Monday, September 18, 2006
Faith and Reason
All of us begin with beliefs that we have accepted from others. Not necessarily our parents, it could be our friends, our teachers, whatever. Everything that we base our lives on are inherantly irrational. If they were not irrational, we couldn't live. We cannot wait to do any action or believe anything until we are sure it is rational!And so if you believe in God or don't believe in God or are agnostic about God--whatever our first decisions about God were-- they were irrational. However, the distinct separation between reason and faith is also irrational. It was begun by thinkers in the enlightenment who wanted to separate religion out of their lives. Yes, they had some good reasons for that, but their conclusion-- that faith is a "leap" that is beyond reason-- has no basis in truth.Of course faith has reasons. Childhood faith might be irrational-- based on what others told us without checking it out ourselves. But as we grow older, we have doubts and questions and we start investigating what we believe. Perhaps not most people, but many. I believed in Jesus at 13. But when I went to Bible school, I found much of what people claimed about Jesus and the Bible to be irrational-- contradictory. So I had to investigate it myself. In the end, I have a faith that is slightly different from others, but it is a faith based upon reason.How can we know God? Not because we have some great power, but because God reveals himself to us personally. This is a personal experience, but you can't say that it isn't based on reason. Just because I saw the movie "Cars" and you didn't, and you haven't seen any ads for it, is it "reasonable" for you to deny that the movie exists? Or even to say, "There is no way for us to say that the movie exists or not" ? Of course not. I have an experience and you can either say "I'm not interested" or you can say "I'm going to check it out to see if it is true." Then you go on the internet and find out that there really IS a movie called "Cars". If someone says they have enough personal proof that God exists, you can either say "I'm not interested" or you can check it out for youself. Of course, you can't just go on the internet. The best way to find out is to pray and see if God answers. But even if you don't get the answer you are looking for, YOU CANNOT DENY THE RATIONALITY OF SOMEONE ELSE'S EXPERIENCE! To deny someone elses experience because you never had the experience, or you don't recognize their proofs for their experience is the height or irrationality. It smacks of pre-school arguments "No you didn't" "Yes I did"-- to argue about experience can never go beyond this. You can examine someone else's experience, if they are willing, to see if their experience might have another explanation than they thought, but it is their experience, and ultimately the rational response is to throw your hands up in the air and say, "I don't know. I wasn't there."Rationality is examining something after you believe it, and changing it if the new facts show something else. Irrationality is looking at facts and holding our hands over our eyes and ears and screaming, "I'm not listening!" And there is pleanty of both of these in the skepical and in the faith camps.