One of the saddest things is to see people blindly embracing belief systems without any supporting evidence. God gave us minds to use and to not do so would be about as ridiculous as a person with good eyes living with blindfolds on. To not use what God gives would be a waste of His good gifts.
But some would argue — as I did in my satirical April Fools joke yesterday –that faith and reason are incompatible. As if certain things are matters of faith, whereas other things belong to the realm of reason. I want to challenge that argument. I would assert that faith and reason need to work together.
But first I need to define what I’m talking about when I use the term faith. Many skeptics think blind faith is the only kind of faith. Blind Faith is believing something without any rational evidence, such as believing that the moon is made of cheese.
I agree with the skeptics that this kind of faith is an unfortunate waste of grey matter.
But I’m going to suggest there is another kind of faith — Intelligent Faith.
Intelligent Faith has three components.
- a subject to consider (a chair, for example)
- a rational assessment resulting in a belief about that subject (the chair appears to be able to hold my body weight)
- committing to that belief (actually sitting in the chair, i.e. exercising faith.)
You’ll notice that reason itself has limitations. Even in our simple example, there’s a slight element of uncertainty in step 2 — the chair “appears” to be sturdy. There is no absolute certainty that my chair will indeed hold my body weight — the wood may be rotten inside, the glue may be old, an earthquake may occur as I’m starting to sit down, etc. So we don’t make decisions based on absolute certainty, but rather reasonable evidence. Reasonable evidence is all a jury is asked to utilize in convicting someone — absolute certainty is never expected. We all step out in faith based on reasonable evidence. Faith fills the gap that reason alone leaves us.
So to put it succinctly: Reason assesses; Faith trusts. There is no conflict. Both are essential components needed to live life each day.
We all need to practice intelligent faith every day. It’s how we decide whether or not to cover our roses after the weatherman’s frost alert. It’s how we decide what we will allow ourselves to eat or not eat. It’s how we decide what’s worth living for, fighting for, and dying for. And what we believe happens after that.