Faith vs Reason


Allow me to introduce our new apologist, J R Dickens, who I will be looking at some of his posts and offer a response.

In this post, our friend tries to show through torturous reasoning that faith and reason are synonyms and that reason starts with faith. Allow me first to define our terms; the Merriam Webster dictionary defines faith as

1a : allegiance to duty or a person : loyalty

 (1) : fidelity to one’s promises (2) : sincerity of intentions
(1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion
 (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2): complete trust
: something that is believed especially with strong conviction;especially : a system of religious beliefs <the Protestant faith>

while reason is defined as

1a: a statement offered in explanation or justification
b: a rational ground or motive

c: a sufficient ground of explanation or of logical defense;especially: something (as a principle or law) that supports a conclusion or explains a fact
d: the thing that makes some fact intelligible
(1): the power of comprehending, inferring, or thinking especially in orderly rational ways :intelligence(2): proper exercise of the mind (3):sanity
b : the sum of the intellectual powers
archaic : treatment that affords satisfaction
With the matter of definitions behind us, now I want us to consider what our friend is talking about in the usage of these two words and see whether we can agree with him or not.
According to the popular view of philosophy, faith and reason are mutually exclusive and consequently incompatible. But this is only true when “faith” is defined to mean a belief that contradicts the known evidence—i.e., that you choose to believe something in spite of the evidence.
From his blog, in his about he says he is keen on apologetics. In this case therefore I think when he talks about faith he must be referring to the faith [trust in things not seen even against contrary evidence]. In this case the only way a believer can test the truth of this claim is after they are no more- especially since I don’t think there is an afterlife. The believer thus cannot revise this belief. Whereas, where one believes something for which he has evidence then we are talking about justified true belief. To mix these two meanings is misleading and that is what he does in his post. I need not add that no one chooses to believe, you believe as you can and not differently.
Since there is no evidence for Abe neither for a god, to consider the story of Abe sacrificing his son to be a measure of faith to me seems to be to see the biggest problem with particular verse. How could anyone consider it a thing of grandeur to want to kill your child because you had a voice in your dreams? This aside though, to argue that Abe had unflinching faith in god is also to cherry pick the good book. Why for instance does Abe sleep with Hagar if he believes god is going to give him a child in his old age? Therefore this belief can’t qualify as 1, talking about fidelity!
Another way of describing faith is simply trusting in the future fulfillment of what has already been promised. If someone borrows $20 and promises to return the money in a week, we are trusting that they have both the means and the desire to pay us back.
Whereas from the surface this statement looks correct, it would be insane to lend a jobless person without the ability to pay and have a belief that your money shall be paid at the end of the week. The reason we are lending money here is because we have evaluated the ability of the borrower to repay us and have confidence that she will pay but we can adjust this belief if our money is not paid back. The same can’t be said of any religious belief.
Notice that we have to use our powers of reason in order to exercise faith.
What reasons do you have for believing that god loves you, that he died for your sins, that there is heaven and hell[that is if you believe they exist], for believing your god exists and that yours is the one true religion?
In order to exercise the powers of reason, we have to start with an assumption that reason is possible and that it depends upon the laws of logic and inference. In other words, I cannot “reason” unless I adhere to a set of rules that guide the reasoning process. But those rules must exist beforehand and apart from reason itself. These are the assumptions I must place my faith in before reason can be exercised. In the absence of logic, my thoughts are incoherent and useless for drawing inferences or conclusions.
You don’t need faith to reason. It would only be absurd for you to try to be skeptical on every subject. The process of argument will not even leave the ground. In the Problems of Philosophy, we notice, we must start from some belief to acquire knowledge of the world around us. We can take it that I exist as the starting point and evaluate every proposition after that to see whether it can be considered as true belief or not. Faith therefore is not a prerequisite for reason.
In the end, we see that faith and reason are inseparable allies. Everyone has faith. The only question is, “faith in what?”
No! That is not the only question.  The question most important question is why? Faith and reason are separable. One only need to see the definition of reason and faith to see where the two can be separated and while at it, it is important also to distinguish what one means when they say I have faith in something or else we commit fallacy of equivocation.
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About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

9 thoughts on “Faith vs Reason

  1. john zande says:

    I do hope he pays you a visit. He doesn’t appear to be the kind of apologist who likes to engage rational debate, though. Rant then ignore… the cowardly evangelical way!

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  2. mixedupmeme says:

    I don’t engage.

    But when I do respond to someone, I try to get him/her to define the terms or words. And that is very hard. But how can you talk about something when you don’t know what you are talking about? lol

    I see you are trying out some new themes. Or I think you are. I think you had a black background and I didn’t like that. 😦

    I see that I am not in the list of blogs you are following. lol Probably a WP thingy. But ladysighs is probably a more rational choice. 🙂

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  3. […] starts his argument by asking a question that has been dealt with time and time again, that is, is faith and reason are opposed to each other?  When I wrote on the same question, I did show that faith is believing […]

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