It’s really strange having fallen from faith to now be starting to wonder if faith is the only way to underpin the very thing I used to push faith away with in the first place (rationality).
I have noticed a fair few people lashing out at me about this recently. It’s not that I am trying to say anything, as a matter of fact, rather I am trying to be as honest as I can be about where I am at.
Does there have to be rational arguments for God? There are many rational people that believe in God. If we assume anyone who believes in God is irrational and has no root cause of belief, then we label all believers with the same brush. I’ve grown to hate this.
‘Oh, you don’t believe anymore, well did you ever really believe. I mean, I don’t think someone who once honestly believed could ever not believe anymore.’ I have heard this, or at least a version of it so much as I have told people about where I am with belief in God.
Anyway, my rationality is the function I use day in and day out to make sense of the world. I use this based on various heuristics to look out at the world and draw conclusions about what I witness and think over. Without this, life isn’t rational – no matter how much I imagine it to be.
I am going to be using the term ‘sense’ along with ‘reason’ and ‘rationality’ interchangeably. In using these words, I am alluding to humanity’s ability to reason things through, for us to believe that we are making sense of something and understanding it from an objective point of view. My thought, in a nutshell, is simply that: either we can objectively make sense of things, or we are simply misguided and our sense-making ability isn’t rational and doesn’t lead to actual reason. Rather it leads to some kind of subjective reasoning, that isn’t fully grounded.
The opening paragraph to this blog post is fairly provocative. It’s meant to be. What C.S. Lewis captures so well in his book Miracles is the idea that you don’t get ‘sense’ out of ‘senselessness’.
You need strands of ‘sense’ in order to weave anything together that provides rationality.
Many have argued that we don’t have ‘sense’, rather we have something we think is rational, whereas if we could remove the heuristics we use, we would see we just paint pictures (heuristics) over what we witness, claiming ‘sense’ where there is none.
Others argue that we don’t know that the thing that caused the Big Bang wasn’t ‘sense’ full – that it held the properties of rationality and therefore we have rationality today.
Still, others claim that evolution has given us rationality. Observing the survival of our genes has enabled us to make insights as consciousness has arisen. The universe does hold the strands to rationality (arguably it holds the strands to any outcome), but it is unpredictable in how these will be distributed.
My problem is that if we can’t objectively ground rationality, then we can only ground it in things around us, say evolution, which means we can only claim things from a subjective perspective, using the reason we have due to evolution. The crux comes due to the fact that we act as if reason is objective, without looking to see what makes it objective in the first place.
As far as I can tell, the universe starts with 0 rationality, and slowly moves up with planets forming, life emerges, and evolution drives it forwards.
The Universe begins (Big Bang) and rationality/sense/reason is at 0 (unless you claim the Big Bang has a purpose outside of itself), over time rationality increases with conscious life. This is not meant to suggest the rationality always will increase – just that it has on Earth and maybe present or increase further in other parts of another galaxy.
But how does rationality do this? You can’t have the rationality that you are using to read and recoil at this blog post with, without it being grounded in something that actually makes it rational. You can have things that are not rational, but you need rationality or ‘sense’ in their reality, otherwise, everything we talk about, believe in and share isn’t grounded in anything.
What I would expect to see if there was no ‘sense’ would be a flat line from the start to the end.
No rationality. No changes or fluxes, simply the absence of ‘sense’. But we don’t see this, we all believe that our ‘sense’ is real and isn’t ‘senselessness’ dressed up and pretending to be ‘sense’.
This is a real sticking point for me. Maybe I am just missing something, and it will be pointed out (hopefully in a loving and kind way) in the comments or on Twitter.
No one acts as if their sense-making capability is subjective and therefore flawed. We all act as if we can objectively access evidence and come to logical conclusions. But without objective rationality, we can’t be certain that our rationality is correct, even partially. This blog post wouldn’t be ‘rational’ at all, merely it would contain subjective rationality that might make some sense to most people on planet Earth in the 21st century due to the similarities in our evolution or reasoning capability, but it wouldn’t make objective sense outside of our frameworks.
We all act as if objective rationality is true, yet all we can claim is subjective rationality, and therefore we cannot claim rationality at all. Is reason really reason without an objective basis? I guess we could change the word to morality and ask, is morality real if it is just subjective?
I guess it’s real as in so far as we believe it to be something we adhere to and govern our lives by. As real as say ‘England’ or ‘Ford’, constructs that give direction and hold weight, but are merely constructs held by humans.
For rationality (or ‘sense’) to be real they need to be grounded, so what are they grounded in?
Evolution? What grounds that and means it creates rationality?
A rational cause to the universe? Surely that only pushes the problem a step further back. Like the classic ‘but who made God’ argument?
Nothing? But do we really believe that what we witness, see, and believe due to our ‘sense’ is really ‘senselessness’? I don’t think we do.
I am sure there is more to say on this, but right now I hope I’ve at least raised my question in a way that makes sense in the first place? See what I did there? Heh 😉
_End of Blog Blurb_
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. It has taken me a few years to get to a place where I am able to share my loss of faith and to start writing about the journey that I am still on for you all. I hope you find it useful.
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Farewell For Now – When Belief Dies
- Farewell For Now
- When Belief Dies #100 – 'Psychedelics, Philosophy & God' with Peter Sjöstedt-Hughes
- When Belief Dies #99 – 'Open and Relational Theology' with Thomas Jay Oord
- When Belief Dies #98 – 'The Take Over' with Daniel Kelly & Roger Bretherton
- When Belief Dies #97 – 'The End?' with Daniel Kelly