Faith-based thought vs thinkers Re: [extropy-chat] IntelligentDesign: I'm not dead yet

Russell Wallace russell.wallace at
Mon Jan 30 03:57:49 UTC 2006

On 1/30/06, Brett Paatsch <bpaatsch at> wrote:

> I think science, and more fundamentally, reasoning, and those that
> practice them *have* done significant good because some others have also
> been able to put aside faith and belief.

Science yes; I did say outside technical areas.

You say people of any "persuasion". I can be persuaded by reason if I
> am willing to question my assumptions and think about other arguments but
> how is someone persuaded to faith ?

Usually by being taught it as a child.

Okay. For me faith (or belief) and reasoning are almost opposites.   For you
> is faith (or belief) ever reasoning?

No, faith is belief in the absence of a reason.

> All your above relates to the past as is shown by your last sentence "WAS
> motivated by and based on faith".  I asked about IS not WAS.

Okay, fair point.

Can you offer an example where faith per se IS CURRENTLY progressive,
> humansitic, extropic, or in any way a net benefit to people in its
> consequences?

To the extent that people in today's world believe in doing good rather than
harm (however you define these things), and act on those beliefs, why do you
think they do so? Because they've studied history, philosophy, ethics,
economics, game theory and evolutionary psychology in great depth and
derived theories that lead them to the conclusion that this or that is the
best way to behave?

Of course not. It's not remotely practical for everyone to go through that
process before they can start acting in the real world; and the inherent
complexity and fuzziness of the subject matter combines with the nature of
human psychology to largely eliminate reason as a driving force in human
affairs anyway. Put simply: intellectual study won't convince you to do good
or evil, it will merely give you the tools to justify what you were going to
do anyway.

Nor would civilization work if people would cheat, betray, steal and kill
whenever there wasn't a policeman watching them.

In practice, civilization works because - and only when - most of the
citizens have faith in it and its associated moral standards.

That is, if you are using "faith" in the general sense of belief in the
absence of evidence. Or do you mean it to refer specifically to belief in
God or the supernatural? (Not commenting on which definition is better, just
checking which one you're using.)

- Russell
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