Re: virus: Faith (consolidation)

Eric Boyd (
Sun, 25 May 1997 16:13:41 -0500

John "Dry-Roasted Army Worm" Williams wrote:

> 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.

Sometimes, I wish I had gone to university to study Philosophy like my
dad, instead of studying Engineering. Then I would actually have to
read all of those million books and know them, instead of now just
trying to keep philosophy as meerly a "hobby" If there were just a
hundread more hours in a week...
But anyway, you chose correctly because /everybody/ has something to say
about God.

> 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 am with you 100% on this count... reason itself is based on faith,
because you cannot use reason to "prove" itself. (that would be begging
the question)

> 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.

"Reason cannot establish values, and its belief that it can is the
stupidest and most pernicious illusion." ("The Closing of the
American Mind," pg.194)

> 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. ;-)

All of this reminds me of parts of my "Divine Discontent" journey. It
is sort of an unstated premise in my "truth" that to travel is better
than to arrive... the entire idea is that a human is capable of finding
for his/her self a meaningful answer to "why?" If you don't have
/faith/ that an answer is actually obtainable, the journey becomes

> 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?

As I see it, your argument is very strong except for one link: the
actual word "faith." Why should we accept that that is what the word
means? Why not just coin a new one, or find a current word?


BTW: for anyone interested, I'm going to post my journey on my homepage
the rest of my site can be accessed at