Is Faith Irrational?

Randal Rauser, a professor of theology at Taylor Seminary, Edmonton, Canada, is writing some good articles these days for The Christian Post.  His article today is entitled “Is Faith the Product of an Irrational Mind?”  He wisely points out that every area of life requires a faith commitment – even the practice of science, which presupposes the reliability of sense perception, although sense perception can’t be proven reliable in any non-circular way.

These days those who tend to reject faith typically are enamored of science. One of the cornerstones of science is observation, and the cornerstone of observation is human sense perception. This raises a crucial question all too often overlooked by the devotee of science: how do we know that sense perception is reliable?

Philosophers have long attempted a non-circular way to defend the reliability of sense perception (that is, a demonstration that does not depend already on the reliability of sense perception). But there are only two avenues that one might accomplish such a proof: either through pure rational reflection or empirically (that is, through sense perception). Sadly all attempts at the former have failed woefully: we can’t establish through reason alone that sense perception is reliable. As for the second alternative, it depends on the very thing that needs to be proved: i.e. the reliability of sense perception!

The result is that we must trust our sense perception. We must have faith in our experience of the world. This is striking indeed, for it means that our fundamental engagement with the world all the way from an infant grappling with colored blocks to a nuclear physicist studying the latest test results, is predicated on faith.

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2 thoughts on “Is Faith Irrational?

  1. Pingback: Sensus Divinitatis News - Is Faith Irrational?

  2. Pingback: The Faith in Reason » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog

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