Re: virus: Church of Virus/Memetics/Faith

David McFadzean (
Wed, 28 May 1997 10:16:37 -0600

At 11:18 AM 28/05/97 -0400, Reed Konsler wrote:

>David, aren't you getting into arguments over definitions?
>You make arguments like this:
>I define faith as X.
>X is irrational and not to be tolerated.
>Religion claims to include faith.
>Therefore Religion is irrational and not to be tolerated.
>But what religion describes as faith (Y) and what you
>descibe as faith (X) are two different things.
>X is not Y.
>Therefore, your syllogism doesn't play in Peoria.

That would be true if X was not Y. But I think X is Y,
that religions and I have the same definition of faith
(Mr. William's redefinitions notwithstanding, he appears
to have departed significantly from mainstream religious

>What people accept as rational and irrational do not correspond
>to your model. I'm not arguing with the accuracy
>or utility of your definitions, but don't you expect the the
>church-bound to resist your attempt to subvert to meaning of
>these central words to your own end? And yet you cry in
>the woods like some kind of martyr: "Carl and I against the
>world," indeed. Methinks I detect a wolf-in-sheeps-clothing.

What makes you think I made up these definitions? I did not,
I get them from reading Dennet, Churchland, Dawkins, Calvin,
etc., etc.

It is rational to eat when starving (given that survival
is a goal). It doesn't matter what causes you to eat (forethought,
instinct, stupid luck). Who would disagree with this?

>This all becomes very complicated in my mind. Instincts are
>rational? You do violence to my defintion of rational with
>this assertion. Rational implies, in my mind, the concept
>of "with forethought". Rationality is the fire of Prometheus;
>not all-powerful, but a great advantage. To reduce rationality
>to utilitarianism loses shades of meaning I think we should retain.

I do violence? Surely you wouldn't resort to hyperbole to make
your point?

OK, let's use the word "rational" in your narrow sense. What word
do you suggest we use for what I mean?

>And why? Becuase it creates, as Richard has pointed out a more
>complicated model. Acts can be rational (I mean: "with forethought")
>or irrational (I mean: "without forethought") without regard to
>their outcome.
>Rationality is, like science, logic and like all mental tools a process.
>to define "rational" as "that which is successful" is like calling
>all objective thought Objectivist thought.

That is not what I mean by rational. You can act rationally and
still die horribly. It is not directly tied to success.

>You know, Dawkins has been fighting this battle along with you
>and Sagan for a long, long time: "Science is not a religion".
>It's so obvious, isn't it?

If science was a religion I wouldn't have to invent Virus.

David McFadzean       
Memetic Engineer      
Church of Virus