RE: MD On Faith

From: Platt Holden (
Date: Fri Oct 08 2004 - 15:29:58 BST

  • Next message: Platt Holden: "RE: MD On Faith"


    > I can deny it, up to the point that one could say that we all do everything
    > based on certain unprovable assumptions. If I discover water on the floor
    > after it rains, I will start making hypotheses that I have a leak here or
    > there, and test them. I have assumed that the water didn't just magically
    > appear, though I can't prove that. Similarly, I can make a hypothesis that
    > rocks fall to earth at a steady acceleration, and I can test that. In doing
    > that, I need not have assumed that this is a purposeless or amoral cosmos,
    > nor that chance is involved, nor that everything that I think is true must
    > be empirically verified (though I have chosen to verify this hypothesis
    > empirically). Nor do I need to assume materialism, or that all events have
    > a cause (though I may be be looking for a cause in this case), or that
    > everything is deterministic, or that nature is independent of human
    > observation (I am looking for patterns -- it doesn't matter whether those
    > patterns exist independently of my observation or not), and so forth. No
    > doubt most scientists do believe in a lot of these things, but it is not
    > necessary to believe in these things in order to do science. However, it is
    > necessary to believe in God if one prays to or worships God.

    It may not be necessary for scientists to have faith in all the
    assumptions I listed, but I dare say most scientists do. Certainly it is
    necessary for scientists to have faith in determinism, rationalism,
    reductionism, empiricism, materialism, mechanism, and experimental

    > There are cases, though, where scientists pretty much have to believe in
    > materialism to proceed. One example is the attempt to find a material cause
    > of consciousness. Strictly speaking, a belief in materialism is not
    > required but it is extremely unlikely that one would expend that effort
    > without the belief. No one likes to do things with the expectation of
    > negative results.

    Yes. And furthermore, science expects (has faith) that order exists in the
    universe that science can comprehend.
    > > Finally, terrorists adopt the biological moral code of "might makes
    > > right." That's what makes terrorism a biological pattern.
    > You've got it backwards. If I believe that my social group is being
    > oppressed by another, that means that I think that there are social
    > patterns that my group wants to pursue that the other is not allowing me to
    > do, and that it is able to oppress my group because it is mightier than
    > mine. So if I believed that "might makes right" I would accept the
    > oppression -- it is right that I be oppressed. I become a terrorist when I
    > decide to fight that perceived oppression, and since I assume the oppressor
    > is mightier, I resort to terrorizing, as opposed to frontal assault, in the
    > hope that those terrorized will decide it is not worth continuing to
    > oppress my social group (which is not to say that I may also be motivated
    > by vengeance, or whatever -- and I hope you don't assume I am attempting to
    > justify terrorism). This is adopting a violent means to a social end.
    > There may be other reasons for terrorism, like a belief that my social
    > group is superior to all others, and therefore the others should be
    > converted to my group's way. But again, the use of force is as a means to
    > this social end, it is not what makes the social end right.
    I agree with Pirsig that "might-makes-right" is a biological pattern:

    "What's coming out of the urban slums, where old Victorian social moral
    codes are almost completely destroyed, isn't any new paradise the
    revolutionaries hoped for, but a reversion to rule by terror, violence and
    gang death-the old biological might-makes-right morality of prehistoric
    brigandage that primitive societies were set up to overcome." (Lila, 24)

    Your use of the word "oppression" leaves much in limbo. Seems everyone
    these days, in order to engender sympathy as victims, claims to be
    oppressed. For instance, I, as a male WASP, am oppressed by feminists and
    diversity advocates, not to mention the PC crowd. That's hardly an excuse
    for me and my fellow WASPs to set off a bomb in Harvard Square, killing
    innocent civilians as "a means to a social end."


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