Faith and Reason: The Challenge
I recently saw a clip on the evening news that revived my interest in writing on the supposed dichotomy between faith and reason. The clip featured the actress Janeane Garofalo accusing Barak Obama of being “anti-intellectual” because he “used that prayer stuff,” as she put it, when publically addressing the victims of the Gulf Coast oil spill.
I suppose this sort of thing (the pitting of faith against reason) has found traction with the public to an extent that may be irreversible, at least for this generation. When no standard or opposition is raised in the public square against false ideas, he who talks the most wins. As the famous American psychologist, William James said, “there is nothing so absurd that if you repeat it often enough, people will believe it.” This is the case with the shadow boxing match between faith and reason. This false dichotomy has been repeated so frequently that it has become axiomatic in the minds of many.
The modern religious skeptic has challenged the Church to a duel and has received nothing short of a white flag. It’s difficult to say whether this reaction has been in the spirit of “please don’t hurt me,” or “please just like me.” Perhaps neither, maybe it is in the spirit of “I don’t know”, or worse, “I don’t care.” Whatever the case may be, Christians have a responsibility to be witnesses to the truth. This series is for those who “just don’t know” how to respond to the charge and/or those struggling to maintain a separation between their rational side and their believing side. Truly “open minded” and “free thinking” atheists and skeptics will also find it interesting and, I hope, helpful in either turning the tide on their unbelief, or in giving their skepticism a more solid foundation.
The articles to follow will be something in this fashion: “What Reason Has to Say About Reason”, “The Christian Understanding of Faith”, and a summary article, “Faith, Reason, and Being Human.” I’ll do my best to not make this series a rehashing of worn out arguments. There are fascinating angles at which to view faith and reason which are neither difficult to grasp nor boring in the least (and I am the first to concede that philosophical-theological studies can be boring indeed).
Hope you’ll join the discussion. Cheers.