Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Frustrations Part 3 - Irrational

So far we have discussed the frustrations of the terms applied to religious believers as "fanatics" and "fundamentalists". The third issue I would like to now confront is the label of "irrational".

Before I get started on that, I would like to state that it seems that these are labels that can be applied to a small minority. Unfortunately, however, it seems that such terms are then labelled on all religious believers because there is a minority of them.

Now, I cannot speak for all faiths in this regard. However, Catholics, I can guarantee, are incredibely rational.

If you look at the history of Western thought, it is largely dominated and guided by the thought of Catholic greats. The first and foremost is St Augustine who guided the ideal of faith seeking understanding that has taken root and has since been a staple of Catholicism.

From there we can go into greats such as Boethius, St Thomas Aquinas, St Bonaventure, Bl. John Duns Scotus, and so on and so on. I know I'm only naming a couple, but the fact of the matter is that the list is endless.

Even in our modern times we have great thinkers like the Servant of God, John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

The idea that people of faith are irrational utterly confounds me to be perfectly honest. It is a result of great Catholic thinkers that we think the way we do about the world! The Empiricist ideal of "There is nothing in the mind that is not previously perceived through the senses" is essentially a scholastic principle.

Pope Benedict XVI has been confronting the idea of irrationality in religion head on. One need only read his Regensburg lecture to see this.

However, I may like to throw the challenge the opposite direction. Many claim that all religious believers are irrational because of the idea of faith in their lives.

The Pope's Regensburg lecture, however, seems to turn the table around. He is not stating that all secularists, for example, are irrational. What he is claiming, however, is that the West is losing "faith in reason".

You see, faith is an essential property to reason. I would argue that there is a hierarchy of faith. We all have faith in the world, some are more basic and less "risky" then others. The highest form of faith is of course faith in God.

However, there are lower forms of faith as well. Faith, for example, is present in reasoning. We have to have faith in Logic. That is to say, stating that "Logic is true" is an axiomatic belief we must all hold. You see, the value of "true" is a logical statement. Thus to say that logic is true, and to try and prove that through reason, would be circular because it is logic that we use to make reasonable arguments. Hence, one must accept as an axiomatic belief that "Logic is true".

Instead of people in the West saying why religious people are irrational, it seems instead, unfortunately, that many are angry at religious people. Look no futher then the writings of Richard Dawkins and company. I am yet to see reasonable argumentation in their writings. Instead, I see anger and contempt, which is unfortunate.

And so this is happening more and more as relativism and the socialist ideal of man slowly seeps its way into way man thinks of the world. Trying to convince someone who is a relativist that the Principle of Non-Contradiction is an essential principle to stand by is like pulling teeth. Because they are a relativist, they see that anything can contradict anything, because there is no universal truth.

This brings me to the absolutely frustration position of relativism. They claim that truth is relative. Following that, then, so is language. Language is built upon the nature of logic, and so if truth is relative, then logic is relative, and thus language is relative. This leaves us with no universal language in which to communicate our ideas because words can mean whatever one "feels they ought to mean". Thus, there is no way to discuss because "chair" (yes, I am using the chair example, you can tell I got a Philosophy degree) can mean "something in which someone uses to sit on and is built specifically for that person" for one person and for another can mean "a person who is sleeping". Chair can mean whatever one wants it to mean. Language becomes obsolete, and so does the human person.

This post is more of a vent against the world who claims that religious people are irrational. I ask, however, why the many in the west are irrational about things.

Faith is something that is inharent to the human character. It is not something that we can deny. For some it is simply stating "I have faith that my experiences are true", for others, such as myself, it goes deeper, to the claim that the Nicene Creed and all that follows from that is true.

I would like to end with a quote from St Anselm, one of my favourite quotes:

"I believe so that I may understand, for this too I believe, for unless I believe, I cannot understand".


No comments: