I believe reason is seriously limited, particularly as a substitute for faith.
Don’t misunderstand me–I’m a big fan of reason. I want it to guide my surgeon’s scalpel and my mechanic’s socket wrench. Reason keeps me on the right side of the road and gets me to the concert on time. It helps me balance my checkbook.
What it doesn’t do is give me a reason. For anything.
This is not to say that atheistic rationalists have no reason to live. They do. Ask them. I believe you’ll find, in most cases, that their reason to live is not reason itself. It’s usually some foggy, sentimental thing like love, compassion, or beauty. It’s worth noting that such things are not easily measured by the scientific method, nor are they readily identifiable as necessary for survival. One might even call them…irrational.
So when intelligent, exceptional people like Bill Maher, Richard Dawkins, or Penn Jillette are urging me, with a fervor bordering on zealotry, to forfeit my faith in favor of reason–I have to consider what it is they’re offering me.
“Here, have some molecules. Enjoy your vacuum fluctuation.” Is this what they’re saying?
I picture Bill, Richard, and Penn getting together to watch Nova. Let’s say it’s Part 3 of the “Becoming Human” series of episodes. Enthralled before the television’s glow, the staggering eloquence of meticulously produced reason unfolds before them. Their shared experience is beautiful, liberating, moving. Not a dry eye. At evening’s end they will lay in their beds, gently pulling reason to their bosoms, allowing it to fill them with serenity, joy, and loving kindness. Reason is their thing, and it serves them well. I’m happy for them.
But guess what? Their coping method isn’t going to do the trick for me. Human philosophy is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. I already have a view, thank you.
My faith elevates how I regard the universe and humanity. My faith is not asking me to hate anyone or hurt anyone–just the opposite. My life is immeasurably enriched because of its spiritual aspect.
It’s sort of funny, really. Evangelistic Atheism wants to replace “my invisible friend” with invisible particles. Oh, I understand we can prove that the particles exist. But their absolute origin remains a mystery.
An invisible mystery of unknown origin. I like the sound of that. Reminds me of things like love, compassion, beauty, and truth. And God.
So, Bill, Richard, and Penn–please, enjoy your atheism. Celebrate it. Preach it if you must. But don’t accuse me of idiocy just because my invisible friend is different than yours.
It’s the 21st century, boys. Try to be more inclusive.