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Faith by Reason
 
Faith by Reason
Being, Purpose, and Salvor

Faith by Reason, a collection of six books addressing long-standing philosophical and spiritual issues, is an ongoing effort. Despite the depth of some of the covered topics, liberal [sic] doses of humor are supplied. Only the first two books, Faith and Being, are more or less complete, and all are subject to future revision.

Book I ~ Faith

Challenges to faith, including epistemological and language issues, can not only be dealt with squarely but used as tools to hone confidence for today's complexities. Cognizance is key— knowing pitfalls is the best way to avoid them.

Chapter 1, Inquiry  Forms of information range between two poles, tidbits and enlightenments. Nothing’s entirely free of doubt, there’s a faith element to all knowledge. Reason can be used to guide and inform faith.

Chapter 2, Abstraction  A degree of ambiguity is inherent in the mechanics of communication. The describability of any object, idea, or experience is tied to the personal knowledge of similar things, vis-a-vis both speaker and listener.

Chapter 3, Subjectivity  In striving to ascertain truth, it’s impossible to be completely unbiased. One way to seek wisdom is by trying to be both open-minded and skeptical, as much doubters as disciples.

Chapter 4, Simplification  Reduction is often necessary to bring complex matters within range of comprehension, but this is not without risk— the difficulty of determining the variance between what is and is not uncompromisingly reducible can be as great as understanding the unreduced concept itself.

Chapter 5, Supernaturalism  The more cognizant we become, the easier it is to envision all mysteries as ultimately comprehensible in terms of natural forces. Things not yet so explained may be termed cryptonatural (unknown natural) rather than supernatural.

Chapter 6, Misconception  With so much opportunity for misplacement, not only is there call for rational guidance, but such offers the greatest likelihood of selecting for investiture a system that may be as close as humanly possible to an unknowable reality.

Chapter 7, Conclusion  Reason, comprised of observation and induction, is the best means available for guiding faith, as well as for its continued nurture, contiguous with increases in human knowledge.

Book II ~ Being

The traditional designators theism, agnosticism, and atheism lose their differentiations as the transcendent becomes immanent being, consistent with the world (thus precluding theodicy). To the extent these classifications are vacated they may be replaced with unitheism, wherein the ultimate is perceived in natural forms, such as law, life, and love.

Chapter 1, Inquiry  Our search for an essence of being must include the question of whether or not such a firmament, if ascertainable, is suitable to be considered deity, or whether another descriptor obtains.

Chapter 2, Challenges  Trying to reason about deity presents at least three difficulties— the paradox of theology, the dilemma of unknowing, and analytic failure via linguistic inadequacies. In the event we decide to believe there is deity, that conclusion should imply something beyond itself.

Chapter 3, Attributes  Before asking whether or not deity exists, we should assign, even if vaguely at first, some sort of working concept, or set of divine attributes (characteristics of a possible deity, based on inference from immanent aspects and logic).

Chapter 4, Methodology  There are many ways to seek divine revelation— through sacred writings and institutions of the world’s religions, direct religious experience, or philosophic reasoning (ontology, teleology, cosmology, or inverse forms). Yet all of these strategies have been effectively shown to be problematic.

Chapter 5, Theism  A theistic deity is defined as being both immanent and transcendent. Two characteristics we usually associate with deity are power and goodness. A deity without plenty of both is inconceivable, but of the two goodness is most important. Divine immanence is being— law, life, and love, all of which are good.

Chapter 6, Atheism  Consider the argument that maybe anything totally unascertainable, such as a transcendent aspect, should be presumed not to exist, citing Ockham’s Razor (principle of parsimony) which says that the simplest hypothesis which can explain something (in this case nonexistence) is usually the right one.

Chapter 7, Agnosticism  While agnostics seem to be the only ones honest enough to acknowledge impossibility of certainty in regard to the existence of deity, and while this might seem a better and certainly safer choice than either theism or atheism, in fact but a small minority of the population admits to being agnostic.

Chapter 8, Unitheism  The only difference between certain theistic and atheistic constructs is the belief or disbelief in the existence of transcendent aspects. But as with a fully-transcendent deity, any such aspects, by virtue of complete inaccessibility, are functionally irrelevant. Thus a unified theism/atheism, or unitheism for short.

Chapter 9, Omnipresence  While we ourselves are not ultimate, we connect to the ultimate when we sense the love contained in our respective consciousnesses— the creative divine. We find the ultimate when we realize it was never absent.

Chapter 10, Conclusion  As more is learned about how things work, differences in belief should fade; distinctions between theism, atheism, and agnosticism declining in significance in favor of an all-encompassing ultimate.

Book III ~ Purpose

Not only is the issue of why we are here and what if anything gives life meaning tackled, but guides to happiness and practical tips for living are included.

Chapter 1, Inquiry  Is the question “Is life meaningful” itself meaningful? In other words could the need for meaning be caused simply by the vacuous inquiring after it? Could it be that the only thing not meaningful about life is the asking of the question, “Is life meaningful?”

Chapter 2, Determinism  While it had been suspected that even the apparent indeterminacy introduced at the quantum level was at deepest analysis determinate, it has since been demonstrated that the universe is at heart— at its most fundamental level— inherently indeterminate, eliminating even theoretic precise-prediction and subsequent determinacy.

Chapter 3, Sociology  While in the process of development humans may, for convenience or as the best solution in a bad situation, use governmental or other institutional power for remedy of various ills as a necessary evil, the movement and thrust of societal progress is toward libertarianism.

Chapter 4, Maturity  When you think about it, it’s amazing not how evil we are but how good— especially considering most of our childhoods. Maturity is tolerance, a symptom of strength and security.

Chapter 5, Eroticism  While the many forms of intellectual and spiritual attainment never cease to reward, the ultimate pleasures of life are erotic in nature, especially when they also incorporate gifts of the mind and heart.

Chapter 6, Highs  Subordinate to the erotic gifts are many other enjoyments, the ultimate expressions of which are experienced in periods of elevated intensity.

Chapter 7, Survival  Perhaps the most-impending comprehensive disaster, having a real chance of obliterating all human life down to the last person, could be an extremely unfortunate consequence of research presently being done in two relatively new fields: AL (artificial life) and nanotechnology (microassembly).

Chapter 8, Doombug  A highly destructive nanobot, or doombug for want of a better name, likely too small to see without magnification, could yet be complex enough that it surely would never have been constructed by chance in nature, nor have evolved via other generally lesser forms, like a present-day virus or germ.

Book IV ~ Salvor

The likelihood of survival is explored. Key aspects of philosophy of mind and the difficulties faced by destruction of the brain at death are investigated using a series of thought experiments. Following discussion of salvorbug, a speculative hypothesis for the preservation of individual awareness, scenarios for possible afterlives are developed. (book incomplete)

Chapter 1, Inquiry  It’s not wrong to abhor the prospect of annihilation of consciousness, nor should reasonable fear of death be suppressed. But to the extent that an afterlife still seems the more attractive, in order to remain objective we must balance this tendency with an equivalent counter-tendency in favor of no survival.

Chapter 2, Continuance  Our scientific understanding of the workings of the universe is still so incomplete that anything might be possible, including our possession of an immaterial constituent (or some other means of rescuing us from dissolution), capable of existing apart from the physical body.

Chapter 3, Termination  Pronouncements disallowing for the possibility of a self-recognizable existence beyond corporeal extinction sometimes begin with a purely materialistic world view, denying the reality of anything that is neither discernible nor supported by other empirical evidence.

Chapter 4, Consciousness  The human soul was for centuries considered the immaterial part of us, necessary for mental awareness and thought. The concept arose in antiquity as a way to explain the apparent spirituality of mind as opposed to corporeal (flesh and bone) body, to which it was thought to be independent of and only temporarily linked.

Chapter 5, Investigation  A series of thought experiments of increasing complexity is developed. By building with comprehensible elements, an attempt is made to progress toward unraveling the most perplexing problem posed by philosophers of mind— the mechanics of human consciousness.

Chapter 6, Ramifications  There are people whose brain activity was completely stopped, and who were later revived. Unless there is presently in place some cryptonatural or incorporeal means of maintaining or transferring consciousness, these people may no longer possess the same consciousnesses they had prior to these events.

Chapter 7, Incorporeality  Because we are evolving, continually developing defenses against threats, and death being a major threat, we must consider the possibility that over the generations we have gradually built— or are building— a non-material lifeboat to which we can transfer our awarenesses in the event our minds are destroyed.

Chapter 8, Survival  Consideration of the survival of death in a meaningful form posits the successful realization of basic preservative and reconstructive challenges— (1) a new body, or equivalent sensing, responding, and acting mechanism; (2) the maintenance or reinstatement of memory; and (3) the transfer of consciousness. (Chapter unfinished)

Chapter 9, Salvorbug  (Chapter yet to be written)

Book V ~ Hikues

A sampling of often less-than-poetic and sometimes-light haiku, arranged by key word or topic.

Book VI ~ Forecasts

The last book is a collection of speculations concerning the future, based primarily on extrapolations from the past— particularly the interplay of trends and patterns— rather than precognition, the validity of which is uncertain.

Chapter 1, Disclaimer  While these projections are best-intentioned, be apprised that they are only fairly-informed speculation. Incorporate those that appeal into your life as you choose, but with the discretion you would apply to any expression of opinion.

Chapter 2, Singularity  Technological singularity is a term used to describe a hypothetical time in the future when machines will outstrip human capabilities such that mental ability is no longer limited by traditional human capabilities and in combination with artificial or computer intelligence begins to expand exponentially.

Chapter 3, Quality  While overall prosperity will continue to increase, disparities in income will remain and even expand. But these will decline in significance as the life-value of wealth itself declines. Being poor will no longer imply not being well-off— it will simply mean not being rich.

Chapter 4, Home  More people will have the means to build larger houses on larger lots, with elaborate landscaping reminiscent of mansions of the past, all customized according to various tastes of their owners.

Chapter 5, Politics  People will enjoy freedoms unimaginable now. The war on drugs will be abandoned, the death penalty will be abolished, and government regulation of business and individuals— except where human rights and the environment is concerned— will decrease the world over.

Chapter 6, Disasters  A series of earthquakes will devastate much of the central United States, and terrorists will obtain an atomic bomb, precipitating a major crisis— among other things.

Chapter 7, Archeology  There will be revelations involving the pyramids of Egypt, Stonehenge, Nova Scotia’s Oak Island Money Pit, and more.

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© 2008 Warren Farr — revised 1/25