Re: BIO: Help wanted explaining evolution to students

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Thu, 18 Sep 1997 20:37:01 -0500

Max More wrote:
> At 11:18 AM 9/17/97 -0500, Eliezer wrote:
> >[name deleted wrote:]
> >> I'm also curious about something--how can one justify having any sort of
> >> religious faith at all, if one takes a pancritical rationalist approach
> >> to existence?
> >
> >Oh, come now, you should know better than that.
> >"How many legs does a dog have, if you call a tail a leg?"
> >"Four - calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg."
> >
> >If God exists, then a fully informed pancritical rationalist would have
> >absolutely no choice but to believe in It.
> If you are using "faith" simply to mean the content of a belief system,
> Eleizer, then your response is correct. However, I take faith to more
> usually refer to the *way* in which a belief is held, i.e, not in
> accordance with or sensitive to evidence and reasons. In that sense,
> pancritical rationalism is *not* compatible with religious faith.
> Max

Although there are undoubtedly fundamentalists who would shriek that Faith
must reign supreme over Reason, there are also sane people, some of them with
doctorates in physics, who would insist that every word of the Old Testament
is unvarnished and unmetaphorical fact. Many would take offense if you
suggested that their belief is not "in accordance with or sensitive to
evidence and reasons".

While it is not my intention to intervene in religious disputes at this time -
I feel we'll all know who was right soon enough - I do feel it necessary to
remind everyone that there are sincerely and unapologetically religious
people, who are often involved with charitable issues and generally spread a
little Light around, even if it is in the name of God. If this seems odd or
inconceivable to you, then treat them with the same respect you would accord
an alien with an incomprehensible philosophy but benign deeds. There are
minds that think as well as you do, only differently.

--       Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

Disclaimer:  Unless otherwise specified, I'm not telling you
everything I think I know.