virus: The story-telling ape

Reed Konsler (
Thu, 23 Oct 1997 12:54:25 -0400 (EDT)

>Date: Wed, 22 Oct 1997 08:59:11 -0600
>From: David McFadzean <>
>I would appreciate it if you would think carefully about the
>following question: Who are you speaking to now? The majority
>of the world's population or me?

I am speaking to you about a statement that you are
making to the majority of the world's population. We
are discussing weather or not that is a statement which
ought to be made. I have a similar problem with Dawkins.
While I have great respect for his science and sociobiology
I think his anti-religious agenda is too strident. Perhaps
that is useful, acting as an attractor and a standard around
which to rally. I think it is needlessly divisive and
polarizing. My position is closer to the one Dennett
expresses in _Darwin's Dangerous Idea_:

"If you want to teach your children that they are tools of God, you had
better not teach them that they are God's rifles, or we will have to stand
opposed to you: your doctrine has no glory, no special rights, no intrinsic
and inalienable merit. If you insist on teaching your children
falsehoods---that the Earth is flat, that "Man" is not the product of
evolution by natural selection---then you must expect, at the very least,
that those of us who have the freedom of speech will feel free to describe
your teachings as the spreading of falsehoods, and will attempt to
demonstrate this to your children at our earliest opportunity. Our future
well being---the well being of all of us on the planet---depends on the
education of our descendents." (p. 519)

I think it's foolish to deny people their faith on the conceptually
suspect grounds that it is possible to live without faith of some
kind. But there is a difference between accepting faith and
allowing that faith "glory...special rights...intrinsic and inalienable merit"

I don't happen to belive in God. If you do, that's fine. But
I do not accept that arguements based upon revelation are
PARTICULARILY worthy or meritorious. The theories
of Jesus as expressed in the Bible stand beside those of
Mohammed, John Rawls, Richard Brodie, and David be judged by each of us. Scientific
constructions of reality are not "better" than religious is simply a question of what ideas are useful
to you in the pursuit of your life's goals.

In this judgement, tradition does play an important role, as
does popularity. A long held and popular ideology is
probably designed to propogate itself...but at least it is an
ideology which is not ESPECIALLY virulent and toxic.
Ideology is a parsite on the human species...but some
ideologes: Fasicm, Heaven's Gate, etc. are like outbreaks
of Ebola, killing people and destroying infrastructure.

I think it only SEEMS like a good idea to hold up reason and
critical thinking as a sort of "defense mechanism"
against faith. To me, this is like treating disease with
generation after generation of antibiotics, each one
more sophisticated, dangerous, expensive, and
complicated than the last. Eventually, the rapidly
evolving viruses will develop immunities to every
defense. TB is making a comeback, and so is
fundamentallism. All we are doing is breeding
more and more virulent and aggressive versions
of the infections.

In the end, the answer to mental well-being is the
same a physical well-being. Eat well, get a lot
of rest. Keep active and in contact with your
community. Find meaningful work and purpose.
Love your neighboor.


Reed Konsler