Excellent response to the idea that faith is irrational.

Well Spent Journey

The CMA group at my medical school recently had the privilege of hosting Dr. John Patrick, a physician from England who lectures on matters of faith, science, and medicine. He was an awesome speaker, and I want to take this opportunity to reflect on some of what he said while it’s still fresh in my mind. So basically, I don’t take credit for the following thoughts. I’m paraphrasing a man who’s brighter than I am.

During the dinner talk, one of my classmates asked the following question:

“How do you suggest we respond to colleagues in the medical profession who regard our faith as irrational?”

Dr. Patrick’s response really stuck with me. He suggested, first of all, that we explore what’s meant by “irrational”. The word “irrational”, after all, is just a polite way of saying “crazy” or “insane”. If our faith is insane, one would expect that to manifest…

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9 comments on “

  1. “If our faith is insane, one would expect that to manifest itself in visible ways.”

    Believe me, it does. You talk to something that isn’t there, you believe a book to be true with no evidence, you believe in the paranormal; hey, some of you even believe strange stories about talking animals and people turning into lumps of salt.

    “irrational” doesn’t mean “insane” anyway.

    “One would expect our lives to be chaotic, inconsistent, or disordered.”

    Nonsense – I have a book on tarot reading which is perfectly structured and orderly, however (of course) belief in tarot is irrational as there is no evidence for such things working.

    • If our faith is insane, as you say it is, wouldn’t that make us insane too? If we are insane, our lives would reflect that insanity. Insane can be defined as being in a state of mind that prevents normal interaction, perception, and behavior. Or, as the original author of this post says – our lives would be disorderly. You then make reference to a book being structured, even if it’s irrational. We are humans, and not books. Just saying:)

      • Thanks for your comment. I’m not saying you’re insane, I’m saying believing in something with no evidence is irrational (which this author has decided is “insane”).

      • You have called me irrational on many occasions though. Semantically, those are different ideas but they essentially mean the same. Using your definition of irrational, how does the belief in no God, with no evidence of this statement, hold up?

    • Greetings, Larry and eliezer40! I posted the following comment to Larry on my blog, but figured I’d respond here as well

      “Strictly speaking, I agree that the definitions of the words “irrational” and “insane” are different. Yet when a person refers to the Christian faith as being “irrational”, this is often just a polite way of implying that the beliefs are insane (you confirmed this in my comment section by describing them as “slightly mental”).

      I also suspect we would agree that it’s perfectly possible for a person to believe irrational or insane things, yet still have relatively “normal” lives. I think this is where you were going with the tarot book analogy.

      So while it’s true that people can often compartmentalize irrational beliefs, I don’t know that the same can be said for the **religious** beliefs of someone who’s devout in their faith (since these so-called “irrational” beliefs will necessarily influence everything about how we live our lives and see the world).

      So we would very much expect someone’s life to be chaotic, inconsistent, or disordered if their **central belief system** was inherently irrational.”

  2. I have a belief that god is not there because there is no evidence. So this is a non-faith with lots of non-evidence supporting it. Or, if you prefer, a faith with evidence.

      • When you look at your best friend, you have faith they have a brain. You don’t know they do. Your faith, which naturally feels certain beyond a reasonable doubt, is based on evidence. Cheers

      • I am sorry… But I know they have a brain, based on tangible evidence – pictures and the like. Also, knowing the function of a brain, I can determine the existence of one within my best friend. That’s not faith. That’s knowledge based on evidence.

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