virus: God and Level-3

David McFadzean (
Sun, 23 Mar 1997 21:38:46 -0700

> From: Eva-Lise Carlstrom <>
> Date: Sunday, March 23, 1997 8:40 PM

> On Sun, 23 Mar 1997, David McFadzean wrote:
> > You seem to be suggesting that scientists cannot empirically prove that
> > there is no god. That is not true (assuming you aren't using an
> > extreme 100% certainty version of "prove"). Science has historically
> > shown many things do not exist (phlogiston, elan vitale, the ether)
> > by offering better explanations.
> I disagree. Scientists have in several cases proven that there is not
> *necessarily* a god, in that there are other explanations for various
> phenomena that have been used as evidence for god. This does not
> constitute proving god's nonexistence.

Well, yeah. I guess there is not *necessarily* an Easter Bunny either.
When there is no good evidence for something it is time to accept
the provisional belief that it doesn't exist (unless, of course, you
would rather delude yourself for other purposes). Parsimony is a good
quality (along with consistency, expressiveness, explanatory power, etc.)

Which brings up Level-3 again. Richard often insinuates that there are
times when it is better to delude yourself than to worry about what is
true and what is not. (If that isn't a fair characterization I hope he
will jump in and correct me.) I'm still stuck in the [mode] where I
believe that one is always better off with true beliefs. (Not True
beliefs, I don't want to get into the Absolute Truth argument here.)
Even in extreme cases where someone is going to die a painful death
and there is nothing that can be done, aren't they better off knowing
so that they can make the best use of their remaining time? When is
it better to believe something that isn't true?

David McFadzean       
Memetic Engineer      
Church of Virus