Re: virus: Church of Virus/Memetics/Faith

David McFadzean (
Wed, 28 May 1997 23:01:57 -0600

> From: John "Dry-Roasted Army Worm" Williams <>
> Date: Wednesday, May 28, 1997 8:49 PM

> 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
> speak.


> 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.

I don't think I said that reason is suspect. At least not in that sense that
it is under suspicion.

> 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.

No, it doesn't go against what I know to accept something even though
I might prove to be wrong in the future. I bet my life many times each
day on my provisional beliefs (like when it is safe to cross the street).

> 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.

I don't think the two cases you describe exhaust all possibilities.

> 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.

If that was really the argument for using logic it is certainly flawed.
But I don't think it is.

> 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.

You're using Occam's Razor to show that logic doesn't exist? I have
to assume you are joking.

> 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?

That's a fair question. I don't feel I have no basis at all in anything real.
Even though scientific knowledge doesn't have any rock solid foundations
at the bottom (which means that technically it is circular), it is so vast and
interconnected it forms its own foundation. Sort of like a planet in space.
Nothing holds it up, but it is enough to build on. It is the complexity, the
coherence and the mutual support of the millions of bits that provides
a justificiation.

> >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.

Good, you should always be willing to change your beliefs in light of new

> 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)

Not necessarily. It depends on the other properties attributed to God.

David McFadzean       
Memetic Engineer      
Church of Virus