Why faith is a sin (was Re: virus: Re: virus-digest V2 #282)

David McFadzean (david@lucifer.com)
Sat, 25 Oct 1997 12:56:58 -0600

At 02:41 PM 10/24/97 -0400, Reed Konsler wrote:

>Yes, David this gets at the crux of what I (and I assume Richard) find
>wrong with your definition of faith.

Yes, I think we are getting very close to the origins of our
disagreement (which is very encouraging).

First I'm going to throw out some definitions. I don't want to force these
on anyone, I just want you to adopt them long enough to comprehend my
argument. Feel free to throw them out after if you don't think they are
useful for any other reason.

A belief is:
rational - if it is based on logical reasoning with true premises
*and* valid inferences
irrational - if it is based on logical reasoning with false premises
*or* invalid inferences
unrational - if it is not based on logical reasoning

rationalized - when an unrational belief is turned into a rational belief
unrationalized - if it is not rationalized
rationalizable - if it is possible to rationalize it
unrationalizable - if it is not rationalizable

reasonable - if it is consistent with one's goals and intentions
unreasonable - if it is not reasonable

>I see faith as extra-reason where you define it as contra-reason.

Not true. I agree that faith is extra-reason. Faith is unrational.

>So "faith" is unreasonable to you. I am asserting that faith is unreasoned,
>exactly like the example you have given above and exactly as potentially
>useful. But you find the construction "resonable faith" meaningless or

Not true. I agree an unrational belief can be reasonable.

>In essence I think you are trying to divide beliefs into reasonable ones
>and unreasonable ones. I agree that unreasonable beliefs are to be avoided.

Yes and yes. I am looking for a way to find reasonable beliefs while
avoiding unreasonable beliefs. That is in my best interest by definition.

>What I disagree with is the labeling of unreasonable beliefs as "faith".
>It is the conflation of the two categories that I disagree with.

I can see your point, but that isn't the reason I'm opposed to faith.
The problem with faith is not that it is unrational. It is not even
that articles of faith are unrationalized. It is quite possible to
have reasonable beliefs for the wrong reasons (love your neighbor
or go to hell) or no reason at all (love your kid because you do).
The reason faith is a sin is because it makes beliefs unrationalizable.
If it is possible to rationalize a belief, faith is not necessary.
(Which is what Prof. Tim was trying to tell Cathy Hardin.) If I think
your faith-based belief is unreasonable, you have left me no ethical

I don't claim all my beliefs are rational (they certainly aren't) or
even reasonable. But (and this is The Big But) if they are not, I want
to know about it and I don't want to make you resort to fraud or
violence in order to get me to change my mind. I appreciate it when
others give me the same opportunity, so I promote reason and denigrate

David McFadzean                 david@lucifer.com
Memetic Engineer                http://www.lucifer.com/~david/
Church of Virus                 http://www.lucifer.com/virus/