02/06/2006: Thought for the Day:
If one gives up reason in the formation of some of one's beliefs, one gives up the only access to truth we have. Humans don't have any perceptual capacity to immediately discern truth, the way we immediately discern color and shape (if the lighting is good and our eyesight is in good order). The closest we can get is to justify our beliefs. Faith is not justification, it is the suspension of all standards for justification. Faith declares that some beliefs - these important ones right at the center of my world-view that shape how I see many other things - need not be justified at all.
If one's beliefs cannot be justified, and if one's actions are shaped and motivated by one's beliefs, then one's actions cannot be justified. Oh, the actions of the faithful might accidentally be consistent with justifiable actions - but that would be pure luck, really, and could just as well have turned out otherwise.
Those who live by faith are not intellectually inferior. One could even say that it takes a certain brilliance, or at least extraordinary mental flexibility, to engage in the mental gymnastics required to apply reason in most areas of life and then suspend it entirely on other areas. So this isn't really about intellect. And to say that faith is a failure of reason or abdication of reason is just to name it, not to explain what's wrong with it. I think something stronger can be said.
Faith is a moral failing. The abdication of reason is the abdication of justification. When people stop even trying to rationally justify their actions in the world - when they decide to act from faith instead - then they might just do anything at all and call it right and good.
--George M Felis
Len on 02.06.06 @ 05:33 AM CST