Religion: Divorced from the Hallmarks of Rationality

For others, faith refers to what is currently unknowable but what they have decided to accept until more information comes to light. For example, many deists understand evolution and the natural development of the universe but still think that a deity provided the spark of creation for all of those natural developments to occur. Since science doesn't disprove such a possibility as the catalyst of our universe's beginnings, deists hold a faith of sorts that doesn't irrationally deny of the best of modern knowledge. Deistic belief is rational in part because it doesn't suggest the intervention of supernatural forces in daily life. However, it's worth pointing out that such deistic reasoning can't be stretched to make all religious notions rational — far from it! The more we accept on faith without evidence, the more we set ourselves up for bad decisions like promoting abstinence-only sex education or denying climate change.

As we commonly know them, religion and the faith it usually requires are irrational when they exist in spite of contrary evidence. But we can look at the role faith plays in any religion and the nature of that faith to better assess its rationality. Faith may not be inherently irrational when no contrary evidence exists or when it's redefined as a synonym for confidence. However, we can see that those ways of approaching faith are the minority within many religions today. Rather than adhere blindly to faith, we would do well to follow a scientific understanding of ourselves and our universe so that we can address our society's most pressing problems with rational, evidence-based solutions.

7/13/2016 4:00:00 AM
  • Faith and Reason
  • Public Square
  • Deism
  • Evidence
  • Humanism
  • science
  • Secularism
  • Agnosticism
  • Atheism
  • Secular Humanism
  • Roy Speckhardt
    About Roy Speckhardt
    Roy Speckhardt is the Executive Director of the American Humanist Association. He is also a board member of the organization providing Humanists leadership training, the Humanist Institute, and an advisory board member of Secular Student Alliance. Follow him at
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