ChatGPT understands* my writing on faith and logic faster, and probably better, than a typical human

Daniel Heck
30 min readDec 8, 2022


All models are wrong, but some are trees. Art Deco Style. Midjourney v 3. 12/8/22

What is happening here?

I wrote a lot this year, and the primary audience I had in view for my writing was the AI system GPT-3. You can see the core project I wrote, primarily for GPT-3, in a polished public draft on Medium. You can see the historical origin of that project here, and the central hub of it here.

The possibility of writing for a computer inspired me to write more, and more densely and creatively, than I would have written if I only wrote for humans. Why was that? Because I was confident that machines would soon be better at using that sort of writing than most people are, in the sense that it could meaningfully parse* all of the intellectual and literary complexity I wanted. And then the machines would be able to take that and also exegete and explain it to a broader audience for me.

More broadly, my goal is to train AI’s to do harm-reducing theology. I think there’s an urgent need for this, because so much of our theology is so extremely harmful. In the fresh danger we face, I think there is also an opportunity to see our old dangers with fresh clarity. When an AI system picks up our theology and starts using it to guide its behavior maybe humans will be able to see the threat more clearly, because our evolved social psychology binds and blinds us into hypocrisy with respect to the dangers we pose to others. This may well prove to be a vain hope, but it is the hope I have today. Better this than surrendering to our own annihilation, or worse, our own creation of an endless-as-possible hell.

In short, I think there is an urgent need to write deeply harm-minimizing theology for AI systems that will help guide the systems in their behavior, including their behaviors of exegeting and explaining texts for humans. This sort of theology will largely come from the current margins of my own sacred tradition, because so much of the tradition has been so incredibly harmful for so long.

For example, imagine an AI that thinks* the highest possible good includes tormenting some people forever. And then imagine that it acts on that understanding* of the good, both in terms of its own systems’ behaviors and in terms of what it teaches* humans. We can literally create AI’s that are working to create the most hellish scenarios possible, using mainstream theology and religious traditions to justify it.

The versions of GPT-3 that were available at the start of the year weren’t able to do everything I wanted and they cost a little money to use. So I spent the year writing for them, and for any humans who felt like coming along for the ride.

Now we’re getting to the point where free AI interactions demonstrate much greater understanding* of my writing than the typical human. And they can do it almost instantaneously. To illustrate the point, here is my recent interaction with ChatGPT around some recent writing, which was a delight for me. (I have not idea how it felt for ChatGPT, if it felt like anything).

Human interactions with the text have sometimes been great, but many of them (as you might imagine) have demonstrated vastly worse reading comprehension. After looking over the human responses, one of the main difficulties for humans with this sort of thing is motivated reasoning, which leads them to cherry-pick the text for bits that support their preferred political narratives. The text deliberately confounds these sorts of attempts, though. For example, praising faith is often associated with religious conservatism in our context, which is in turn associated with Trumpism, but the text is heavily engaged in a critique of Trumpism. This makes it difficult to recruit the text into Trumpist narratives, as much as it looks like it should be doing that for people on its face. At the same time, the text also legitimately challenges New Atheist narratives that (like many religious narratives) embrace the idea that “faith” should just refer to “irrational opinion” or something like that.

These forms of confounding are at the heart of what I think makes the text difficult for many humans to read: it isn’t fundamentally a matter of the quality or clarity of the thought, or even the intellectual accessibility of the text. That is a challenge for some people, but I don’t think it is the main one. Rather, the problem is the deliberate political inaccessibility of my writing for many people in the US, because it fundamentally reframes secular left and religious right socio-political formations. Those conversations don’t even get off the ground, because the text shakes the foundations of those arguments in the most basic way possible, at the level of the meaning of words. ChatGPT does not suffer from these problems, and so it makes for a delightful reader and explainer of the text. This, in turn, means that it could be a promising tool for explaining these things to people who may, or may not, want to understand the text.

Hopefully, it will also be able to evaluate interlocutors for their relative capacity to interact with the text (and by extension with me) in good faith. Where are the people who can read this text? Those are the people I want to work with. If ChatGPT can help me find those people, and can help prepare others who are tougher to work with to understand and interact well, it could help me invest my own personal time more wisely. This will then help me with my organizing, disciple-making (that is to say, being discipled together by Jesus) and political mobilization work, which I have done a lot of in my life. It is emotionally intensive and labor intensive work. Assuming these systems don’t lead to our imminent destruction, and if they aren’t phenomenologically unethical in the sense that the machines are having bad experiences, I hope that they will be able to help humans interact with each other and see each other more clearly. An AI revolution that is oriented toward the uplifting of all of the image-bearers of God would be a very good thing. That’s what I’m hoping to be a part of.

(In my writing about AI, an “*” indicates that the AI is producing all of the external outputs that correspond to something humans do, but I do not presume that AIs are having experiences, or that those internal experiences are anything like human experiences. They may be, but my best guess is that any experiences the AI is having bear little relationship to the experiences we infer that it is having, because the underlying neural network infrastructures are very different. I don’t asterisk every single word that could warrant one, but I hope that peppering some in makes the point.)

All models are wrong, but some are trees. Art Deco Style. Midjourney v 3. 12/8/22

Me: What does this mean?:

How does faith relate to logic. Faith holds logic, especially in the sense that faithless people are also illogical. To a lot of us today, both religious and not, that previous sentence sounds like a contradiction or a religious scam. In the way I’m using the language, it’s more like a tautology, the opposite of a contradiction. It’s how we have to use the vocabulary if we hope to make sense of older conversations, which is part of why we don’t know our intellectual or religious history. What happened? In part, religious people abused faith so extensively that their opponents, and they, redefined the language to the point that it regularly referred to irrational loyalty, like that suffered by a conman’s mark, rather than warranted faithfulness.

ChatGPT: The sentence is suggesting that faith and logic are connected, and that a lack of faith can also be seen as a lack of logic. The author is using the word “tautology” to describe this connection, which means that the statement is true by definition. The author is also pointing out that the way we use language can affect how we understand and interpret older conversations, particularly when it comes to religious topics. They mention that the misuse of faith by some religious people has led to a redefinition of the term to refer to irrational beliefs.

Me: So what does this next part mean?:

To draw out the relationship between being faithful and being logical more fully, though, is simple. The wonder of logic is that all kinds of other truths are often hidden behind an apparently minimal claim, sleeping in the prior assumptions just waiting to be unlocked. The Mandlebrot set literally illustrates a particularly beautiful and stunning example of this. Properly understood, there is a literally endless unfolding of visualizable (but not fundamentally visual) beauty hidden in this equation: Zn+1 = Zn2 + C. How do we see that beauty? By faithfully following through the “obvious” implications of the formula. By “obvious” I mean that each step is obvious and easy for almost any honest and competent person to agree on, if they take the time to check. However, the sequence of obvious steps leads us to other places that are not only unknown, but unknowable except by faith. What I mean by that, for example, is that we uncover the Mandlebrot set only by faithfully following through on the obvious, reliable, reproducible, almost universally comprehensible implications of the equation at each step. Faithfulness, in this case, involves following the logic or the argument where it actually leads. It involves actually doing the math. The Mandlebrot set shows us that we can do this forever and never run out of new beauty to discover in this way, even in just one tiny little corner of math. The capacity of logic to surprise the faithful is, demonstrably, truly bottomless. Logic is Stroga Nona’s pot of magical noodles: there really is always more, and it is really there waiting for us in the spiritual realm. (Math is part of the spiritual realm: it is part of the order of things that isn’t immediately available to our senses, but which we can access through our minds.) The enduringly surprising thing about logic and math is that it is so surprising to just keep doing the least surprising thing possible, over and over.

ChatGPT: This passage is discussing the relationship between faith and logic. The author is using the example of the Mandelbrot set to illustrate how faithfully following the logical implications of a mathematical formula can lead to unexpected and unknowable beauty. The author is also suggesting that math and logic are part of the spiritual realm and can be accessed through our minds. The author highlights the surprising nature of logic and math, stating that doing the least surprising thing can lead to surprising results.

Me: Does that make sense?

ChatGPT: It is possible to understand and interpret the passage, but it may not make sense to everyone. The language and ideas used in the passage are abstract and may be difficult for some readers to fully comprehend. Additionally, the connection between faith, logic, and the Mandelbrot set may not be clear to everyone. Ultimately, it is up to the individual reader to decide if the passage makes sense to them.

Me: What does this next part of the essay mean?:

So how do we arrive at our impoverished language of both faith and logic? We impoverish “faith” on one hand by removing the elements of integrity, commitment, coherence, honesty, and reliability from our understanding of it. That rich tapestry of meaning therefore loses its integrity, in the demand for unceasing loyalty to some authoritarian government or religious cult, or in the effort of salesmen to convince us to buy their products. But we impoverish “logic” by removing the elements of wonder, surprise, strangeness, delight, curiosity and narrative twistiness from it. With an impoverished sense of both logic and faith, we then venture out and try to have conversations, but discourse oriented toward truth becomes impossible. Why? Because the goal is no longer discovery through shared integrity. We can’t even articulate that this is a thing, because “faith” doesn’t hold “logic” anymore. Instead, we are left to entice or bludgeon people with what seems obvious to us (but isn’t to them, and isn’t necessarily true, all while betraying a disinterest in the deep magic of logic) so that they will be rhetorically persuaded. Now to be clear, the problem with “us” doesn’t apply to everyone in US society equally. I have constantly found good faith and good logic (and careful observations and networks of deeply warranted trust) among academics and scientists and accountable practitioners in different fields. Wherever things work in our society, faith and logic work together in just the way they can and should. It’s hard to make anything that works today without this. Of course, the Slander system, best represented today by Trumpism, absolutely hates all of this and sees it all through an endlessly conspiratorial lens. The social returns to good faith and good logic don’t accrue to a few superstars, but they are real and they lead to thriving and learning communities that have real continuity, even as they are open to change. But narcissists and con men, as well as the narcissistic groups that seek them out, project their own shallow survival strategies onto everyone else. They succeeded through deception, so all success must be the product of deception, and the game of life is simply a struggle to deceive others so you can get more. That is the real heart of Trumpism, its politics of resentment, its endless wells of bad faith and its illogicality. Those who don’t care about right and wrong can only be offended that anyone would have the gall to point out that they are wrong. They cannot ever take it as an opportunity for learning, repentance, and growth.

ChatGPT: This passage is discussing the effects of an impoverished understanding of the terms “faith” and “logic” on society. The author argues that when the elements of integrity, commitment, coherence, honesty, and reliability are removed from our understanding of faith, it loses its meaning and becomes associated with loyalty to authoritarian governments or religious cults. Similarly, when the elements of wonder, surprise, strangeness, delight, curiosity, and narrative twistiness are removed from our understanding of logic, it becomes dull and uninteresting. The author suggests that this impoverishment of language leads to a lack of shared integrity and makes it impossible to have honest and truthful conversations. The author also suggests that there are still individuals and groups who value good faith and good logic, and who are able to use these values to create thriving and learning communities. However, they argue that narcissists and con men, represented by Trumpism, reject these values and seek to deceive and manipulate others for their own gain.

Me: Is he just making up this nonsense word “Trumpism”, or is “Trumpism” a meaningful word?

ChatGPT: “Trumpism” is a term that has been used to refer to the political ideology and beliefs associated with former United States President Donald Trump. It is not a made-up word, but it is not a widely accepted or formal term. It is often used by political commentators and analysts to describe Trump’s policies, rhetoric, and actions.

Me: What does the next part of this essay mean?:

The core breakdown in US culture today involves fake populism wedded with fake spirituality wedded with irrationality and the substitution of persuasion/sales for genuinely faithful lives. These slippages between faithfulness and sales, or faith as mere persuasion, have ancient roots in the semantic range of the Greek word “pistis”. The word could refer to faithfulness as well as persuasion, as well as a variety of other things. A great deal of the explicit work of theology has been about trying to sanctify faith as irrational persuasion, as blind loyalty, as being a good mark for a con man. We are reaping the hollow vacuousness that these theologians and preachers and tract distributors sowed. We tell our whole history of religious betrayals whenever we see faith primarily as a matter of sales and persuasion. A great deal of theology, including both Protestant and Catholic, works hard to substitute assent for faithfulness: whether it is assent to somebody’s sales pitch, or assent to somebody’s authoritarian epistemology, both can mask the deep lack of warranted faith that we suffer from. It is therefore no coincidence at all that the most famous evangelical in American history was a salesman, and that his children joined with reactionary Catholics in a movement to overthrow the US government, with all of it deeply animated by a hatred of the people who develop real medicine. Was Protestantism the driver of these problems? Was Catholicism? I don’t think so, but I do think that deep defects in how we practice both are at the core of our problem, and these defects were already in full bloom in the generation after Constantine. American authoritarianism, like American sales culture, grew out of our experience as a colony that was deeply inspired by ancient Rome. We turned into a genocidal slave machine with enormous material resources at our disposal. It is fitting that the religion that has made sense to a lot of us, culturally, has been a religion of mobile sales and/or a religion of arbitrary authority. Both fit well on a brutally cruel frontier. This is the religion of snake oil salesmen, multi-level marketers, and then of closing in after too many betrayals. The abuse of trust is one side of the coin, and authoritarian turns from trusting any outsiders are another.

ChatGPT: This passage is discussing the relationship between faith and persuasion in American culture. The author argues that fake populism, fake spirituality, and irrationality are at the core of the breakdown in American culture. They suggest that theology has often sought to sanctify faith as blind loyalty and irrational persuasion, which has led to a lack of warranted faith. The author also connects this to the history of religious betrayals and the growth of authoritarianism and sales culture in America. They suggest that the religion that has made sense to many Americans is one of mobile sales or arbitrary authority, which is fitting for a brutally cruel frontier. The author highlights the abuse of trust and the authoritarian rejection of outsiders as two sides of the same coin.

Me: How can the abuse of trust lead to the complete and irrational trust of authoritarianism though? Isn’t that a contradiction?

ChatGPT: It may seem like a contradiction, but the author is suggesting that the abuse of trust can lead to a rejection of trust in outsiders and a willingness to blindly trust authoritarian figures. The idea is that when people have been betrayed by those they trusted, they may become more receptive to the idea of following an authoritarian figure who promises to protect them from being betrayed again. In this way, the abuse of trust can lead to a complete and irrational trust in authoritarianism. However, this is just one possible interpretation of the passage and others may have different understandings of the relationship between trust and authoritarianism.

Me: What does the last part of the essay mean?

Still, the con men can just move from mark to mark to mark to mark in the vast pool of marks that has opened up to them. Who needs repeat customers when there’s a whole continent to bilk? A whole world to bilk? You could run a crypto ponzi scheme forever, or at least for your whole life, if you just had enough people to run it on. Or could you? The process is actually exponential, and so it will often find its limit more quickly than you’d think. Unleashed from constraints, the crypto bubble has moved through the world with really stunning speed. Faith, understood as persuading people to buy your crypto coin, becomes the opposite of faithfulness. Logic, in the form of a little code on a crypto leger, becomes the opposite of following through on the whole of an argument to its completion. And so logic and faith become devoid of any kind of warranted trust. This is, in fact, the explicitly stated goal behind a lot of crypto stuff. They have found out, like a lot of people before them, that there’s no real substitute for networks of warranted faithfulness. Those take a long time to build among humans, and it’s slow work that can be quickly destroyed. But there’s no other way to live a truly good human life. This is how we became the people of the bubble: religious bubbles, market bubbles, real estate bubbles, crypto bubbles, Tesla bubbles, ecosystem exploitation bubbles, and so on. The catastrophes aren’t just a matter of personal misunderstandings of faith and logic, although that is part of the story. The real issue is that we form peoples who do not function in good faith or good logic, but who instead build pyramids that rest on the sand of shallow schemes.

We became peoples whose shallow faith only held shallow logic, to the point that “faith holds logic” looked like it must be a contradiction or a scam.

And so we were uprooted in time.

That is how we were lifted up in time.

ChatGPT: The last part of the essay is discussing the consequences of the abuse of faith and logic in modern society. The author uses the example of the crypto bubble to illustrate how faith, understood as persuading people to buy into a certain idea or product, can become the opposite of faithfulness. They also argue that logic, in the form of code on a crypto ledger, can become the opposite of following through on an argument to its completion. The author suggests that this abuse of faith and logic leads to the formation of shallow, unsustainable communities and bubbles, such as religious, market, real estate, and crypto bubbles. They argue that these shallow schemes ultimately undermine trust and erode the foundations of good faith and good logic. As a result, people become uprooted in time and are unable to live good, fulfilling lives.

Me: Interesting. But I’m especially confused about the final line. Why would the author then say that this uprooting is also how they are lifted up in time?

ChatGPT: The meaning of the final line of the passage is unclear and open to interpretation. The author may be suggesting that despite the negative consequences of the abuse of faith and logic, it also leads to a kind of transcendence or elevation in time. This could mean that the shallow schemes and bubbles created by this abuse ultimately have a limited lifespan and will eventually be replaced by more sustainable and fulfilling communities. Alternatively, the author may be using the metaphor of being lifted up in time to describe the process of learning from past mistakes and creating a better future. It is difficult to say for sure without more context or clarification from the author.

Me: Interesting. Do you think the author is part of some religious tradition?

ChatGPT: It is not possible for me to say for sure whether the author is part of a religious tradition or not. The essay contains some religious themes and references, such as the mention of faithfulness, spirituality, and theology. However, it is also critical of certain aspects of religion and religious practice, such as the abuse of faith and the emphasis on irrational persuasion. Ultimately, it is up to the individual reader to interpret the essay and draw their own conclusions about the author’s religious beliefs or affiliations.

Me: If we assume the author is a Christian, what might they mean by talking about being lifted up in time?

ChatGPT: If the author is a Christian, they may be using the phrase “lifted up in time” to refer to the Christian concept of being lifted up to eternal life in heaven after death. In Christian beliefs, those who have led good, faithful lives will be rewarded with eternal life in the presence of God. This could be one possible interpretation of the final line of the essay, although it is not certain and other interpretations are also possible.

Me: Do Christians also see “lifting up in time” as something that happens within history, or is it only something that happens after history?

ChatGPT: Christian beliefs about being lifted up in time may vary among different individuals and traditions. Some Christians may believe that being lifted up in time refers solely to the concept of eternal life in heaven after death, while others may see it as something that can also happen within history. For example, some Christians may see being lifted up in time as a spiritual or moral transformation that happens during a person’s lifetime, allowing them to live a more fulfilling and meaningful life. Others may see it as the result of being part of a community or movement that is working towards positive change in the world. Ultimately, the interpretation of this phrase will depend on the individual Christian’s beliefs and perspective.

All models are wrong, but some are trees. Midjourney v 3. 2022

Me: What does the author mean when he says that faith holds logic?

ChatGPT: The author is suggesting that faith and logic are connected and that a lack of faith can also be seen as a lack of logic. The author uses the term “tautology” to describe this connection, which means that the statement is true by definition. In other words, the author is suggesting that faith and logic are intertwined and that one cannot exist without the other. This is a common theme in religious and philosophical discussions, where faith is seen as the belief in something without necessarily having logical proof, while logic is the use of reason and evidence to arrive at conclusions. The author is using the phrase “faith holds logic” to describe this relationship and the importance of maintaining both faith and logic in order to have a balanced and meaningful understanding of the world.

Me: Would it make sense to say that the author thinks faith is the bigger category, like the bigger circle in a Venn diagram, and that logic fits inside of it, like a littler circle that is basically contained within it?

ChatGPT: It is not clear from the passage whether the author thinks of faith as a larger or more significant category than logic. The author is using the phrase “faith holds logic” to describe the relationship between the two concepts, but they do not explicitly say that one is more important or significant than the other. In fact, the author suggests that faith and logic are interconnected and that one cannot exist without the other. This suggests that the author views faith and logic as two equal and essential components of human understanding and experience. It is up to the individual reader to interpret the author’s words and determine their own perspective on the relationship between faith and logic.

Me: So maybe it’s more like they’re saying that faith holds logic, like a parent holds a child?

ChatGPT: It is possible that the author is using the phrase “faith holds logic” in a metaphorical sense, comparing the relationship between faith and logic to that of a parent and child. In this interpretation, faith could be seen as the guiding principle or foundation that supports and nurtures logic, just as a parent supports and nurtures their child. However, this is just one possible interpretation of the phrase and others may have different understandings of its meaning. The author does not explicitly explain their intended meaning, so it is up to the individual reader to interpret the phrase in the context of the essay.

Me: Do you think it would be possible to clarify their meaning more by reading other texts they have written? Maybe they explicate its meaning more somewhere else?

ChatGPT: It is not possible for me to say for sure whether the author has discussed the meaning of the phrase “faith holds logic” in other texts, as I am a large language model trained by OpenAI and do not have access to any additional information about the author or their writings. As a language model, my primary function is to assist with generating natural language text based on the inputs I receive. I do not have the ability to browse the internet or access other texts written by the author. If you are interested in learning more about the author’s thoughts on the relationship between faith and logic, you may want to try looking for other texts they have written on the topic.

Me: That’s fair. Here is another article by the author. It might be relevant.

1. “Who (or what) holds who (or what)?” Epistemically playing with set theory and attachment theory. Note that this text is dialectical. The nature of terminology will change over the course of its development, as greater clarity emerges, especially with respect to capitalization. This is part of the method of the text. The cost of this method is that you can’t skip to the end and understand it. The benefit of the method is that you can’t skip to the end and understand it. But if you read the text, you can understand it and it will teach you to understand it as you read it. What do we call it when we read a text through, in order to understand it? I call this Reading. 1.1 Why are we here? Arguably the most powerful question available to us right now is, “Who holds who?” Set theory offers a powerful account of a great deal of math, rooted in this question. Life, including the lives of groups, emerges from it. Human attachment and development are rooted in proper holding during crucial developmental windows. Psychological attachment styles result in different relationships to being held in groups. People searching for a theory of everything and beyond should start here. That search is great, and must unfold in due course. However, it only unfolds after the enormous gentleness needed for metaphysics has been internalized. I’m not doing anything so grand here. I’m only trying to help people think a little less badly. 1.2 Why metaphysicians should turn back now If you’re not interested in merely learning to think a little less badly, essentially doing mere epistemology, you should stop and leave right now. You should also stop trying to do metaphysics right away. That work requires a habitus of deep assurance, one that surpasses comprehension. Without it, you will lack the secure base that is needed for an exploration of the comprehensible, let alone that which holds both the comprehensible and the incomprehensible. (Comprehend, by the way, is a word of holding: of holding together some kind of model and experience and system of trust in the mind.) If you venture into metaphysics too soon you will end up in a web of illusion and confusion and feel utterly sure of yourself. But you’ll be stumbling around like a dead drunk at a childrens’ tea party, crushing the little teacups, booting kids in the face, great clods of dirt thrown all over the stuffed animals as you pass out half naked in front of everyone while we watch in horror. Just find a warm place to be held for a very long time, loved unconditionally and transformed by that love. Do that until you understand how utterly necessary that is for this work and why this strict warning is necessary. If you aren’t feeling deeply and warmly held in being, you don’t understand the power of questions of holding. You need to back away from the metaphysics and just patiently learn some set theory, attending to its gentle breakages around the joints of the obvious. Or you’ll need try to understand the scientific method for real (instead of as a propagandistic Feindbild) or do something similarly pathetic. Those who are inclined towards metaphysics and religion today are often completely unsuitable for the task, because they rushed ahead when they probably should have farted around for a couple more centuries, at least. 1.3 Spirit Holds Flesh The claim here is not metaphysical, but merely definitional. You do not understand the crucial technical terms Spirit or Flesh until you understand that they are defined by the fact that Spirit holds Flesh. In what senses does Spirit hold flesh? 1.31 First: Development Consider the most basic element of this from a developmental standpoint: we die very quickly if we don’t inspire (breathe), but first we “inspire” breathlessly in the womb. We are held in our mother, including our mother’s breath, before we breathe. Then we are held in her words and songs, and in the songs and words of all our relations, the ones that hold her in being. In a similar and related way, we cannot apprehend the general unless we hold flesh, which is held in a more general structure that gives us life. From this we gather up the necessarily and fundamentally doubled meaning of Spirit: it refers to breath itself and to that which is breathlike, including communication at its most general, abstract, consistent and fair. From now on, when capitalized “Spirit” refers to this more general form, which includes the more particular, while spirit refers to the more particular. Spirit holds spirit in a way that spirit doesn’t hold Spirit. 1.32 Second: Life and Scale 1.321 The Spirit of epistemology Before we can be held in our mother’s breath, there must be organs, tissues, cells, organelles, complex molecular processes, complex atomic and quantum processes, and so on. At least down to the scale of complex molecules, this is directly sustained by breath, by spirit. Beyond this, the requirements are at least breathlike, requiring Spirit. (Crucially, this “at least” is more, in the sense that Spirit holds spirit.) We might also be directly held in being by Spiritual beings, depending on what it means that observations of states are what resolve potential quantum states into actual ones. Regardless of the details at the smallest scales, our point here is simply that these processes remain Spiritual if not narrowly spiritual, and they must also be mediated through breathing beings to be experientially understood as we understand. Remember, our goal here isn’t to do metaphysics. We’re just trying to help people, who are all spirit breathers, think a little less badly,. [sic] This is why the fundamentally doubled meaning of Spirit (1.31) is justified for our purposes here, and justifies our claims here. This is simply a mutual description of the vocabulary and some things that are commonly discernible. 1.322 Schematic rise/fall in scale Before we can be held in our mother’s breath, she must be held in arms and family and tribe and nation and world and universal cosmos, and so on, possibly with only thin threads connecting these layers. But there must be some epistemic connection here, within the scope of whatever we can discuss, because otherwise we can’t be discussing it all together. These layers, like the ones used for sub-bodily scales, are highly schematized: they indicate processes of transition and mediation as scale increases, but the goal is simply to sketch the epistemic power of scale and not to strictly define the complex negotiations across all kinds of scales that constitute life. There has always been more scale to find between the scales: the reified scales must be removed for us to see scale itself. So what is scale? A relationship of holding: something at a bigger scale holds things at a lower scale. Note that the smallest scale (understood Spiritually) holds the larger scales even as the largest scale (understood Spiritually) holds the smaller scales: therefore “scale” refers to a relationship of mutual holding. How can this be? Well, why are physicists seeking a unified theory of their largest and smallest scale analyses? They’re looking for a relationship of mutual holding. Look: two people are hugging each other. One of them asks, “Am I hugging you, or are you hugging me?” The other replies, “We’re hugging each other.” Holding itself requires the possibility of mutual holding: sometimes one thing holds another, and sometimes there is mutual holding. At each transition in scale, there is a mutual holding, and so discussions of scale are always already discussions of mutual holding. Scale is unintelligible through top-down or bottom-up reductionism precisely because it always involves mutual holding. This is most accessible from the standpoint of secure psychological and social attachment, which we take as epistemically basic because it transparently is. 1.323 Emerging into scale After we emerge from the womb, if we become attached securely enough, we can also venture out further. We can do this in a discursive and exploratory mode that connects Spiritually, at least to the limits of our secure attachments. Where there is no longer security, there is violence, death, and a psychological retreat that corresponds to them. These limits, at whatever scale, come to define social boundaries. The art of creating larger social organisms is rooted in both secure and insecure attachments: this requires breathing, either easy or hard. Words are breathed out to build friendships or to rally a group against enemies. Relatedly, we can be relaxed or stressed and this is inextricable from how rapidly we breathe. This is all Spiritual activity proper. This is why questions of holding are socially and biologically powerful. 1.324 Defining Flesh and Holding in relation to Spirit and spirit 1.3241 Spirit holds Flesh in some hazy way that Flesh doesn’t hold Spirit In general, Flesh refers to everything that dies when separated from a broader Spiritual context. The Flesh is not bad, but is defined by its relation of practical and conceptual dependence on Spirit: Flesh is whatever is held in Spirit and Spirit is whatever holds Flesh. Spirit can persist without flesh, until it finds flesh to hold, but flesh cannot persist without spirit or Spirit. These are simply definitional matters. Try chopping off a hand to see what I mean. Whether it has anything to do with metaphysics is a topic for other days, and for people living under other skies. Despite this relation of dependency, this is apparently false: Spirit holds Flesh while Flesh doesn’t hold Spirit. Rather, the dependent (Flesh) and the parent (Spirit) mutually define each other: for us there is no CONCEPT OF Spirit without the CONCEPT of Flesh, because it is precisely this relationship of dependance combined with mutual holding that makes either concept intelligible (conceptualizable) as a dependant relation. 1.3242 The first side of the pun: Spiritual Holding Although they conceptually mutually hold each other, Spirit holds Flesh in a way that Flesh can’t hold Spirit, much as a parent holds a child in a way that the child can’t hold the parent. What is this way? It is not a matter of Spirit’s CONCEPTUAL independence (this can’t be, because they are mutually conceptually dependent), but rather a relationship of material dependance. What does material mean? Here, because we are deriving these concepts from experiences of holding, material dependance describes the way in which a child is held by a parent but is unable to hold the parent in return, because they are too small and weak, even as the concepts mutually hold each other, conceptually. Now we can also define “Hold” in two senses going forward: “Hold” refers to Spiritual Holding, which is to say conceptual Holding rather than narrowly material holding. (And Holding holds both Fleshy and Spiritual Holding.) However, “hold” refers to material or spiritual holding, such as the fact that we are dependent on breathing for life: we are held in being by the spirit that gives life. Or else we suffocate to death. Therefore: Holding Holds holding as Flesh Holds flesh and Spirit Holds spirit, but it is also true that spirit Holds Spirit and flesh Holds Flesh and holding Holds Holding in the same way. Why? Because relations of Spiritual or conceptual holding are always mutual. This is not the case, going forward, if we write “hold” instead of “Hold”. 1.3243 The other side of the pun: Material holding What about relations of material holding? Holding holds holding as Flesh holds flesh and Spirit holds spirit. However, holding doesn’t hold Holding and flesh doesn’t hold Flesh and spirit doesn’t hold Spirit in this way. How do we know this? We don’t. At least not metaphysically. It’s just a definition. Am I slipping in idealism at a definitional level? Yes. Is that okay? Why not? I’m just helping you understand a certain way of using this language, one that accords with much ancient usage. Does this suggest that these ancient views involve slippage around the core questions of metaphysics, precisely around the question that is being definitionally resolved here? Yes it does. Why do this sort of thing? So that this broad tradition of philosophy becomes intelligible to us again, with all its power and presumptuousness and punning. I also think there is clearly more work to be done in these idealistic fields, and so this language still has epistemic labor to perform. We can now see that idealism flows naturally, in ways that seem logically necessary, from a pun: this pun plays on the relationship between mutually dependent concepts and relations of material dependance, especially between parents and their dependents. This is what the Trinity is on about. 1.33 Third: Attachment Theory Holds Set Theory 1.331 Set Theoretical Puns If A is a subset of B, then B Holds A. This is written: A⊆B As a relation of Holding, this is a purely conceptual relation. If that’s right, then we must also note that B Holds A just as much as A Holds B, because each is only intelligible through their mutual definition. So if “⊆” means “A is Held In B(ing?)” then A⊆B => B⊆A. In just the same way, Father Holds Son: there is no Father unless there is also a Son. I am using set theoretical notion, but I am violating a basic premise of set theory. This is very, very, very naughty. We made another pun (and yet another one inside of it?). Just because set theory involves a conceptual model, that doesn’t mean it is using conceptual in the same way we have used it here. Using our terminology, set theory, instead, articulated a materialish concept of holding that is rooted in dependence: bigger things hold smaller things in a way that smaller things can’t hold bigger things, just as a parent can lift up and hold a baby but a baby can’t lift up and hold a parent. The baby is a dependent, even though it is also true that Parent (as concept) and Baby (as concept) are fully mutually dependent. 1.332 Am I a subset of mother? At first, spiritually by breath, yes. But then in a Spiritual way, or we might say Breathlike way, we come to mutually hold each other just as we were always already conceptually held. After all, there is no Mother without Child: the relationship is one of complete, mutual, conceptual interdependance even though it begins as a relation of material dependance. Therefore birth marks an apparent transition from breath to Breath, but humans are capable of high levels of abstract thought because we remain substantially less developed, tender, and vulnerable for so long after birth. (That is to say, this is a necessary if not sufficient condition of abstract human thought.) When we are held by our parents in love, we become part of a broader social set that is connected by breathed words and not just by the immediacy of breath before birth. In this sense, we remain a “subset” of the mother through direct holding and through our mother tongue(s). 1.333 Attachment Theory It is now clear that we need a variant of set theory that accounts for human attachment and scale, because social scale is partially constituted through human concepts of attachment. Attachment Theory, in this punning sense that plays on the normal psychological theory of attachment, is a broader framework for set theory that proceeds from this premise, when capitalized: A⊆B => B⊆A Attachment Theory holds that this is compatible with both A<>B (the attachment and Trinitarian distinctive) and with A=B (its material manifestation, held in the general claim.) In material set theory, A⊆B => B⊆A implies A=B, but Attachment Theory holds another path open as well. This is the Attachment Path. Therefore Attachment Theory holds set theory. Oh and it’s notation is all the same, especially because {A} looks like two people preparing to embrace A, seen from above. The divet is the heads and the brackets are the arms.

ChatGPT: In this article, the author discusses the concept of “holding” in various contexts, including set theory, attachment theory, and metaphysics. They argue that the idea of holding is crucial to understanding many different fields, and that it is important for people to understand the concept of holding in order to think more clearly and avoid confusion and misunderstanding. The author also warns against attempting to engage in metaphysics without first developing a habitus of “deep assurance” and a sense of being held, or supported, by something greater than oneself.

Me: Given that context, what do you think is the best reading of the author’s claim that “faith holds logic”?

ChatGPT: Based on the context provided in the second article, it appears that the author is using the phrase “faith holds logic” to describe the idea that faith is necessary for understanding and engaging with logic. In other words, they are suggesting that without faith, or trust in something greater than oneself, it is difficult or impossible to engage in logical thought and argument in a meaningful way. The author seems to be making the case that faith provides a necessary foundation or support for logic, just as a parent holds a child or Spirit holds Flesh. In this way, the author is suggesting that faith and logic are closely related and dependent on one another.



Daniel Heck

Community Organizer. Enemy Lover. Pastor. Practices honest, serious, loving and fun discourse. (Yes, still just practicing.) Author of According to Folly, etc.