Re: virus: Faith and Works

Eric Boyd (
Sat, 8 May 1999 22:22:10 -0400


Snow Leopard <> writes: <<
Have you read any of C.S. Lewis' other works? If so, you must be aware that accuracy is not his objective. He's mocking "the devil" and he's teaching. He's teaching, and that's the point.

Well, as a small child I read the Narnia series, but to be honest I don't remember anything about them. I know now that said series is supposed to be Christian Apologetics at it's best... which is why it's on my "to read... again" list. ("When you reread a classic, you do not see more in the book than
you did before; you see more in you than there was before." -- Cliff Fadiman)

Teaching I believe. Mr. Screwtape didn't understand devil very well, but he *did* seem to have an excellent working knowledge of God and what he wants...

Is there any specific book you had in mind to recommend to me?

>Nobody here fights against individuals. We fight against the
>memes (or Virus's of the Mind) that some individuals have.
>We are not "throwing stones" and making ad-hominum
>arguments but rather critising ideas, and seeking the truth.

I disagree. I'm defending Christianity. Yes, that's Christianity with a "C" the xtians thing really bothers me. I see it on the same level as a racial slur. You send messages "disproving" bits of it. If I don't respond, that will stand as truth in the minds of your readers. In essense, I'm in competiton with you. You'd probably see it as yourself producing interferons... whatever.

Well, I've often commented on this very aspect of religion here in the past -- how a religion's adherents define their identities by the dogma of their religion... they are "capitial C" Christians. Such a position is alien to Freethought and to Atheism -- indeed, is alien to almost all "intellectual" discourse.[1] Perhaps you could help us to understand it. The last big discussion about "faith" here on Virus resulted in a new definition of faith, something more and deeper than the previous results. Perhaps you can take a look at it and see if it gels with your personal (understanding of) faith?

I said that "an exposition of Phaith (and we use a different spelling to differentiate it from the Dogmatic Faith of the Virian Sin) was an incarnational narritive -- a story about how the present you came to be". Phaith itself is therefore about a deep gnosis (self understanding), and ultimately, such a knowledge leads to clarity of purpose that state of being so certain of what is most important to you that all other decisions, including choice of memetic programming, stem from that knowledge (thanks Richard). (you can also view phaith from a designer stance -- phaith then isn't so much a gnosis as a Programming: "I *will be* that which I wish to become") Alternately, you can think of a phaithful person as embodying, or bringing to life, that which they believe in.

KMO defined it as well:

Phaith; n
1. the internalizing and embodying of a principle, frequenlty resulting from an experience of boundary dissolution and/or seeming participation in a wider, more pervasive consciousness than is the accepted norm and integrating the principle and/or the effects of the experience into one's actions, perceptions, and decision making. 2. that level of trust in one's modus which is necessary to function in an uncertain world. -- KMO, on the CoV mailing list.

So, any comments?

I have no problem capitalizing (the name of) your religion; but in return, you can capitalize mine... Atheist, Virian, Freethinker. Mutual good will is important (Virian Empathy).

Finally, a lack of response is taken as a concession, yes -- that is the nature of the medium we use (and the medium is the message -- I finally got around to reading that book!). I am currently working on an "epistemology of email" (after yet another stagnated discussion with Prof. Tim), and this type of issue is one of the things it will address. It will probably be about two weeks in the making. For those interested, I'm going to be drawing heavily from

  1. an evolutationary framework of idea development (variation and selection),
  2. my second hand knowledge of Popperian epistemology (based on failability, creativity and rationality)
  3. my own experience with email discussion and what has been said on this topic here.

I think email makes silence a much more common and passable response than it is in live discussion -- especially partial silence, as you can pass that by almost unnoticed.

Speaking of which, what happened to this issue that the title of this email refers to? (heh heh -- you almost slipped it by me). I am fairly certain that Paul and James cannot be reconciled on this issue, but I am willing to continue letting people try...

>[2] Indeed, I've never even understood worship, either in practice
>or theory. Just why should any god even care what we
>grasshoppers think of it? Does it bring the Almighty pleasure to
>see us grovel and declare ourselves unworthy? But this is just
>my age old question -- what is the meaning of God's life?

It doesn't make sense. Neither does a child playing with a gigapet. Neither does a parent caing after a child is grown. Don't ask me! I'm only
worthy through Christ.

Well, I'm glad to see I'm not alone in my puzzlement. I have the same sort of intellectual problems with prayer. (just what is the idea there? It's not like we're telling God something he doesn't know already!) Is the purpose of prayer related to Affrimations in any way?

As to children with gigapets and parents caring for children -- both are very understandable. The first is the child gaining knowledge and experience in the real world -- preparing itself for life. The second is much larger -- it can be explained from selfish gene theory (genetics), or from emotional attachment (psychology), or from cultural tradition (memetics), or from any number of other angles (both politics and religion also come to mind as possible explainations)


ps: I love the irony of your last sentence!

[1] Note: much of my recent reading has been pointing this out. Specifically, Allen Bloom's book _The Closing of the American Mind_ is all about this loss of convinction and the results it has had on not only the intellectual life in the modern world but also the apathy it has produced in the masses.