virus: Faith, Logic and Purpose

Reed Konsler (
Wed, 12 Nov 1997 01:24:16 +0100

>Date: Mon, 10 Nov 1997 12:57:19 -0700
>From: David McFadzean <>

>>>I don't believe the guesses are non-falsifiable. The "lens of
>>>interpretation" you mention is an excellent example of the kind
>>>of faith-based belief I think is avoidable.
>>Completely? Don't you really mean that it can be minimized?
>No, I mean completely. It takes only a single doubt to completely
>avoid the "I'm always right and you're misguided" belief.

That would mean that belief is binary...I thought you used a T-table
system of evaluation in which belief ought to vary with evidence.
I'm saying that self-positive and other-negative evaultions tend to
be exagerated. A single doubt is sufficient to mitigate an absolute
belief in such things, but not eliminate an extreme belief.

>I'm saying that I have good reason to believe that <critical analysis>
>is vastly superior to <faith> as an epistemological tool. I think <faith>
>is like <racism> in that it may have been useful many thousands of years ago,
>but its time is long past.

This is your idea of a compromise? Couldn't you think of a less
value-laden comparison to communicate the idea? Certian kinds
of faith may be obsolete, just a certian kinds of reason are. But
you must recognize that, whatever technical defintions you have
used to construct the above paragraph, the CONNOTATION of
the association between <faith> and <racism> is not neutral. You
are still making connections between <faith> and <evil> through
secondary signifiers and implicit association. This association,
explict (as in "Sins and Virtues") or implict (as in the above
paragraph) is spurious and unsupportable.

>><faith> is a tool.

>Can we look at how well the respective tools fulfill their

It's an interesting question. It would be most useful if we
approached the issue from an unprejudiced position, don't
you think? I'd be interested in what you think about the
subject. :-)

>>Humans are above faith. Humans are above reason. It is we who
>>are the users of the tools, not the converse (in an ideal world ;-) ).
>And genes are a tool we use for creating the next generation of humans?

I suppose it depends on your perspective. In a sense, yes. If you want
to build a new human being, the only way to do it is to grow one from
those already in existence. What were you getting at?

>>My position is only "fatalistic" if you equate the mitigation of <reason>
>>with death. I have no doubt, based on these conversations, that you
>>hold this bias. I do not.
>What if I have faith that you also hold this bias?

Then I expect you will act on that belief.

>Sorry, don't know what a "Javert" is.

A character from Les Misarables. Sort of a personification of the super-ego.

>>>Don't you think people in general can learn to act more intelligently?
>>And with greater kindness! Yes, David, the world can be a better place!
>>But there are many ways of defining intelligent, and none of them are
>>"strictly rational". ;-)
>True, but I don't know how to teach people how to be more creative
>and kinder. I can teach them to make better decisions rationally.

Might creativity and kindness come from the same wellspring as faith?
Would you at least entertain it as a hypothesis?

>>>If they can, don't you think that would create a better future?
>>Of course! What makes you think that <faith> isn't a worthy tool
>>in this collective endevour?
>Because <faith> will prevent me from having any influence (if I
>only use means that are ethical in my view). <faith> closes the
>channel for constructive criticism. Isn't that reason enough?

For you or for me? I don't accept the premise "<faith> closes the
channel for constructive criticism" unless you mean something very
technical by "constructive criticism". A sophisticated debater
can find support for any position, hense our legal system. In a
sense, then, <logic> also closes the channel.


Reed Konsler