Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Faith is for Sissies? Part 1

Have you ever been talking with someone about religion or God and they try to tell you that “faith” is not reasonable. They may say something like, “Oh faith is subjective or relative. I only believe in things that are rational or reasonable.”

Really? Can someone actually live his or her life that way? The answer is a resounding “No!” We all live our lives using faith in one degree or another.

The act of reason means all the subjective, personal acts of the mind by which we (a) understand, (b) discover or (c) prove any truth. For instance, we can understand what a star is made of by human reason alone. We can also understand why the universe is so well ordered: human reason tells us that there must be a superhuman intelligence behind its design. We can discover that the planet Pluto exists by human reason alone and we can also discover the historical existence of Jesus by human reason alone, by historical research. We can prove the Pythagorean theorem in geometry by human reason alone or prove by reason alone that the soul does not die as the body dies, by good philosophical arguments.

The act of faith is more than merely an act of belief. We believe many things – for example, that the Bulls will beat the Celtics or that Norway is beautiful – but we are not willing to die for these beliefs, nor can we live them every moment. But every time we drive our car we have faith the other drivers will stay in their lane. We have faith in an unknown pilot every time we get on an airliner. Each one of those faiths is a faith in which we are willing to risk our lives. Religious faith is similar and is something to die for. It is something to live every moment. It is much more than belief, and much stronger, though belief is one of its parts or aspects.

Reason is relative to truth; it is a way of knowing truth: understanding it, discovering it or proving it. Faith is also relative to truth; it is a way of discovering truth. No human being ever existed without some faith. We all know most of what we know by faith; that is, by belief in what others- parents, teachers, friends, writers, society – tell us. Outside religion as well as inside it, faith and reason are roads to truth.

On my next blog, I will conclude this discussion on faith and reason by showing why they can never contradict each other and that God is the teacher in both.

So “Keep the Faith!” and let me know some of your thoughts.