MD On Faith

From: Charles Roghair (
Date: Tue Oct 05 2004 - 03:58:38 BST

  • Next message: ml: "Re: MD A bit of reasoning"

    Hello All:

    On Oct 3, 2004, at 3:06 PM, David Buchanan wrote:

    > [Scott:] I am aware that Pirsig considers the MOQ to be, as he puts it,
    > anti-theistic, not just atheistic. Of course he is referring to theism
    > as a
    > belief in a personal God, and there is none of that in the MOQ.
    > However,
    > unless mysteries like "where does intellect come from" get better
    > answers
    > than "DQ created it", the MOQ verges on the theistic.
    > dmb says:
    > Well, the MOQ's explantions might be a mystery to you, but I fail to
    > see how
    > theism or faith follows from that. The MOQ is not a creation myth, its
    > a
    > evolutionary metaphysical explanation and its assertions are based on
    > empiricism.

    A seminarian friend asked me about "faith." Specifically, he
    challenged me to explain why I have faith in science and I don't have
    faith in God. His point is one of causation, that everything is the
    result of a cause, which suggests there must have been at some point
    in the past a "first cause."

    The following is a chunk of the email in which Brother Jim issued said

    So here's what I was thinking. This came up in my class on systematic
    theology (even more boring than it sounds), but I remember reading it
    back in the day when I was reading Nietszche to impress my girlfriend,
    who, it later turned out, didn't give a shit what I read and found the
    whole Nietszche bit pretty snotty. But anyway.

    We were talking about different ways of looking at faith vis a vis
    reason--one way would be for reason to lead to faith--i.e., someone
    deduces through reason that revelation is correct. Another would be
    for faith to lead to reason--you believe in a religious creed and then
    use logic and observation to seek out its buttresses. Another would be
    to see them working side by side--for example, Thomas Aquinas, who sees
    revelation as God's gift to the Jews, and philosophy as God's gift to
    the Greeks, and Christian culture as a synthesis of the two, and writes
    using that synthesis. Then there's the view that they're antagonistic,
    that reason categorically excludes faith, because faith requires a leap
    beyond what can be proved or tested, etc. From the faith side, you get
    what is politely called "fideism," a belief that all you need is faith,
    and logic and reason are a waste of time (in other cultures, these
    people are called "suicide bombers"). Catholicism has traditionally
    liked to see itself in that Aquinas mode, with faith and reason working
    side by side. But when push comes to shove, Catholic authorities
    usually are more suspicious of reason and science, etc, in favor of
    faith. That's not always true--for example, as long ago as St.
    Augustine in the 3th century he was teaching that Genesis was an
    allegory, not the actual facts of creation--but a lot of times it is.
    Hence the reaction against modernism at the beginning of the last
    century, and the business with Galileo in the 16th, etc.

    Now here's what I was thinking. When you're in line with your daughter
    for preschool and you see "just believe," you pull her out of line and
    go somewhere else, because you're horrified at the whole notion of your
    daughter being encouraged to accept blind faith (those people would
    count as fideists, methinks). And yet your boy Nietszche made the
    point that the thought process behind reason, or science, or logic, is
    essentially the same problem. I used to have this argument with my old
    roommate, who was a psychiatrist and STILL won't prescribe me any
    Ambien or Oxy, that is sort of the same--cause and effect, for example.
      Why do we believe that cause follows effect? Because it always does?
    But isn't that a tautology? It does because it does? His argument was
    that science could prove itself--that the rules of science proved
    scientific principles. And therefore everyone should accept science
    because it's the only system that can be proved by science. But isn't
    that a self-referential problem? I mean, wouldn't science obviously
    prove itself? It wouldn't have any adherents if it didn't.

    So we believe in cause and effect, and gravity, and the laws of
    thermodynamics, because by observation we can infer them to be the
    case. But we actually have no proof of them--they're descriptive laws,
    not prescriptive. And from all that inferring, we make huge leaps of
    faith to believe in the existence of quarks, or neutrons, or black
    holes. And eventually you get to fantastical theories that are as
    amazingly creative as anything religion dreams up--for example, the Big
    Bang. What's the difference between a Hindu who believes the world was
    vomited out of the mouth of a god-monkey, and a scientist who believes
    the universe came into being from a single point that included all mass
    and energy, and has been expanding "out" (from where?) all these
    billions of years? The scientist points to evidence--leftover matter,
    or galaxies flying away from us, to support his theory, and says
    evidence holds the day. But the Hindu points to faith and tradition,
    and says they hold the day. Why is the scientist's argument more
    compelling? What is it that makes a scientist or an atheist or an
    agnostic believe in the Big Bang, but scorn that Hindu with his

    One obvious reason is that we privelege logical arguments and
    scientific reasoning because they've proved to work, by and large. Then
    again, that god-monkey is pretty faithful to the Hindu, else his family
    wouldn't have worshipped it for three thousand years, and continue to
    do so even though now they've got TiVo and "Real World" reruns. Anselm
    and Aquinas and Bonaventure used logical arguments to "prove" the
    existence of God, but that logic is dismissed as specious, while
    teaching that Einsteinean wormholes can allow a hypothetical time
    travel is considered cutting-edge physics. Isn't Steven Hawking saying
    "Just Believe"?

    And from there, what's the reasoning behind the belief that when you
    die, you die completely? What evidence is there to support that
    hypothesis. Or is it just a matter of faith--"I believe that nothing
    follows physical death"? That god-monkey might be pissed, if you chose
    to be a pagan in a creed outworn over and against him.

    Now, I'll be fair--there's no one who doesn't accept those laws of
    physics and science and reason. I accept them all myself. At the same
    time, I agree with Nietzsche that in that matter, as much as in my
    incense-choked popery, I'm accepting it on faith.

    I'm going to the Jersey shore this weekend--I'll make sure to send Chad
    a postcard.



    Faith is a process. In order for there to be faith, there must be a
    subject/object duality. Also, faith may be divided into "rational"
    faith and "irrational" faith

    While the subject requires consciousness, the object need only be real
    or true according to the subject's belief system.

    I have faith that the sun will rise tomorrow. I am the subject, the
    sun is the object. My faith in tomorrow is based on my experience of a
    thousand yesterdays. Rational.

    George W. Bush has faith that "God is on our side!" in the U.S. led
    coalition occupation of Iraq. George W. Bush is the subject, God is
    the object. His faith is based on, I don't know, what Pat Robertson
    tells him or what he finds stuck to the bottom of his shoe at the end
    of the day, or what Rummie and Dickie C. say. Irrational and scary.

    As the sun has risen every day I can remember and every day before that
    as far as I know, this is a rational faith.

    As far as George W. Bush's belief in an omnipotent, all-benevolent
    creator who has taken up America's illegal, imperialistic agenda to
    kill arabs and dominate world oil caches, well, let's just say I think
    that's irrational.

    So there is "rational faith" and "irrational faith." Capisce?

    Faith in science is rational and convenient. Faith in God is
    irrational and inconvenient and, if you ask me, also scary.

    Scientific Validity

    Your old roommate was wrong: one cannot use science to prove science to
    be true. I won't even maintain that science is true, only convenient
    at the moment to describe what's happening as God was convenient (more
    convenient, at least) in Biblical times. Biblical times was a long
    time ago. Before a lot of scientific evolution, discovery and

    Gravity is a good example. The law of gravity didn't exist before Sir
    Isac Newton came along to write it. This is also, of course, an
    example of the way in which the power of reason can be applied to
    create knowledge. Newton was able to theorise the relationship between
    two bodies (the earth and an apple) by suggesting it was based on the
    presence of a hidden, unobservable, force. He was, furthermore, able to
    test this theory and demonstrate its reliability and validity over
    time, in every known case. The law of gravity is made up of words that
    describe a phenomenon.

    Can you make an equally persuasive argument for God based of
    "irrational faith." Send me the results of your test; describe your
    reliability standards; help me to understand the validity of entire

    All I know is that I was born with blood on my hands and then I must
    have this irrational, inconvenient, faith. There's no testing,
    reliability or validity. "No questions, just believe."

    Stephen Hawking didn't say "just believe." Stephen Hawking said "I'm a
    lot smarter than you; that's obvious. After a shit- load of intense
    thought and hard work, I think I've got this figured out; I believe
    this, and here's why..."

    Father Gary back in the early eighties at Saints Simon and Jude
    Catholic school in Huntington Beach said "you are an original sinner,
    this hippie carpenter was nailed to a tree a couple thousand years ago
    and it's your fault, and now I'm gonna tell you once a week for an hour
    on Sunday what asshole you are over and over even though God's perfect
    and he made you in his image and I know that because it's written in
    these old books that have been translated a bunch of times from an
    original language that no longer exists in practice by people who
    weren't actually there and didn't know Jesus and by the way, he never
    intended to start a church, that was us and we've fucked up a hell of a
    lot since then, but Pope John Paul II just got around to admitting we
    were wrong about Galileo Galilei in, 1992 was it? So it looks like
    we're coming around. Your ass looks hot in those Toughskins, by the
    way. Yow!"

    Father Gary was a little boy-crazy. Also, judging by the dates he was
    some kind of clairvoyant. Weird.

    Also static. Static and sort of silly.


    Causation is an illusion. Microscopic particles do not adhere to the
    laws of causation; sub-atomic particles in fact appear and disappear
    without rhyme or reason. Science has shattered causation, it exists
    only on a social level–in people's heads.

    Point being that reality is dynamic. Future scientific revelations may
    reveal that causation does in fact exist again. I'm open to that
    possibility. That will be the reality then, of that moment, of and
    when it happens.

    "Just Believe"

    My problem with the sign on the wall in Cecilia's preschool classroom
    is not so much what is said, but what is implied.

    "Don't ask questions, just believe."

    I don't like that message; it smacks of brainwashing. Also, it's
    incredibly static. It swims upstream in the dynamic river, REALITY.
    Christianity, Islam (even more than Catholicism!), Judaism, Hindus,
    Scientology, etc; all stubborn salmon flopping at reality. God? Flop.

    Nietszche, that cranky bitch, when he said "God is dead," I think that
    was wishful thinking. God is the enemy of genuine mystical experience.
      Nietszche would have killed God, given the opportunity. Nietszche
    knew that only upon God's death did he have a chance of ever actually
    knowing God. God is dynamic.

    Church: flop.
    Tradition: flop.
    Ritual: flop, flop.
    Dogma: flippity, flop, flop, flop!

    Christianity's personified God is a 25 pound pregnant salmon-cow,
    flopping and struggling against the undeniable, rushing waters of

    The Godhead, or getting beyond the illusions of duality and symbols,
    seeing that everything is one and that matter isn't real–that's God.
    It's not something you can institutionalize. There are no hierarchies.
      There is no guilt. There is no judgment. There is no Pope-mobile.

    Now I'll be fair, I know your God isn't necessarily that of traditional
    Christianity's, but I need some point of reference and I don't expect
    you to define your God because I suspect it is beyond comprehension
    ergo beyond definition.

    Which leads me to my final point...

    Faith is for Science. Faith is for people. Have faith in your spouse
    or your best friend or your family or booze or porn, hopefully it is
    rational faith; have faith in art or philosophy or literature or junk
    food or television or The Fighting Irish...

    Faith doesn't enter the equation, where "God" is concerned. I am God;
    the apriori me, I mean, that guy, him, me, I, am God. Faith is moot.
    The self is it, after all.





    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 : Tue Oct 05 2004 - 08:43:31 BST