Faith is Not Blind; Reason is Not Godless (Part Two)
Faith without reason is insanity; reason without faith is illogical. When there is an overemphasis on faith, usually at the expense of the intellect or mental persuasion that which could be termed irrationality will occur. This, perhaps more than any other singular factor, has discredited Christianity in the eyes of an already skeptical world. When faith is not properly understood or appreciated for its intellectual foundation, decisions before validation will take place. That leads to an abundance of illogical, contradictory behavior at both the institutional and individual levels. Irrational behavior and the process of rationalizing have been termed cognitive dissonance in some psychological circles. It is the theory that people will act to resolve cognitive inconsistencies, meaning behaviors or thoughts that do not appear to be harmonious with what is believed or known, by either restating the belief or idea that is dissonant with their behavior. This is done to make the behavior, thought or belief less dissonant. Regarding Christianity, faith itself is often used as a way to explain that which cannot, for lack of intellectual pursuit, investigation or consideration, be explained. This amounts to having faith in faith, because having faith in something not intellectually considered for its own merits might expose the belief as containing errors.
More than any other discipline, if it is to be believed, Christianity should be able to provide an appropriate answer to the key questions in life. Those answers must go beyond a “just believe” approach. Such a method will not serve a beneficial purpose for true and lasting conversion of the emotive and intellectual facets of an individual. An appeal to the emotional is not difficult to initiate but establishing that the appeal itself is based on a solid premise will take a more calculated and considered approach; one that undoubtedly will require more time and effort. Man is designed to learn, so the issue is what he learns, how he learns and what substantiates what he learns. People are going to learn so it is important to understand how they learn and upon what they base their conclusions. How someone learns and the basis of his or her conclusions will determine how that person lives and interacts with the rest of the world. It will determine if they are reasonable in what they believe and if those beliefs are based on solid evidence resulting in well thought out conclusions, or will result in extremes that at best lead to an undesirable destination and at worst result in a life that is wrought with emotional instability and intellectual chaos.
The process of reason violates no facet of true faith yet it offers evidence that can be seen and understood by those that do not have faith in the authority of Scripture or of the Christian model. This means that those to whom a logical presentation of the truth is presented can consider what they have been given and make a choice based on the best available information. It does not suggest that a choice consistent with the truth will be initiated; but that responsibility lies only with the individual, regardless of how potent or impotent the evidence might be. The partnership between reason and faith is understood when reason is seen as substantiating that which faith logically holds to be true, while faith assists reason in the process of inference. Inference is often seen as the act of rational faculty but inference is often used to favor sentiments that are not established on sound thinking. Inference is a great facet of the mind, but only if it is based on solid evidences that point in the direction of a reasonable conclusion. Faith without reason cannot be proven to be sound in its assumptions, while reason without faith can only take one so far, which is seldom far enough.
This column is the opinion of Dr. M. Hildon Guy, president of the University of Christian Studies & Seminary in Eagle River. He has a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies, a Ph.D. in Apologetics and Theology, a Doctorate in Education and a Doctorate in Christian Counseling