Re: virus: Belief and Knowledge (was: The truth about faith)

Tim Rhodes (
Sun, 29 Jun 1997 20:32:27 -0700 (PDT)

On Fri, 27 Jun 1997, David McFadzean wrote:

> DJS wrote:
> >4. The "power of positive thinking" aspect of the Credulous position is
> a fascinating aspect of it. It probably gets attention far out of
> proportion to its actual applicability, but it does so because it is
> paradoxical and self-referential and interesting and often true (all
> good things!). In this sense it's probably analogous to the "altruism"
> issue of natural selection.
> I've been giving this quite a bit of thought this past week, trying to
> come up with a good response to Prof. Tim's message about if and when
> faith is justified (the terminal illness scenario). I came to the same
> conclusion, that it can have a good effect in the situation where there
> is a possibility of a self-fulfilling prophecy. The place where I get
> stuck is in trying to figure out the mindset of the person after they
> have succeeded believing what is not true (or at least what the evidence
> does not support). Would they say "I know it is not true, but I believe
> it anyway" or would they say "I know it is true because ..." and
> provide some bogus reason, or would they say "I don't need a reason, I
> just *know* it is true", or...?

I think we've probably all met all three types among the religious devout
(I certainly have). I think the "I know it is true because..." are the
most common and often the most vocal. Followed closely by the "I don't
need a reason..." folks (although, I suspect many of these actually fall
in the next category, but would never admit it).

I, personally, have the most respect for those in the "I know it's not
true (or more often, don't care either way), but I believe it anyway"

-Prof. Tim