RE: virus: Faith, Logic and Purpose

Robin Faichney (
Fri, 14 Nov 1997 20:25:34 -0000

> From: David McFadzean[]
> At 02:23 PM 11/14/97 -0000, Robin Faichney wrote:
> >> Of course not. But that doesn't mean they have
> >> good reasons. Do you think all reasons are equally
> >> good?
> >>
> >Of course not. Did I suggest they were?
> That is one interpretation of your apparent objections.
> What are you actually trying to say?
You edited out where I said "But who decides what's a
> good reason?" You take that to imply one reason is as
good as another, but I meant exactly what I said. Who
decides? The question is not, what's a good reason,
but how do we agree on what's a good reason -- it
being obvious that neither you nor anyone else can
make that decision for anyone but yourself.

OK, to save time, I can guess you'll respond by saying
that the question <how we agree> reduces to <what's
a good reason>. But I'm not a member of your Church,
David, despite my participation on the list, and I don't
go along with your assumption that we can decide on
such things here and then go out and convert everyone
else to our view. Despite your objectivist inclinations,
and my *relatively* subjectivist ones, I suspect I'm more
scientifically-oriented, and less morally-oriented than
you, i.e. I'm more interested in understanding how
things are, and less interested in trying to change them.

In fact, I'm beginning to question whether I might not
spend my time in more productive ways than in arguing
with you, which is how it always seems to end up here.
Maybe our differences are just too profound.

> Check out <>
> to see a typical discussion with someone of faith.
> Another example is from e-mail I got this morning from
> Ryan Davis, an evangelical minister...
Yes, I know you and many others like you are
deeply motivated by your experience of Xtian
fundamentalists, but for me that's not a live
issue. The US is way out of line, compared to
the rest of the "developed" world, in the hold
that "old time religion" still has on the
population. I can't recall the figures off hand,
but there's a vast discrepancy between church-
going stats for the US and for the UK and other
European countries. Canada I don't know
about, but your concern with this matter
certainly makes you look like a typical modern
young North American to me. In my mind, all
this pro-rationality anti-faith stuff is *such* a
waste of time and effort, when we could be
getting into really interesting memetic takes on
all kinds of cultural phenomena. But then this
isn't primarily about memetics, is it? That's
just a means to an end, for you -- what you're
really interested in is the propagation of the
Gospel according to David.

Sorry -- you're not as self-centered as that
makes you sound. I do believe that you
genuinely mean well, but I also think you're
seriously wrong-headed, which is why I'm
going to let that Gospel thing stand.

> Richard Dawkins and Susan Blackmore have also thought
> about this issue and came to the same conclusions.
Let me know when they join the Church.

> >you're not), how is attacking faith going to
> >affect the faithful? Don't forget this is an
> Because people don't necessarily have faith in faith,
> even if they have faith in something else. If they
> don't have faith in faith, there is still hope.
OK, there may be something in that, but I still
say that to view faith as an absolute is simply
wrong. There's an infinite number of
gradations between a perfectly open mind
and a perfectly closed one.

> People have actual, specific beliefs about such
> matters as faith, skepticism, rationality and
> evidence. You can't sweep them under a metaphysical
> rug and hope it all goes away.
Do you really think I'd use such a tactic, or was
that just a rhetorical tactic? Obviously, people
will hold positions on such things, but it seems
to me that such positions are not straightforward
intellectual points of view, but are functions of
many complex psychological factors, not the
least important of which is the objectivism vs
subjectivism dimension of personality. As
evidence for *some* deeper factors, if not
necessarily that one, look at the arguments
over these issues here! Tacking such
problems as if we were taking part in a
philosophy seminar is just *never* going to
work! It can be fun up to a point, but it won't
solve the problems, and I think I'm rapidly
approaching the point where it ceases even to
be any fun. Why? Because the amount of
deja vu I get from this list these days is
making me feel nauseous!