Are Faith and Reason Incompatible?

Many today view faith and reason as totally opposite from each other. Theists and atheists alike tend to view faith as a decision based on no evidence, no logic, but only a blind leap of something that is non-logical. Part of the cause of this is Christians who have been intimidated by the secular thinkers, and instead of meeting the challenge head on, have dodged the issue entirely by separating faith and reason. That way, no one ever has to provide a reason why…….they can merely say that they believe it and it doesn’t matter if it’s illogical or unreasonable.

However, faith and reason are inseparably bound together, regardless of whether we admit it or not. For reason and logic permeates everything we do, and we cannot avoid them. All faith is a reasonable faith. No one, and I mean no one, ever believed anything because they thought it was illogical, unreasonable, and absurd. Even if someone were to say “I’m going to find some unreasonable things and believe them” then they have just made a reasonable statement that follows the rules of logic. This person is logically looking for unreasonable things to believe. Logic is inescapable.

Faith is believing something that an authority has told us, even though the evidence has not been demonstrated to me. If a wino at the bus stop tells me how fast a space ship travels, I likely would not believe him. But if Albert Einstein told me how fast the speed of light travels, I would believe him, for he is an established authority in his field. In this situation, faith is believing Einstein without me having to go to the trouble of proving it myself.  Likewise, if nine eyewitnesses tell me what they saw, if the eyewitnesses are credible, it is logical to believe them on faith. The New Testament has nine eyewitness accounts.

Faith is always based on some evidence. You either believe the source that told it to you because you think they are trustworthy, or you like what they say, or you think they’re cute, but you always have a reason that makes sense to you at the time. No one ever picks an absurd reason to believe anything.

Now, you may question someone else’s belief, and say “there’s not sufficient evidence for someone to believe what they believe.” This may be so, but that doesn’t mean that the other person believed something they thought was unreasonable.

Or you might say “I see no evidence at all for that person to believe what they believe.”  Possibly so, but you’re not the one believing it, now are you?  The other person has some reason that they think is logical and reasonable.  Remember, the question of this blog entry is not “How do you tell if there is sufficient evidence for belief?” but rather whether faith and reason are compatible. We’re not weighing or even adding evidence, but rather asking whether anyone believes something that is illogical.

So all people who have faith believe that the object of their belief is reasonable, however much you may think the logic is flawed.  We cannot separate logic and faith, for the statement “faith and logic are not compatible” is a logical statement about faith.

Even the most strident atheist or skeptic uses faith. As mentioned earlier, faith is believing something that an authority has said, without having to demonstrate it for oneself. Think of it this way: A doctor we’ve never met scribbles something we can’t read on a piece of paper, we give it to a stranger at the pharmacy we don’t know, he gives us a bottle of pills that we can’t pronounce, yet we take them three times a day because we’ve been told to. That’s faith, but it’s not unreasonable, for we trust the authorities that told us it would make us well. If we had to prove everything by demonstrating it to ourselves, we would never get through life. Likewise, believing the nine eyewitnesses in the New Testament is faith, but it is not unreasonable, for these eyewitnesses have been proven trustworthy.

We are to worship God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind. Faith and reason are inseparable.

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About humblesmith

Christian Apologist & Philosopher
This entry was posted in Apologetics, Philosophy, Skepticism. Bookmark the permalink.

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