First a disclaimer, a confession if you will, I don’t have a huge amount of admiration for the rules of logic, reason, dialectic, rhetoric, “the Greeks” as I call them. In fact, I can be downright irreverent about it sometimes. Much of my experience with debate actually comes from so-called reasonable people changing the rules midstream, falsely hollering about strawmen, or trying to invent new words to describe when your rhetoric is allowed to flat-out lie, force, manipulate the round peg into a square hole, for the alleged common good, of course. I believe we would actually call that “absurdity,” but some people are so arrogant that the very thought of being “absurd” offends them. They want to rational-lies their own absurdity.
Logic is awesome. Logic in the hands of people is often comedic fodder.
A timely comment was made in another thread regarding the Nicene creed, a set of beliefs shared by most Christians, one that begins, “We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.”
We believe. Believe.
To “believe” is a challenging word to define but it basically means, “to have faith or confidence in.” What is left unsaid here is kind of important. To “believe” does not necessarily mean to rationalize, to reason, or to intellectually discern. To have faith and confidence in this case has a great deal to do with trust. Trust is, “a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.”
Belief, trust, faith. These 3 things do not really live in the realm of objectivity. They are internal and they require a leap of faith. They tend to have emotional and psychological baggage attached to them. For example, one can believe in God’s existence, but not trust in Him, not be able to put their faith in Him.
I mention this because a lot of Christian apologetics try to address objective truth, Absolute Truth. Likely this is due to our post-modern culture that now seems to want to redefine morality subjectively, so we also have a tendency to now frown on the very notion of subjectivity itself (and also feelings,) as if they have no place in our faith.
Subjectivity refers to, “how someone’s judgment is shaped by personal opinions and feelings instead of outside influences.”
Put plainly here, we have a tendency to want to perceive God as an outside influence. Objective truth living on the outside of us. In my way of thinking, He actually needs to be living IN-side of us. He needs to become not an outside influence, but an inside influence. Far too often we discover Him existing outside of us and then……… promptly build a big wall to keep Him there.
CS Lewis in “Miracles” once wrote, “There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion (‘Man’s search for God!’) suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found Him? We never meant it to come to that! Worse still, supposing He had found us?”
Ain’t that the truth. There is a reason why Adam and Eve tried to hide behind some fig leaves.
One can intellectually rationalize the existence of God and yet never have a relationship with Him at all. Relationships are built almost entirely on subjectivity. Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying one should throw all objectivity out the window. It serves a vital and necessary purpose.
I believe what we often do is begin to conflate faith with politics and react to culture rather than responding to it. You cannot slay subjectivity with a giant broadsword of Objective Truth. You cannot and you should not.
Subjective truth does not mean that objective truth now ceases to exist.
Subjectivity is a critical component to belief and to relationship. The bible actually stresses this point in multiple ways. Every time Jesus heals someone He says, “by your faith you are healed.” Your faith. Subjectively yours. Only two times is Jesus said to have been amazed, at the faith of the Centurion and at the doubt of the Jews. When the disciples begin to waver He says, “oh ye of little faith.” He does not say their reason has failed them. He does not say their ability to rationalize has let them down. He does not say they are being too emotional. In fact, if you ask me, I’d say Peter’s capacity for reason is probably what kicked in and caused him to sink while trying to walk on water.
So often in faith what we are asked to do is to, suspend our disbelief, rather than to try to rationalize objectivity. One of my favorite verses is Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” Our “own understanding” is our ability to think and reason, vital skills let me tell you, just not the place where our faith, trust, and hope should reside.
John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
We have to subjectively receive Him. Whosoever believeth. If you are a whosoever, you have to make a subjective judgment “shaped by personal opinions and feelings instead of outside influences.” No one else can do that for you. No outside influence can make it happen. It is a choice you have to make of your own freewill, your own personal opinion and feelings.
God says trust me and I’ll show you the truth. We people with our capacity for reason are more like “uh, first you show me and then I’ll trust you.” Faith just doesn’t work that way. If it did, we wouldn’t call it “faith.” If we had the evidence before hand and then made a reasonable choice to believe what was clearly obvious, we’d simply call our faith “logic.”
Our faith is not called “logic.” Our faith is a firm belief in the, “reliability, truth, ability, and strength of God.”
I have no problem admitting to people that our faith can be cray-cray, irrational, illogical, sometimes even appearing dumb on the surface, absurd even, and yet at the same time our faith can also be objectively true, well-reasoned, logical, and highly intelligent. In other words, we place our trust and confidence in a belief system with demonstrated evidence and substance.
Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Is faith “rational?” Not really, but it sure is smart.
I don’t wish to scare anybody or gross them out, but Richard Dawkins, the famed atheist, is actually very rational and logical, in the sense of defining “rational” as being, “a conformity of one’s beliefs with one’s reasons to believe, and of one’s actions with one’s reasons for action.” That’s why he was on Twitter the other day pondering human cannibalism, Soylent green, people as food.
A logical, rational, well-reasoned argument is not necessarily superior, more true, or more moral. With some degree of rationality and logic, Dawkins does a fairly transparent and predictable job of conforming to his own nihilistic beliefs.