Faith and Reason
by: John Tyrrell
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Patheos has been running a series asking the question "Is Faith Rational, Irrational, or Arational."
Unsurprisingly, many of the writers from a religious perspective were eager to "prove" that their faiths were indeed rational.
Tom Gilson wrote "Christian faith — the only kind of faith I care to defend; other forms may indeed be irrational, as far as I'm concerned — has stood on rational foundations from the beginning."
I'll admit — that line had me laughing. It boils down to "Of course my faith is rational - but I won't consider whether anyone else's is." Of course not. Because he does not want to know whether any other religion has a firmer rational foundation than his does. And Gilson's so-called rational foundation is "evidence-oriented examples, ... in the Bible." Gilson says there are dozens, if not hundreds.
What? Dozens, if not hundreds of evidence-oriented examples? Gilson does not even have a firm idea of how many examples the bible contains. And yet his argument is all based on the bible. His so-called rational faith is based on the irrational belief that the bible is factual.
And from that he manages to conclude that not only is his Christian faith rational, but he goes on to conclude that disbelief is irrational.
Similarly Carson Weitnauer, co-editor of True Reason and a writer at ReasonsForGod.org, wants to use the bible to show his faith is fully rational. In Faith Is Rational: An Invitation to Consider the Possibility, Weitnauer uses the old nonsense that we have to be open to the possibility that "the Christian account of reality actually has it right." Because, of course if we aren't open to that possibility, then we are just unthinking and close-minded. And of course, no non-believer has actually considered the possibility and rationally closed the door.
But following up on Weitnauer's request that we be open to considering the possibility, we essentially have to be open to accepting that biblical accounts might be literally true. After all, he builds his case in part on Adam and Eve (so we have to be open to the possibility that the biblical Adam and Eve really existed.)
" While it would be blind, irrational faith to wholeheartedly trust a complete stranger or a nonexistent deity, this is not the Christian perspective. If Adam and Eve personally knew God in all of his goodness, then it follows they would know that God is worthy of their fullest trust and loyalty."
And yet - Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. So much for giving their god, who they supposedly knew personally, full trust and loyalty.
Weitnauer does not happen to mention Exodus - but I'll point to biblical tale of the ancient Israelites supposedly freed from bondage in Egypt by their god. After they'd they seen what he'd done for them, at the first opportunity, they made a golden calf to worship.
So much for basing a claim to rational faith on early "believers" who personally had experience of God. The bible itself shows it does not work - the irrational text on which the supposedly rational foundation is built undermines all claims to rational belief based on what the biblical ancients did.
I ran across a 2013 BBC discussion between two comedians, one a Christian, the other an atheist, on the subject Mocking faith - how far can you go? The Christian, Paul Kerensa, at one point says:
I never seek to prove my faith - it's a leap of faith that has got me where I am. I studied Theology, and a bit of Philosophy, and the whole ontological and cosmological arguments get us nowhere, and is a waste of everyone's time and brainpower.
So my faith, which is illogical and I love it that way, is totally separate from my interest in logical science.
Kerensa, unlike the Christian writers on Patheos, understands the difference between faith and reason, and manages to keep the concepts separate. He's what I consider an intelligent Christian.
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