Re: virus: Thinking clearly about faith

David McFadzean (
Tue, 16 Feb 1999 22:52:09 -0700

-----Original Message-----
From: Deron Stewart <>
To: '' <> Date: Tuesday, February 16, 1999 4:17 PM Subject: RE: virus: Thinking clearly about faith

>The rational world view is great -- unequalled even -- in dealing with
>things that are simple enough to understand: General Relativity, heart
>transplants, human cloning, logic, selfish genes, Mars explorers,
>astrophysics...that kind of stuff. These are some of the little boxes I
>referred to.

Astrophysics is one "little" box? OK...

>But what about the tough stuff? Gang warfare, human relationships, finding
>meaning, addiction, the Middle East, dealing with tragedy, .. stuff like
>that. Science has little or nothing to say about this, nor does the
>"rational" world view (by itself).

I respectfully disagree. The rational world view says a great deal about all these issues. Or am I missing something? Are you indicting all of science because it hasn't solved all the world's problems?

>The "Church of Reason"[1] is just as comforting as any other church to its
>adherents, and for basically the same reason: it provides intelligible
>answers in a complex universe. Such comfort doesn't come without a price
>tag of requires one to close one's eyes to whatever doesn't fit
>in the boxes.

Again, I think this is misleading. Asimov or someone said that science doesn't start with a "eureka!", it starts with a "hmmm, that's funny".
(i.e. whatever doesn't fit it the impetus for innovation in science)

>It can be a bit of a straight jacket after a while as the justifications
>have to get more and more strident and convoluted to avoid giving
>ground...but then again until it reaches that point for a person, maybe
>it's serving them ok.

True, you can't know a priori whether anamolous data is because of faulty theories or faulty observations. You have to try to fit in into the theory until it breaks. That's not a bug, it's a feature.

>We are surprised that more christians don't change their creed to accept
>Darwin, but how many "rational" people changed their tune when the
>Prisoner's Dilemma was discovered? (And this is a much greater challenge to
>the Church of Reason than Darwin ever was to christianity).

I know you meant this a teaser, but what are you suggesting about the Prisoner's Dilemma?

>[1] I think this term is fairly self-evident but read _Zen and the Art of
>Motorcycle Maintenance_ for more description.

Hey, I'm still re-reading Cat's Cradle :-)

who can't believe he used to sit through entire days of lectures all the time