No Faith, No Thought


Takeaways: Faith is the complete trust or confidence in someone or something. It is at the core of what is called thinking (present day AI is primitive in the sense that it does not have to use faith).

It is traditional to oppose reason based thinking, with “faith” (typically faith in the Abrahamist religion, which is supposed to be above any suspicion). However, that opposition is an illusion, and a strategic error in deploying the advancement of understanding: faith is used constantly, in minute but crucial ways, because we cannot verify everything, all the time. 

If using faith is ubiquitous in life, in minor and major ways, and everything in between, it, and the way it is created, should be examined thoroughly, just as the rest of life. There should be no exception, and even the gods should be examined. No exception for the faith of fanatics [1]. 

When we walk we walk, we take it on faith that we know how to walk. Opposing reason and faith is an example of obsolete thinking. As everything that is obsolete, it hinders the progress of Enlightenment. 

***

Too Much Faith In Some Elements Of Mathematics Can Hurt Mathematics:

Euclid’s elements are generally viewed as the model of what reason should be: everything is deduced from five set theoretical axioms and five geometric “postulates”.  At least, that’s what was believed for more than 20 centuries. Even Euclid’s elements were full of faith: it turned out that many crucial assumptions were missed among said axioms and postulates. When Hilbert reviewed Euclidean geometry, he posited twenty assumptions…then others intervened, such as the famous Polish mathematician Tarsky, who postulated other axioms for Euclidean geometry… which did other things Hilbert couldn’t do (going from second order to first order logic, etc.)…

So, in the end, the situation with the most basic geometry was revealed to be much more complicated than was assumed for 24 centuries… To phrase it differently, what was viewed as the archetype of reason, rested on faith to a surprising degree. 

That faith was far from innocuous, it had a fascist aspect: the obsession with Euclidean geometry. Indeed, why should one only do geometry on a plane? A century before Euclid, Greek mathematicians had thought about making geometry on a sphere, or a saddle: out of that came something very practical: the size of the Earth, and the sizes and distances of the Moon, and the Sun (basically proving the heliocentric theory, if one thought about it deeply)… All of which was done at the same time as Euclid, thanks to a Marseillais…

The faith in the perfection of Euclidean geometry had then, for similar reasons to the faith in whomever or whatever, the effect of depriving more worthy subjects.

Similar shortcomings were revealed in Set Theory, making Bertrand Russell famous… A modern pirouette is to use so-called “NAIVE Set Theory” and ignore subtleties like sets which are not elements of themselves…   

Basic arithmetic was deficient too: it turns out that traditional arithmetic assumed implicitly something called the Archimedean Axiom, the violation of which creates infinitesimal and infinite numbers (that’s called non-standard arithmetic). 

The reaction to all this, in the end, was more trust and less verification. Although mathematical logic kept on growing inside mysterious thickets, real mathematicians (if I dare to use the expression) decided to ride their faith in the rigor of mathematics until hell and high waters: instead of establishing the deepest foundations, mathematicians decided to explore the complexity of imaginable foundations. Category Theory became the powerful queen of math, developing a gigantic theoretical castle of theories floating up in the air. Never mind if CT is really true or not: all the proof we need is in the complication it handles with . In other words, LOGIC BECAME LOCAL.

Don’t expect all mathematicians to understand much of the preceding: their craft depends on believing their faith in mathematics is no faith, but megalomaniac certainty

***

Not all faiths are good all the time. Faith can be misused by plutocracy. An example is Abrahamism, whose basic foundation is a criminal folly that binds: if the boSS orders you to kill a child, even your child, you should obey, no question asked. So Abraham ties up is fully conscious son to execute him, because a god in his head told him so. It is impossible to make more vile, and thus it is an excellent foundation for a religion which killed at least dozens of millions of people directly, and much more indirectly, by being the mythology of plutocracy… Yet, misuse of the faith instinct does not mean that we can do without it:

***

Beauty is to some extent in the eye of the beholder, and so is greatly a matter of faith.

The FAITH INSTINCT Is Necessary For Thinking:

René Descartes sought to doubt the truth of all beliefs in order to determine which he could be certain were true. Descartes’ statement, “Cogito ergo sum” (I think, therefore I am), in its fuller version reads: “dubito ergo cogito, cogito ergo sum” (“I doubt therefore I think, I think therefore I exist”). What Descartes is talking about is the fact that thinking consists in adjudicating reality, and this requires first doubting all evidence presented. 

My example, as usual, is trail running: on a roaring basis, a torrent of information is presented to the visual system, with the question of branch vs root vs shadow vs ground depression vs ground prominence vs snake vs where to put foot next analyzed and debated in real time by various part of the brain, which do not even have time to synchronize and cohere. So doubt figures prominently all too often when trail running, and doubt is processed too fast for global consciousness, only local consciousness can process it, and generally too slowly to override automatic systems [2].

After we have doubted all relevant elements, we think, that is we decide what is real and what is not real

Thus, we certainly must have faith, faith in what we decided is true, if we want to think: not everything can be doubted 24/7 (Cartesian doubt is to be used parsimoniously).

Belief in a mind-independent reality is itself an act of faith…. But one well supported by facts…

Thinking without faith is like flying without air. Can’t be done, without redefining flying, or thinking first.

Nathalie Delima Graza: “or just like put your faith in parachute and trust in it.”

Faith is when we decide reality: experienced parachutists know that parachutes generally work… but they also know they do not always work, and that’s why they often wear another chute… Trust, but not fully. Cartesian doubt was to distrust everything 24/7… But it can’t be done! Hence the use of faith… Fisth is when we decide reality.

Bertrand Russel was superficially full of faith… against faith. Said he:

“All faiths do harm.” Here is Bertrand Russell in full: “All faiths do harm. We may define “faith” as a firm belief in something for which there is no evidence. Where there is evidence, no one speaks of “faith.” We do not speak of faith that two and two are four or that the earth is round. We only speak of faith when we wish to substitute emotion for evidence. And the substitution of emotion for evidence is apt to lead to strife, since different groups substitute different emotions.”

— Bertrand Russell, Human Society in Ethics and Politics (1954), Ch. VII: Can Religion Cure Our Troubles?, p. 213

We may not speak of faith, but we practice it. Bertrand Russel was full of faith, and also, hot air: during World War One, he believed, he had faith, that Europe would be better off under the Kaiser’s fascist boot. British justice was unimpressed, and put him in prison for a very long time, for this ludicrous and war criminality promoting opinion… He later tried to redeem himself with anti-nuke, anti-Vietnam War positions…

Can anything be rescued from Russell’s statement above? Sure. Any faith where one “substitutes emotion for evidence” should be viewed with extreme suspicion. Not that it is always bad: emotion has a logic of its own.

My point is that, contrarily to what Russell asserts, most faiths have evidence. No evidence that Muhammad flew to Jerusalem on a winged horse… But that Muhammad’s religion, in some, amd many, ways is a good thing (for example it brought down the murder of girls, and improved the treatment of slave girls)…

By admitting that faith is not just good, but indispensable, and that most faiths have evidence to support themselves, that faith is just an indispensable abbreviation and determination of thought, we are far from giving succor to the fanatics and those who disrespect critical thinking. Verily, just the opposite. We deprive those with lethal and unjustifiable faith (such as faith in tyrant Putin)… of the argument that everybody has a sacred right to all and any faith… Instead we point out that faith has to be examined, like everything else, and actually more than anything else.

An example of unhinged faith is that HAARP technology and its ability “to accelerate cataclysms“. High Altitude Aurora Research Project could do no such thing. At best, create a little artificial aurora.

Hugo Chavez, an uneducated tropical tyrant, believed Northern Lights (Aurora) launched earthquakes… Because he was told so by other fools, not knowing the subtleties of Alaskan politics, among other things he didn’t know… (The Alaskan senior Senator wanted the government to spend in his state. HAAARP cost 300 millions, and then provided employment…)

Faiths have their uses: believing HAARP could launch nine Richter quakes, provides believers with the illusion that their complete lack of scientific knowledge and scientific common sense is an excellent thing, as it made them superior to Physics PhD…. And freed them from scientific reason in myriad ways…

Those who believe Putin is not a genocidal tyrant, but a worthy president also tend to believe that a Kremlin centered empire will provide them with glory, empire, or a general way to criticize “the West” without thinking too hard. 

Faith is actually what enables thinking to decide, saving energy, but most importantly, having decided reality, enables the brain to switch to implementation of the chosen strategy.

Faith in others is called trust. Culture and complex society can’t work without it.  

Faiths, and trusts, have to be examined and verified, not thrown under the bus.

The Enlightenment has to throw a light on all and any reason, emotional or nonlinear… Just proscribing some forms of reason, while subscribing to them secretly, as the occasionally eminently irrational Bertrand Russell did, is only hypocrisy… a form of thinking that should be consumed only in extreme moderation.

Patrice Ayme

***

[1] Va de retro, Islamophobia phobia.

[2]: Once, on a turning and slightly descending trail, I came across a large rattlesnake. I was going around 15 feet per second (perhaps 5 m/s). The decision to accelerate and jump over it was taken consciously (there was no other choice), but only by the part of my conscience which supervises running (the rest of me became horrified later).

alk we walk, we take it on faith that we know how to walk. Opposing reason and faith is an example of obsolete thinking As everything obsolete, it hinders further Enlightenment. 

Euclid’s elements are generally viewed as the model of what reason should be: everything is deduced from five set theoretical axioms and five geometric “postulates”.  At least, that’s what was believed for more than 20 centuries. Even Euclid’s elements were full of faith: it turned out that many crucial assumptions were missed among said axioms and postulates. When Hilbert reviewed Euclidean geometry, he posited twenty assumptions…then others came, such as the famous Polish mathematician Tarsky, and postulated other axioms for Euclidean geometry… which did other things Hilbert couldn’t do… So, in the end, the situation with the most basic geometry was much more complicated, and much more resting on faith than was assumed for 24 centuries. Similar shortcomings were revealed in Set Theory, making Bertrand Russell famous… A modern pirouette is to use so-called “NAIVE Set Theory” and ignore subtleties like sets which are not elements of themselves…   

Basic arithmetic was deficient too: it turns out that traditional arithmetic assumed implicitly something called the Archimedean Axiom, the violation of which creates infinitesimal and infinite numbers (that’s called non-standard arithmetic). 

The reaction to all this, in the end, was more trust and less verification. Although mathematical logic kept on growing inside mysterious thickets, real mathematicians (if I dare to use the expression) decide to ride faith until hell and high waters: Category Theory became queen of math, developing gigantic theoretical castle of theories floating up in the air. In other words, LOGIC BECAME LOCAL.

Don’t expect all mathematicians to understand much of the preceding: their craft depends on believing their faith in mathematics is no faith, but megalomaniac certainty

We certainly must have faith, if we want to think: not everything can be doubted 24/7 (Cartesian doubt to be used parsimoniously).

***

Belief in a mind-independent reality is itself an act of faith…. But one well supported by facts…

Thinking without faith is like flying without air. Can’t be done, without redefining flying, or thinking first.

Nathalie Delima Graza: “or just like put your faith in parachute and trust in it.”

Faith is when we decide reality: experienced parachutists know that parachutes generally work… but they also know they do not always work, and that’s why they often wear another chute… Trust, but not fully. Cartesian doubt was to distrust everything 24/7… But it can’t be done! Hence the use of faith… Fisth is when we decide reality.

Bertrand Russel was superficially full of faith… against faith. Said he:

“All faiths do harm.” Here is Bertrand Russell in full: “All faiths do harm. We may define “faith” as a firm belief in something for which there is no evidence. Where there is evidence, no one speaks of “faith.” We do not speak of faith that two and two are four or that the earth is round. We only speak of faith when we wish to substitute emotion for evidence. And the substitution of emotion for evidence is apt to lead to strife, since different groups substitute different emotions.”

— Bertrand Russell, Human Society in Ethics and Politics (1954), Ch. VII: Can Religion Cure Our Troubles?, p. 213

We may not speak of faith, but we practice it. Bertrand Russel was full of faith, and also, hot air: during World War One, he believed, he had faith, that Europe would be better off under the Kaiser’s fascist boot. British justice was unimpressed, and put him in prison for a very long time, for this ludicrous and war criminality promoting opinion… He later tried to redeem himself with anti-nuke, anti-Vietnam War positions…

Can anything be rescued from Russell’s statement above? Sure. Faith where one “substitutes emotion for evidence” should be viewed with extreme suspicion. Not that it is always bad: emotion has a logic of its own.

My point is that, contrarily to what Russell asserts, most faiths have evidence. No evidence that Muhammad flew to Jerusalem on a winged horse… But that Muhammad’s religion, in some, amd many, ways is a good thing (for example it brought down the murder of girls, and improved the treatment of slave girls)…

By admitting that faith is not just good, but indispensable, and that most faiths have evidence to support themselves, that faith is just an indispensable abbreviation and determination of thought, we are far from giving succor to the fanatics and those who disrespect critical thinking. Verily, just the opposite. We deprive those with lethal and unjustifiable faith (such as faith in tyrant Putin)… of the argument that everybody has a sacred right to all and any faith… Instead we point out that faith has to be examined, like everything else, and actually more than anything else.

An example of unhinged faith is that HAARP technology and its ability “to accelerate cataclysms“. High Altitude Aurora Research Project could do no such thing. At best, create a little artificial aurora.

Hugo Chavez, an uneducated tropical tyrant, believed Northern Lights (Aurora) launched earthquakes… Because he was told so by other fools, not knowing the subtleties of Alaskan politics, among other things he didn’t know… (The Alaskan senior Senator wanted the government to spend in his state. HAAARP cost 300 millions, and then provided employment…)

Faiths have their uses: believing HAARP could launch nine Richter quakes, provides believers with the illusion that their complete lack of scientific knowledge and scientific common sense is an excellent thing, as it made them superior to Physics PhD…. And freed them from scientific reason in myriad ways…

Those who believe Putin is not a genocidal tyrant, but a worthy president also tend to believe that a Kremlin centered empire will provide them with glory, empire, or a general way to criticize “the West” without thinking too hard. 

Faith is actually what enables thinking to decide, saving energy, but most importantly, having decided reality, enables the brain to switch to implementation of the chosen strategy.

Faith in others is called trust. Culture and complex society can’t work without it.  

Faiths, and trusts, have to be examined and verified, not thrown under the bus.

The Enlightenment has to throw a light on all and any reason, emotional or nonlinear… Just proscribing some forms of reason, while subscribing to them secretly, as the occasionally eminently irrational Bertrand Russell did, is only hypocrisy… a form of thinking that should be consumed only in extreme moderation.

The faith instinct is so fundamental to thinking that Artificial Intelligence will become mature when it has to use it… to decide which axioms it will use next.

Patrice Ayme

***

[1] Va de retro, Islamophobia phobia.

***

[2]: Consciousness is also local. See “Split Brains and Multiconsciousness“. Once, on a turning and slightly descending trail, I came across a large rattlesnake. I was going around 15 feet per second (perhaps 5 m/s). The decision to accelerate and jump over it was taken consciously (there was no other choice), but only by the part of my conscience which supervises running (the rest of me became horrified later).

… P/S: And what of the Quantum is all this? Well, you guessed it, the paradoxes of Quantum Mechnaics have to do with the localization of decision… And we saw it appear above already in a seemingly classical context. That means classical thinking already contains the Quantum in hiding….

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