Monday, May 30, 2005

Is faith unreasonable?


A friend of mine recently was surprised when I suggested that the future is likely to be more religious than the present. "Isn't it true," he said, "that the major religions have been discredited? Haven't we shown them to be irrational?"

This is a recurrent theme, that religion is somehow irrational. But if one takes a close look at the structure of knowledge, one will find that there is an irrational element at its core, at the very least in its dependence on sensation, which is not subject to reason, but is presented to it as a given. In fact, modern and post-modern protestations to the contrary, every act of knowing is an act of reception, of gift. To steal another quote from David Hart, ``It is not until one adequately recognizes the degree of sheer faith that inheres in every employment of reason that one can turn again to recognize what degree of rationality is or is not present in any given act of faith.'' (145) Rationality has an element of faith, and as long as we don't realize that, we are in no position to judge faith's rationality.

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