Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Faith Requires Choice

Anyone can believe with proof, but belief in the face of uncertainty demonstrates commitment to the belief that cannot be otherwise shown. Of course, it is one thing for one to believe the unproven, and quite another to impose those beliefs upon others (be it a belief in the Deity or Human-Caused Global Warming, or any other such unproven article of faith.) For the virtue demonstrated in the fastness ones own belief is never present in the victims of oppression.

Of course, belief in the face of obvious evidence to the contrary is idiocy and certainly not virtuous. But I am not thinking here of faith in things demonstrable false, but faith in things whose truth we do not or can not actually know.

I think it can be reasonable asserted that the universe in which we live is rational and ordered. I also believe that, given enough information, we could perfectly discern that order. I see no evidence that we will ever gain enough information do do this, however. The universe is simply too large, and we are too small to handle such large reigns.

Hayek, in his 1945 essay on "The Use of Knowledge in Society," describes the difficulty of human attempts to order society rationally. The solution, it seems, is to allow order to emerge or evolve on its own, giving our faith to this process that results from the crucible of somewhat randomly casting solutions into the primordial sea of existence and allowing them to sink or swim. We are required to have faith in the localized knowledge of the swimmers that we allow them to do as they will and hinder them not at all. For they may know something which we do not. What appears to us as a lack of rhythm may, in fact, be in time to a drummer which we do not yet hear.

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