Is Faith Rational?


The comment section has been very quiet recently, so I thought it was time for something that would liven it back up.

Is faith rational? Why or why not?

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166 responses to “Is Faith Rational?

  • iDikko

    I’m going to say no, I’ll be back to troll the comments in the morning lol

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  • Inthegazeoftheother

    It must be. Who doesn’t live each day in faith that he or she will not die that day?

    Liked by 1 person

    • hessianwithteeth

      How do you define faith that it is required to believe that you won’t die?

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      • Inthegazeoftheother

        Faith is the belief in what I cannot verify with my senses or the knowledge I have attained but believe anyhow. I have no idea whether each day I awaken to is my last, but I live as if it is not.

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        • hessianwithteeth

          What evidence do you have that you will not wake up tomorrow? Are you sickly? Do you suffer from a disease? Are you old? Did one of your parents die at the age you are now? Compare that to the evidence you have that you will wake up: have you awoken every morning in the past? Do people generally wake up in the morning? What percentage of people die in their sleep with your health, family history, and age? If the evidence that you won’t die outweighs the evidence that you will die, then you should believe that you will wake up the next day. You don’t need faith.

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          • Inthegazeoftheother

            Except that some people with good health and other reasons to rely on good old ordinary cause and effect die from earthquakes, crime, car accidents, natural disasters and the like. Do they know it beforehand, that the day was upon them? I don’t know, but I think probably not. That is faith. We live without certainty, even though logic, cause and effect is something we rely upon, that we will live, it is not guaranteed. But we do live as if we will live the next day and every day until old age or next week or some other time comes when we don’t. It’s a faith of sorts, perhaps degree and duration is what separates some faith from others.

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          • hessianwithteeth

            You don’t seem to understand how probabilities work. You can use probabilities to determine how likely you are to die. You can also change your likelihood of dying in a number of ways. For example, I know I won’t die in a hurricane tomorrow because it isn’t possible for a hurricane to occur where I live. If I’m worried about death as a result of poor health, I can improve my diet and exercise more since I don’t have any diseases. I don’t need faith when my risk of dying is low, which it is. And assuming that I will get hit by a car tomorrow is ridiculous because the risk is probabilistically low and I can lower the risk further by staying on the sidewalk and crossing the street at cross walks.

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          • Inthegazeoftheother

            I don’t mean to suggest paranoia or hypochondria. I simply refer to the fact that anyone’s death, the timing or cause, regardless of probabilities, is unknown, yet most live daily as if it is not going to happen. I believe that is a faith. You asked for my definition. That is it. Your faith appears to be in patterns and predictions based on statistical evidence and empirical evidence of human observation proving specific outcomes, even when those outcomes are contradicted and predictions, merely that, predictions with no guarantee of certainty.

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          • hessianwithteeth

            You said that faith is belief without evidence. I have evidence to support my trust of the data. By your very definition that means I don’t have faith in it.

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          • Inthegazeoftheother

            No, I said it was belief without certainty of outcomes, or at least should have if I didn’t.

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          • hessianwithteeth

            You said “Faith is the belief in what I cannot verify with my senses or the knowledge I have attained but believe anyhow.” That is to say belief without evidence. It also suggests that the evidence doesn’t matter to you any you’d be willing to believe regardless of it (by saying that you “believe anyhow”).

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          • Inthegazeoftheother

            I believe human beings are pattern makers and are limited beings. Faith is one way we operate to survive is all I’m saying. Even scientists are humble enough to know that there is so much not only that they don’t know but even more that they don’t even know they don’t know. See David Eagleman, the neurobiologist. So they operate in blindness and faith that if they keep on probing, working, there will be answers. It is a will to proceed and do without certainty that anything will come of it–no evidence, if you will.

            I am always intrigued by those who really bank on the certainty of outcomes or evidence as you insist I mean. But the discussion does not appear to be a comparison of ideas about faith so much as an attempt to prove one definition of faith is right or righter, a challenge more than a sharing. I don’t feel compelled to convince you otherwise. I’m not all that invested. Peace out. Thanks for the brain tease.

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          • equippedcat

            “Evidence” is not perfect. Evidence can be incomplete, misleading, mistaken or even fraudulent. In many cases, it can provide a high degree of confidence, but certainty is often elusive.

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          • hessianwithteeth

            Evidence isn’t perfect, but it’s more effective than faith. And just because you can’t know something 100 percent doesn’t mean that faith is a good alternative.

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          • equippedcat

            I beg to differ. Faith is far more “effective” than evidence. although It might not be as reliable. If you can’t know something 100 percent, then faith is your only alternative.

            It appears you think that “faith” is a bad thing. There is nothing intrinsically bad about faith. It is a SUBSTITUTE. Not as good as the real thing, but often better than nothing. You can have faith in a bad thing or faith in a good thing. The problem is not the faith; it is the things one has faith in.

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          • hessianwithteeth

            Lol if by effective you mean at giving answers? Yes have thing faith will give you lots of answers. Isn’t bound to give you anything to go on and has no relationship to the truth, but if you want to substitute faith for not know, go right a head.

            Though really there is that other alternative, accepting you don’t know something.

            Though really I think your wrong about faith slips in when we talk about probablities.

            If we have a significantly high potability of living through the day, say we have 1:10000 change of dying, if still the safe bet to assume your not going to die.

            At 1:10000 it’s safe to bet your card will never come up, though they are high enough to take some extra precausions.

            You lower that down to 1:1000 thing become more dicy, but still good. Your not likely to die though you should take proportionately more precautions in case you do. And this goes all the way down.

            It doesn’t require faith that you’ll make in through the day it takes simple math. Sure you don’t know, but that doesn’t mean you now have faith you make in through the day you have good evidence that you’ll likely make in through the day.

            You would be right if I said I will definitely make it through the day, as opposed to saying I likely will. That level of certainly does require some level of faith, but so long as you making a probabilistic claim or other wise not claiming complete knowledge you don’t need to lean on faith.

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          • equippedcat

            Faith does not “give answers”. It (can) give peace and reassurance about things you can’t know for sure (unless a person is too lazy to increase knowledge about things as far as practical, in which case it can be misleading rather than comforting). It is not (or should not be) a substitute for what you can know, just for what you cannot know for sure.

            Intelligently applied, it can have a high degree of relationship to “truth”, but of course, by its very nature, it has the potential to be misused.

            Perhaps I am wrong; I can only go by what I experience and observe. And that is that probability is a good guide, but there is ALWAYS a chance, no matter how remote. It seems axiomatic to me that a person assumes that because the odds are so favorable, that the remote chance will not be unfavorable for them. This would seem to be a valid and useful use of faith, which I apply often. Perhaps there are people who accept that “nearly sure” is as good as they can get, and truly don’t care about the remote chance.

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          • hessianwithteeth

            Well I’m glad you can accept the possibility that faith in not required, that’s more the point I having being trying to make.

            It’s the way I generally am (and it seems to bother some people that I’m perfectly comfortable). Now I’m sure that I do have faith in some things, but over all I attempt to work with in the confined on what I know to be true and to what extent.

            Also you are correct to say that our knowledge is complicate and some of it is certainty wrong. Though my argument still stand, so long as you take this into account (Something I try to do by examining the basic assumptions I make about reality).

            Though if we want to use Faith in this stricter sense of an unjusstified or unsubstanitated beilief, I’m perfect happy to. I just find people are sloppy with the word, and I’ve run into no shortage of people who then blur the lines around evidence, beliefs, faith, and the justification of those things. When end up leading some to confusing all these things and basically modifying definitions as convenient with in the same arguments. Something I’ve seen at least 4 or 5 times in the comment section of this post alone. Most commonly this takes shape in the following way. A person will define Faith and then go on expand it’s meaning with out redefining or making mention on this expansion, let alone trying to justify it.

            It’s a finer point about argument, but it’s still the fallacy equivocation. (Not that your making that fallacy here)

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          • equippedcat

            Sorry, 1 chance in 50 million is still 1 chance. You can be “fairly sure” you won’t die tonight, but you can’t be absolutely sure. That tiny difference is where faith sneaks in.

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          • equippedcat

            Because it is possible an undiagnosed condition might cause sudden death, because gas lines do leak and explode, because airplanes do fall from the sky, no matter how good the odds are that any particular individual won’t die at any particular point in time, there is that chance. Since it cannot be guaranteed that a person won’t die, faith is appropriate.

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      • equippedcat

        I have faith that I will die, someday, because everybody does. I know that every day, people die of some sudden malfunction of the body, and others from accident and others from violence. I have faith that it won’t be me; and if I did not have that faith, I don’t know that I would bother getting out of bed.

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  • Not a lolly bar « Paidiske

    […] should note that this blog post was spurred by discussion on another blog post, here.  I was asked there about why I believe that the creation account in Genesis is not a literal […]

    Liked by 1 person

  • D.T. Nova

    Lacking a rational basis is part of the definition of “faith”.

    Liked by 1 person

  • secularscarlet

    No.. Next question… 😁

    Liked by 2 people

  • clubschadenfreude

    this is from above. I figured that I’d not try to split the atom in smaller and smaller text boxes. There really should be a word that means belief with evidence. For whatever reason, I define “trust” that way, that I have objective evidence that I can expect the same thing to happen.

    I agree, a belief is what you acquire from influences. It does not mean it is true. As you noted, you can validate some beliefs, by getting evidence. And if you had thought about it, you also know that a chair can and will break beneath you because physical objects aren’t impervious.

    Belief in gods and miracles and magic do not have that evidence. Beliefs in things that are not real can be very harmful and often are. Belief leads to behavior. People always act on and because of their beliefs. A child will act on their belief of santa, and you act on your belief of God. If you believe in something and don’t act on it, why do you believe it? I do agree that beliefs do not occur in a vacuum, and other things impact on them, for instance the mountains of evidence against young earth creationists. Many Christians changed their beliefs from a literal 7 day creation to some metaphor.

    In my opinion, all beliefs and faiths without evidence are indeed irrational by definition. I would say we determine rational as being dependent on evidence and reality. Subjective feelings or events would not qualify, for example if we consider hearing voices delusional, then it’s always delusional unless there is some other evidence to support that the voice is some god.

    You were raised in the US or some English speaking country correct? What was the primary religion in that country? If it was Christian, then it is no surprise that you are Christian. I am curious about the information you gathered, and if you investigated any other religions than the one you were exposed to at all.

    I use the term baseless because the claims Christians and other theists make are baseless. They have no evidence better than any other religions. If no evidence can be provided, that does make a claim baseless. If I don’t believe something and am ignorant of something, then if I would call it baseless that would be wrong. I’m always waiting for evidence that some god is real, but until I get that evidence, it is baseless in my experience and knowledge. As usual, if you have it, please do present it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • equippedcat

      Belief with some evidence is belief, no new word is necessary. Belief with overwhelming evidence is not belief at all, it is fact or truth. The very definition of belief depends on some degree of uncertainty. If there (validly) is no uncertainty, it does not belong to the class “belief”

      Yes, people do behave based on and because of their beliefs – the complete set of their beliefs as well as their other knowledge and their intrinsic being. Does this mean that some will do horrid things? Of course. Does it mean that one particular belief (religious) is at fault? Since we can find two people with nearly identical religious beliefs, where one does that which is horrid and one does not, it is not supportable to claim that the religious belief is (solely) at fault.

      Miracles, etc, have anecdotal evidence, which is by no means conclusive, but indicates the possibility that these things exist. Belief in things which are not there is not quite the same thing as belief in things which we can’t show are there.

      Yes, U.S. by parents who appeared to have no religion at all while my sister and I were under their control. Note that even though the U.S. was founded on Christian principles, that even during my childhood, Christianity was not “pushed”. My mother was from a pastor’s family, so it was not a complete shock that she became saved when I was in my 30’s. My dad is from a line of scientists, so his salvation was rather more of a puzzle.

      Rationality does have some relationship with apparent reality. But in the end, rationality is a personal relationship. What is rational to one person is irrational to another, based on things in addition to agreed upon reality.

      The claims are baseless TO YOU because the basis is not convincing to you. Obviously, it is not baseless to everyone; and use of the term is insulting to those to whom the claim is not baseless. Thus, you give the impression of using it not to convey information, but to annoy those who are silly enough to disagree with you.

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      • hessianwithteeth

        Well I for one would not want to conflate belief, even belief with overwhelming evidence, as fact or truth. Facts are bit of perceived data, observations or results. They are true in that asumming honesty they where recorded as they where and there is no denying it. Though a fact alone is not worth much.

        First becuase facts

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        • equippedcat

          Ok, what would you call a piece of knowledge which can be proven to the satisfaction of “anybody”?

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          • hessianwithteeth

            Lots of evidence can be proven to the level of some one, I doubt anything can be proven to the point where it would convince everyone, but evidence doesn’t sway some people, and some times people will refuse to accept something on any grounds.

            Perhaps I misunderstand your question, and perhaps you where directing that towards clubschadenfreude but that’s my answer.

            Also I would also like to point out that the USA was not built on Christan principles, certainty they played some role, but the US is the most secular nation by initial design in the world. You fine folks don’t even have a national religion, even if many would like to change that. If anything the USA was built on enlightenment principles. This whole the “USA was founded on christian values.” Is a lie perpetuated on mass by the religious right.

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    • paidiske

      “Many Christians changed their beliefs from a literal 7 day creation to some metaphor.” Actually, this is incorrect. Most Christians, through most of history, have not believed in a literal 7 day creation. That is a belief which became popularised by fundamentalists from the late nineteenth century onwards, for complex reasons that have more to do with social trends than solid Biblical study.

      Liked by 2 people

      • clubschadenfreude

        That seems quite untrue since many, if not most, Christians now do not believe in the evolution of the universe or the evolution of animals and plants. http://www.gallup.com/poll/155003/Hold-Creationist-View-Human-Origins.aspx

        We also have that a few of the early church “fathers” opposed the idea that Genesis should be taken literally, e.g. Origen and Augustine, which would indicate that many Christians did take the story literally.

        Aquinas, in the Summa Theologica, has that the bible must be wrong in its numbering of the days of creation, basing his argument on things we also know are not true, that air, water, fire and earth are “elements”. He also insists on the creation of animals in a day, not evolution at all. He also cites Augustine who, like Aquinas, questions if the creation story is quite “right”. If this book is wrong in such a basic thing, why believe it in other places?

        One can see that early Christians certainly didn’t believe in the old earth creationism that some Christians now accept thanks to the stacks of evidence. One can also see that modern Christians don’t often do this either.

        As always, you as a Christian want to claim that those Christians who disagree with you aren’t studying the bible “correctly” or “solidly” enough, which they would claim about you too. I’ve asked this before, but I will ask it again. How can anyone know which of you are the true Christians?

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        • equippedcat

          An honest, thoughtful person will know that no person can know about any other person, and no person can know for sure about themself. Only Jesus can know “for sure”.

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          • clubschadenfreude

            Well, if Jesus Christ existed, he might know for sure. I can know about people pretty well from their comments and actions. I may not know “for sure” but I know enough to interact with them. EC, do you go with the idea that we cannot know anything “for sure” and thus we know nothing? I do know some Christians who make that claim.

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          • equippedcat

            There are people who think they are saved and may not be. There may be a few people who don’t think they are saved and actually are. There is no way for a live human to know for sure, since the “requirements” are somewhat nebulous. When it comes to salvation, Jesus knows, because He knows exactly what the requirements, and He knows everything about us.

            No, I’m sorry, you can’t know. You can know what someone claims, and you might have a pretty good idea whether that person acts in a manner which you think is typical of a saved person. But I suspect you have no more reliable information about what it takes to be saved than anyone else, and even if you somehow knew that, you would not have access to the person’s inner self in order to be sure.

            I’ve not heard that concept about not being able to know anything “for sure” and don’t subscribe to it. I do however, think there are many things we think we know for sure which have a bit more uncertainty than we realize.

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          • clubschadenfreude

            I see that you state that the “requirements” of being saved are “somewhat nebulous”. I do agree with that, and that is one of the reasons I find that the claims of theists that they have some truth to be unbelievable. Most, if not all, Christians are sure that they know what Jesus/God wants. And since you don’t agree, there is no reason to believe that anyone has the right answer. My question is: then why bother with a religion that make no sense, that causes harm, when there is no need for it? Secular sources are just as good and don’t come with the “what was meant?” problem.

            Again, there is no reason to assume that there is some mysterious “inner person” that is entirely different from what one sees in a person’s actions. I can agree that there are some things we don’t know well, but most things we do since we can effectively interact with them and we get no surprises.

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          • equippedcat

            It makes sense to me, I need it (I remember when I did not have it and now is much better), it is of benefit to me, and although there is actually harm done by some claiming to be Christians, it is nowhere near the harm done by some claiming to be Muslims, or even a few who claim to be atheists.

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          • clubschadenfreude

            Do you not think that those people “claiming to be Christians” are Christians?

            Have you read the bible, EC? I ask because the actions of the violent Muslims are very similar to those God-fearing people in the bible.

            Please tell me about these “few who claim to be atheists.”

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          • equippedcat

            “Christians” is a wide range. I imagine that there are some people who claim to be Christians for their own purposes, but know they are not. Probably any one else who claims to be, is. The problem is, all a Christian is, is a person who follows a religion based on Jesus Christ. There are many flavors of this.

            If we ignore the label and consider whether people are “saved” (that is, “right with God”), as mentioned, I’ll bet there are some who think they are who will find out they are not. I can’t say for sure about anybody, although there are those whose behavior seems to belie their claims of salvation.

            Yes, I have read the Bible (well, most of it). Including the parts you are undoubtedly referring to. Any similarities between the behavior of current Muslims and the ancient Israelis is superficial.

            Surely you don’t think no atheist ever causes harm? Wasn’t it an atheist who killed those three students recently?

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        • paidiske

          That poll was done in America, the birthplace and heartland of Christian fundamentalism! Try taking that poll in Orthodox Russia, or Greece, or Catholic Europe, or Lutheran Scandinavia, and you’d get very very different results.

          Of course the church fathers didn’t have the same cosmology that we do now – they didn’t have access to the same information about the world. However, if you are able to find a reception history of Genesis (a commentary which compiles the thoughts and insights of many commentators over the centuries), you will see that they also have not unanimously read Genesis in the way that contemporary fundamentalists do.

          I am not interested in who the “true” Christians are. There are areas where I think questions are open and we are free to disagree. There are areas where I think some are flat-out, demonstrably wrong. I’m quite happy to make those arguments as the need arises. I recognise that others will therefore take issue with me, and that’s fine.

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          • clubschadenfreude

            yep. and there are whole bunches of Christians who don’t believe as you claim Christians do.

            Yep, the Church fathers didn’t have the information we do now. They also thought magic worked and gods could have children with humans. They thought magic could allow a man to be tortured to death and to rise again. And we now know that believing this is ridiculous.

            You have claimed that Chrisitans who don’t agree with you aren’t reading the bible correctly, so it certainly seems that you are interested in who the true Christians are, and you consider your version the correct one.

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          • paidiske

            On the issue of six-day creationism, I do think I’m correct and others are not. However, I don’t think that’s any sort of litmus test of “true” Christianity. Nor am I particularly interested in “true” Christianity.

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          • clubschadenfreude

            I see. Thanks for that answer. It appears, to me, that you do think that you have a truth and others do not. I would still like to know why you believe that this part of the bible is metaphor and the claims of a man rising from the dead and ascending to heaven, something that has no more evidence than young earth creationism is a description of fact rather than metaphor. I can understand if you do not wish to discuss this. Let me know.

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          • paidiske

            I think that question probably deserves a longer answer than I can reasonably give here, while eating breakfast before rushing off to church. Let me give it some thought – it might turn into a blog post of my own.

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          • clubschadenfreude

            That would be great. You are also welcome to email me velkyn_at_comcast_.net or come to my blog if you wish

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  • Joe

    Do you mean: is faith in God rational?
    That would just be belief and trust in God. Whether that belief and trust is rational, or not, would depend on the person doing the believing and trusting.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Ros

    Is faith rational? I think that depends on both your definition of faith and your definition of rational.

    There has been some discussion here about the faith required to sit on a chair. So, in the following argument, I am going to take a definition of faith that derives from this and say that ‘faith is the degree of trust required for a person to act in a certain way and be reasonably confident of the outcome.’

    Defining what it means to be rational I think is much harder.

    From an empiricist viewpoint, the only knowledge upon which truly rational decisions can be based is that gained from scientific enquiry into the material universe. The chair is made stable by the positioning of its four legs, which together are strong enough to bear weight. This has been shown, repeatedly, by experiment. If we so chose, we could even assign numbers to the various elements involved and find that they subscribe to certain known laws of the universe. In other words, we can apply the knowledge gained from one chair to others.

    Now, if we stop there, with an empiricist viewpoint, then we can say that it is rational to sit on a chair, but it is not rational to believe in God, since we have no material evidence for God.

    However, there are other ways of defining rational that do not include the empiricist viewpoint. Being rational may involve, for example, the ability to deduce something from prior knowledge or understanding. And some philosophers have suggested that the sources of that prior knowledge or understanding may not necessarily have come through the senses or be scientifically verifiable. Moral awareness would be a case in point. The appreciation of beauty might be another. Abstract ideas such as mathematics would be a third.

    Now, if we begin to include these other sources of knowledge, but continue to maintain that it is possible to think rationally about them in order to come to a decision about how we behave, then belief in God perhaps begins to look more rational. And that would fit with the common Methodist notion that Christian faith is based on Bible, Tradition, Experience and Reason. In other words, Christian faith is not based purely on reason, but reason comes into it. I don’t have a problem with this because I don’t think anyone’s life is built purely on reason. Not even that of the empiricist or atheist.

    However, since the question of prior knowledge (or what might loosely be called evidence) has come up, let’s look a little more closely at how this works in Christian faith. I notice that the words ‘blind faith’ have been used above – describing a faith that is unjustified. So is my faith blind or can I justify it?

    My answer would be that I can justify it for myself. I cannot justify it for the empiricist, but that is not my concern. My concern (if you like) is whether I am going to sit on that chair or not and what the likely consequences will be if I do. So why have I chosen to sit on it? In brief:

    1) I have heard about the experiences of those who say they have had an encounter with God.

    2) I have reason to trust the judgment of some of those who have described these experiences.

    3) Some of my own experience matches with theirs.

    4) I have heard about the experiences of those who say they have had some kind of ‘supernatural’ experience (not necessarily a god or gods).

    5) I have reason to trust the judgment of some of those who have described these experiences.

    6) Some of their experience matches with mine.

    7) I have yet to find naturalistic understandings that are adequate to explain all of these experiences. The ones that I have simply do not fit.

    8) I have observed that others have benefited from acting on their belief in God.

    9) I have observed that those around them have also benefited from such action.

    10) I have found acting on my own belief in God to be of benefit both to myself and others.

    Regarding number 7, I would add that I fully accept that many things that Christians and others attribute to the supernatural either have or could be argued to have a natural explanation. I am not an idiot. I have thought about this a lot. But that still leaves a whole area of experience for which there appears to be no naturalistic explanation. That doesn’t prove God. But, for me, it does demonstrate that there is more to the world than we currently understand – that there is some kind of ‘spiritual’ force even if Christians and/or others are totally wrong about its nature. I guess that’s where the trust bit in the above comes in. The balance of probability suggests to me that large numbers of humans over multiple generations have probably managed to get at least some things right about it!

    The question as to why some humans experience this ‘spiritual’ force and others don’t is one I cannot answer. I accept that this appears to be the case, but I cannot use it to negate my own experience. That would be like saying my head doesn’t hurt when it does. One thing I am sure of is that there is nothing special about the people who do have such experiences.

    Finally, regarding reasons 1-3 and 10, I would argue that the reasons we choose to sit in a chair are pretty much the same. We could do the science, but most of us don’t. Experience is what counts.

    Liked by 4 people

    • hessianwithteeth

      A well thought response, thank you for taking the time to write this out. Certainty I don’t agree with all of it, but you have thought deeply about it, and it shows. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Appalachian Philosopher

      I really like the critical thinking in this post. In regard to empiricism I would just like to add one point. When you talk about rational decision making being derived from inquiry into the material universe you have to walk the dog all the way down the street so to speak. In empiricism, like David Hume’s brand, you can ultimately trust nothing, not even your own existence. Because at each assessment you have to ask yourself the question “How do you know?”

      This is something that Rene Descartes dealt with when talking about rationalism. His response to doubting whether he even existed produced the “cogito”. I’m sure you already know this, but when doubting his own existence he said “cogito ergo sum” meaning I think therefore I am.

      This is why I think empiricism is incredibly lacking in its ability to be the measuring stick of what is real, or metaphysical. Immanuel Kant showed us that there are a priori concepts and this should at the very least make us start scratching our heads and thinking that there is something else going on here besides blind materialism, determinism, etc, etc.

      Again, this was probably the best post in this whole thread and I thank you for posting it and I thank hessian for this blog also. Very good stuff guys. I normally don’t reply to stuff like this but you guys got me!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Ros

        Thank you very much for the compliment and also for your interesting response. My knowledge of philosophy is limited. I have never studied it in any formal sense. Just picked up bits and pieces on the journey, so to speak. So I appreciate your fuller explanation. Thanks for joining us and thanks to Hessian for hosting the discussion.

        Liked by 1 person

      • hessianwithteeth

        Certainly Science makes for a bad measuring stick for the existence of reality itself, as science assumes that there is a reality which we can at least partially interact with, and which be we can at least partly perceive correctly. It’s can also be argued that some sciences assume some level of consistency, but generally that conclusion comes from induction and is not just an assumption.

        This isn’t to say science can’t say anything about reality, but science is by it’s very nature an inductive logical process, so it can not prove reality. That science is generally fully capable of testing it’s own assumptions, although it is tricky to do it right.

        While I do think we can make convincing arguments for the existence of reality. I have not heard any compelling argument which definitively prove the existence of reality

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  • Toad

    Is asking whether faith is rational, rational?

    Liked by 1 person

  • equippedcat

    Faith is irrational, but necessary. Without it, we would have great difficulty in doing anything, and no reason to try. It would be more useful to consider the DEGREE of irrationality of a PARTICULAR belief.

    What determines the degree of irrationality of a faith? If something can be shown to be true, then it is not faith, by definition. If something can be show to be false, then the faith in that would be completely irrational. A faith that if a person goes far enough, they’ll fall off the edge of the world is a completely irrational faith.

    Most faiths fall somewhere in the middle. Consider the faith that driving to work, a person will not be killed in a car crash. This is an irrational faith, since people do get killed in car crashes on the way to work. But it is not a very irrational faith. Every single person who has that faith has never had it happen to them (those it has happened to probably HAD that faith). There are statistics which will tell you EXACTLY how irrational it is, in the form of X occurrences per Y people. But if people did not have this faith, they probably would not drive to work.

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    • hessianwithteeth

      Why would doing things be difficult without faith? Why would we suddenly have no motivation? Why is it necessary?

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      • equippedcat

        When ever we consider doing something, we (at least should) consider the “Risk/Reward Ratio”. We at least hope, and often have faith that the results of our action are beneficial, and we have faith that the possible negative results are no more likely than we predicted, and that they won’t happen to us anyway.

        If we refused to have faith in anything, then we would tend to not have enough motivation for many of them, and we would be too afraid to attempt many of them.

        Consider the driving to work example earlier. Imagine how many aspects of that common (and usually important) scenario require faith on our part, both to encourage us to do it and keep us from being overly afraid of it.

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        • hessianwithteeth

          But analyzing the risk of something is not having faith. In fact, it is the exact opposite of having faith. Analyzing the risk is collecting evidence to determine whether or not an action is worth perusing.

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          • equippedcat

            “Acceptable” risk means that the odds are low enough that you can have faith it won’t happen to you. If you analyze risk and find that the odds are one in two (50%), that would be a really huge leap of faith. If the odds are one in two million, then it does not require much faith at all to think it won’t happen to you. The reason that faith is required is because in both cases, there is that “one chance”.

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      • paidiske

        Faith is a large part of many people’s systems of meaning. If you shatter their faith, it can seem to them that their lives have become meaningless. Hence the lack of motivation etc.

        I’m not saying that atheists have no sense of meaning or value. But to me, a theist, of my faith were to disappear tomorrow… my whole life would become empty and I would have to start again to construct a sense of self and purpose and all of that stuff. Now, many people *do* this, but it takes time. And in fact, many end up redefining their sense of faith rather than completely abandoning it.

        Really we’re talking about spirituality in the broadest sense; the questions of values and meaning systems and purpose and identity. It’s possible to have profound and vibrant atheist spiritualities, but I would guess that it takes more work to resource them, since they don’t tend to come ready-made.

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  • Lydia Thomas

    As a Christian, I don’t believe my faith is rational, at least, not in a scientific sense. (Since scientific laws have their basis in theories and theories are based in observation of patterns, really – so sorry if I’m oversimplifying it). I have no scientific (observed) proof that God exists, or that He loves me, or that Jesus is His Son, or that Jesus’ death has any impact on my sin, or even that Jesus rose from the dead. I still believe all of these things are true. I can point to very specific ways my life has been changed for the better since accepting them as true (observable proof, in my mind), but I have a dear friend who insists that these are changes *I* made, not changes that came from accepting the gospel. My point being, I don’t ever kid myself into thinking that what I believe makes rational sense to anyone besides myself, and I’m okay with that.

    For other Christians who might read this and be tempted to vilify me, I do think Hebrews 11:1 backs me up: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” I don’t know anyone who would say that’s rational…

    Liked by 2 people

    • hessianwithteeth

      Well one thing you have backward is that Scientific Theories are based on laws, not the other way around, and those laws are based on observations. Although that too is an over simplification, but here is not the space for discussion about philosophy of science.

      Though other wise while I certainty don’t agree with you views of religion. I do appreciate your honesty.

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  • clubschadenfreude

    I’d like to ask the theists here for examples of rational faith?

    I think that trust is often mistaken for faith and the other way around. Trust requires a reason to have trust, for example, I trust my parents because they have cared for me. That trust can be mistakenly transferred to something that they have told me, like religious claims which have no evidence for them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • equippedcat

      No such thing as a “rational” faith. Only lesser degrees of irrationality.

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      • clubschadenfreude

        So, what do you say to theists who claim that they have “evidence” of their god/gods. If they do, wouldn’t it be rational to accept evidence? Or do you doubt their claims of evidence?

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        • equippedcat

          Wouldn’t that be a completely different question? Or perhaps a very specific instance of this question, that is, how irrational is their faith in their god? If they have evidence, then the faith is less irrational; the validity (to them) of the evidence would indicate how much less. Note that the evidence may not have any validity to you, but that was not the question. The question was how irrational was THEIR faith.

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          • clubschadenfreude

            I don’t think it’s a seperate question because it depends on what is necessary to make a rational decision. For instance, if someone told you that god talked to them, would it be rational to believe them *and* to form your beliefs on their beliefs?

            I suppose it may depend on how one defines “evidence”. If only one person can experience it, and it has nothing in reality to back it up, is it evidence?

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          • equippedcat

            It is a separate question, or perhaps it is the question you really wanted to be asked. You are less interested in how irrational their faith in their god is and more interested in how rational or irrational their behavior (influenced by their faith) is. Which is, of course, a more important question, since their faith cannot have any effect on you, but their behavior can.

            This very morning someone told me that God had spoken to them, and I believe that they believe that happened. I’m not sure, but even if I did not believe it was possible, I think I would still believe that they believed that it happened (assuming I thought they were inherently trustworthy and not in any condition which would encourage hallucinations, which in this case, I do). Of course, if I believed it was impossible, then of course I’d think they were wrong.

            Someone else believing something may have some small degree of influence on what I believe, depending on how much I admired them and how trustworthy they have shown themself to be.

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          • clubschadenfreude

            I’m not seeing the difference between belief and behavior. Faith does indeed influence behavior and to try to separate them seems disingenuous. If one’s faith is irrational, so is one’s behavior if based on that faith.

            There is a difference in believing that someone believes something and belieiving that something yourself. Believing in something does not make it real in the least.

            Unless you had some experience before you ever read or heard about religion, it is my position that your belief is entirely dependent on accepting the baseless claim of someone that you did admire and had some real reason to trust. Humans love the idea that something will take care of them and gives them special knowledge on how to control the universe, and it is very easy to accept such a baseless claim from someone who cared for you and provided for your needs.

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          • equippedcat

            I gather (based on your apparent interchangeable usage of the terms) that you think belief and faith are interchangeable. I see a difference, although it is tiny. In my view, a belief is something which you “acquire” after being exposed to some set of influences. It is “knowledge” which cannot be validated. I “believe” that the odds of me being killed in a car crash on the way to work are very small (which actually probably could be validated if I were not too lazy to look it up). Or I believe that a particular chair will hold me (not as much as I used to, after one collapsed under me after several years daily usage)

            Faith is putting trust in what you know, what you believe and perhaps even what you hope. It is an undeniable fact that one person out of every some large number of people WILL be killed in a car crash on the way to work. I use faith to convince myself that the “one” will not be me. A chair did not collapse under me 6000 times and then DID collapse, but it was an annoyance rather than a disaster. Faith allows me to sit with minimal concern, since although chairs apparently do collapse under me, it probably won’t do it today, and even if it does, no big deal.

            Now are belief and behavior interchangeable? Of course not; they are not even in the same linguistic class. Are they “tightly coupled”? In other words, does a particular belief “force” a certain behavior, and does a particular behavior guarantee a corresponding belief is held? Less obvious; I say, usually not. Most behaviors are the result of resolving (as best we can) the conflicts between an assortment of knowledge, beliefs and desires. So although one belief may encourage a behavior, other factors may be enough to inhibit the behavior. When faced with several behaviors, the final choice is seldom based on one belief. Thus, although sometimes a belief and often a faith has impact on behavior, it usually does not do that in a vacuum. Thus, “tying” the rationality of a belief or faith to the rationality of a behavior is often not helpful, particularly since all beliefs and faiths have some degree of irrationality, by definition.

            Irrational behavior is a slippery concept. What seems irrational to one person may seem rational to another. How do we determine which of these opposite views the behavior is? Generally, the tendency is for those who see value from the behavior to lean towards “rational”, while those who see damage from the behavior to lean towards “irrational”.

            Yes, believing a person believes something is not the same thing as believing it yourself. It is, however, a step in that direction.

            In many cases, your position on the way people come to their religious beliefs is correct, but not so much in mine. We had “no” religion growing up. I was in my 30’s when my parents became saved, and I rejected my mother’s attempt to convert me, despite my trust and admiration of her. My salvation was a process, based on information I gathered, behaviors I observed, and in the end, what I intuited from it all.

            You like the term “baseless”, but you not believing something does not automatically ensure it is baseless.

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          • clubschadenfreude

            the rest of this answer is above. figured I’d make it easier to read. It starts “There really should be a word that means belief with evidence. For whatever reason, I define “trust” that way, that I have objective evidence that I can expect the same thing to happen”

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          • equippedcat

            But “form” my belief, no.

            Evidence applies to each person differently. One person may accept it wholeheartedly and another may reject it completely and others accept it to varying degrees. Some evidence has enough support to appeal to most people and some is so personal that it is only valid to one person.

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          • clubschadenfreude

            Why would one person accept something wholeheartedly and one reject it completely?

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          • paidiske

            Perhaps because the implications for each are different? For example, if you accept some of the Christian claims, it will impact on your use of money. If you have none, this is no issue; if you are very wealthy, you may prefer to do the spiritual equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and singing “la la la.”

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          • clubschadenfreude

            It seems that you think that atheists don’t contribute to charity. Is that true?

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          • equippedcat

            Um, what atheists tend not to do that theists tend to do, is give money to churches.

            Of course, there are other differences in spending. If every theist actually lived the way they are instructed they should live, and every atheist lived the way they are viewed as living, there might be valid generalizations. But since a majority of neither group does NOT live that way, making any other generalization is of questionable validity.

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          • clubschadenfreude

            so, did you do any research at all about this claim of yours? If you had, you’d see your claim is false.

            http://philanthropy.com/section/How-America-Gives/621/

            And giving to a church so you can have a nice building and a coffee maker is quite different than giving to some orgainzation like Oxfam or your local shelter. Let me ask you a question: why does my local homeless shelter have to ask for money from the whole community when there are literally 10 + pages of churches in my local yellow pages?

            I did not make the generality, EC. You did.

            If people are not living up to their claims, then why should we give churches a tax break on the idea that they do any benefit for the community? And it’s a pity that atheists are lied about by theists so that we are indeed seen as living some selfish way when that is not true.

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          • equippedcat

            WTF? That article, as far as I could tell, said nothing whatever about theist/atheist relative giving. It appeared to be all about rich/poor relative giving. Are you saying that rich people are theists and poor people are atheists? I can personally disprove that.

            Not all theists give to their church (just) for the building and coffeemaker. Many churches provide support to the general membership, local charities and/or missionaries.

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          • clubschadenfreude

            before you burst a blood vessel, here’s the right link: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/11/28/are-religious-people-really-more-generous-than-atheists-a-new-study-puts-that-myth-to-rest/

            we had missionaries at my church. Know where they went? Australia. Terribly needed there, right? 🙂 My local shelter, Bethesda Mission very faith based, still needs money. Funny how that is, isn’t it?

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          • paidiske

            Oh, and there are some communities in Australia in desperate need. Outback indigenous communities where life expectancy is decades below average, kids don’t go to school, alcohol abuse is rife and unemployment and crime are high, for example.

            Even in wealthier places, like inner city Melbourne, there are needs which are inadequately met – emergency accommodation for the homeless is a big one. But if they just set themselves up in a comfortable office in a wealthy suburb and didn’t address the big issues, well – no, we don’t need more of that.

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          • clubschadenfreude

            Yep, and we have exactly that in the US and in the very county that my church was in. Explain to me why someone should fly thousands of miles to do this when its in their backyard.

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          • paidiske

            My very own argument as to why it is perfectly fine for me to minister in my home town rather than seek to be a missionary elsewhere.

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          • clubschadenfreude

            And one would hope that other Christians would agree with you. They don’t. They are all over the world, trying to convert other Christians to their particular sect, sure the other sect is wrong. And if we are to believe your bible, they are making sure to damn people because they have introduced Christianity to those who do not know it and if they reject it, they have no chance.

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          • paidiske

            No, that’s not what I was saying. Some atheists do and some don’t. If, however, you become a committed Christian, the questions of giving become very live ones.

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          • clubschadenfreude

            I’m glad that wasn’t what you were saying. They also become very live questions if one is a humanist. Christians do and don’t also, and it appears that there is a difference of opinion of what charity one is to do to be considered Christian.

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          • equippedcat

            Because not everyone has the same set of current knowledge, beliefs, needs, motivations, feelings, thoughts, environment and so on. All of these have an impact on how a person will accept something new.

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    • paidiske

      For me, a rational faith is one which is not in conflict with the evidence (for example, belief in God may be rational, but young-earth creationism is not), which is open to changing as new evidence and experience arrive, which has internal coherence and which is demonstrated in behaving with integrity.

      Liked by 1 person

      • clubschadenfreude

        Why is young earth creationism not rational? I ask this because I wonder what is rational about believing a man literally was crucified and then rose from the dead?

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        • paidiske

          Young earth creationism involves a direct denial of a great deal of scientific evidence.

          Christ’s resurrection, while scientifically unlikely, is a historical claim, for which there is not scientific data in either direction.

          I believe in the resurrection, and I believe that it was an instance of the suspension or disruption of the usual operation of the cosmos. But neither you nor I can test that hypothesis, so I don’t have to reject a whole pile of pertinent information to continue to hold that belief. And, importantly for my take on what it is to be rational, that belief in the resurrection both has coherence with the rest of what I believe/know, and shapes my behaviour in ways which mostly have integrity. I say mostly because I am, after all, an imperfect work in progress. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • clubschadenfreude

            Like young earth creationism and old earth creationism, there is no evidence for Jesus Christ the son of god. There may have been an itinerant rabbi wandering around the eastern Med at some point thinking he was the messiah, but there is no evidence for a miracle performing man/god who did miracles. There is also no evidence for any census, any massacre of the innocents, of any of his supposed miracles, nor of any of the events surrounding the claims of his cruxifiction. There is no evidence of the walking dead, of a earthquake or of the sun darkening on any given day.

            You pick and choose what you believe in, and decide for yourself what is to be considered literal and what is to be considered metaphor. I can show that other things happened other than the magical events you claim, so yes, I can test the hypothesis that Jesus Christ son of God existed and I can come up with the supported answer that is no more likely than a seven day creation. Belief in the resurrection has no more coherence with the rest of your knowledge than a seven day creation.

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          • equippedcat

            Consider that all three concepts are not equally unlikely just because we don’t have supporting evidence for any of them. There is more evidence AGAINST “young earth” than there is against the other two.

            Liked by 1 person

          • clubschadenfreude

            So, since there is not as much evidence against the existence of Hathor, Tezcatlipoca, and every other god known to man, than we have that young earth creationism is wrong, does that mean that those gods must exist as you claim your god does?

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          • equippedcat

            Your “evidence” can convince yourself, and most people who already agree with you, and some people who don’t disagree with you and possible even a few people who disagree with you. If evidence which was solid enough to convince a majority of the people that Christianity was invalid really existed, one would think it would be widely disseminated.

            I haven’t heard of it…

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          • clubschadenfreude

            Evidence doesn’t depend on if someone believes it e.g. “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson

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          • clubschadenfreude

            Like young earth creationism, and old earth creationism, there is no evidence for Jesus Christ the son of god. There may have been an itinerant rabbi wandering around the eastern Med at some point thinking he was the messiah, but there is no evidence for a miracle performing man/god who did miracles. There is also no evidence for any census, any massacre of the innocents, of any of his supposed miracles e.g. the gathering of a legion’s worth of men just outside of an occupied Roman city, nor of any of the events surrounding the claims of his crucifixion. There is no evidence of the walking dead, of a earthquake or of the sun darkening on any given day. There is a great deal of scientific evidence that the resurrection denies. Earthquakes leave evidence and people notice them, Darkening of the sky when no such event was predicted is noticed.

            Paidiske, it seems that you pick and choose what you believe in, and decide for yourself what is to be considered literal and what is to be considered metaphor. I can show that other things happened other than the magical events you claim, so yes, I can test the hypothesis that Jesus Christ son of God existed and I can come up with the supported answer that the resurrection is no more likely than a seven day creation. Belief in the resurrection has no more coherence with the rest of your knowledge than a seven day creation.

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          • paidiske

            You accuse me of picking and choosing without asking me how I decide. Do you think that might be a false assumption on your part?

            Liked by 1 person

          • clubschadenfreude

            Well, paidiske, you do pick and choose, and decide one part of the bible must be metaphor and the other must be literal. Other Christians do the same as you do, and decided that other parts are literal and metaphor. It is not a false assumption on my part since I can point to how you pick and choose and how other Christians pick and choose. For example, some Christians insist that they don’t have to pay attention to the old testament commandments anymore. Some Christians say that the commandments are very important and follow them as they pick and choose, hating homosexuality, supporting the death penalty, etc. Same with creationism and its variants.

            Tell me how you decide. You’ve had ample opportunity to have mentioned this before. But I’ll take it now. I’d also like to know how your methods differ from the those Christians that you disagree with. for if you claim that you have studied the bible “correctly”, they have also said this. If you said that your god told you how to interpret, so do they.

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          • paidiske

            My objection is to the idea that *I* pick and choose, as if I were at a lolly bar deciding which sweets I like.

            I decide based on a number of criteria; one would be constructing a canonical hermeneutic based on the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds as a rule of faith. Another would be careful consideration of genre as part of exegetical work. Another would be reference to the weight of scholarship (both Christian and – for the Hebrew Scriptures – Jewish as well) over the centuries.

            What I’m saying is that this is a carefully thought-through, scholarly, disciplined and communal exercise. It’s not *me* deciding that I like one text and not another, and so I shall accept one and not another. It’s me, doing my best to understand a text in its context and apply it to my context in ways which are in keeping with Christian understanding, and the best Biblical scholarship of more than two millennia, and the key insights of other scholarly disciplines, collegially with the best minds who are also engaged with these questions.

            Which is very very far from simple “picking and choosing.”

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          • clubschadenfreude

            I’m sure you do object to someone showing that your Christianity is nothing different than someone else’s.

            Those “other’ Christians claim exactly what you do, paidiske. They claim that they use hermentutics, they use exegesis, they claim that their scholars are the right ones. And it is them and *you* who are deciding that you like one text and not another. Everyone claims to be “trying their best” to understand and you all come up with difference answers.

            Yep, you are right, it is very far from “simple” picking and choosing. It’s picking and choosing using the same complicated methods in order to explain a series of books written by humans full of contradictions and falsehoods, to claim it is some magical “truth” that no one can agree on.

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          • paidiske

            No, I have no issue with diversity in Christianity, or even outright disagreement. We’ve had that since the apostles and, I expect, will until the end.

            My objection is not about being compared to some “other” – I don’t have the same sense of divisions here that I think you’re imputing to me. My objection is to the idea that one’s ideas about faith are constructed on a whim, rather than with some rigour, which is what it seems to me “picking and choosing” implies.

            There’s nothing magical about truth, religious or otherwise. I don’t know why you would suggest there is.

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          • clubschadenfreude

            Paidiske, when you say that other Christians don’t have a “solid” bible study, what are you meaning here? Are you saying that they are wrong in how they study their bible and the conclusions they come to?

            Do you believe that your version of Christianity is the true version of it? And if so, what evidence do you have to support it? Perhaps I can clarify what I mean if I can understand your answer to these questions.

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          • paidiske

            Ah, I think you’ve misunderstood my comment about the rise of fundamentalism. I said that this was due more to social reasons than Biblical. What I meant was that in order to understand it, you needed to understand the reaction in America at the time to liberal Protestantism, European Biblical criticism, the rise of communism, WWI, greater religious pluralism, changing social conditions and attitudes, and so on – the huge social upheaval around the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th. I meant that those factors, as much as any new or deeper reading of the Bible, drove fundamentalism as a movement.

            Do I think they’re wrong about some things? Yes, or I’d be one. But that doesn’t make me more of a “true Christian” than a fundamentalist; we just happen to disagree. I’m also open to discovering – as I have before – that I am wrong about some things, and to changing my position.

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          • clubschadenfreude

            Again, you seem to think that Christians who disagree with you are wrong and are not reading the bible correctly.

            I agree, that Christianity is indeed influenced continually and changes continually because of external cultural forces. This would indicate that there is no reason to believe it is some immutable truth, as each generation of Christians claim their version is. For example, the 19th century claims of Christians that the “end times” were occurring. Every generation of Christians is sure that their generation is the one that won’t have to die to get to heaven/the kingdom of heaven on earth. Then their claims fail and we have “The Great Disappointment” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Disappointment These repeated claims of the truth always meet with disaster, and it hurts real people.

            I know that you are no more of a TrueChristian than a Christian fundamentalist. There is no reason to believe any of you because none of you have any evidence that any of your claims are true.

            To return to the original post, this is why I find any claims of rationality to religious faith to be ridiculous because of the above. If one was indeed using rational methods, facts and logic Christians should agree. However, they don’t. This would seem to indicate that the source of their claims is not rational and/or their methods are not rational.

            You and other Christians may “just happen to disagree” now, but in the past, Christians killed each other over such things. You condemned each other to hell over such things. Having been a Christian, I witnessed this nonsense myself. The differences are not as inconsequential as you would have us believe. Especially when I see all sects doing their best to convert each other with missionaries. If the differences were truly so minor and if faith were so rational, this wouldn’t happen.

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          • equippedcat

            Actually, the original question was whether “faith” was rational. Faith in God is but a subset of that.

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          • clubschadenfreude

            of course. And we’re here talking about pretty much only faith in gods.

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  • Appalachian Philosopher

    I think it’s completely rational to have faith. I have faith that if I sit down in my chair that all four legs are not going to simultaneously snap and send me crashing to the floor. I have a rational basis for that faith. Is it possible that I could be wrong and that very thing could happen to me? Of course it is. But my faith is based on rational analysis.

    When we talk about things like having faith in God and whether it’s rational, I try to use rational analysis to determine whether or not I will have faith. First I look and I notice that everything in the universe, no matter what it is, is governed by laws. The laws of the universe hold true time and time again, test after test. Is it possible that the next time I test them they will do something different? It is possible but highly unlikely.

    Then I ask myself a question; “Where do unseen universal laws, or algorithms, come from?” I am then confronted with the possibility that laws or commands come from nothing. But this seems a little silly to me because when you talk about “nothing” you’re talking about something that doesn’t exist. So in my mind it is highly illogical to believe that something that doesn’t exist created all of the laws of thermodynamics and Newtons laws, etc. We can’t even fathom “nothing”. This is why I think that there can be a rational basis for intelligent design and there can be a rational basis for “faith”.

    You can choose to have irrational faith, such as the faith in Santa Clause but if you keep coming back to the David Hume “how do you know” question you’ll drive yourself mad. That’s why we need rational analysis to be the driving force behind our confidence or faith. I usually like to add the caveat “it is possible that I could be wrong” when I am analyzing something. I do this because I think it’s dangerous when you get into the world of absolutes. But even admitting that there is a chance that I am wrong doesn’t mean that I am not confident that I am correct. It means that I am always free to be able to find the truth.

    Liked by 1 person

    • hessianwithteeth

      It would be nice to live in world where “But I could be wrong.” was an implicit assumption people held, sadly in this an many other way the world is not ideal.

      So while I will fully grant the sense that faith and be used to refer to a justified belief, as in I have faith that Gravity won’t just quit and I’ll float up into the sky (and the earth violently explode).

      It is also the case that people use “faith” to describe belief which they have no justification for, or which they would hold without justification, ie. blind faith. The problem for me lies in when people equivocate the two usages, as though they are interchangeable.

      Liked by 1 person

    • clubschadenfreude

      “Then I ask myself a question; “Where do unseen universal laws, or algorithms, come from?” I am then confronted with the possibility that laws or commands come from nothing. But this seems a little silly to me because when you talk about “nothing” you’re talking about something that doesn’t exist. So in my mind it is highly illogical to believe that something that doesn’t exist created all of the laws of thermodynamics and Newtons laws, etc. We can’t even fathom “nothing”. This is why I think that there can be a rational basis for intelligent design and there can be a rational basis for “faith”.

      if these laws have always been, as theists wish to claim for their god then where is the rational basis for creationism and religion?

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  • Kit

    When we start thinking about “faith” as something that we believe for which we have no evidence – that’s more difficult.

    I’ve known born-again Christians who believe (and I believe that they believe) that God has literally spoken directly to them. I can’t really subject that belief to an evidential inquiry. They would argue, then, that their faith is based on direct evidence and therefore isn’t at all irrational. They have proof in experience, and it isn’t their fault that I can’t access that.

    The only arguments I can construct at the point are the types of arguments that proceed from questioning whether their interpretation of that evidence is valid. I could point out that they might simply be misinterpreting promptings from their own inner life. Or hallucinating. Or any number of other explanations. But those aren’t often convincing arguments coming from someone with no direct access to the evidence.

    The only way I can respond with certainty is that it doesn’t make sense for me to revise my own understanding of reality based on evidence that I’m unable to examine directly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • clubschadenfreude

      I’d have to say that claims of “proof in experience” are useless in that hallucinations can be experienced but are not evidence of that experience being any more than a chemical imbalance. My husband was on lithium once and it caused him to be quite sure that there were giant mosquitoes attacking him. I have no more reason to believe in giant mosquitoes than I do any gods. I think direct access to the experience can be overidded by someone who wants to over-ride it because they can consider the lack of evidence for them. If theists are presented this evidence, it then becomes the problem of compartmentalization.

      If there is a god and it can communicate with human beings, the theist being one, then this entity should be able to communicate with all human beings and thus it should be able to affect reality. If it cannot, then there is no reason to accept that it exists.

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      • equippedcat

        Experience may be (and probably should be) useless to those who did not experience it. It can be quite useful to those who experience it, as long as they are able to comprehend and remember that belief/faith can be wrong, by their very definitions.

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        • clubschadenfreude

          And there’s the rub, my dear EC. 🙂 How many theists, especially Christians can comprehend and accept that their belief/faith can be entirely wrong?

          Like

          • equippedcat

            Not nearly enough. Oh, and theists are not the only people who can have this problem. Sort of a human characteristic that “if I think it, it must be right”.

            Like

          • clubschadenfreude

            Agreed. Lots of conspiracy nuts around who are in this category that’s for sure. And that’s where evidence comes in, evidence that can be observed and experienced (felt, heard, etc) by others that makes baseless claims different from supported claims.

            Like

          • equippedcat

            Yes, evidence that can be independently verified is much more reliable.

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          • clubschadenfreude

            I am guessing that you don’t believe the claims of theists other than Christians. I could be wrong, and please do correct me. Would it be because you do not think their claims can be independently verified?

            Like

          • equippedcat

            Heck, I can’t even independently verify my own beliefs otherwise you’d be sitting in the pew next to me 🙂 I think my beliefs have a bit more validity, but of course, I could be wrong and xxx (including atheists) could be right. Amusing bit on South Park, a bunch of people die and go to Hell, and Satan says to a mass of theists “Sorry, only one group of you is right and that group is, um, let us say… Mormons!”.

            So, yes, I generally do not believe the claims made by other theists. Not because my belief says they are wrong, but because they are claims about things which cannot be shown. I don’t believe some of the claims made by Christians, and any other claim they make annoys me even if I agree with it because claims should be supportable. I realize that every single belief there is, has some degree of uncertainty (by the very definition of the word), so I try not to make “claims” about things I can’t demonstrate to “anyone”. I might claim x is my belief, but I try not to claim x is so.

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          • clubschadenfreude

            That I can understand. That does make you a very strange version of a Christian, if you do call yourself that.

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          • equippedcat

            Yes, I call myself a Christian. and realize I vary from the norm. What can I say; I come from a science background and have no childhood religious influences.

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          • clubschadenfreude

            Again, did you grow up in a majority Christian country?

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          • equippedcat

            If you insist, yes, one which claimed to be Christian. Any chance that you, too, were brought up in a majority Christian country?

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          • clubschadenfreude

            Yep, certainly was, Pennsylvania in the US. The percentages are that those who convert or who grow up here will be Christian. They will not be Muslim or other. You could definitely be the odd person out but that’s not the way to bet. Did you investigate any other religions when you were looking at what to believe?

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          • equippedcat

            No, I was not looking for “a religion”.

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          • clubschadenfreude

            Am I to understand this as to mean that you did not look into other religions as you decided on Christianity?

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          • equippedcat

            Yes, and I did not “decide” on Christianity. I followed a path and ended up there.

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  • Kit

    Faith is neither inherently rational nor inherently irrational. Even very rational people would find it hard to be epistomologically certain about every single thing that they believe to be true. Much of our day-to-day reasoning is inductive and based to some degree on faith bolstered by historical evidence. The sun comes up every day as expected, etc. with apologies to Bill O’Reilly.

    There’s no problem with that. It’s probably necessary. The problem, I think, is when people use the “faith” card to insulate particular ideas from the supposed threat of rational inquiry.

    Liked by 2 people

    • hessianwithteeth

      How do you define faith? I wouldn’t say that it’s required to know that the sun will rise tomorrow a) because the sun has never failed to rise and b) because we know how the sun rises and what would be required to stop the sun rise tomorrow.

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      • equippedcat

        Faith is defined as confidence or trust in a being, object, living organism, deity, view, or in the doctrines or teachings of a religion. Faith also refers to a hope or belief, rational or irrational, in a particular outcome.

        Note that the key element of faith is that it refers to something which is not based on irrefutable proof or evidence. If something is certain, faith is not required.

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        • hessianwithteeth

          That is your definition. The biggest problem with the word faith is that it is understood differently by different people.
          You can have evidence to support your trust in a person or an object. For example: I trust the chair I am sitting in because it is made of sturdy material that is often used to make chairs because they can support a lot of weight, and because i the four years I’ve had it it has never even suggested that it will break under my weight. I don’t trust it because I think it will support my weight. I trust it because I have evidence that it will support my weight. If I had no evidence, then what’s to stop me from assuming that a chair made of paper will support my weight?

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          • equippedcat

            Actually, it’s Wikipedia’s definition. But yes, as with many words, differences in definition lead to confusion in communication.

            Hopefully you have some evidence to support a faith. The more evidence there is and/or the more concrete the evidence, the less faith is required until at some point, it is certain and faith is not required.

            Keep in mind that “it always has/never has happened that way” does not guarantee that it always/never will. It is highly indicative, but that is as far as you can take it.1

            In the chair example, we have a proven design, appropriate material and a four year history. All good solid evidence, to be sure. But not a guarantee that next Monday a year from now you when you sit on the chair it won’t collapse under you. Assuming it is a wooden chair, you have a quite reasonable faith that they used enough glue, which had no defect which will lead to its degradation after five years, that termites did not set up a colony in it and nobody stressed the chair the day before with weight beyond its limitations or forces in unusual directions. Not much faith is required to trust the chair, but a little is not none.

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  • Dani

    Ooo what a question! My first though is no, it is not. But throughout my life, faith was often the only thing that kept me going. So how can I not rationalise it’s effectiveness?

    Liked by 1 person

  • Vishal Mahuli

    Rational. Conditions apply.

    Liked by 2 people

  • eb571573

    In the Christian religion, you cannot have faith, that is true saving faith, unless you actually desire to have faith. Humans do not naturally have faith in God. This would be going into a conversation about grace, however, and I’m not sure if you want this comment thread going into that. The point is this: not everyone has faith. Therefore, faith is not seen as rational by everyone. Hope, I suppose, is something that everyone sees as rational. Hope, however, is not the same as faith.

    Liked by 1 person

    • paidiske

      “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen…” I’d say that for a believer, hope and faith are two sides of the same coin.

      You seem, however, to want to make a distinction between saving faith and other kinds of faith. On what basis do you make that distinction?

      Liked by 1 person

      • eb571573

        I completely agree that hope and faith are two sides of the same coin. Christians who truly are children of God do indeed have a faith in Jesus Christ and the resurrection and the salvation that He brings, and they have hope in the salvation that was brought then and the salvation that is still to come regarding the end of all things, the end of suffering and pain, the end of this world and the beginning of His wordly kingdom. So yes, you are correct. My basis is this. Most people if not everybody have hope that their lives will get better somehow; even without the use of religion or God. They don’t need God to have hope in something, even if Christians would say that their hope is in vain if their hope is not in Christ. The same can be said for faith. Many people have faith in monetary and worldly things to bring them joy and a sense of betterment and put their trust in such things. Christians place their faith in Christ and Christ alone because of the grace and mercy that only God can bestow. I’m saying that true saving faith comes from God. We as human beings, and our fallen nature, cannot place faith in Christ on our own.

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  • paidiske

    I think rational faith is possible. I think much faith is irrational. Each instance of faith needs to be judged on its merits, because not all faith is equal.

    Liked by 2 people

  • orionwriter

    I believe that we need faith as human beings to get us through things. Whether it be faith in a particular deity, or faith in the wishes we make on stars as children. Whenever things got tough, I’d pray or make a wish and that faith I had gave me the strength to push through and to stay positive. It’s so important to have faith…in each other and in things that we may not even necessarily know to be true (Like Santa). Without faith I think we end up becoming too logical (especially as we get older)…and too much of anything isn’t good.

    Like

    • hessianwithteeth

      Well I’d probably argue that being to logical isn’t a problem, since to actually achieve that is effectively impossible for most of us. The problem I tend to run into is people mistaking them selves as infallible, and/or not taking things like emotions or other human concerns into account, which generally isn’t a logical thing to do when your dealing with humanity.

      Liked by 2 people

      • orionwriter

        Yah I agree that’s a huge issue. It’s a bit disturbing when people do that. I know someone who constantly claims that everything is caused by hormones…. A mutual friend of ours was going through and extremely rough time and talked to both of us separately (since this friend is my neighbour). My friend said to me, “She said that the reason I’m upset is just because of my hormones and that my body is going through changes!” and was…well…let’s just say she was extremely angry with this person for saying that. How can you blame hormones for someone being upset about a very, very serious issue going on with their family? It doesn’t make any sense to me.

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  • Kramer Cruz

    I’ve noticed that when people talk about “faith” what they are really talking about is “belief in God and its existence”. From a philosophical viewpoint It does not logically follow that if one has faith, then one believes in God. In fact, if we take a nihilist (someone who “believes in nothing”) we can see him exercising faith everyday. When he wakes up to go to work he has faith he still has a job to go. When he gets in his car and puts the key in the ignition he has faith his car will turn on. He has faith that the drivers will stay in their lanes as he drives, and that they will not swerve off to cause an accident. Faith is something we have to do. How far we take it is another question.

    Liked by 1 person

    • hessianwithteeth

      Though not all uses of the term faith are the same, this every day faith is something we all have, but we are largely justified in such faith that thing will continue as they have because so far that’s how it has happened and there seems to be no indication that it might change.

      Yes we can’t know this for certain, but this is inductive logic it isn’t about being 100% certain it’s about degrees of certainty.

      Once we move the talk to unjustified faith, blind faith. Where in we have no perceptible reasons to trust that something will occur we have a new question.

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  • SJ Newell

    Great question. I don’t think all faith is equal. Faith in Santa claus is not rational. Faith in the Easter bunny isn’t rational. But faith that a design indicates a Designer, I think is.

    Liked by 1 person

    • hessianwithteeth

      Why would you say that faith in an intelligent designer is rational, but not faith in Santa Clause?

      Liked by 1 person

      • eb571573

        I think SJ has a good point. In answer to your question to her: Faith in Santa Clause is irrational due to the absolute fact that we all know that Santa Clause does not exist except in minds of children and is kept alive for the sake of their innocence. Faith in a designer, in my case being the Christian God, is rational. One reason for this is because the Christian God has failed to be proven as false.

        Liked by 1 person

        • hessianwithteeth

          Well a couple points. be careful with the use of “absolute.” Do you in fact know with absolute certainty that Santa does not exist. Do you In fact know with absolute certainty that you exist? Perhaps you do, but I would be interested in know how you’ve obtained absolute knowledge as if I end up agreeing with you that would be handy.

          Second well just because you have have failed to prove something false does not grant that thing “rational” status.

          Try to disprove the time traveling teddy bears from outer space, or the invisible pink unicorn who watches you while you sleep. When you almost certainly fail will you then grant them rational status as well?

          How is it that not being able to disprove something is a tick in it’s favor? If you can’t disprove it then how will you go about proving it?

          Liked by 1 person

          • Kit

            What people are really saying when they make this argument is “I believe in a creator because a creator seems logically necessary to support the universe as I understand it.” That is different from belief in Santa or the Invisible Pink Unicorn.

            The argument about whether or not the former argument is really a valid reason for belief in any one particular creative force over any other is probably outside the scope of the parent question.

            Liked by 1 person

          • clubschadenfreude

            “What people are really saying when they make this argument is “I believe in a creator because a creator seems logically necessary to support the universe as I understand it.” That is different from belief in Santa or the Invisible Pink Unicorn.”

            The caveat I see here is the claimant must say “As I understand it.” which would indicates that if the claimant is wrong, and they are ignorant of how the universe works (and most creationists are), their claim is not rational at all. It become “My god made the universe and the universe requires god because my god made the universe and the universe requires god……”

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          • hessianwithteeth

            Believing that a god is necessary for the universe to exist does not make belief in god rational. It is necessary to realise that we can’t know for sure that Santa doesn’t exist. As far as non-believers are concerned, there is as much evidence that gods exist as there is that Santa exists, so it is necessary to discuss how and whether it can be rational to believe in one and not the other.

            Like

          • eb571573

            Pardon me. I forgot that we don’t believe in absolutes around here. Let me rephrase: Santa Clause is not real because every mature and logically thinking adult in the in universe does not believe in pink unicorns or believe in Santa Clause. Maybe some people have received gifts from Santa and I wasn’t aware of it. Please let me know if you find anything on this. I’m oh so curious. I agree with your question about rationalization. Just because it can’t be disproven doesn’t make it rational. Not everyone believes it to be rational or logical that God exists. However, there are mass amounts of evidence that a designer and creator exists, unlike Santa Clause and invisible unicorns and teddy bears from space. This is a silly argument. Also, what kind of question is “do you exist?” I know I exist, because I’m currently writing to you that I exist, because I exist. Then again, Morpheus could come up to me at any point and hand me a red pill and blue pill. On second thought, disregard everything I have just said, but I am nothing more than a figment of your imagination. Then disregard your imagination because your consciousness in this false reality is indeed false and doesn’t exist. I’m going to go drink my non-existing coffee now.

            Liked by 1 person

          • hessianwithteeth

            As far as I’m concerned, there is as much evidence of a creator as there is of Santa. It is not silly to compare the two, because I have as much reason to believe one as I do to believe the other. And saying “I have faith” or “I had an experience” or “the Bible says” is about as convincing as “I got a present from Santa.” So if you have evidence that your god exists, by all means share it with the rest of us. But “people don’t believe in Santa” isn’t evidence that he exists any more than “people believe in my god” is proof of that gods existence.
            How do you know you’re writing anything? How do you know you’re not a brain in a vat?

            Like

          • hessianwithteeth

            You joke about our existence, and I can understand that. Well it’s patently obvious we exist. Well until you start going down the rabbit hole of questions and more importantly justifications.

            The problem is we can not justify our perception objectively, we have no source in which to guarantee that anything we perceive is accurate, we also can’t fully justify our own thoughts. This isn’t to say we can not justify, but we lack any means to prove something in absolute terms. We cannot know with complete certainly.

            That said it is important to recognize that just because of a lot people think something true does not make it justified or true. We have plenty of reasons to think the Santa Claus is not real, why would you lean on so flimsy of anecdotal evidence that “Every mature Adult believes this.” I’m certain you have better, though I’m also certain you can’t 100% prove that Santa doesn’t exists either.

            Withteeth

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          • SJ Newell

            Holy crap. This conversation carried on and wordpress lied about letting me know when I would receive new responses.

            Anyway, it may be too late. But I would simply say that finding a sand castle indicates to me that someone built it because it has design.

            *shrug

            Maybe someone would argue it isn’t rational to believe that. In which case I guess we need to reevaluate what “rational” means.

            I’m attempting to use common sense, here.

            beobjectiveblog.com

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          • hessianwithteeth

            Well I think your trying to slip in discussion about life, and if that’s the case, my apologies if it’s not, then you’re forwarding a false analogy.

            We know sand castles are designed, we only see them in place where humans exist in large numbers, and we see humans construct them all the time. This is not the case with life. We don’t see life designed we don’t see life constructed. We see life all over and are often surprised to find it places we wouldn’t expect it. Though nothing about that inherently means it was designed. In fact our most informative explanations (the ones the make the best predictions and have the fewest problem with constancy) have no need for a designer. Evolution by natural selection doesn’t need help from an external sentience. It just needs lots of chemicals, some sort of fluid (water in our case) and an external energy source (the sun).

            Now imagine you came across sand castles all over the place. You don’t see them form, but they happen all over wherever there is sand. How you might have a useful analogy for the design argument for life. It is so clear that sand castles are designed when they are every where sand is, even when there are no designers to be found. Sure it could be the case there is something building them but give what I’ve said above that’s no longer a given.

            While I can appreciate you appeal to common sense, but common sense is rarely common, and if is commonly not shared amongst though of differing opinions. Rules of Thumbs and other heuristics devices are useful, but they are by no means are they a replacement for experimentation and care logical examination.

            Like

  • sallykh

    It might not be rational but i think its necessary

    Liked by 1 person

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