“The Vancouver Sun” today has an excellent article by Douglas Todd called, “Rationality is over-rated – just ask scientists”.
Todd articulates the flaw in attempting to prove or disprove the validity of faith simply on the basis of rational intellectual argument. We humans are more than merely rational creatures.
Beauregard challenges the materialist mindset of atheists such as Harris, who tend to believe “the brain is just a computer made of meat”.
it’s incorrect to assume anything that is not “rational” is there-fore nonsensical, illogical, absurd and ridiculous.
Instead, there is an entire realm of human, animal and ecological experience that is best described as “non-rational.”Such “non-rational” realities – including intuitions, emotions, the unconscious and creativity itself – are just as real, if not more so, than many things understood through rationality alone.
Todd goes on to suggest that on its own reason represents a limited way of processing reality. He points out that, if rationality was as clear and precise an instrument as atheists so often suggest, it is difficult to understand why it does not more often lead to the complete harmony of ideas. Why do so many thoughtful, intelligent, rational people, so often find themselves in profound disagreement? If reason is rational should it not always lead to the same reasonable conclusions?
Todd also argues that reason alone has often led to behaviours that are not conducive to the highest human flourishing. Violence and selfishness may in many cases seem to be the most “reasonable” choice. Why is it that human beings so often reject the purely self-centered choices that appear most rational?
Materialist rationality has a difficult time explaining the choices human beings make to act in ways that are selfless and contrary to their own narrowly defined well-being. Why would a rational person ever be moved to sacrifice his or her life to protect another person? It may not seem rational to act in ways that limit my well-being in order to benefit another person. Such actions are compelled by a deeper human motivation than reason alone. Does this mean that the choice for self-sacrifice is opposed to reason?
The impulse for faith is not anti-rational. It cannot be fully confined by reason, but it is not against reason. Even the most hardened skeptic, must acknowledge that the reason the debate for or against the existence of God continues to be such a robust conversation, is that there has never been an ultimately convincing rational argument one way or the other. Honesty compels us to acknowledge that neither atheism, nor theism is inherently more rational than the other.
The difference between atheism and theism does not lie in the realm of reason. It resides in the willingness of theists to acknowledge that human experience is not limited to reason. We humans embody realms beyond mere rationality.
The inner compulsion to open and trust a power greater than ourselves draws upon human faculties that exist beyond the limits of reason.
Human beings are inexplicably touched by beauty. We are touched with tenderness and compassion in the face of vulnerability. We choose to love and to enter into and often stay in relationships that may be difficult and painful. We find ourselves moved by forces we cannot understand or clearly articulate to perform actions that on the surface appear to make no obvious sense.
Life is vastly more mysterious than can be tidily articulated by any rational human constructs. Language is at its best and most profound when it seeks, not to contain human experience but to help us open more deeply to the mystery and wonder of existence.
How “reasonable” is it to simply dismiss a large part of the experience of the vast majority of humanity through all of history simply because that experience is not easily measurable by scientific instruments and cannot be confined to the narrow parameters of human language?
The purely materialist worldview must erect a wall around itself in order to protect its vision of life from vast realms of evidence that its worldview is forced to deny simply because they do not fit into the tight parameters by which it has defined the nature of existence.
Douglas Todd is to be congratulated for inviting the readers of “The Vancouver Sun” to expand their horizons and experience a life that is fuller and more human than may be comfortable for the “new atheists”.