Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Faith and Reason

Another Letter to an Atheist:

You wrote, “There's nothing to be gained by arguing with those who conflate conviction with fact.”

However, shouldn’t conviction and fact go together? Shouldn’t we be “convicted” when the facts spell out victimization? I think that you are assuming a purist stance and throw all religions/belief systems into the same bag. Indeed, there are conflicts between religion and science when a religion adopts the dictum, “I will only entertain things of faith/spirit and not physical evidences.” Of course, there are religions like this which believe that this is a world of illusion – the physical world does not exist – and consequently not worth investigating. Other religions would have it that our main task is to transcend this physical, evil world, while postmodernism maintains that “facts” are just the product of our subjective mentalities.

On the other hand, there are belief systems that believe that there is a stable, uniform, knowable and rational world out there that welcomes investigation. Both Christianity and Atheism fall into this category.

Indeed, the Biblical faiths, especially Judaism and Christianity, which are rigorous belief systems, requiring evidences and proofs. For example, the principle of Deuteronomy 19:15 permeates Biblical thinking:

“One witness is not enough to convict a man accused of any crime or offense he may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.”

In like manner, Jesus warned his followers to NOT believe Him without corroborating evidences (John 5:31). Therefore, from a Biblical perspective, faith is not something that is baseless, but rather a stance that is required in light of the confirming evidences. In other words, we believe because we have compelling evidences to believe – we attempt to join conviction to fact.

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