virus: Faith (consolidation)

John \ (
Sun, 25 May 1997 11:54:48 -0400

First of all, let me say that I didn't mean to direct all the converstation
in all the threads to this one topic. That's not what I come here for, and
I truely was interested in how memes work and how they are spread, that
sort of thing. So what i'm going to do here is slow down a bit because I
feel like I'm stomping on all sorts of threads, and we're not really
getting anywhere. I'll try to codify what I mean by "Faith" here, and I'll
try to keep it to this thread so that other people can talk without me
jumping in.

(I'm used to linear BBS message bases, sorry!)

Faith (John's definition): Belief in something despite lack of evidence for
or against it.

1) Some things I have "Faith" in:
a) The ability of Science to explain the world we live in.
b) Humanity's ability to do good things.
c) The ability of Philosophy and Religion to explain why we live in the
d) The power of dialogue to refine Science, Philosophy, and Religion.
e) The interconnectedness of humanity. (Relativehood of Humans)
f) Free will.

2) Some things I do not have "Faith" in:
a) That Christ was the literal son of God. (too detailed)
b) That God parted the Red Sea for Moses.
c) That God healed person "x" of affliction "y".
d) That My God can beat up Your God.

3) I choose to use God and Religion because it offers a nice abstract
framework for the expression of philosophical memes, and serves as a useful
medium for communicating these memes to large masses of people who have not
read thirty-million books by thirty-million philosophers.

4) My original statement, which I *thought* was simple enough, is that most
knowledge is based on Faith: to wit, the belief that we can KNOW ANYTHING
AT ALL, desipte the essential inability to prove or disprove that we can. I
object to the catagorical rejecton of Faith on this basis: if we reject
Faith, we either reject the notion that we *can* be right, or we reject the
possibility that we may be wrong (by insisting that our claims are based on
Truth, not faith). I felt that the CoV "sin" of "faith" would be better
expressed by pre-pending the word "Blind," as in "Blind Faith is not a
virtue." Faith, on the other hand, allows someone to actually get started:
because without that basic faith (that we can know something) all human
activity is rendered a waste of time.

I have many other little faiths. Scientists may only have two or three. But
AS LONG as one of them is the BIG ONE -- that we can KNOW -- I'll not
insist that they believe they have to be tossed in lake to be a good
person. (That's the baptists, anyway.) I'll not even insist that they need
to profess a belief in God. I will, however, insist that they practice
tolerance and open-mindedness around those of us who do, because we are all
in the same game, and besides, we might be right. (So might the
Fundamentalists. Or the Heaven's Gate crowd.)

I'm just attacking those who say that it is an entirely rational position,
because it's not. The only entirely rational, entirely logical position is
that of the Agnostic. And I salute their bravery, even if it does
complicate some interpersonal issues. ;-)

Okay: now, I'm going to step back. What do you all think? How are you
defining faith? Why is it different that what I'm saying? If you disagree
with me that that One Basic Faith is needed -- that one potential fiction
-- for us to do anything at all, how to you approach the notion that all of
this may be so much fertilizer?

--John "Trying to Make Order From Chaos" Williams

John Williams ICQ Address: 1213689
Various Artists: Raising the Tide of Mediocrity for Two Years