virus: ((God Pi + Bad dogma) - Any pretense of reason) = Silly Graf

TheHermit (
Sun, 28 Mar 1999 22:02:29 -0600

Prof. Tim

You seem to have completely missed or greatly underestimated the power of reason. I know exactly where SnowLeopard is coming from, and do not care for it one itsy teeny bit. I'd have kept my mouth shut, only he sat there babbling nonsense, and nobody seemed to want to reply. Which might just have given him the impression that he was "scoring points", or may have lead somebody else on this list who was wavering between the reason which is espoused on the website and the insane positions espoused by some of the "gurus" here, to believe that there was no answer for Snowleopard's particular challenges or brand of phaith - or any other brand no matter how much less poisonous, for that matter.

So while my response may have been addressed to him, it was in fact written more for the benefit of others. If it instilled a slight desire in SnowLeopard to stop accepting what other people tell him and start thinking - or even if it generated a slight uneasy doubt that his platform is as well supported as his challenges seemed to indicate that he imagined them to be, it might have done him some good. But I suspect that there would be a vanishingly small possibility of that happening, and it would be a rather unanticipated side-effect.

As for your response, it sounds wonderful - only your 'graf' phails to reflect that this is not a subject amenable to graphing, so your metaphor misses completely. SnowLeopard was talking utter nonsense - and responding to that with anything other than cold water is also utter nonsense. All of the nervous wiggling seems to be on the side of the phaith holders.

A graph represents a function. And there is no relationship that can be defined for two independant variables. So at best your graph should have two parallel lines on it. The lower line could then reflect the bottom pheeding, unthinking, phaithfull position held by supporters of the christian belief, the upper line would reflect the reasonable position held by people who have not decided that reason is not something to be ashamed of. The fact that the graph will show that the lines never intersect and cannot ever approach one another might have a lesson in it. But I forget what it might be.

So while your words are smooth and your metaphor elegant, the semantic content, if not null, seems to have been more along the lines of "Gee, aren't I clever" rather than anything more useful. I guess my comment on your 'graf' falls into the same category, so to make up, take a peek at the postscript which follows.


When Reason's ray shines overall,
And puts the saints to rout;
Then Peter's holiness will pall,
And Paul's will peter out.

P.S. Let me add a note:

SnowLeopard said:

> So,
> it looks like they're being sore losers. I keep checking. If God is
> not what I think he is, and he is powerful enoughto do anything, and
> caring enough to think of humans as more than giga-pets, then
> He'll make
> the truth known to me. He knows I'm listening.

I replied:

Think about that concatenation of ifs. Assign some probabilities to them. I'd love to see the results. Truly. No sarcasm at all.

I didn't include an example in the original letter, but having realised that most of the people that this might be useful to, probably have no idea how to figure probabilities. Here is how you can do it for your self (The first figures are just an example. I used high probabilities in it to show how little the sentence above is really worth, even if all of the assumptions have a high probability of working out the way he expected) (I have guessed he meant "If God is what I think he is" rather than what he said).

god is what I think he is (50%) x god is powerful enough to do anything (80%) x caring enough to think of humans (80%) x as more than gigapets (80%) x will make the truth known to you (50%) x knows you are listening (50%) => 6.4% probability of this occuring....

Personally I think the following is a much more accurate (but still generous) picture:

god is what I think he is (0.01%)(Note 1) x god is powerful enough to do "anything" (0.01%)(Note 2) x caring enough to think of humans (0.1%)(Note 3) x as more than gigapets (100%)(Note 4) x will make the truth known to you (0.1%)(Note 5) x knows you are listening (100%)(Note 6) => or a 1E-12% probability of this occuring.... even allowing for the uncertainty in 4 and 6 where I set both of those as certainties, rather than attempting to guess at a value. The reasoning for the values I used are:

(Note 1) My opinion is that SnowLeopard has not a clue as to what attributes a "god" is likely to have. He is welcome to attempt to prove me wrong. (Note 2)"Powerful" enough to do "anything" implies the ability to instantiate paradoxes - which is so unlikely that I discount it. (Note 3) If a "god" were as "powerful" as most people who have invented them seem to have implied, then the probability of it having any interest in humans seems remote.
(Note 4)If there is some kind of "god" then it is fairly certain that it would class humans as more valuable than gigapets. (Note 5) Given the lack of "confirmed" communication between gods and people, I think that this is probably a high value. (Note 6) If this supposed "god" has even some of the attributes of a "god" generally ascribed to them, it would have to know that SnowLeopard is listening.

This is approaching belieph in a reasonable phashion and well within the parameters of the CoV's charter. Of course, it indicates that the phaithful need to reconsider the certainty of their positions.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Tim Rhodes []
> Sent: Sunday, March 28, 1999 9:12 PM
> To:
> Subject: Re: 2nd Try under a new identity - virus: Faith vs Religion
> Well, it doesn't seem like the faith/phaith distinction
> struck home like one
> would have hoped. Let's see what happens if I put it this way:
> On the x-axis is true/false.
> On the y-axis is believe/don't believe.
> You're tracing your little pointer all up and down the x-axis
> shouting "See!
> Look at that, shouldn't you change your position!" Meanwhile
> SnowLeopard
> sits on the y-axis where, from that point of view, all you're doing is
> wiggling nerviously, and proclaims, "Why should I be moved?
> You haven't
> gone anywhere at all?"
> And still, neither one of you has a clue what the other is
> talking about.
> -Prof. Tim