Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Faith and Reason...


Okay, so in keeping with my spiritual journey, I think it's time I document and attempt to sort out something I've began to discover about myself in the past year or so. I'm not sure if it's caused by studying philosophy or if I study philosophy because of this condition (which came first: the chicken or the egg?), but I don't really have any separation of faith and reason. I think I have faith in reason, but that's about as far as I can go as far as talking about faith. For me, reason guides my life. I know reason has the tendency to send one spinning off into the clouds like Leibniz or Descartes, so I need to keep myself firmly grounded, but nonetheless reason runs my life.

I know some people can be confronted with a very convincing, sound, powerful argument and simply turn their backs when they don't agree with the conclusion. They'll say, "well, that's a good argument but I don't believe it." I can't do that. When I'm confronted with a powerful argument, it brings about strong emotions within me. I am very compelled to either (1) accept it, or (2) find the problem with it. If I can't, I'm stuck. I can't just turn my back on it. Reason illuminates the dark for me, and even if it often shows me things I don't want to see I cannot deny it. I feel like it's built into the way I function that if something is illogical or doesn't follow a strong argument, I can't "have faith" in it.

Along that line, people tell me that faith is belief in something that can't be proven or can't be seen. I think that's okay in some respects. While analyzing proofs for the (non)existence of God, for example, one quickly discovers that there is no conclusive argument one way or the other. That leaves room for faith. However, when one is confronted with a powerful argument against what one believes and simply rejects it because they don't want to believe it, I don't think that is faith. I think that is arrogance and ignorance.

So am I an entirely rational being, or have other people distorted the word "faith" to the point that it now commonly means being able to believe something not only when it cannot be proven, but when that person can be shown to be wrong every step of the way and still blindly accept what they're told? How do I balance this out? What if my reason leads me to reject the ideals of my past, of my former religion, of my family? I hate it, but sometimes I reason myself into being ostracized.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

One of the things I can't help but remember any time I look at any argument (even valid deductive arguments) is that they're only true if their premises are true. The list of arguments that are actually strong (valid with true conclusions) is pretty small and pretty boring (Socrates is a mortal, for instance... duh and who cares?), so every time I look at an argument, I'm always reminded that there's room for the truth of the argument to not obtain, no matter how logical it may be. :)

Anonymous said...

interesting choice of pictures.

are you describing faith here, or blind faith? as the old saying goes, "an unexamined faith is not worth believing."

robwinger

Am, London said...

i just stumbled upon ur page and it is really interesting
well as far as faith and reason is concerned, may i offer a few suggestion for you to consider:
1. the nature of knowledge itself:
well i dont do philosophy but im sure there are many ways in which a human being acquires knowledge eg sensory, reasoning etc. You must try to distance yourself from being immersed in the experience of knowledge and try to look at it as an observer and then you will see that the knowledge that you acquire is with some conditions or assumptions. for eg, you know that the sky is blue because your eyes observe it so and then you begin to believe that it is blue. but what if man was born with heat-vision (a hypothetical assumption), will you still believe that the sky is blue? maybe in the heat-vision register the sky is red. and so you believe it differently.
2. The above concept is applied to reasoning. If reasoning leads you to believe that A = B, it is so due to your tools of perception.It can be due to your intellectual and social etc environment in which you have been bred in. So if a different environment is assumed for you, you will not necessarily believe A =B.
I think the key here is not to lose yourself in the microcosm of the arguments that you deal with (or for that matter any experiential knowledge that you acquire), rather to take some time and try to distance yourself and analyse you and your own thinking on a macrocosmic level. Then I believe (oh a troublesome word) you will be more aware of what you do, esp in ur swashbuckling and interestg philosophical adventures! G luck