Re: MD On Faith

From: Steve Peterson (
Date: Mon Nov 01 2004 - 19:59:32 GMT

  • Next message: Joseph Maurer: "Re: MD Where does quality reside?"

    Hi Platt,
    >> Steve:
    >> I don't know that the MOQ says intellectual quality takes precedence
    >> over revelation, meditation, and contemplation of beauty. It says
    >> that
    >> intellectual quality takes moral precedence over social quality and
    >> biological quality because the intellectual level evolved later not
    >> because
    >> of utility. Intellectual statements are then judged based on
    >> intellectual
    >> quality rather than on who said it or what institution supports it.
    >> By
    >> invoking forms of belief that are supported by revelation,
    >> meditation, and
    >> contemplation of beauty you are pointing toward experiences that
    >> transcend
    >> all the static levels and are therefore more moral.

    > Yes. That's my point.
    >> However, I don't think
    >> it makes sense to say that a belief could possibly have such support
    >> since
    >> all beliefs are intellectual patterns of varying degree of quality.
    >> For
    >> someone to claim support for a belief from "above" would be to try to
    >> to
    >> reduce the dynamic to the intellectual level which would be immoral.

    > P:
    > I'm not sure I follow your reasoning here. Cannot one speak of the
    > dynamic
    > without being dragged down to the intellectual level? Are you
    > suggesting
    > that as soon as you attribute a cause to your belief that you are
    > invoking
    > intellectual patterns? Isn't it simply enough to say, "That's what I
    > experienced?"


    My comment about reducing the dynamic to the intellectual level
    concerns the danger in saying that one knows what God wants. I'm
    pretty sure Pirsig said something about this issue but I can't find it.
      It is wrong for the same reason that we leave Quality undefined. God
    is an term that is supposed to point to that which transcends static
    patterns and thus cannot be contained by intellectual statements.

    I'm not sure what you have in mind when you say, "That's what I
    experienced." Can you give me some examples of beliefs that may be
    supported by experiences such as meditation, prayer, revelation, etc?

    >> But I don't even think that revelation, meditation, and contemplation
    >> of
    >> beauty are generally what people are talking about anyway when they
    >> talk
    >> about having faith. They usually are supporting a view because
    >> God/the
    >> Bible says so or because their priest says so. Judging intellectual
    >> value
    >> based of the social position of the guy who says it (the priest) or
    >> the
    >> institution that backs it (the Church) over intellectual justification
    >> (thinking) is immoral. Saying something is so because God says so is
    >> immoral because doing so would be trying to contain a higher level
    >> (God) in
    >> a lower level (intellect).

    > I think there are a lot of "born again" Christians (I'm not one) who
    > would
    > argue that they had a direct revelation from God without the
    > intervention
    > of the Bible or a priest. Also, there are numerous accounts of people
    > who
    > have had near death experiences who afterwards become convinced of
    > God's
    > existence. Wasn't in Martin Luther who started the Protestant church by
    > rebelling against the notion that the only way to secure God's blessing
    > was through the intermediary of a priest? I think perhaps you
    > generalize
    > too much about those who claim to have faith in God.


    I was defending Pirsig's statement that faith is concerned with
    believing falsehoods, and I still think that the word is often used in
    exactly that way. I don't think I am over-generalizing when I say that
    beliefs supported by "revelation, meditation, and contemplation of
    beauty are generally [not] what people are talking about anyway when
    they talk about having faith." I did say generally, not always.

    > S:
    >> People will have differing views of what has intellectual quality
    >> because of their different experiences. What I'm talking about is the
    >> "believer" who, like me, experiences the low intellectual quality of
    >> statements like "the Bible is literally true" and chooses to believe
    >> them
    >> anyway and calls it "faith."
    > Agree. But I think it's too narrow to limit the meaning of "faith" to
    > those who in your opinion express low intellectual quality due to
    > belief
    > in the Bible or God I think of "faith" in the broader sense of the
    > definition supplied by Simon Magson awhile back: "1. Confident belief
    > in
    > the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea or thing." In
    > that
    > sense, scientists have confident belief in materialism, reductionism,
    > etc.

    I also think that "willingness to believe falsehoods" is not always
    what is meant by faith, but I think that the word has an important
    spiritual sense to it that is lost when you extend it to include all
    sorts of beliefs. Though I don't participate in an organized religion,
    I consider myself a person of faith in the sense that I try to trust
    that the world is as it should be and that it is good.

    > P:
    >> I don't agree that Pirsig necessarily
    >> "considers those who don't abide by scientific principles of inquiry
    >> as
    >> being immoral dummkopfs."
    >> S:
    >> What's immoral is to admit that a position is irrational (low
    >> intellectual quality), but then to assert it as true anyway (high
    >> intellectual quality). It's basically a lie.
    > P:
    > As you know, rationality has it's own problems in establishing "high
    > intellectual quality." Not all that's rational is true. It depends on
    > the
    > validity of an initial premise which, as I've tried to point out, is
    > often
    > based on faith. For example, the supposedly high quality intellectual
    > pattern of science that "all is matter and energy" does not itself
    > consist
    > of matter nor energy.

    Again, I think that having axiomatic beliefs is too broad a definition
    of faith. I don't think this is what "people of faith" would say that
    they mean by it.

    I think faith applies only to those axioms that concern value, meaning,
    and purpose--how one lives his life and interpret events, not just any
    observation or statement or fact.

    I agree that there are scientific types who take the materialism to the
    level of faith since I have known people who seem to struggle to prove
    that all experience boils down to a bunch of atoms bumping into one
    another. Some preach as though we'd all be better off if we only could
    wrap our minds around how empty and meaningless it all is. But I
    wouldn't apply the word faith to just any belief. I think that to use
    faith in the way you are using it and to say that religious faith is
    the same thing is to confuse two different usages of the word.


    MOQ.ORG -
    Mail Archives:
    Aug '98 - Oct '02 -
    Nov '02 Onward -
    MD Queries -

    To unsubscribe from moq_discuss follow the instructions at:

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Mon Nov 01 2004 - 20:14:05 GMT