Yes, faith is irrational--accept it.
Good day R.R.S. In this post, I would like to do my best to explain my opinions/thoughts concerning faith. In a lot of posts recently, there have been plenty of debate over irrational beliefs such as faith. My goal here today is to explain why all believers should accept that faith is irrational.
First off, I don't think that saying faith is irrational is a derogatory or rude comment. Instead, it is merely a honest assesment of the meaning of 'faith.' This is a position that many theists don't claim to hold. My goal here today is mainly to speak to theists concerning the meaning of faith as I see it. Additionally, I will also try to reduce some of the claims made by the leaders of the R.R.S. in the kindest, most respectful way I can possibly communicate such things in.
I will start with my explanation of why faith is irrational; meant primarily for our theist readers. Although atheists may feel welcome to critique what I say as well if they feel so inclined. The definition of faith is where I would like to start.
- Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.
- Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. See synonyms at belief, trust.
- Loyalty to a person or thing; allegiance: keeping faith with one's supporters.
- often Faith Christianity. The theological virtue defined as secure belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God's will.
- The body of dogma of a religion: the Muslim faith.
- A set of principles or beliefs.
I highlighted the second part of the definition because it is the most important in the explanation that I am currently endeavoring to explain. This bolded definition is quite inescapably sound in its affirmation of the claim that faith is irrational. Before I go on further to defend what I've claimed, I would like to present another lengthy definition, this time of 'irrational.'
- Not endowed with reason.
- Affected by loss of usual or normal mental clarity; incoherent, as from shock.
- Marked by a lack of accord with reason or sound judgment: an irrational dislike.
- Being a syllable in Greek and Latin prosody whose length does not fit the metric pattern.
The two highlighted parts of this definition are the most important to this explanation of why faith is irrational. But, before I use these bolded definitions, I must first, unfortunately provide one more definition, 'reason.'
- The basis or motive for an action, decision, or conviction. See Usage Note at because, why.
- A declaration made to explain or justify action, decision, or conviction: inquired about her reason for leaving.
- An underlying fact or cause that provides logical sense for a premise or occurrence: There is reason to believe that the accused did not commit this crime.
- The capacity for logical, rational, and analytic thought; intelligence.
- Good judgment; sound sense.
- A normal mental state; sanity: He has lost his reason.
- Logic. A premise, usually the minor premise, of an argument.
Ok, now with this last bolded statement I may enter the explanation and hopefully expose the core of my claim that faith is irrational.
To begin I will present the bolded statements in argument form as premises leading ultimately to my conclusion. [Note: All this is interpretative on my part and I in no way hold my explanation as anything more than it is; one man's opinion]
1. Faith is a Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.
2. Reason is An underlying fact or cause that provides logical sense for a premise or occurrence.
3. Therefore, Faith is not founded on Reason because faith does not rest on "logical proof." (premise 1,2)
4. Irrationality is "Not endowed with reason"
5. Faith is not founded on Reason. (premise 1, 2, 3,)
6. Therefore, Faith is Irrational . (premise, 1,2,3,4,5)
As it stands, that is my argument as to why faith is irrational. Remember if you will to the first sentence of my second paragraph in this post, "I don't think that saying faith is irrational is a derogatory or rude comment." Therefore, I don't think that any theist or person who has faith different from theism should take offense to my argument. Why should they not take offense? That is something I will now endeavor to explain.
In recent times, there have been a lot of effort to "prove" God and his existence. In my humble opinion, this is the wrong thing to do. Why is it wrong? Well, because essentially those who try to "prove" God are attempting to make faith a rational belief. Yet, I have just shown that this is apparently impossible by virtue of the very definition of faith.
What this shows to me, is a person of faith's desire to substantiate his belief with something that shouldn't substantiate a person's faith, namely rationality. In other words, If a person searches for rational explanations to an irrational belief, it appears to me that their faith is something that cannot subsist along side rationality without its support (rationality's support that is). By doing so, it seems to me that this takes something away from a persons faith when they refuse to let faith stand alone and be distinct from that which it is truly meant to be distinct from. If we (as human beings) could ever prove God, then why would we ever need faith? Wouldn't a belief in him become rational and supported by logical evidence? Ultimately, to say that faith is NOT irrational is to claim something that is false. Faith is Irrational and that's not a rude comment toward a believer, it is a true assertion of what it means to have faith, namely, to have their faith be outside the realm of human rationality.
The last part of my explanation of why faith is irrational, is an explanation of why I feel faith is not a delusion or mind disorder. This will be a difficult task and I'm sure quite open for many refutations. Although, I still feel that my words are needed and may touch on points which have rational appeal. I would like start with a definition I'm sure a lot of us are familiar with:
- The act or process of deluding.
- The state of being deluded.
Before, I begin, I would like to reiterate what I said earlier. This is my attempt to in the most respectful and humble way I can possibly say this in, to critique the statements made by some of the R.R.S. founders. As well as those who hold the following statement to be true:
Fighting to free humanity from the mind disorder known as theism. [From the R.R.S. website banner.]
The goals of my critique are to explain why faith is not a mind disorder. Now, perhaps you weren't specifically speaking of faith in general, but specifically theism. Forgive me if my inference is misplaced. Therefore, for the sake of not putting words in the mouths of my friends, I will merely stick to attempting to defend theism as not being a mind disorder.
For my purposes, I will leave out specific aspects of theism and only focus on faith in God's existence. This to me seems something that would not do violence to the meaning of the R.R.S. slogan. Continuing from what was discussed earlier in my argument for faith being irrational, I would like to present an argument that would hope to explain why faith in God's existence, while being an irrational belief (faith), is not a mind disorder, or more properly termed, delusion.
Above, I presented the definition of a delusion. I also highlighted in bold, the points which I feel are most important to our discussion. First off, I will address the second definition which is, " A false belief or opinion". I'm sure some of you may already know where I am going to go with this, and I apologize if I am making a huge logical mistake along the way that has escaped my awareness. What I feel this definition does is exclude a belief in God's existence as being delusional because the belief in God's existence is a contingent belief (Either true or false). Therefore, under the second definition of delusion, the belief in God's existence cannot be rightly judged as delusional because it is not known to be false (yet).
The next definition of 'delusion' is perhaps the most difficult to overcome and where I may falter the most. The third definition is the following, "A false belief strongly held in spite of invalidating evidence." Now ignoring the "a false belief part" I will primarily focus on the "strongly held (belief) in spite of invalidating evidence" part. This third definition of delusion is what I feel most here at the R.R.S. base their judgment that theism is a delusion. The judgment would go something like the following:
There is no evidence that God exists. Therefore, believing in God in the face of this evidence is a delusional belief.
Forgive me if I've oversimplified the judgment of the R.R.S. What this leaves out in my mind, is the fact that there may be evidence in favor in God's existence one day in the future. Granted granted, I know this is a horrible reason for someone to believe in God, but please let me finish. What I am implying by saying that we don't have any evidence yet, is that it importantly renders the belief in God's existence a contingent belief based on the current lack of evidence. This is redundant perhaps from my previous comments on the first definition of delusion. Although, I feel it does address the judgment that belief in God is a delusion. My explanation accomplishes this by accepting that there is in fact no evidence for God's existence at present, but this lack of evidence is not enough to rule out God's existence definitively. Therefore, without the certainty of a belief being false (The belief in God's existence) that belief cannot be deemed delusional. Following my understanding of delusion, a belief would be delusional only if it was definitively proven to be false, and yet someone still believed in it.
Without making my post any longer than it has to be, I will conclude with one final comment.
This last part of explanation is perhaps the most important part of my goal in writing this. It is the part where I explain how I personally, and others perhaps, deal with the holding of an irrational belief. To hold an irrational belief is not enough to deem a whole person as an irrational being. Therefore, for a person have an irrational faith does not re-define their self as an completely irrational self. Now granted, this may not be a radical view and perhaps those of you who don't have faith don't think this way towards those of us who have faith. Still, I feel it is important to mention and throw out there, because I find that perhaps (I am guessing here) it is one of the reasons why theists don't want to admit that faith is irrational because of how being known to hold an irrational belief may affect other peoples perception of their rationality. In reality, chances are, we all (atheist and theist and whatever else you can think of) hold some sort of irrational belief. Whether it be hope, an ideal, or belief in deity, they are all equally irrational.
In closing, may I say a last few words. First off, thank you for reading this till the end. Secondly, I want to say thank you to the R.R.S. and everyone on this site. Lastly, I would like apologize for any remarks which I have made which may have offended, insulted, or rubbed someone the wrong way. My comments are merely my own and do not in any way speak for the "theist" community at large. If I have offended you, just let me know how I have done so, I would love to see if I intentionally meant to or if it was a mistake. Good day to you all and may you have a pleasant evening.
[Note: Answers.com is where I got all of my definitions.]
The implication that we should put Darwinism on trial overlooks the fact that Darwinism has always been on trial within the scientific community. -- From Finding Darwin's God by Kenneth R. Miller
Chaos and chance don't mean the absence of law and order, but rather the presence of order so complex that it lies beyond our abilities to grasp and describe it. -- From From Certainty to Uncertainty by F. David Peat