Faith and Reason

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Faith and reason are two complex ideas, and it certainly cannot be said that the ‘man of reason’ is any more worthy of celebration than the ‘man of faith’. Faith, in the modern world, carries with it certain problems. No longer can we talk of the Christian West. Nowadays Christians in the UK are a minority, and as such, they have had to defend their views. Whether they do this with abstract theology or personal feelings, they have had to think of someway why the ‘reasonable’ are wrong.

The man of reason, however, needs no defence.

The reason is a new faith. But who is this man of reason? A scientist would aptly fit the category, but is it reasonable that so many of our brightest minds currently work to make phones smaller or screens flatter?

Is the man of reason simply the man who lives without faith, believing only in the provable?

The problem for this is, what does it achieve that is worth celebrating? I believe the question originally posed leads us to the field of ethics, and so we could say the man of faith is Christian, the man of reason is humanist. But look at the doctrine of each and you see that the two are deeply connected. Take away supernatural belief and the underlying morality is the same.

To make the man of reason worth celebrating it is not enough simply to point to the scientific method.

The man must show that his faith in reason produces stronger results for humanity than religious faith. Given that they both want basically the same things today (both Christianity and Humanism uphold marriage, democracy, personal freedoms within the traditional framework); why is reason necessarily preferable?

Take the question of drug use. A religious man could teach an adolescent that honouring thy father and thy mother is a central tenet of his religion, and to take drugs is to disobey. But he would also use the reasoned, scientific arguments. The man of reason has only those. This is the problem of reason today. We are in a world of perpetual media that repeat ad nausea. Everyone has a reason, only the faith have faith. They are not incompatible. To believe in God through faith need make you no less reasonable about everyday questions.

How reasonable are non-believers? This perhaps deals best with the question. Who is this mythical ‘man of reason’? Everyone is guided by some degree of dogma. Whether it religious, or based on race, gender or class. Racists have faith their race is superior. Across the globe political allegiance is based on faith. Here in the UK, the Labour party abandoned the working class ten years ago, yet there are still large communities that vote for Labour based on class. The problem with true reason is that for every question there are hundreds of options, hundreds of possible moral avenues by which to explore it. To be truly reasonable each on must be fully covered. That is why the very wise say almost nothing at all.

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