Is Reason My “God” In Whom I Have “Faith?”

Is Reason My “God” In Whom I Have “Faith?” August 31, 2009

A Christian friend recently told me we all have faith and that reason was my “god” in whom I had faith.  Reason is not a “god” in whom one has faith. That’s just false. Reason is a set of cognitive processes that are potentially truth-conducive. That’s IT. We are all, as rational beings subject to its demands of logic, evidence, honesty, etc. That does not make it a “god” but the only authority in matters of truth we have. That’s not a matter of faith, that’s a rational inference.

If you try to dispute this inference, you can only do so in one of two ways: by reasoning with me (and in doing so, you implicitly acknowledge the authority of reason) or by just stubbornly declaring that I’m wrong. If you choose the latter, you don’t acknowledge the authority of reason or the need to give reasons. But then why do I have to listen to you?  If you offer no reasons then I have no reasons to listen to you.  It is the reasons you give that give me reason to consider what you have to say.  

Who would have to listen to anyone who just declares things with a stomp of the foot and no reasons? Most of us usually don’t (and none of us should) listen to people who want us to do or think things “just because they said so.” If they don’t have compellingly good reasons, none of us are obliged to obey or think like they do. But if they do have compellingly good reasons, then all of us are.

That’s how reason works. Without it, it’s just a bunch of people stomping their feet at each other. We all need reason.  It’s not a matter of faith, it’s a matter of our essence as humans and the essence of how we think and act in human communities.

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