virus: Show and Tell (was: Have a Coke and a Smile!)

Tim Rhodes (
Fri, 5 Mar 1999 01:50:56 -0800

Jake wrote:

>Perhaps you aren't looking at it in the same way. My experience
>is that when things don't make sense, people generally want to
>know why.

I would agree with that. This is why thinking you understand a topic effectively stops your ablity to gain any insights about it.

[Question #1: Do you think you understand what faith is, Jake?]

>Is there something wrong with me talking off the cuff about my general

Not at all. But you recognize the fact that "talking off the cuff" with one side of your mouth while demanding the "rational scrutinizing of assumptions" with the other is, well... (I'll be charitable, I guess) ...*strikingly ironic*, to say the least.

[Question #2: Does "practice what you preach" only apply to the clergy, Jake?]

>If a there is a compelling argument, or conflict that I haven't already
>considered, sure I would want to consider it.

I suspect you will be able to identify and effectively pidgeon-hole any argument I could possibly make to you. You're very intelligent. A bright person can easily distinguish-and-discard every idea that could potentally threaten their statis quo without ever acknowledging to it themselves. (This is one of the disadvantages of being smart, as you well know, we can decieve ourselves in the most creative ways possible.) And it all looks completely rational from inside. Why wouldn't it?

[Question #3: Again, Jake, are you willing to rationally scrutinize your own assumptions about faith? The very basic ones--starting all the way down to your definition of what "faith" is and moving up from there?]

>But I am not going to invent some on my own from scratch. The
>only ones I could think of are probably ones that I have already
>considered, so that's no fun and conclusion is already forgone on

I understand completely. That's why we have conversations in the first place. I often surprise myself with what I can come up with in the push-and-pull of a discussion; things I could never have thought-up sitting alone rationally examining my own thoughts.

[Question #4: If I act as a sounding board will you go through the process of rationally scrutinizing your assumptions about faith here, out loud, for all of our benifits? Will you provide for us with a working example of what you preach?]

>It doesn't really matter to me what faith is based on - it matters to
>me what it is. Faith is exempting in principle some representation(s)
>from rational criticism.

Okay, back up a step! You're employing circular logic based on your primary set of assumptions again. Before you say another word: STOP! THINK! QUESTION!

It's time for Show & Tell now.

Let's mull this one over for a bit, "Faith is exempting in principle some representation(s) from rational criticism." Hmmm... Okay...

Now say I wanted to rationally scrutinize this here assumption--how would I do it? (You may have to talk me through this one, Jake, this is your area of expertise not mine.) Well, we could play the "assume the opposite" game, couldn't we? Hell, that's as good a place to start as any, correct? (Am I doing this right, Jake?) So, let's assume for the sake of argument:

"Faith is something _other than_ exempting in principle some representations from rational criticism."

Now, does using this assumption (~A) lead us to a quagmire of logical inconsistancies and turn the physics of the universe on it's head? Well, does it? If so, *how* (Okay, Jake, your turn now--show me how this rational scruttiny game is played out--and be specific here, please.)

>This isn't the same as "trust" or "hope" or "commitment", though
>many faith evangelists may try to confound these issues (consciously
>or not) for the "benefit" of the unconverted.

SLOW DOWN, Buckwheat! That's B/~B. We haven't even examined A/~A yet! You're getting way ahead of yourself again. Let's take this one step at a time so the slow readers in the back of the class can keep up with us. Oooonnnnneeee sssssttteeeeeppp aaaattttttt aaaaa ttttttiiiiimmmmmmmeeeee!

>But anyhow, as I said above, if I were to rationally criticize this
>assumption on my own, it would be just going through motions
>that I already have before. On my own, the returns on such an
>effort are not worth the energy, since the conclusions are forgone.

I'm sorry, Jake, I didn't catch the last part of that. Did you really say: "the returns on such an effort are not worth the energy, since the conclusions are forgone."?!? (You couldn't have, could you?)

In other words: "It's not worth my time to question my assumptions, because I have concluded beforehand that they must be correct."

Is this some sort of irony on your part, Jake? Can't you see how similar that statement is to "I am exempting in principle some this representation from rational criticism becuase the costs of criticising it are too great for me." Or are you actually and truly unaware of this similarity? How could you not see it? If that's the case, why do you think it is that you're so blind to this timber in your own eye, Jake?

>So if you want to make this genuine, I would need
>input from somebody else.

I'm here for ya', pal. But I learned a long time ago (although it seems I need constant reminding), that it is impossible to teach someone who has no interst in learning.

So far I haven't seen any willingness on your part to question your own assumptions about faith. Right now I'm stuck. Based on the conflict between what you say and what you're willing to do, I'm forced to classify you in the same group as, say, money-grubbing $5000 a plate politicians who half-heartedly call for campaign finance reform while excepting PAC money after the speech, or those ministers that preach the evils of morality from the pulpit while diddling the alter-boys between services. Up to this point,
your walk just hasn't matched your talk. But, prove me wrong. Please.

It's time for you to lead by example, Jake. Walk us through it step by step, asking the class for questions between each and every point in the process. Show us how it's done. I'm not going to buy the product if you can't even get it to work for you in this, a controlled setting, let alone in the chaos of everyday life. If you want to close the deal, it's time to stop pitching and plug the sucker in and see if it works on my carpet with real dirt.

If not, get off my doorstep and stop wasting my time.

[Question #n: Are you willing to rationally scrutinize, here in public, Jake, your own assumptions concerning faith?]

-Prof. Tim