Re: virus: Church of Virus/Memetics/Faith

David McFadzean (
Sun, 25 May 1997 23:40:13 -0600

> From: John "Dry-Roasted Army Worm" Williams <>
> Date: Saturday, May 24, 1997 9:24 PM

> >First, I don't think calling faith anti-rational redefines it in the least.
> That's because it's been so successfully redefined as anti-rational
> already, buy the fundamentalists & athiests alike. As I've posted before,

So you admit you are the one that is redefining faith. That's fine, you
can give it any definition you like.

> >Second, I don't see how that would "turn over the whole of human history
> >and most western art to be defined and controled by the likes of Jerry
> Fallwell."
> Maybe not "the whole of human history" but at least the western bit. See,
> what i mean is that if we(I) let the Fundamentalist Wolves take
> Christianity without a fight, they can claim the right/ability/power to be
> the authorites of interpretation on Shakespeare, Milton, Chaucer, etc.
> Also, all religious music (Bach, Beethoven, Handel) becomes "theirs" --
> since they represent "religion" and it is "religious music." The
> fundamentalists have not shown themselves to be responsible or kind
> stewards of such material.

I don't see what you are worried about. So what if the claim to
be authorities. That doesn't make it so.

> >> Not so, but close enough. There are those niggly tautologies that Aristotle
> >> covered; IE, I either came in first in the footrace (unlikely) or I did
> >
> >Or you tied for first, or no-one finished the race, or ....
> In which cases I have not won...

True, but that's not what you said. Did you come in first or not?

> >> not. I have the genitals of a male, or I do not. These, as a whole, do not
> >
> >Or you were born with genitals that are somewhere in between male and
> >female...
> In which cases I do not have male genitals, I have genitals that are
> between male and female.

Give me a break. There is no God-given definition of "male genitals".
However you define it, I guarentee there is someone somewhere who
you will not be able to classify.

> I won't deny that there are shades of inbetween -- there always are. but
> those shades of inbetween are _in between_ -- they are distinct and
> different from each other. [ Since we're talking logic here, you won't
> think it's rude if I identify the error here? Fallacy of the Continuum:
> "Assuming that small differences are always unimportant or that supposed
> contraries, as long as they are connected by intermediate small
> differences, are really very much the same." ]

Nice fallacy, but that's not what I'm claiming. I'm saying that given
any definition, you will be unable to classify everything in the universe
as belonging to the class or not belonging.

> >Since I've pointed out that faith now encompasses all beliefs, would you
> >agree it may be overly-broad?
> Hmm. One has to wonder why you thought this would work. What are you
> assuming about my belief structure that lead you to think I would object to
> faith encompassing all beliefs? Or am *I* incorrectly assuming about your
> assumption? :-)

I just thought that since you now admit that your definition encompasses
all beliefs you would realize that it is an overly broad definition. My mistake.
I'm quite willing to use your special definition of "faith" in discussions with
you, but I will always have to translate it to "belief".

> I'd like to see good reason that you believe there is no God. I don't just
> mean the judeo-christian one here, I mean G(g)od(ess)(-head).

You will have to give me a clue about what you mean by G(g)od(ess)(-head)
first. For all I know you are talking about the universe (which I do believe in).

> "Against logic" in the sense that logic dictated that there was a good
> possibility that the time would be wasted, and I acted as though that was
> not a concern. Yes.

That's not what I said.

> No, but if you are going to live based on a hypothesis, you'll have to
> believe it. And, of course, you do live based on many hypotheses. Many of
> these are supported by reasonable expectations, but not nessicerally
> through lab-science.

True. And I never said lab-science was necessary.

> >> Therefore God must either be:
> >> a) not all Good.
> >> b) not all powerful.
> >> c) not.
> >
> >So what did you decide in the end?
> d): both a) and b).

Well it looks like you've got your own religion :-) Why do you
call it Christianity?

> I heard it applied in a religious argument this way:
> "God cannot exist since God is an unknown and unnessicary entity in
> explaining the existiance of the universe." This, of course, is also a
> logical fallacy, identified in my manual as "Arguing from Ignorance."
> Because it hasn't been proven, this person is saying, it doesn't exist.
> Incidentally, in the same thread someone said that there was a 99%
> probability that God did not exist. He was unable to produce the way he
> came up with this statistic.

I think that person meant to say *unknowable* and unneccesary, in
which case it is a valid argument. You might as well believe that
undetectable machine elves created the universe.

> On the other hand, I'll head you off here: It is also Arguing from
> Ignorance to say that
> God exists, and to offer as evidence the fact that the existance has not
> been *disproven.*
> I do not make this fallacy. I gleefuly admit that I have no evidence at
> all. It's just useful to me to believe in God.[2]

OK, as long as you don't think truth is relevant to the issue.

> Hmm. Well, maybe it's not really a mistake since it's so close to belief. I
> mean, belief is *almost* faith, isn't it? ;-) It's only kind of a mistake,
> which is really no mistake at all.

I don't follow.

> >People believe in God because they
> >don't understand the difference between good and bad reasons for
> >belief. I know that sounds condescending but the evidence supports it. I
> would
> >like to be proven wrong if you would like to try.
> Hey! I'm majorly guilty of condecension. Educate me. What are good/bad
> reasons for belief?

I could recommend some good books if you want but here's a few...

Good reasons:
Because it fits known facts and theories.
Because refusing to believe in it doesn't make it go away.

Bad reasons:
Because my parents believe it.
Because people have believed it for thousands of years.
Because I want it to be true.

> I quote from Virian Sins and Virtues:
> >[Sins]
> >Faith:
> >Through some twist of fate western society has come to regard faith
> >as a virtue. To hold an idea as true despite all evidence to the
> >contrary is an abdication of reason. Convictions are the end of
> >knowledge, not the beginning; they are the enemy of truth more than lies.
> Since Faith is the prime element of all religion, (and, as I've said

Not this religion.

> before, all knowledge not based on either/or mathematical logic fact) I'd
> have to say this is a logical positivist argument. If I am incorrect, I've
> mis-read it.

You have mis-read it. Logical positivist said that if you can't prove
something true it is nonsensical. I believe that nothing can be proven
true. I don't think everything is nonsensical, therefore I cannot
possibly be a logical positivist.

> >But if you can't back up (offer good reasons for) your beliefs then you
> >have to admit you are indistinguishable from all the loonies with
> nonsensical
> >beliefs. Not all good reasons have to be published in a peer reviewed
> >academic journal (though that often helps).
> Fallacy of Continuum again. I hope you don't think that rude, since

Huh!? How?

> rationality and logic is part of the issue here. And I'm not saying that
> since you are making a logical error your position is invalid. That itself
> would be a logic error, but since it's not being made by me I'll not look
> it up. (It's late.) What I want to point out is that you have staked out
> beliefs, and then seek to rationalize those beliefs with what you see
> around you.

Absolutely not. All my beliefs are provisional. Without exception.

> >The higher ground can see where the middle ground has been misled.
> >No, I don't mean that. I'm just trying to illustrate that making assertions
> >of this kind doesn't really mean anything.
> Daaaah.... sorry. Excuse me? I got lost somewhere between the
> middle-ground/high-ground...

I mean that saying things like "people who share my position see the
situation clearly as opposed to you people" isn't an argument. It is
just an assertion.

> >Funny thing about those Heaven's Gate kooks, at least their beliefs
> >(in a space ship following the comet) were physically possible as opposed to
> >most mainstream religions...
> you forgot to include "physically possible, insofar as we understand
> physics." Remember: it is physically impossible to break the sound barrier.
> [Again, Arguing from Ignorance.]

I don't think it is necessary to append "insofar as we understand it" to
everything we say (I hope). And there is nothing physically impossible about
a spaceship following a comet.

David McFadzean       
Memetic Engineer      
Church of Virus