perception of what must be true, being tricked-out as an experimental result.

*     *     *
~ Commercial break ~
For a mini-movie of our own, try this:
We now return you to your regularly scheduled essay.

*     *     *

Frenkel then closes on a wholesome note, once again evoking the possibility of a timeless Platonic realm for the truths of mathematics.    Actually I fail to detect any nexus between that idea and the It’s-all-an-illusion trope, other than that both were first propounded by Plato.

Conceivably  what put Frenkel in mind of the (logically unrelated) Platonic-math idea in the context of the World-as-Maya meme, is cross-flavoring from the other item he reviewed today,  Our Mathematical Universe, by Max Tegmark.  Here he sinks his teeth into something more substantial than that brain-afflatus by the Oxford philosopher:  a recent, full-length (and lengthy) book, from a respected traditional publisher, written by a tenured professor at one of the leading universities of the exact sciences, M.I.T.    And the formidable mathematician Edward Frenkel does the reading public a great service, by suggesting (though he puts it nicely) that the speculative portion of the book is hogwash.

The keynote for this graceful review, the concetto (‘conceit’ in the Elizabethan sense) that provides the satiric theme, takes off from an incautious admission from Tegmark, who (giving hostages to Fortune) describes his two selves -- the mainstream physicist versus the Wild Ideas Guy -- as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  The former wrote the pretty much run-of-the-mill sounding survey of modern physics for the Tired Business Man (a much-practiced and apparently profitable genre);  the latter pushes the farrr-out (though possibly vacuous or untestable) theses,

(1)  That all the world is not, as you might have thought, a stage, or a panorama, whereon the romance and tragedy of our lives plays out, but (basically) one great big scrawl on some (humanly meaningless) mathematical blackboard; 
(2)  That our own universe is just one feuillet in a great flaky pastry of parallel worlds.  (The universe, not as blanc-mange, as with the monists, but as baclava.)

[Note:  I am paraphrasing.  Tegmark himself puts the matter less colorfully.]

These two ungainly theses  are not, I suspect, actually logically related, pace their perpetrator.   Tegmark suggests that (1) implies (2), in that, as the reviewer summarizes, “he believes that any mathematical structure  spawns its own universe, and that all of these universes exist in parallel and on an equal footing.”   Actually (2) has been championed on two other, quite different grounds, neither purely  mathematical:  on the ground of physics (the Landscape idea), or of biology (the cosmology-cum-Darwinism of Lee Smolin).
(You could also argue that (2) is implied by, or at least in the spirit of, the ancient and later medieval Principle of Plenitude.)

The Jekyll/Hyde bifurcation  can actually be detected in the very title of the book under review, which reads in full:

My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality

The principal title is unexceptionable:  the universe can certainly be described as “mathematical”, and has been so, with respectable success, at great length.   There are other adjectives one could likewise apply to the thing, but “mathematical” is by now a no-brainer.   The enterprise has indeed been successful in unanticipated ways and to a degree that surprises its own practitioners:  the theme of the “Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics”.

[Note:  That is indeed a phenomenon worth pondering.  But to conclude from the way that mathematics keeps saving the bacon of physicists, to the exclusively ‘mathematical’ character of the universe, is no more convincing than the traditional philosophical epigram, to the effect that the reason our minds can comprehend the universe (well, some of it, somewhat) is because The Universe Itself Is Mind-Like.

Actually more sophisticated than either of these monicities, is the following dual view, put forward by the great early-nineteenth-century mathematician and physicist,  Hamilton (of quaternions and Hamiltonian fame):

There are, or may be imagined, two dynamical sciences:  one subjective, a priori, metaphysical, deducible from meditation on our ideas of Power, Space, Time;  the other objective, a posteriori, physical, discoverable by observation and generalization of facts or phenomena:  that these two sciences are distinct in kind, but intimately and wonderfully connected, in consequence of the ultimate union of the subjective and objective in God.

(quoted in Thomas Hankins, Sir William Rowan Hamilton (1980), p. 175  ]

The subtitle, by contrast, is pure Philosophy Porn, of a sort typically peddled by physicists.   (For a classic polemic from a couple of generations ago, see Susan Stebbing’s Philosophy and the Physicists (1937).)  You should be wary of any book purporting to be hard science (as opposed to the memoirs or musings of a hard-scientist) which contains in its title any of the following words:


Tegmark’s subtitle manages to pack all of these into a single confined space (rather like quarks).


Anyhow, in a nutshell, Tegmark’s gambit is to resolve the puzzle of the Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics  by a kind of homeopathic-medical reason:  you see, math fits the cosmic body (cures the disease) because, in its questy “ultimate nature”, it is the cosmic body, or rather vice versa, if you please.  Any sophomore passing around the joint at a late-night bull-session, would be stunned by such an insight.   For us, it’s more like a koan or a tautology (well and good).  But he wields this trope/tautology  to arrive at something  in some ways  equally tautological (namely, as far as it goes, which isn’t far), though its spiritual implications (if taken too seriously) are odious:  Namely, that a person is (nothing but) “a pattern in space-time”.
(Recent I struggled through an initially catchy but ultimate dreary book with a similar message, by a semi-Tegmarkian, Russell Standish, called the Theory of Nothing.  More anon.)

No doubt aware of the danger that his scheme threatened to dissolve into vapidity, Tegmark attempts to restore it to the coveted status of an Empirical Hypothesis (we have learned, with Chomsky, to become very reverent when we hear this phrase).  Frenkel quotes him: “One of the key testable predictions of the Mathematical Universe Hypothesis  is that physics research will uncover further mathematical regularities in nature.”   With this ludicrous lapalissade, Tegmark becomes the Thomas Friedman of Mathematical Physics.   Frenkel remarks, more gently, though with satirical quotation-marks,  and with what, for anyone conversant with the philosophy of science, has bite:

This “prediction” is as far from the scientific method  as the purported universes are from one another.


Tegmark’s scheme amounts to a kind of Eliminative Immaterialism, quite different in ethos from the Materialist variety found among those influenced by the more nihilistic currents of neuroscience (and against which we have polemicized here), but compassing the same end  of removing, from our view of life, everything that makes it worth living.   Professor Frenkel is a gentlemanly writer, but does permit himself this much by way of sarcastic retort:

    What accounts for consciousness, for example?  “I think that consciousness is the way information feels when being processed in certain complex ways,” Tegmark says.
     I tried to process this information, but didn’t feel much.

Why -- by what uncanny coincidence -- do the curviculous abstrudelings of the Eliminativist mind or mouth (or other orifice), of whichever (im)materialist stripe -- so resemble a spiraling pile of sirreverence?  Perhaps because, in their innermost reality, they are a pile of sirreverence.


Frenkel may be  in a sense  overqualified for grappling with the mathematical niceties of Tegmark’s thesis (1), taking them more seriously than they deserve.   He scores a point against the scheme  in a brief passage that will probably whiz by most readers,  implicitly alluding to the foundational debate of recent decades, concerning the role of set theory versus category theory versus topos theory et alia, and concludes that Tegmark fails the “What is Mathematics?” test, concluding

Mathematical structures constitute but a small island of modern mathematics.  Why would someone who believes that math is at the core of reality  try to reduce all of reality to just this island?

I doubt  however  that this observation  strikes more than a glancing blow at the ontological heart of Tegmark’s argument.  Tegmark probably doesn’t want to reduce the cosmos specifically to set theory or fibre-bundles or anything else, but rather to water the thesis to such vagueness that it stands immune from refutation.

Compare J. M. Keynes’ Treatise on Probability (1921), with its dismissal of certain mathematical window-dressing which loses the reader in the details, all the while resting on epistemological fallacies.  
Indeed, for the possible mathematical “handwaving” of Tegmark,  cf. the computational sleight-of-hand in the scholarly paper Frenkel treats of in his other review, that of “Constraints on … Simulation”.  (Again, I have abbreviated the title  in line with the Chomskyan linguistic aesthetic.)  I have made fun of the Hype Around the Higgs, but really that quest is quite well defined (though it has run into experimental difficulties) compared with the suggested search for (unspecified) anomalies in the running of the Entity wherein we are a simulation  on the assumption that they will be analogous to the quirks of their own no doubt buggy software.   Since the nature of the hypothesized computational device which is running the universe as a sort of screen-saver  is utterly unknown (to begin with, it needn’t be digital), that cannot constitute a serious hypothesis in terms of computer science.   And the suggestion that we might trot off and try to salt the tail of a cosmic ray so as to settle a fundamental ontological and theological question, was probably made in jest.   One imagines the scenario:   “Look!  That proton just zagged when it should have zigged -- ergo everything is just one big illusion and  life is meaningless! “  (Such a sally might serve our cocky sophomore to lure a co-ed temporarily into his bed, but would not attract the kind of woman one needs to marry.)


Historical Footnote:
This computer-simulation/Matrix meme  is just the latest, technology-inspired variation on a very old topos (using that term now in its literary  rather than the mathematical sense):  that Things Are Not As They Seem.   But note that the latter overarching idea, comes in two radically different flavors.
The one is that the universe as we experience it  in reality makes less sense than it seems (in any morally or humanly recognizable terms);  the other, that it makes more.    The former is  found among pagans and atheists; the latter begins with Plato, and culminates in Christianity.
Among polytheists, there is the notion of Maya -- an all-encompassing "illusion (or more accurately a "delusion")”, as Wiki puts it -- for Hindus.   The pagan Greeks held that there was another order of reality behind the one we can see, peopled by gods and sylphs and whatnot, but so far from giving meaning to our lives here below, Olympian society (and that of the satyrs and what have you) was no improvement on our mortals petty folly here-below;  almost the contrary.   In King Lear’s formulation:  
            “As flies to wanton boys are we to th' gods.
            They kill us for their sport.”

Utterly otherwise is the Christian picture.    Here too, things are not as they seem; but with this difference:  the deeper meaning is not (if anything) worse, as among animists, for whom ill-intentioned demons  lurk behind every mutter;   nor is it alien in kind to what happens here, as in the bleakest views of the atheistic mechanists,  for whom there is nothing but l’homme machine,  or of contemporary reductionists, who intuit nothing but Hermitian operators with no agenda beyond themselves.   Rather, it supplements ourselves, rounds us out, without abolishing us.  (In Hegelian terms, we are thus aufgehoben -- sublated -- in the fuller reality.)   True, for Plato in his famous cave, we are but shadows -- but, crucially, shadows cast by something, something real and round -- rounder and realer than our temporary shadow selves, as an object is  to the shadows cast.   For behind that trio of ill-laid crooked sticks, there thrones an abstract Triangle in the Platonic realm;  behind and above this loaf’s cost in drachmae, the fullness of the Natural Numbers  in their calm infinitude;   and behind and beyond and above ourselves ….  Ah, we must wait for Christianity to get a glimpse of that!
And here I mean not merely the vision of the simple, who imagine that one day the curtain will rise,  and from there on  nothing but lollipops and sugar-plums (though even that vision is preferable to the leaden landscape of Hades or of Sheol).   Nay rather, even for the best and most skeptical among us -- “a sense that life has a plot” (Frederick Buechner, The Sacred Journey ,1982), or C.S. Lewis’s metaphor of reality as of kind of intricate Persian carpet,  which now we see only from the underside (a tangle of thread-ends, only hinting at the greater order verso):  whereas then, we shall see the pattern plain.


The general idea (2)  has three interrelated variants:  the Landscape;  the Multiverse; and the Many-worlds view of metaphysics.  This last is an offspring of Bohmian quantum-mechanics out of modal logic, and is favored today by many philosophers.
As for the Landscape, its status as a sheer dead-end to explanatory physics, has been well pointed out by physicists, and we need not add to that.   But this complexus of ideas yields moral implications as well, whose effects, again, are largely deleterious.  Back to Standish:

The appeal of euthanasia is to end suffering.  But how could it do that if the suffering person has first-person immortality?  The euthanased person may no longer be in your world, in your life, but would nevertheless be experiencing continued suffering in another universe, if not greater suffering  beause of your actions.  This  for me  is a powerful argument against euthanasia.
-- Russell Standish, Theory of Nothing (2006; 2nd edn. 2011), p. 150

Actually it is an argument -- not powerful, but sophomoric to the point of imbecility -- against doing anything at all, ever.  Why pay this parking-ticket, or return this library book, when in another universe  ‘twill remain unpaid, unreturned?

Through equally twisted reasoning, he pretends to arrive, not at nihilism, but -- well, who knows, it is intended as an olive branch:

Quantum immortality is thus a very good incentive to behave altruistically, a grounding for the golden rule of Christianity.
-- Russell Standish, Theory of Nothing (2006; 2nd edn. 2011), p. 150

The “golden rule” is not specifically Christian, but no matter:   No thanks;  you can keep your olive branch.  It does not even rise to the level of a poisoned chalice:  more like a stale Twinkie.


The theses that our cosmos is either (1)  just a sort of computer-game, or (2) just a randomly-constituted sliver in a randomized stack of non-communicating random slivers,   are two of the most noxious ideas of our time, and Edward Frenkel has done a service by cocking an informed and skeptical eyebrow at both of them.   But there is a third burning issue of our day, that of the Zombie Apocalypse, which he has left unaddressed.  For that, we must turn to Professor Noam Chomsky.

(Note that that is a monostich, all by itself.)

[Update May 2016]  While performing routine janitorial services on this blog, I discovered that this crucial contribution by the renowned Professor Chomsky, has been suppressed from the Internet!
As of even date, what you get, when you click, is this:

This story has been removed.
This story has been unpublished and you do not have permission to view it.

At least they admit it!   In the future, you’ll see nothing, or else clicking the link will introduce a virus, to your hard disk  or your brain.

For connoisseurs, this whole shifty business  bears the unmistakeable digital fingerprints of …

            TheRiemann Conspiracy !!

This is not a glimpse of hidden Reality.  Rather, it is a *simulation* of such a glimpse, whose Being is restricted to the silver screen.

Weiteres zum Thema:

For more on the limits of simulation, try this:

            In vitro/ In vivo

 For more on Maya, the multiverse, and the Landscape, this:

The topic of “narcisso-trafficking” is largely foreign to this post, referring not to anything discussed here, but to the infected areas surrounding the remaining atolls of the main NYT news section and the (partly corrupted) Book Review.   However, readers have enjoyed the coinage, so here is a link to some essays on the subject.


Noch Weiteres zum Thema:

Just a musing note on the possible nature of the hypothetical Entity with which the ‘simulation’ (i.e., the actual universe -- the real world) takes place.   The more you strip away unwarranted hidden assumptions about what the thing might be like (Sequential? -- Not necessarily;  Digital? -- Not necessarily;  Silicon-based? -- Not necessarily;  Physically embodied at all? -- Not necessarily;  etc.) the more we are left with a recedingly distant conjectural Whatnot, of unknown character, and of baffling vastness, which, for humility and simpliticy, we might as well call (to coin a phrase) “the Mind of God.”   And a Christian will have no special objection to that metaphorical depiction -- though with one proviso:  that the puppets or rather “avatars” in this all-encompassing Simulation (if you enjoy that rather insipid metaphor) are divinely/’cybernetically’ provided with Free Will.    That is the redoubt which the eliminativists and mechanists are ever intent to storm, and that is what the Historical Church would defend, if need be  by the sword.


For an alternate take on it all, try this:

~  Posthumous Endorsement ~
"If I were alive today, and in the mood for a mystery,
this is what I'd be reading: "
(I am James Monroe, by jingo, and I approved this message.)
~         ~

[Update 17 May 2014]  An op-ed this morning, by the excellent columnist Joel Achenbach, refines the point:

It was the science story of the year: Astrophysicists held a news conference at Harvard on March 17 announcing that their South Pole telescope had found evidence of gravity waves from the dawn of time.
Cosmology doesn’t get any bigger than this. The discovery was hailed as confirmation of a mind-boggling addendum to the big-bang theory, something called “cosmic inflation” that describes the universe beginning not in a stately expansion but with a brief, exponentially rapid, inflationary spasm.
Science is a demanding and unforgiving business, and great discoveries are greeted not with parades and champagne but rather with questions, doubts and demands for more data. So it is that, in recent days, scientists in the astrophysics community have been vocalizing their concern that the South Pole experiment, known as BICEP2, may have detected only the signature of dust in our own galaxy.
These doubters say, in effect, that rather than seeing the aftershock of the birth of the universe the scientists may have seen only some schmutz in the foreground, as if they needed to clean their eyeglasses.

A claim of having proved Inflation, only to meet (it may be) the most humiliating possible Deflation.

Achenbach relevantly quotes Sagan: “extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence”.   And yet more:  Cosmology does get any bigger than that, when it pretends to have settled fundamental philosophical/theological/existential questions (which “tensor B-modes”, however tasty to the cognoscenti, are not, being purely physics-internal).  A fortiori, claims to have motivated, or even proved, the (I repeat: diabolical) thesis that all the world is worse than dirt on the lens -- good honest dirt, after all, at least is of the earth -- that it is a mere Simulation -- a farce, kluged-up  not even by an (in)decent Devil, but merely some pimpled Programmer -- all morality, all emotion, all human values  of less moment than the bumf with which said Programmer wipes his arse -- such a philosophical program requires rather more than a conjecture that some … future experiment might detect a wanton ripple in this or that, which should occasion the conjecture's proponents to exclaim, “That’s it!”, and to toast the event with some warm champagne, left over from some previous pseudo-sighting of the Higgs boson.

Read the full article, which is of great sociological interest  beyond its relevance for physics.  And some of the readers’ comments as well;  as:

The usual argument for inflation is that scalar perturbations cannot produce B-modes in the polarization of the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB), and that the only possibility to generate them is through tensor perturbations (gravitational waves). Vector perturbations (local rotational modes) are not really considered. 
But if a local privileged space direction exists due to space-time geometry, local rotation around this direction can be present in the early Universe and generate CMB B-modes.

For a more upbeat presentation of the BICEP2 results:

“This is a totally new, independent piece of cosmological evidence that the inflationary picture fits together,” says theoretical physicist Alan Guth of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, who proposed the idea of inflation in 1980. He adds that the study is “definitely” worthy of a Nobel prize.

[Update 19 June 2014]

Now, after weeks of wrangling, discussion and debate with peer reviewers and other astrophysicists, the group, which goes by the name Bicep, has published its paper in the journal Physical Review Letters. The authors, led by John Kovac of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, write that they stand by their discovery — but they also now acknowledge that it is possible that interstellar dust might have produced much or even all of their signal.
“The basic takeaway has not changed; we have high confidence in our results,” Dr. Kovac said in a phone call.

To acknowledge that mere dust, rather than gravity waves, “might have produced … all of their signal” [emphasis added], yet to maintain that the takeaway has not changed, is paradoxical on the face of it.  On croit rêver.

1 comment:

  1. I found your article alright, but it is a little too 'clever worded' for me. I like plain speech. But I very much love your critique against the idea that 'everything is mathematics'. I found it trying to find a good critique of the film The Matrix which pushes that Gnostic theme---that reality is illusory, and fabricated by evil entities, but if we acquire gnosis then we become supermen.
    many people look to that film as some kind of warning about the hidden cabal, but it is more disinfo--PRETENDING to help but using mind control to promote what those who say push philosophy porn do.
    WHY would they DO that? Well the prevailing philosophy of psychologism is Computationalism. The idea that we are computers/robots/machines. So it suits the creators of this modern myth that we see the universe and nature as a computer stimulation of meaninglessness. And it suits what has been said to be the end goal of the ones with the cash and power behind the scenes who manage perception. End goal? To have us believe we are weak machines, and to gag for 'transhumanist' technological 'implant-upgrades' so we can become 'supermen'---the 'consumers' who can afford it that is. For themselves and their kids.
    Where I do not agree with you is where you say how Christianity is unlike other religious belief systems regarding paranoia:

    "Utterly otherwise is the Christian picture. Here too, things are not as they seem; but with this difference: the deeper meaning is not (if anything) worse, as among animists, for whom ill-intentioned demons lurk behind every mutter; nor is it alien in kind to what happens here, as in the bleakest views of the atheistic mechanists, for whom there is nothing but l’homme machine, or of contemporary reductionists, who intuit nothing but Hermitian operators with no agenda beyond themselves. Rather, it supplements outselves, rounds us out, without abolishing us." Please tell me you are joking. Christian belief has been THE most paranoid belief system I know of. They have demonized nearly everything in their history. Even the air, which was supposed to be the realm of 'Satan'. As I understand it the toxic choice offered by the mind-manipulators is 'either Christianity or Satanism?' when both feed off each other, are inverse mindsets of each other and thus make sure to keep you in that patriarchal mindset.
    As you seem to know, the ones pushing the 'all is math-ists' want you to feel everything is meaningless. ONLY spirituality which understanding nature and spirit as a dynamic continuum is a threat to people who are nihilist death cults.