Faith and Reason


It’s Faith AND Reason, not Faith AGAINST Reason, although many people today seem determined to believe the two systems are opposed, especially when the faith involved is religious faith. Indeed, for those who hold this position, it is a dogma of faith!

Yet, despite the determination of many to believe—-to have faith in—-the idea that reason opposes faith, most of what they know is from faith, not reason. Most obviously, I suppose, is their own identity. John Smith knows that his name is John Smith because he was told that by his parents, and he had faith in their assertion. He believes that there is a Timbuktu, although he’s never been there, and could never have figured it out.

John may believe in global warming, and vigorously defend the proposition, although he himself would be totally unaware of it unless he had been told about it, and believed—had faith—that such a phenomenon exists.

He may have learned, in high school, about atoms, with their nuclei and whirling electrons in rings around the nucleus, with a specific number of electrons in each ring. He believes this absolutely, taking it all on faith. Indeed, the instructor who taught him, and the one who taught his instructor likewise took the atom theory on faith.

Although John’s knowledge of meteorology is limited to observing that it’s raining, or hot, or cold, or snowing, he may believe the weather forecasts, and even have a belief that weather phenomena are related to sunspots, although he doesn’t know what that means, and left to his own reason, couldn’t distinguish an upper level disturbance from El Nino, although he believes in those things, and has faith in the National Weather Service.

When he is ill, he believes the doctor will help him, and that the pills prescribed for him will be beneficial, a belief also held by his physician, who was assured of their value by an article he read, and believed, in the medical journal.

In short, most of what we know we know through faith, through being informed by others, whom we believe. For instance, we may place our faith in a theory of evolution, although evidence for it is scanty to non-existent. It is an affront to the reason of many that man could have been created by God, while those same scoffers at a Creator accept without blinking the idea that some chemicals (where did THEY come from?) became, after a while, human beings. Both require faith, but only one is held in contempt for that reason. There are even some who place faith in Barack Obama!

So, the truth is that we all place faith in certain ideas, whether right or wrong; but the faith placed in religion is thought to be unjustified, while that placed in politicians, or astrologers, or scientists, is accepted. That belief is unreasonable!

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