Re: virus: Church of Virus/Memetics/Faith

John \ (
Wed, 28 May 1997 22:49:20 -0400

At 07:12 PM 5/28/97 -0600, you wrote:

>>Then, pray tell, where do you find the authority to make any statement?
>Does one need to justify a statement in one authority or another? What if
>an authority isn't necessary?

I'm sorry; my Lit background is catching up with me. By "authority," I do
not mean "right to speak." I mean, "feel justified?" IE: Since I know
next-to-nothing about brain chemestry, I feel that I have no authority to

My question is this: If you agree that nothing can be proved completely[1],
then you must include the consideration that logical thinking processes
(ie, science) have not, and can not, be proven to accurately represent
reality in that statement. You've already admited as much, but you say that
there is sufficent "reason" to "believe" that logical thinking processes
accurately represents reality. However, you have already said that reason
is suspect.

Now: rationality is demonstrating that you are making decisions based on
what you know and what your goals are -- your own definition, am I right?
Now: you already know that logic *may* be fallible, so accepting it goes
against what you know. However, you have a goal, which is to say something.
So you recognize that everything you know *may* be wrong, and plow on ahead
with logic only.

However, once you do this, you notice a problem: in order to justify this
action logically, you must say that your decision was based on logical
thinking, or say that your decision was a nessicery cognative leap based
on *no* evidence that can be trusted *whatsoever* -- you've done this based
on what you wish to be true, not on what you've observed to be true.

The problem with the first option is that, being a logical person, you
recognize at once that you've used your conclusion (thinking logically) to
support your premise (one should think logically), thereby manufacturing a
nasty circular argument, making the logic flawed and the decision not based
on good logic.

The problem with the second option is that it sounds suspiciously like many
forms of Faith -- believing in something in spite of evidence. Indeed,
you've even violated Occam's Razor: the varactiy of Logic is unknowable
(since it would rely on itself to prove itself), and unnessecary (since the
world apparently went on before people created logic), which adds a little
more insult to the injury. You can't accept this, since Faith is a sin, not
a virtue, and you're supposed to do things based on logical thought.

So: how *do* you feel justified in saying things that you know may have no
basis at all in anything real if you do not allow yourself to take that
irrational cognative leap?

>>You've over-classified, placing
>>me in an extreme classification without regard to degree.
>But that's not what I said. If two things are indistinguishable in some
>certain respect, it doesn't mean they are not different. Imagine, for
>example, two catatonic people in an asylum last century. One lives a
>rich inner life of fantasy and philosophy while the other is brain dead.
>If an observer can't tell the difference then they are indistinguishable,
>but obviously not the same by defintion.

I'm sorry, I misunderstood. I thought you were calling me a loony because I
could not justify my beliefs to your satisfaction.

>>Ah: I mean, you're assuming that what most mainstream religions believe is
>>physically impossible. I'm saying, "impossible as far as we know." In this
>>case, it is necessary to append that disclaimer. Or not make that argument
>>at all.
>I'm assuming most mainstream religions postulate the existence of miracles
>which are physically impossible by definition (otherwise they wouldn't be
>miracles). Correct me if I'm wrong.

Mostly right: Unitarianism does not doctrinally postulate the existence of
miracles, but it's fringe of mainstream. And some adherents to mainstream
religions do not believe in miracles. Me, I like to keep an open mind.

1) If it could be shown that there was a God who could violate physical
laws at will, because he created them, would this not be a modification of
our understanding of physics? (Iranaean)

2) If it could be shown that God operated within physical laws, just ones
that we did not understand at the time, would this still make God
catagorically impossible? (Whitehead)

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