Skip to comments.The End of Reason: Does the phrase "faith Begins Where Reason Ends" make sense?
Posted on 07/15/2013 7:51:23 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
There is an oft-quoted phrase in Christian circles that goes faith begins where reason ends and Im perfectly fine with that statement as it is.
The problem I have is that a lot of people who use this phrase to defend their faith do not really go to the end of reason. They stop short of the end, refusing to take reason past a certain point, and declare that faith is now the operative agent.
I, myself, have been guilty of this many times in the past. When I reached a point when I wasnt able to understand some theological conundrum, I then declared that at this point, I must have faith. That declaration is often coupled with prayer for more faith as in Mark 9:24, Lord, I believe, help me overcome my unbelief. At other times it is accompanied with thanks and praise to God for being so wise that his ways are higher than mine.
I then put the issue away from my mind, feeling assured that I am resting in the hands of a being who loves me and has a perfect plan for me, even if I do not understand it at the moment.
The Tipping Point
That went on for so many years until I was boiling with so many questions I had put away, so many unresolved issues about my faith and belief that it was impossible to simply ignore them anymore. I had experienced many ups and downs in my spiritual life. I had experienced putting everything on the line for faith, and I had come out unsatisfied and somewhat disappointed.
Around 5 years ago, I had a realization. God had created me to be an extremely rational being. If I put aside my rationality, would it not be a disservice to the gift that he gave me? Would I not be misusing my talent if I turned it off in the name of faith?
And so I prayed, God, if you really are there, you gave me an abundance of rational ability and I want to know you more and understand you through that gift. You know of my disappointment with faith, but I believe you are also a God of reason and from this point forward, I will use your gift of reason to get to the truth of things even if it means abandoning beliefs I have long held sacrosanct, even if it means abandoning whatever belief I have in you because whatever I believe about you I have known from other sources. This time, I want to get to know you as you are, not as other people tell me. I want to know you directly, not just know of you from other sources.
The Journey Thus Far
It has been 5 years and it seems that every word of that prayer has come true. I let loose with all those bottled-up questions. I talked about them with other people, tentatively at first, but more boldly as time went by. I read books I previously would not have touched and listened to speakers I would have avoided, for fear of being influenced by the wiles of the devil.
Over time, I learned to let go of certain truths I have cherished and found comfort in, and that was very difficult to do. It was like climbing a spiral staircase in a castle tower, and at every step I took, the previous step dropped back into nothingness. I could not see the top. I did not know where I was headed. Yet, there was no turning back, nothing to hold on to. There was no way to go but forward and upward.
Today, I have a very different concept of God, the Bible, church, religion, and spirituality. I have reached this point because I was willing to take reason past the point where most sensible believers stop. I was willing to cross a line I dared not cross before. I dared to question the existence of God. I dared to question the authority of the Bible, the necessity of church and religion. And when I asked these questions, I did not just dip my toe into the pool and shake off the water and declare proudly that I have already challenged my beliefs and survived. No, I dived in and learned to embrace the cold waters. It was very uncomfortable at first and I had to fight the urge to jump out of the pool and go back to warm embrace of just believing. But I stayed there and am still staying there because I need to know how far reason can go.
If, in the future, I do return to faith, then I can truly and honestly say that I have reached the end of reason, and it would not be an empty declaration.
But until then, the journey goes on.
Faith in the state is a must when reason has been thrown out the window with the bathwater and baby....
The article is not talking about the state. It’s talking about faith in God and whether exercising such faith is warranted.
Faith is confidence in a revelation. The content of faith cannot conflict with reason, but faith may be beyond reason’s ability. So join the human condition.
there is another oft-quoted phrase among Christians.
The Book of Hebrews Chapter 11 Verse 1
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
I like the phrase
“Of course..... I could be wrong”
Your faith in an authority (God’s word) can be established on reason, because you have “proven”, through reason and evidence, that it is authoritative on those things that you can “verify”,
and therefore can conclude that those things you cannot verify that are stated by that same authoritative source can be relied on as factual.
It’s not that far fetched, folks. We do it continually. Do I trust this source because of past verification of its veracity? Yes. Then I can trust this “new” or “unproven” thing that it is conveying to me as well.
At the time this rang a chord in me, but now I think it's more the opposite. Reason is Gods primary gift to us. We use it the determine the structure and rules of nature that He set in motion. Sometimes we abuse it to rationlise our desires over our needs.
Thank you for sharing an excellent commentary. What you are describing is the inner battle one encounters when logic and reason do not carry them further along the spiritual path.
In my humble opinion, there are no such things as miracles. That does not mean that paranormal things do not happen. They are just science beyond our normal level of understanding. For me, God is logical and science is merely the art of seeking to better understand how God works.
That does not mean that the things described in the Bible, especially those things attributed to Jesus did not happen exactly as described. They did. And a further understanding of human consciousness would unveil many more truths that Jesus was trying to teach us.
The problem is that many Christians say that Jesus is their savior and then they treat Him like a lifeguard that will pluck them out when they are drowning. In the interim, they fear water and the possibility of drowning.
Jesus was a rabbi, a teacher who was here to teach us how to swim. Which would you rather have, a lifeguard that waits until you are drowning to help you or a lifeguard that teaches you how to swim? Jesus was teaching us how to swim! Remember His comment to the disciples when He sent them out, “The things that I do and more you too shall do in my name.” This is true for all of us.
I was a university professor for years until a bout with meningitis in 1988 when I died, crossed over, experienced God and then returned to my physical body. End result, I really hated it here as the feeling of being separate from God is the most painful experience I can possibly experience. However, since then I have grown to the point where I can experience God while still here in a physical body. We all can and that is what Jesus was trying to teach us.
Since I did not believe in miracles, but yet I was experiencing them on a regular basis first hand, I returned to the university as a student, picked up a degree in psychology and then went on to study neuroscience. The added abilities from the NDE allowed me to understand the anatomy & physiology of the human soul in a way that bridged science, psychology, and religion into one body of knowledge without the gaps being filled in by faith. The human soul became a tangible physical object and thoughts became physical objects when viewed from a higher frequency of consciousness. Knowing and experiencing is much stronger than faith as there is absolutely no doubt.
The anatomy & physiology of the human body is the same, no matter a person’s religion. The anatomy & physiology of the human soul is also the same, no matter a person’s religion. The problem is, that since the soul is not a tangible physical object to most people, we developed theories, philosophies and opinions on the anatomy & physiology of the human soul. This group of knowledge we call religion(s).
The various religions are much like the Buddhist or Hindu parable of the five blind me who are led to an elephant for the first time. One gets the trunk and states “An elephant is like a python.” And another gets the tail and states “An elephant is like a rope.” Another gets the ear and states “An elephant is like a palm tree.” One gets the leg and states “An elephant is like a column in a building,” and the last one gets the side and states “An elephant is like a stone wall.”
They are all correct, but none of them have the greater understanding of what an elephant really is. They will argue all day that only they are correct and everyone else is wrong.
When you understand the anatomy & physiology of the human soul, you will find that all religions are correct, but none have the whole picture. And that by understanding all of them you will have a better idea what and why Jesus was teaching what He did. It really is simple, and yes, you too can do the things that Jesus did through Him.
Love your comment. One of my favorite phrases from a movie was in a National Lampoon movie about Will Ferrel returning to college. “Don’t take life so serious as you will never make it out alive!”
While there is so much truth in the above statement, even an atomic bomb exploded on your head cannot harm your soul.
I grew up with a guy who had some faith, but he also was a staunch believer in reason, the reason told him that God was just a myth, he is now an old atheist and the last i heard of him he had no hope in life or death.
We can believe only by faith, we are not going to see any one resurrected in the way the Apostles witnessed it.
Unless of course the rapture theory which is backed up by very little scripture turns out correct.
We can and should use reason in studying the scriptures, this is what is needed to keep from making the truth Jesus gave us into a religion that he set us free from to begin. with.
It certainly would NOT be reasonable to suggest that God, Christ, Moses or the patriarchs think of faith and reason as mutually exclusive or at all incompatible. And definitely not separate segments on the journey to Truth. At least not based on internal evidence within the books of the bible.
You seem well intentioned and you have no verifiable reason to hear my words. But it seems to me that you might be struggling with the concept of revealed wisdom.
Faith is not some crutch Christians whip out whenever we can't reason our way through life.
Faith is a trust placed in God that what He has revealed and promised is truth. And trust in the multi-millennial series of witnesses He has provided for us.
Everyone reasons. But results vary.
Reason can find Truth if that is the end honestly sought.
Reason can also find the pride in rebellion which convicted Satan and which will gain you a flamboyant parade in San Francisco.
You very quickly reach the end of reason, We have to deceive ourselves to go on searching for truth for years using tools like logic while ignoring the very real possibility that we might arrive at some logical conclusion that is nevertheless logically flawed.
There are millions of intelligent people all over the world that hold opinions supported by logic that sharply contradict each other. Logically, at least some of these smart people are mistaken. The inherent uncertainty of the “Human Condition” is the consequence of the failure of perception, memory and reason to deliver ANYTHING with absolute certainty.
But God knows about the elusiveness of absolute certainty that humans experience and has a transcendently logical plan to provide knowledge of absolute truth anyway.
My interactions with FReepers who are atheist has shown me that what they like to call “reason” is simply their own faith. I use simple, straightforward history.
It is historically provable that John Adams was the 2nd president of the USA, regardless of how you feel about him.
It is historically provable the Julius Caesar was a Roman general, regardless of how you feel about him.
It is historically provable that Christophe Columbus sailed from Europe to a continent that Europeans were entirely unaware of, regardless of how you feel about him.
And it is historically provable that Jesus claimed to be God Himself, and was put to death on the cross for exactly that claim... regardless of how you feel about him. Even His enemies acknowledge the claim.
I’ve had “reasoned” atheist skeptics deny simple history so they can hold onto their own belief systems. Their faith is stronger than mine ever will be, because their faith involves the denial of simple historical evidence. My faith involves a rational acceptance of the evidence, and an investigation of whether Jesus really is God Himself. He’s either a liar, a lunatic, or God.
There’s no inbetween ground (like calling Him a ‘great man’) when one knows that he claimed equality with God. No one who goes down such a path as equality with God will qualify as only a ‘great man’ like several others in history such as Caesar, Columbus, or John Adams.
Once one accepts the evidence, the faith aspect of it is relatively small. For instance, if you ask someone “do you think Jesus was a good man, or an evil man?” The answer is almost always “good”. They already have enough faith just by that simple assessment of character.
God says, let us reason together.
Some things are difficult for humans to understand.
God is not a liar. Everything that His Word says is true.
It all makes sense and agrees with logic. A lot of times humans have to catch up in the knowledge dept to see that God was correct all along.