virus: Sex in the brain

Reed Konsler (
Thu, 4 Mar 1999 18:32:13 -0500

>[faith] is a deliberate handicap, [an assumption] is just something I
>never found a reason or an opportunity to rationally scrutinize.

Some "handicaps" are, in fact, a source of great strength and beauty. Think of a sonnett...all those handicapping rules. Think of free verse...all that deceptive freedom. When we think of handicaps we have to ask "what is our purpose?" To a computer programmer, being paraplegic may be no handicap at all. When YOU say "handicap" what purpose are you presupposing?

>Perhaps my brain is wired up differently than yours, Reed.


>Rationally scrutinizing my justifications is not something that
>I have to force myself to do.

Believing in God is not something I have to force myself to do. Indeed, my scientific education indoctrinated me against my natural inclination. It took me many years to resolve this conflict. Like most people, I chose to live my life as I was taught as a child. This is why people rightly focus so much attention on the education of small children. Dawkins makes this very clear in his essay.

>In fact to me, faith is a deliberate effort to stop people from doing
>something which they would naturally want to do without it - that is
>rationally scrutinize their justifications. People generally have to be
>*taught* aversion to this.

Belief is not about stopping questions. Science would never progress if every new student said "well, how do you really KNOW that? well, how do you really KNOW that? well, how do you really KNOW that? well, how do you really KNOW that?" ad nauseum. No one teaches this way.

We teach narratives, stories...always in the forward direction. Belief, like science, is about asking novel, extending questions...If "God is Love" and I fall out of love with someone is God the less? If it is important for me to be at church on time, to show my respect to it OK to be late if I stop to help a person broken down on the highway on a snowy day? If life is sacred, is it so sacred that no amount of pain and suffering is enough to help someone die?

The kind of questions you want to ask are the gnawing, cancerous kind: Is Jesus Christ *really* the son of God? How could he die and yet rise again..isn't that preposterous!? How did the Red Sea part, anyway? Why doesn't it part now? Then you laugh like some adolescent:

"Ha! You aren't so smart! I've tricked you, and the church, and God!"

Look, whatever. What-Ever. [shrug] I understand that there are fundamentalists out there, and that many of them say stupid things from time to time. But that doesn't define religion...just as the dogmatic and the trivial works of most scientists do not define science. Stop beating the hell out of that poor straw man.

>Why else do you think that three and four year old children are
>capable of questioning adults far beyond most adult's abilities
>or patience to respond? Partly because they haven't been taught
>not to, and if they are fortunate enough, they never will.

Agreed, but religion doesn't oppose a process of productive questioning. Religion, like all institutions, opposes questions which are designed to attack and undermine it's basis. Science opposes postmodernism with quite a passion for exactly the same reason.

>Like the nymphomaniac that wants to fuck every potential
>mate in the universe, I would love to be able to rationally
>scrutinize every justification there is.

I thought you didn't want to talk about your sex life. Interesting analogy, though. Nymphomaniac?

"Here, sit on my couch" said Dr. Freud...

>Of course we know that this is not possible in any real sense.

Jake, buddy, it is not even desireable...on a literal or a metaphorical level. You're still living in the wet dreams of a 14 year old. I used to dream about fucking women, as a young boy, that were (other than genitalia) erasers. Endless rows of pink vaginal erasers. [laughter] Can you imagine it? Think about the symbolism in that! [laughter]

I understand what you are saying but...dude...Grow up! The interesting part about women is not in the fucking.

>But I hold it as one of my highest values, that every
>representation is in principle subjectable to rational scrutiny.

Do you also think that every woman is a potential partner? I had a roommate that used to say "every woman wants me... they just don't know it yet".

Of course, he didn't date anyone for the three years we lived together. Silly idea Jake. Silly analogy. This isn't even sporting.

>I can at least embrace the PROCESS in an uninhibited manner.

[laughter, LAUGHTER...tears, shortness of breath...grasping for a glass of water. Willfully trying not to pee my pants.]

Forget it. That one is so easy I refuse to take it.

I prefer to make love to one woman. She is the same woman every time, but each time I learn something new. Sometimes we don't speak, other times we've joked...had conversations about trivial things, the news. I'm bald, and women seem unable to keep their hands off my head. At the last party I went to, it became a sort of many women will rub Reed's bald head. It made me somewhat uncomfortable but I tried not to let it get to me. Then I noticed it made other people uncomfortable, also...especially one married man who sat holding his wife's hand, looking on with furrowed brow.

I understood. I looked into his eyes, then I raised my eyebrows and put on a big grin. And he laughed and laughed! And his wife looked at him like he was crazy, and then at me as if to ask what I had said that she hadn't heard. But we just laughed.

I didn't want his wife. I didn't want my head rubbed by those women. But there was no denying the incredible sensual pleasure associated with it...and I didn't. I said it straight out. And we all laughed. We laughed becuase it was something which was so physical, so pleasurable, that it just HAD to be dirty...but there I was, squat in the middle of the floor, drunk and babbling something or other about tax law...serene.

Now, that was a party!

>Faith is a specific and clear limitation on rational scrutiny.

What is the negative consequence?

>When I say
>"get out and live a little"
>I only mean
>"accept the fact that ALL justifications can not
>be ever be completely rationally criticized.

So, you have to take some things on faith. Exactly my point. Exactly my point.

>When the fruit stops falling from a tree, we may
>come back another day or another year and get
>results where before they were diminishing. These
>are not clear and specific limitations on rational
>scrutiny. In this metaphor faith is basically saying
>"Thou shalt not eat the fruit of X tree" not now,
>not ever. Pan Critical rationalism basically tells
>me that there is no reason in principle why I could
>not try to eat from any tree that I please. It does
>not command me to actually eat from every tree
>that there is.

Faith doesn't restrict your choice of trees, if you want to mix metaphors, it simply says:

"Dude, you are human! There are only so many apples one man can eat. Stop running around like an idiot and sit here under the shade."

And if you do, reality is bound to hit you on the head, so to's a force of nature.


  Reed Konsler