Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Old Secular Saw: Reason vs Faith/Religion

Post 42—:

Why Again on This Stuff
If you’ve been following this blog, you will know that a major emphasis has been the relationship between Reason and Faith and/or Religion. (I capitalize these words to emphasize their centrality in this post.) I am putting you on notice that I don’t get tired of this subject and I won’t in the future as long as spokesmen/spokeswomen of the secular establishment don’t get tired of the subject and keep foisting their vision as the only reasonable one on the rest of us. As long as they unload their secular old saw about Reason vs Faith/Religion on us, so long will I counter them with my Kuyperian Christian guns about Faith/Religion and Reason or, better, Faith/Religion in and underlying Reason.

The "Sensible" World of the Secularist
This time the subject is triggered by an article the Vancouver Sun borrowed from the Los Angeles Times by Anderson Thompson and Clare Aukofer (A&T), co-authors of the book Why We Believe in God(s): A Concise Guide to the Science of Faith (“Imagine: Man Created God,” July 22, 2011). The article begins by declaring upfront that they strongly wish for a world without religion. To clarify their religionless utopia they pit a number of things against each other. In a world cleansed of religion, “mistakes like the avoidable loss of life in Hurricane Katrina, would be rectified rather than chalked up to ‘God’s will.’” Or take this gem: “…Politicians would no longer compete to prove who believes more strongly in the irrational and untenable.” They long for a world “where critical thinking is an ideal. In short, a world that makes sense.”

"Scientific" Caricatures
Since I am an openly religious person and a missionary at that, those scenarios are supposed to describe me. You know what? I don’t recognize myself in any of that. Our “faith scientists” have just drawn up a scarecrow. To be sure, there may be some individuals, groups of them even, that fit one or more of these caricatures, but as a general situation, these are just silly caricatures hardly worthy of serious scientists. They express secular prejudice more than anything else, certainly not serious science.

Inside vs Outside Knowledge
True, Christians and Muslims—I confess that I don’t know enough about the other religions to speak for them—may see natural and other catastrophes as somehow incorporated in the will of God. However, I don’t know of any Christian or Muslim who would, on basis of that perspective, not work at or, at least, not favour preventing their re-occurrence. Seeing things in relation to divine will simply does not negate corrective or preventive action. Muslims have a reputation of being fatalistic, but they are very active and even pro-active in life’s affairs and by no means twiddle their thumbs while life overtakes them. Pitting such concepts against each other is typical of the outsider who makes logical deductions without having delved deeply into the subject, in this case, specific religions. They appear to have asked some scientific questions of and applied some scientific methods to religion, but they seem to know very little about the content or the inside of religion or about the way adherents experience their religion. How scientific, rational and critical is that?

Utopia: Freedom from the Irrational
Or take their snide at politicians. Most politicians are, unfortunately, politicians. Many will appeal to almost anything they think will bring votes. If it is not religion, it will be something else that A&T would describe as “irrational and untenable.” There are plenty of other issues to which voters cling with strong convictions and emotions. A&T seem to want a total make over of humanity so as to exclude all the “irrational and untenable,” their characterizations of Religion/Faith. They want a world of “critical thinking,” one that “makes sense” to their secular souls. Being isolated academics, they seem to demand that everyone should drop all of life’s reactions to reality except the rational. What an impoverished life that would be—a cold, strict, linear rational affair. God help us!

Secular Faith in Reason
As a serious Christian, I am at this very moment engaged in critical thinking and I am trying to make sense of this world, including the extremely biased views of A&T. Again, they are pitting concepts against each other that in real life always co-exist, namely Faith and Reason, even in their own article! It is they who are uncritical, for they do not seem to have subjected their own secular faith to the critical thinking they demand of others. They appear to simply accept it as the plain unassailable truth that does not require any corroboration or proof. Reason is the source of all truth. Punkt. That’s it. And don’t you dare to challenge that, for then you have ventured into the land of the politically incorrect. But pray tell: who has ever proved that assumed “unassailable” assumption? A&T, until you have proved that article of your faith, you are contradicting yourself. Yes, your faith, your belief system. You are demanding a world without faith on basis of your own belief in unassailable Reason. I can’t rewrite the same things time and again. So, if you're really interested in this issue, skim your way through previous posts and you will find it referred to repeatedly.

Next Post
I hope to deal with A&T’s scientific explanations of religion in the next post.

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