Faith is Not Irrational – A Groundwork Case for Faith.

31/07/2012 — Leave a comment

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” [Hebrews 11:1]

For something to be considered rational, it must obey the laws of logic. Yet, in our discussions about what is logical or rational, we must always remember not to mistake what is rational with what is real. These two terms are not synonymous. Please note that I am not, at this point, saying that Faith does not conform to reality (which I believe it does). I am only making a preliminary distinction between rationality and reality. Reality refers to actual existence or occurring in fact.

Something real is something that is not imagined or supposed, but has been perceived through either of the five common senses of touch, taste, sight, hearing and smell. Furthermore, from a scientific point of view, what is real must be real to all people observing it and using the same senses (this is only to rule out such contexts as hallucinations, imaginations and dreams, even though their contents may be objects that would be found in the real world).

The word rational on the other hand refers to something (concept or idea) that is based upon or is in accordance with the laws of reason and logic. Rationality is purely metaphysical, it is not physical. It is important to make this distinction because many people who make a case for the irrationality of faith tend to base their claims upon physical rather than metaphysical evidence and laws. For instance, if I say that the ball began at 7 pm and Cinderella arrived at 7:30 pm, then it is purely rational to conclude that Cinderella was late for the ball. It is irrelevant to rationality whether or not Cinderella actually exists and the story is merely a fairy tale. The rationality of my claim will not be dependent upon facts but upon the laws of logic.

In this conceptual sense, then, rationality has nothing to do with physical reality. However, there is a point at which reality and rationality do meet. For example, a person may have two different metaphysical explanations for reality. It is essential that these two explanations both be rational. However, the validity of each explanation depends on how accurately that explanation conforms to reality. It is at this point that I introduce the case for Faith.

My claim is that the Christian Faith is the most accurate description and explanation of reality. This is because, not only does the Christian worldview factor in those aspects of reality that are observable and from which natural laws could be inferred, it also has room for the unnatural phenomena that science is not (yet) able to explain, e.g miracles. It is hence the work of a Christian apologist to carry out the task of illustrating this rationality of faith whenever faith claims are brought into question in the secular arena.

Science on the other hand bases its claims ONLY upon what has been observed, tried and tested. It has no room for surprises. As a matter of fact, surprises in science often end up leading to the complete overhaul of the scientific principles (laws) that had been adhered to prior to the new discovery. One example of this is how most of newton’s classical physics were replaced by the much better explanations found in Einstein’s theory of relativity. This is a fact that scientists who want to pit science against faith must always be ready to acknowledge: that the present scientific laws are only the most reasonable, most accurate and most relevant today, and they may easily be discarded when a better scientific explanation is developed in future. To speak in absolute terms about any laws of nature is to be unscientific and therefore, IRRATIONAL.

On the other hand, to speak in absolute terms about any claims of the Bible is not irrational because, Christianity in itself presupposes an absolute God who has established absolute laws. Therefore, it would actually be irrational for a Christian to claim that the Bible is the eternal word of God and then speak as though its claims are only the most reasonable, most accurate and most relevant today and may easily be discarded when a better explanation is developed in future. The Christian who denies his faith is actually irrational, not the other way around.

“But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” [James 1:6-8]

Finally, it is not unreasonable to claim that the sun will set today or rise tomorrow, yet, even that expectation is an act of faith. Just because it has happened before doesn’t make it any less supernatural. Faith is not unreasonable, it is simply reason that is not yet seen. Faith is the admission of our ignorance and the recognition of God’s omniscience. To let our insufficient understanding lead us to question God’s character is to be Faithless… and blasphemous.

In His Service and for His Glory,

Cornell

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