(urth) Information, etc OT

Chris rasputin_ at hotmail.com
Thu Apr 20 13:11:58 PDT 2006

I said:
> >disagreement here. It is not at all a matter of filling in gaps; the 
> >of the two are not even of the same type at all. The important point is 
> >Reason alone is *empty of content*. Nothing at all can be concluded from 
> >alone - nothing - if you want to talk about gaps, it is ALL gap and no
> >information. Actual content is dependent on your axioms.

James said:
>I think it is very astute of you to identify this difference as an
>important key to this discussion. I wonder if you realize (as it seems to 
>that your definition of Reason in this context causes you to come to the
>same conclusion about Faith? Let me explain.

Yes and no. If what you mean is that the two are incomplete by themselves, 
then yes; if what you mean is that Faith is empty of content, then no. What 
you would lack if you take faith without reason is the ability to draw 
inferences - logical relations - between your premises. Your thought would 
have content, but it would be "blind" in that your core premises would not 
give you access to anything more than you already believed. Euclid's axioms, 
taken in a vacuum so to speak, would not give you Euclidean geometry - but 
you would nonetheless have the axioms themselves, even if you could 
construct no theorems from them.

Of course, you never actually *do* run into one of these without the other.

Note that this point really is mostly about the notion of reason, and not 
necessarily the notion of faith (if one remains agnostic on the subject of 
whether all axioms are taken "on faith", or whether faith requires something 
more than what we do most of the time).

>For the seculars whom I am describing the statement "I believe in God"
>is simply not of the same category as "I think my wife has fallen out
>of love with me" or "My wife thinks I hang the moon".
>Thus, they have a moral repugnance to "supersessionism" or
>"absolutes" in matters of Faith.

Well, of course many people are not systematic about such things, but the 
logically consistent version of what you're talking about is some kind of 
non-cognitivism or emotivism, and it isn't so much about faith, it's about 
value statements and normative propositions in general (and thus the second 
sentence about love would get put in the same category as the first). Of 
course religious issues are value issues, but not all value issues are 
religious, and this doesn't essentially have to do with faith. [This also 
connects directly back with the evolutionary biology thing earlier, because 
an easy way to deal with the objection that you haven't explained normative 
concepts is to claim that they're not really concepts, or at least not of 
the same kind as our other concepts].

> >other], and who have thought so, going a long way back. However
> >I think such people paint themselves into a corner in which there
> >is nothing left to have faith IN: you are left with only flat, known
> >facts. Recall that you (rightly) brought up the biblical quote
> >calling faith "the evidence of things UNseen".
>Well, the quote says "unseen", not unknown. And in fact
>verifiable *knowledge* is an important underpinning to
>almost the entire New Testament canon. I suspected this
>was true and did a quick search on the words "know"
>and "known" in the NT. The fact that
>Jesus of Nazareth lived and died in verifiable history and
>geography was very important to early Christians, to the
>4th century seekers of relics, and to every religion that was
>founded even in part on NT writings. It still is today.

Knowing that a guy named Jesus lived in about that place and time has little 
to do with having faith that said guy is the savior and son of God. His 
disciples could see him, they didn't need faith to know he was physically 
there; nonetheless they needed faith that he was the Messiah, which is 
something that could not be seen/proved.

When you're holding a newspaper in your hand your evidence is right there in 
front of you - you SEE it - faith is not required. When your mailbox is 
closed and you have no evidence as to whether a newspaper is in there or 
not, then you might nonetheless believe there was a newspaper in there. And 
if someone asked you why you believed that - on what grounds - you might say 
that you simply have faith that there is. (Or, of course, if your belief 
isn't of that kind, then you might modify your statement and say that you 
believed there MIGHT be a newspaper in there, etc.)

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