virus: showers

Reed Konsler (
Wed, 24 Feb 1999 08:45:47 -0500

>>It is possible.
>That's a faith I wish I shared,

Me, too.

>but it contradicts my experience

I know. That is why you have to have faith. It allows you to create a new experience.

>and human history.

Complete and utter bullshit.

>One of the most memetically revealing passages
>I have ever read was written more than four
>centuries ago, by Richard Hooker. It is to be
>found in Eric Voegelin's "The New Science
>of Politics", Chapter 5: 'Gnostic Revolution -
>The Puritan Case', pp. 133-152. Please obtain
>and read this passage.

Why? What will he say to me? How will his words serve my purpose? What do we share in common? What error in my thinking will he expose to me? I'm not going to read something unless I think it would be enlightening.

>It is a difficult task, at best, to repeat tolerance to
>them more than they mantrically and with mutually
>positive reinforcement repeat intolerance to each other.

Well, all the easy stuff has already been done. It wouldn't be much of an intellectual challenge, nor offer much real meaning to our lives, if there was absolutely no rational reason to suppose we could fail. Plus, it might work. If it does, wouldn't it be inspiring? That's low risk (one life) and high reward (improvement of human culture). I know gambling isn't rational. That is why people enjoy it so much. But you and I are a little too sophisticated to be entertained for long at a craps table...becuase we deeply understand the nature of that game. So we look for the games which still hold some mystery.

Richard Dawkins tells us that those deep mysteries can be found in _Unweaving the Rainbow_. He's absolutely right, but that is only half the story. The second half is in reweaving it, in synthesis. Dawkins, I know, sees this...I hear echoes of it in his recent book, as in E.O. Wilson's _Consillience_. As scientists, rationalists, as reasonable people, we are collectively searching. But we are powerful, and power leads to chauvanism. We respect our scientific ideas more than the mystical so, as we search for reunion, we have a tendency to insist that everyone use our terms. And the mystics, priests, and gurus do the same, but with different terms.

The crisis, and it is a that the mystics have faith, they believe unmoveably in what they say. We don't, because we accept the potential for error within ourselves. This is why "level 3" (the moon, not the finger...the signified not the signifier...the ideal, not the representation or any single person's embodiment of it...the infinite intangible substance, and not the finite literal expressions) is so crucial to our success.

If we oppose faith, reason will lose. Reason doubts itself. Thus "Pan-Critical" rationalism. Pan...omni...everything INCLUDING SELF. A rational person wears their weakness on their face and collapses at the push of a button...or else they are not totally "pan-critical".

But self-proclaimed rational people tend to be pretty resillient. How does this happen? It's a paradox. How can these people be pan-critical, including can they be so open and yet so strong?

The sad truth is, for the vast majority, they are hypocrites. They claim to be rational but are not, not completely. They hold assumptions which they will not question. They are not completely pan-critical. The worst are those who gleefully question everything except self.

And that has always deeply offended me, becuase I hold reason in very high regard. To see people preach reason, teach science and yet be so FUCKING UNREFLECTIVE. It makes me angry. I admit this to you causes me great bile ridden rage. It makes me shit pissed livid because these people violate something which I hold dear, which I hold inviolate, which I believe should not be questioned.

Ironic, isn't it? Ironic that I claim to be rational and yet am so dogmatic? That realization causes me guilt, great guilt...becuase I am what I hate, in a sense. I'm a rabid rationalist. I have an unshakeable faith in reason. I will bend, to be sure. But I will die before I break on this principle.

That is a complex paradox. I hate something, and yet I embody that thing which I hate. That seems silly, futile, unproductive...dare I even say it seems EVIL. Can we agree that hatred is evil? To be in that state is worse than unconsciousness, becuase with every action I make myself aware of the evil I do...but I have such a hard time seeing the good. Every act of another upon me I flinch from, becuase my paranoid delusion charactures everyone as a devil in disguise, and me most of all. I am, indeed, possessed by a Selfish Genie...a perverse spirit of evil.

Or not?

That, in the end, is all "level 3" really is:

"Or not?"

Not true. Not false. But meaningful, to me.

Or not? I wonder. Why do I wonder? Because I deeply wish to be a good person. I deeply wish to be a person who sees the goodness in things, and who communicates a positive vision. That is my purpose in being. There is nothing more important than that: not reason, not faith, not evil or guilt, nor anger. My purpose is to be a good person, as best I know how. I don't claim to know exactly how. I don't claim to have special access to knowledge of what good is.

But I do know, that the way I used to think...the rabid rationalist way...I know that way is evil. I know that intimately, and that knowledge has tortured me for most of my life.

But if I could embody that thing which I hate...then perhaps I can embody that thing which I love? To embody what you love, to embody goodness...that isn't inconsistent with purpose, anymore. I think I sense I way out. Perhaps the existentialists are wrong. Maybe there is an exit here, somewhere. Where is the door out of living hell? How do you find it?


I hate it. I hate faith. It's irrational. It''s just yucky OK? It makes me offends my worldview.

But the line dividing faith from reason runs, not between me and the Other (as the postmoderists would say) but, right down the center of my heart, or brain...whatever. We're speaking metaphorically here.

Who can cut out a piece of their own heart? Who would let a piece be cut out of their own brain? No one.

Unless (remember the Lorax?)

Unless, of course, that piece was causing siezures, right? If it was causing you serious continious pain...well, you might consider cutting it out...wouldn't you? It might be best to destroy something which unrelentingly attacked everything else, which caused the whole system to fail? I mean, it might hurt for a moment...but maybe that would be better than hurting forever?

Now, I can't cut faith out of my heart. I have faith in reason, and reason is good. If I lose my faith, then I'm going to collapse into a depressed heap. Anyone will be able to push me around becuase I'll always be open ...deeply eternally open. You just can't do that, becuase there are vile, evil, terrible things out there. You have to be closed to some things and open to others.

But how to choose? If I choose reason as a sieve, I exclude myself from goodness...becuase I am not completely rational. If I choose faith as a sieve, then I'll become permanent: dogmatic and unchanging.

Perhaps I will use my purpose as a sieve? Perhaps I will use goodness. What does goodness instruct us to do? Goodness instructs us to suppress evil. What is evil? I can't be sure. I can't be sure about so many things.

But, can we agree that hatred is evil? Can we all accept that premise? Can we agree that our purpose is to be good, and while we might never know exactly what that means...we are resolute that hatred is never good, but always evil. Are you with me there?

If so, the choice is clear. Cut hatred out of your heart. Suppress it. Resist it in every expression, will all your energy. We will each always carry some evil with us, becuase we can never be sure what is good and what evil...but can we be resolute that hatred is unacceptable?

So, what do I think of faith now? Well, my purpose is to be good. Since I don't know exactly how that is going to be accomplished, and I admit that I will always hold some evil within me, I need reason... I need to pan-critical. I've got to think.

Plus, I've got to help other people think. It's useless for me to be free if everyone else is still enslaved. Freedom of expression is only worth something if there in an audience of equals to listen. But so many of us are irrational, slaves to one ideology or another. And we have faith in our foolishness.

What can oppose that faith? Our faith. I have faith in reason. My resolute faith in reason will help me to redeem the irrational.

So, I suppose, I love faith...well, anyway, it's very useful to me in my purpose. No, I love it. I love it and I embody it.

Look, I don't know what your prison looks like, only you can feel those bars. I know this. I was trapped in a living hell of my own construction. The key was hatred. I cut hatred from myself, and used it to open the lock. Then I walked outside

And it was spring! The world was green with life. I was born then. I don't know where this path will take me, becuase I don't have any magical powers to guide me towards good. The only tool, the best tool I have ever reason. I have faith that this tool will serve me, at least until I find something better.

And, the funny thing is, I can walk backwards any time. That door is still open, and hatred is still sitting their, sullen and ignored, in the lock. And whenever I like, I can close the door on myself.

But it's dark in there, small, noone but me. It's no longer entertains me becuase I deeply understand the nature of that game. So I need to search for something which still holds mystery.

That is the story of how I came to be on this path. It is also the explaination for why no person, no idea, no force...will ever push me back. I am too big now, to fit back in the womb.


>I would also prefer peaceful coexistence to war,
>yet I will not embrace intellectual slavery to avoid it.

Exactly my point.

>That's what they're counting on; that it is less
>trouble for people to forsake their own consciences
>and adopt the zealots' version than it is to oppose
>zealotry. We must not acquiesce and thus confirm
>that they are right about this.

Speak brother! But never become too enamored of your own rhetoric. This journey has no end, and everyone will eventually have to be redeemed along the way, even the most hateful. If we must build walls to protect ourselves in the short term, let us not perceive them as permanent, unyielding features of the landscape.

>Well, a question asks, but a statement asserts.

My precious God, I think you're going Zen on me. I love it.

>This is just saying, "well, you might not be so
>pure yourself"

It's like you're telepathic.

>There is a little matter of dinosaur bones, carbon
>dating and DNA here.

Those are facts, we are talking about narratives.

>Children should not be taught myth as fact, or as science.

I agree, but children should be allowed to believe. Belive in what, exactly? I don't know...I rely on a democratic community of people with freedom of expression to help me work it out. I have my voice to contribute, but I recognize that I don't have any special access to truth. My doctrine, also, has no special merit.

>Are you advocating the scholastic institutionalization
>of "intelligent design theory" here?

Absolutely! But ONLY if the collective finds it to be the closest to good we can come up with. If not, then NEVER, I would oppose it with my soul. But, since the question is still unresolved: I have no answer. Based on this principle:

I'm a scientist, I try to avoid preconception as much as humanly possible.

>Scientific facts are not a matter of popularity tests,
>but of experimental results, repeatable under controlled

Here, here! But we shouldn't teach facts. Facts are boring. Facts are also, by definition, anyone who wants to know a fact really badly can go look for themselves.

Stories are interesting. What tale shall we tell that makes the facts meaningful? What model shall we use? Oh, I've got an idea! Why not use them all? Why not mix and match? Why not hybridize to find the closest thing to good we can? Why not, in short, step up a level and accept that there can be multiple useful ways of looking at things...that these models might even be inconsisent with each other...that this is OK. It is, as Richard will tell you, much better than OK.

Becuase "the words" cannot bind us, unless we let them. It is we who choose. God depends on each of us to interpret what goodness is for ourselves. If we do not, then God is useless to us...indeed, God may become a force of evil if too many people don't take the time to interpret what he says. So we should think, study, listen. We should tell each other what we think God is. Anything: anything but nothing. We are human, after all. Human nature is to create. If there is no God, whatever you concieve that to be, then I hold you each responsible...personally assist me the synthesis of one. I don't claim to know what that construct will look like.

But I do understand teleology! We envision. We create Our creations give meaning. What could be simpler?

>Wake up, Reed; the world is more than six thousand
>years old. You are the voice of the serpent if irrationality here.

You know what? I'm not sure my world is more than seven days old. It began when I rejoined this list and decided that I was going to say exactly what I believed. If that seems irrational to you then you lack the imagination, or the compassion, to understand me. But I have faith that you have the capacity to do so...that is what differentiates you from ash and dust.

>When things get that ugly, one group of people shares
>the common faith that another group must not be
>permitted to exist, enact it into law, and act upon it.

I understand. This is why it is imperative that we try to keep things from getting least until we can help more people to become rational. After more people become rational, there won't be nearly as much ugliness. I have faith in that. I won't say God is on our side, but I think goodness is. To know with more certianty, we would have to talk to everyone and find out what they think. No one person can ever be certian what goodness is, but we can each stand by our opinion and consider the beliefs of others. We can negotiate. The outcome will always be better that something that one person has created.

>...ugly faith is the source of the darkness.

That is, more or less, what Jesus Christ said. It was the essence of the new covenant.

>>Is there a difference between a lie and a story?
>Ask George Orwell. Historical revisionism, for
>whatever purpose, is unjustifiable.

That's a different conversation. Today let's focus on faith. Tomorrow we can think about propaganda.

>Good luck.

I don't need luck. I have faith in myself, and in us. There is no force more powerful in reality.

>>I can't see any purpose in reading the diatribes of
>>madmen, and I trust you when you say it is disgusting.
>Regardless, I DID post it, just to prove my point about
>the shameless and proud evil of absolute coercive

You have freedom of expression. I didn't read it. Why should we tell each other the evil words of crazy people? That seems futile. It's like saying

"Here, this smells terrible, take a whif."

What possible purpose does that serve? Unless you are questioning? But I think you're pretty certian of the evil nature of the document to which you you need me to verify that for you?

Could someone else do it? There must be people in the world with more stomach for that sort of thing. I'm only seven days old, anyway...I know there is a lot of work to do...but could I enjoy my innocence for a little while longer?

>When Peul Hill shotgunned an abortion doctor and
>a clinic escort to death, what information did the
>slain gain from it?

That they and their people were not evangelizing effectively enough. Actually, the dead gain no information. We each make our own conclusion from the facts. That was mine.

>Agreed. It's not the escorts or the patients who are
>spitting at the clinics, either saliva or lead.

OK. Now, don't hate me for saying this:
>From a Catholic perspective, they are killing babies.

It takes incredible forebearance to resist the urge to protect children, whatever the cost. Sometimes, especially if you feel like your voice isn't being get pushed too far. This is especially true for people who don't have enough reason, and enough faith in it, to recognize their innate ability to advocate for their beliefs. Violence is always the recourse of the desperate...the crudest form of expression. This is why it is so critical for us to educate each other. We need to give all human beings the tools to make themselves heard. Only then, will violence cease.

>Bad people like to rationalize their cruelties...
>Do not make it easier for them.

I hear and obey.

>Substitute "ecclesiastical" for "institutional."

Has he been excommunicated? Has his flock been threatened with excommunication if they don't start acting like grown ups? It may not be significant to you...but it is significant to them. If the Pope declared that any Catholic who murders an abortionist would be excommunicated for the unforgiveable sin of hubris (to take life, which is God business, not man's) it would serve to supress the evil. We could suggest it, anyway.

>>But we do not shirk from force when we can find
>>no other solution. We don't hide from the thin end
>>of the wedge. We are pragmatic, and sometimes we
>>resolve to push back, with care.
>This must be remembered by those unwilling to
>embrace extinction.

That's pretty deep. I like it.


  Reed Konsler