Social Question

NerdyKeith's avatar

Are logic and reason really compatible with religious faith?

Asked by NerdyKeith (5464points) February 22nd, 2016

I am not suggesting that religious individuals cannot think outside of the box of church indoctrination or biblical principals (along with any non-Christian equivalents).

What I am however asking is, can logic and reason be applied within the bounds of a religious context? Especially when one is borrowing a vast majority of their philosophical viewpoints from any particular holy book or scripture etc.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

52 Answers

dappled_leaves's avatar

Well, religious faith is pretty much defined by the ability to suspend reason to believe. So… no.

Seek's avatar

The Google search term for this is “apologetics”.

Seek's avatar

I like this new guy. Can we keep him?

Bill1939's avatar

If by religious context, you mean doctrine, then no. However, if the context is spirituality then I would say yes. Logic and reasoning has guided my spiritual evolution as I embraced different philosophies over time. My belief system has incorporated aspects that religions held in common and excluded those that required a suspension of disbelief. It is centered on my notion that the universe is continuously evolving and has led to human consciousness. However, I do not believe humankind is the endpoint of its creation.

elbanditoroso's avatar

How can it be? Faith is itself irrational. Religious faith is more irrational because it is blind faith in an irrational belief system.

There are many (even @Bill1939 above) who assert that faith and science are compatible. I respect that he believes that. He is not alone – many scientists (and surprisingly many Catholics) feel that science and religion fit together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. For many years, the Catholic religion was at the forefront of certain areas of scientific study.

But again, while I respect that point of view, I don’t see it for myself. For example, I see the big bang theory of universe creation more rational than the Bible’s creation story, because it can be measured and its effects proven.

ibstubro's avatar

I think many of the Eastern religions allow people to have logic, reason and religious faith.

The more narrowly defined the religion, and the stronger a single central entity (deity) figures in, the more of a challenge it’s going to be to reconcile religion with reason.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Short answer: No. (See @Seek above)

cazzie's avatar

@Seek I know, right? I added him to my fluther almost right away and I don’t have many there.

cazzie's avatar

Humans aren’t robots. We don’t suddenly get a error message when we have a logic error and stop functioning… (but gosh, I wish sometimes we would.) We are very irrational beings and have more of a tendency to create patterns where there are none, rather than be truly objective about something and be content with not knowing, or exploring in such a way to disprove conclusions that have been reached unscientifically. Is it logical? No. Is it human? Yep. It is up to us and our comfort zones, and most likely, our intellect, where we end up drawing the line between accepting supernatural explanations vs accepting a more scientific explanation or the conclusion of ‘science doesn’t know yet, but they are working on it.’

SavoirFaire's avatar

You have asked two different questions. First, you ask about religious faith. Then you ask about the religious context. These are importantly different, and that you conflate them leads me to suspect you are only thinking of a subset of religions. Not all religions have scriptures. Not all religions demand faith. Not all religions are committed to an orthodoxy. So one can operate within a religious context without faith.

But even if we limit ourselves to the subset of Mediterranean religions that you apparently have in mind, you still seem to assume that members of a religion are bound to the philosophical viewpoints that previous members of that religion think they found in their scriptures. I don’t think this is true, and not just because there is a long history of religious revolution and reformation.

Immanuel Kant’s Religion within the Limits of Bare Reason represents one historically influential—and highly unorthodox—attempt to ground religion on reason without reference to revelation. The Jefferson Bible is another. And it was common—though not universal—for the early church fathers to declare that anything known to be true by revelation was provable by reason. Indeed, this was their guiding principle when trying to figure out which parts of the Bible to take literally and which to understand as being metaphorical (Biblical literalism being a thoroughly modern trend in Christianity).

Finally, we have to ask exactly what you mean by “compatible.” Kierkegaard is instructive here. In his view, the leap to faith is arational (i.e., not rational). But he insists that does not make it irrational (i.e., against reason). It happens separate from rationality, but need not represent a rejection of rationality. In that sense, the two could be compatible in the sense of both being unopposed parts of a single life even while not being compatible in the sense of being mutually reinforcing in all respects (leaving open the possibility that they may be mutually reinforcing in some respects, though they also may not be).

There are as many ways to be religious as there are people. Some people may reject reason. Others may embrace nothing but reason. And of course, plenty of people try their best to find a balance between the two (which is at least the right instinct, regardless of how successful they are). But in the end, the problem with any given religion is not that it is necessarily and in all cases unreasonable. It’s that it’s false.

Strauss's avatar

The short answer to the OP is “yes”. Logic and reason are compatible with religious faith. Some of the greatest institutions of the Catholic Church are universities and hospitals which operate scientific research facilities.

If the OP had been asked in regards to biblical literalism (the belief that every word in Scripture is divinely inspired and authored) even then, the answer would be “not necessarily”.

rojo's avatar

Aren’t the Jesuits know for their intellectualism or at least the pursuit of knowledge? I would assume logic and reason are integral aspects of their background and training.

Strauss's avatar

Pope Francis is a Jesuit. And the Jesuit order operates 28 colleges and universities in the US, including Georgetown University, Fordham University, four named Loyola (New Orleans, Chicago, Marymount and Maryland), to name a few.

NerdyKeith's avatar

@SavoirFaire I am mostly referring to the more commonly practiced mainstream organised religions.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@Yetanotheruser – and the Jesuits are/were very much into seismology and earthquake detection. Read the following link pdf

For some reason, early on, the various Jesuit colleges created the first ‘network’ of seismographic instruments and schools of earth studies. This continues today.

Strauss's avatar

@elbanditoroso Ironically, the Jesuits are also famous for their role in the Spanish Inquisition, though contrary to popular opinion the Jesuit order did not begin it.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@NerdyKeith I know you are. But I dislike the Western habit of conflating religion with the Abrahamic faiths, so I point it out every time someone does it. Too often, we make sweeping generalizations about religion that are unsupported when we take a moment to consider what a wide variety of practices “religion” refers to. Kant and Kierkegaard were both Christians, though, so I hope that my response still offers some sort of answer to the question you were interested in. The short version of my answer to your title question is: “yes, but being reasonable is just the first step towards being correct.”

rojo's avatar

@elbanditoroso Could it be Jesuit and not fracking that is responsible for the rash of earthquakes in Oklahoma?

janbb's avatar

St Thomas Aquinas taught that reason could only carry you so far religiously, at that point you had to have faith.

I am a humanistic, atheistic Jewish Unitarian to whom matters of religious belief don’t matter much as long as believers do not try to impose their doctrine on others.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@rojo – possibly, but it would be devilishly hard to prove.

tinyfaery's avatar

@SavoirFaire is my go to for any philosophical discussion.

On Kierkegaard, I always read it as being that one can make the arational leap of faith, but once taken reason can be applied to its outcome. Those damn Christian existentialists. Always confusing my choices vs. my beliefs.

ucme's avatar

Logic: Mister Spock
Faith: George Michael
Compatible: Negative
Reason: One’s dead & the other’s gay :D

flutherother's avatar

Einstein thought we need both. “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind”.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@flutherother Jerry Coyne wrote an excellent rebuttal to that statement.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

No.

I learned some time ago to stop countering religious arguments with science.

The aims and mentalities of both could not be more distant.

Strauss's avatar

@rojo Could it be Jesuit and not fracking that is responsible for the rash of earthquakes in Oklahoma?

It could be the Jesuits are responsible way more than we are aware!

JLeslie's avatar

I think plenty of Jews and some of the people who follow Eastern religions seem to use logic and have faith. I’m sure many more people/groups do it also.

Strauss's avatar

@JLeslie Many of the rabbinical teachings are based as much on logic as they are on the Scriptures.

kritiper's avatar

No, not logically or reasonably. Religious beliefs are pure insanity, IMHO.

JLeslie's avatar

@Yetanotheruser That’s the thing. Just yesterday I was watching the TV with my MIL and saw a commercial for a Jewish Acadamy in NC, I think it was basically like a high school boarding school, and it said students are taught to question, and XYZ. Can you imagine a Christian school advertising students are taught to question? I can’t see it.

I do have plenty of Christian friends who are logical, some are scientists, many very educated, some of them just compartmentalize really well and leave the questioning and logic for everything, but their faith. Certainly, some Christiam clergy can roll with parishioners who question their faith.

It is worth saying that plenty of religious Jews, the Orthodox, don’t use logic when it comes to faith. They follow what they believe is God’s law blindly. Look at the Jews who won’t go to visit family in the Hospital, because of the sabbath. I had a work colleague who hurt her knee and for weeks she skipped Sabbath at her synagogue, because she couldn’t do the walk. She loved being observant, seeing her friends at temple, but didn’t go. I told her God will be ok if she drives if it’s for health reasons. She didn’t want to do it. I don’t know if she finally did. One Jewish guy who used to work with a friend of mine made my friend bring his tennis racket to the courts on Saturday (they played tennis together) because it was work to bring the racket. Playing tennis was fine, bringing the racket, against the rules.

Buttonstc's avatar

I learned some time ago to stop countering religious arguments with science.
The aims and mentalities of both could not be more distant.

@SecondHandStoke

And yet many find a great deal of compatibility. Case in point :
..

www.biologos.org

Response moderated (Spam)
Bill1939's avatar

@NerdyKeith, I think that all religious faiths have an internal logic upon which their followers base their reasoning. That those who do not share these beliefs are unable to follow this logic does not preclude the validity of the believer’s logic. Because it is not possible to prove or disprove the central basis of religious beliefs, accepting or rejecting them is equally a product of faith.

rojo's avatar

@Bill1939 I beg to differ. While acceptance of the validity of a religious belief is based in faith, rejection of the validity is not. If we accept that faith is an unquestioning belief that does not require proof or evidence then rejection of a belief for a lack of evidence or proof means that some thought has been given to the belief and that it has been found wanting for lack of the necessary proof. This is the antithesis of faith. We could propose that it be called faithless or faithlessness but not faith.
Of course there are those who believe as A. A. Hodge said, “Faith must have adequate evidence, else it is mere superstition.” But then we get into the question of whether or not a belief is evidence.

SmartAZ's avatar

Let’s conduct this discussion in English, and be sure everybody knows what the words mean.

Faith is belief. One Greek word in the bible is translated both ways. The bible speaks of faith in two different contexts, before Jesus and after Jesus, but that is the only difference. Do not confuse faith with faithfulness. They are somewhat related, but not the same thing.

Science is anything that can be measured. Spirit is anything that can not be measured. Science is powered by evidence and logic. Spirit is powered by believing and wisdom. Religion is men telling each other what to do. There is no connection between the three concepts, although there is plenty of confusion.

“Logic” is the modern version of an ancient Greek parlor game where you could have any result you wanted by changing the rules. The modern “formal logic” is a list of rules by which we declare an argument to be valid or invalid, but there is still a strong tendency to change the rules to get the result you want. Everybody has their own list and they rarely compare it to anybody else’s list.

So go ahead and talk up a storm, but don’t expect to get any agreement.

SmartAZ's avatar

@Bill1939 if you don’t believe a concept then by definition it does not make sense. The internal logic of any system is based on the initial requirement that you believe it. For instance, all astronomers see the same blobs of light, but some believe gravity steers the universe and some believe electric charge steers the universe. Each group clearly sees what they believe and considers the other group to be deluded. And these are scientists!

Bill1939's avatar

@SmartAZ you are correct is saying that the sense of a concept is unlikely to be recognized by those who do not share it. I thought that this is what I had said. However, scientist holding differing theories seldom regarded their opposition as delusional. This is usually limited to differing philosophic views.

SmartAZ's avatar

@Bill1939 go to any biology professor and ask him to show you some of the evidence supporting the theory of evolution and see what happens. Go to any forum where people are discussing the sun being powered by fusion and point out the the outside is hotter than the inside. HERE is a forum provided for people to discuss astronomy pictures published by NASA. Notice rule 15: discussion of alternative theories, the definition of science, is specifically forbidden. HERE is a site maintained by astronomers who have had their access to telescopes denied because they believe the electric charge theories. This is NOT a friendly disagreement.

cazzie's avatar

Opinions are not facts. In science, you can test your theory, but when it is proven wrong time and time again…. it’s really time to move on, or you are not a very scientist. https://briankoberlein.com/2014/02/25/testing-electric-universe/

Bill1939's avatar

@SmartAZ I cannot disagree with anything that have written in your latest response. There are biases in science that prevent minority theories from finding data that support them. Part of the exclusion may be a part of the limited time that specialized equipment is available for use. However, your points that show scientific discrimination are well taken. The history of scientific development is filled with incidences of exclusion of theories that conflict with existing views and the castigation of those who held them.

NerdyKeith's avatar

@SmartAZ there are countless of books written about the evidence for evolution. There is too much evidence supporting evolution for it not to be true.

I recommend the Greatest Show on Earth – The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins.

And just so everyone is clear here, there is no such thing as “just a theory” in science. I know none of you have made this argument yet. But its important that I make that point right now. Too often people confuse scientific theory and hypothesis up. They do not mean the same thing.

SmartAZ's avatar

@NerdyKeith your argument is called “scholasticism” and it has always been a problem in all fields of knowledge. For two thousand years there was no science, only Aristotle. If Aristotle didn’t say it, it wasn’t so. It was Galileo who forced the world to abandon that bad habit and the church jailed him for it.

Everything offered as evidence for the theory of evolution has been found to be a hoax. The only reason the theory still exists is that proponents bribed colleges by endowing departments of EVOLUTIONARY biology. If it hadn’t been for the money, the theory would have been forgotten by now because it does not relate to reality.

I have never heard anything good about Richard Dawkins.

Seek's avatar

::blink::

Strauss's avatar

And here we have an example of reality being subjective!

rojo's avatar

@SmartAZ I think you meant you have never ”listened to” anything good about Richard Dawkins.

Strauss's avatar

@SmartAZ It was Galileo who forced the world to abandon that bad habit and the church jailed him for it.

And the Church finally came around and exonerated him, albeit 350 years later.

stanleybmanly's avatar

@SmartAZ I’m trying to figure out whether it’s a matter of semantics that gave me the jolt admirably expressed by @Seek. There is enough ambiguity in so many interpretations of the “theory” to perhaps justify your statement. Like gravity, I suppose you can get away with questioning the reasoning behind the “theory”. But the denial of evolution as a fact is a stupidity unworthy of discussion.

NerdyKeith's avatar

@SmartAZ

“Everything offered as evidence for the theory of evolution has been found to be a hoax. ”

Simply not true at all. More religious hypothesis have been proven untrue than scientific.

And Galileo didn’t force anything. He presented us with a superior alternative method of truth seeking. If you want to reject science as the best truth seeking method that is your choice. Not a very enlightened, nor reason based choice in my view. But if someone wants to believe the sky is yellow with purple spots in it, I certainly cannot stop them from doing so.

What evidence do you have that proponents bribed colleges? That’s quite the audacious claim to be making. Can you prove it?

You have never heard anything good about Dawkins because you never bothered to get educated about him. You already admitted this yourself in a response to a previous question of mine. If you care about what is true, you should read The Greatest Show on Earth. You might learn something.

Response moderated (Personal Attack)
Response moderated (Personal Attack)

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther