In search of the alchemy of happiness: The relationship between faith and reason

I know people with lot more intelligence than me have talked about the alchemy of happiness before. But my efforts are just to touch upon the thorny issues between faith & reason so that it’s easier to find the alchemy of happiness. Hence, the title of the article.

God is ultimate concern. If we remove ultimate concern from our lives or our search, we have to find substitutes. This is human nature. We will find substitutes to fill that hollow space within man because man is essentially a hollow being. So how can we reconcile faith with reason? After all, are faith and reason compatible? Should faith be based on reason? Does faith support or hinder reason? Can reasonable faith be possible?

These are the kind of questions that arise in ours and for which we are looking at answers from every source we can crack.

There is a saying, ‘Whether we are awake or we are asleep, 2 plus 2 will always equal 4’. What’s your take on this?

According to Wikipedia,

From at least the days of the Greek Philosophers, the relationship between faith and reason has been hotly debated. Plato argued that knowledge is simply memory of the eternal. Aristotle set up rules by which knowledge could be discovered by reason.

Rationalists point out that many people hold irrational beliefs, for many reasons. There may be evolutionary causes for irrational beliefs — irrational beliefs may increase our ability to survive and reproduce. Or, according to Pascal’s Wager, it may be to our advantage to have faith, because faith may promise infinite rewards, while the rewards of reason are necessarily finite.

Believers in faith — for example those who believe salvation is possible through faith alone — point out that everyone holds beliefs arrived at by faith, not reason. The belief that the universe is a sensible place and that our minds allow us to arrive at correct conclusions about it, is a belief we hold through faith.

Beliefs held “by faith” may be seen existing in a number of relationships to rationality:

* Faith as underlying rationality: In this view, all human knowledge and reason is seen as dependent on faith: faith in our senses, faith in our reason, faith in our memories, and faith in the accounts of events we receive from others. Accordingly, faith is seen as essential to and inseparable from rationality.

* Faith as addressing issues beyond the scope of rationality: In this view, faith is seen as covering issues that science and rationality are inherently incapable of addressing, but that are nevertheless entirely real. Accordingly, faith is seen as complementing rationality, by providing answers to questions that would otherwise be unanswerable.

* Faith as contradicting rationality: In this view, faith is seen as those views that one holds despite evidence and reason to the contrary. Accordingly, faith is seen as pernicious with respect to rationality, as it interferes with our ability to think, and rationality is seen as the enemy of faith, since it interferes with our ability to believe.

According to David H. Rogstad,

Agnostic theoretical physicist and popular author, Paul Davies, is more candid than most in admitting the role that a theistic worldview plays in science (as cited here):

“People take it for granted that the physical world is both ordered and intelligible. The underlying order in nature—the laws of physics—are simply accepted as given, as brute facts. Nobody asks where they come from; at least they do not do so in polite company. However, even the most atheistic scientist accepts as an act of faith that the universe is not absurd, that there is rational basis to physical existence manifested as law-like order in nature that is at least part comprehensible to us. So science can proceed only if the scientist adopts an essentially theological worldview.”

In the end, we must answer the question posed by Ken Samples, “Is it more reasonable to believe that the universe came into existence from nothing by nothing or that, as the scripture says, ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’?”

Here are few links covering both angles:

Based on Pascal’s Wager or Pascal’s Gambit,

Pascal’s Wager (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
Pascal’s Wager about God

Argument from Pascal’s Wager by Peter Kreeft

Pascal’s Wager: Is it safer to believe in God even if there is no proof that one exists?

Based on Atheism:

Atheist’s Wager by Wikipedia
Atheist’s Wager
Apologia Atheos: Pascal’s wager refuted
Epilogue:The Rejection of Pascal’s Wager
Pascal’s Wager by the Internet Infidels

It would be enlightening for me & others, to say the least, if my readers shed a little more light on the topic.

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mohammad Arif Hossain on October 7, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    A great initiative Shahriar!

    I would like to add some links


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