Is your faith rational?

You can take the test here (h/t Craig).

I have a couple of problems with the absolute language used in framing the questions – and the presupposition that God must be testable in a materialistic framework.

Here’s where I “bit the bullet”…

“In saying that God has the freedom and power to do that which is logically impossible (like creating square circles), you are saying that any discussion of God and ultimate reality cannot be constrained by basic principles of rationality. This would seem to make rational discourse about God impossible. If rational discourse about God is impossible, there is nothing rational we can say about God and nothing rational we can say to support our belief or disbelief in God. To reject rational constraints on religious discourse in this fashion requires accepting that religious convictions, including your religious convictions, are beyond any debate or rational discussion. This is to bite a bullet.”

Here were my results:

Congratulations!

You have been awarded the TPM medal of distinction! This is our second highest award for outstanding service on the intellectual battleground.

The fact that you progressed through this activity being hit only once and biting very few bullets suggests that your beliefs about God are well thought out and almost entirely internally consistent.

The direct hit you suffered occurred because one set of your answers implied a logical contradiction. The bitten bullets occurred because you responded in ways that required that you held views that most people would have found strange, incredible or unpalatable. At the bottom of this page, we have reproduced the analyses of your direct hit and bitten bullets.

Because you only suffered one direct hit and bit very few bullets, you qualify for our second highest award. A good achievement!”

The other point I “failed” on was that I suggested the burden of proof for the Loch Ness Monster (a creature who should be physical, measurable and observable) was different to the burden of proof for God. Plus the question was framed equating the word “atheism” with rational thought, and not stating whether it was strong atheism (the positive statement of belief that there are no gods) or weak atheism (a lack of belief in gods). The justification of this approach is included in their FAQ.

“The contradiction is that on the first ocassion (Loch Ness monster) you agreed that the absence of evidence or argument is enough to rationally justify belief in the non-existence of the Loch Ness monster, but on this occasion (God), you do not.”

5 Comments Is your faith rational?

  1. Jon

    I hesitated a little over the square circle thing but ended up at “false”. Because things like circles and numbers are descriptions of what exists not the things themselves. God could make a circle square (indeed so could you or I) but then it would be a square.

    On the other hand, if God then appeared on a cloud with lightening bolt in hand and thundered “ITS A CIRCLE!” I would quickly agree.

    Such deep philosophy – must be the two coffees this morning or the extremely dull statistical task I am avoiding by reading people’s blogs.

  2. David C

    I think we’d have to get into the philosophy of definition. To steal William Lane Craig’s illustration (as well as others’, I’m sure), I do not believe God can create a married bachelor, because by definition a bachelor is someone who is unmarried.

    This doesn’t in anyway limit God’s omnipotence, because it’s not that God cannot make *something*, namely a married bachelor, because a married bachelor isn’t really anything at all, but rather is just the conjunction of two words which put together makes, at least in my estimation, a nonsense. And thus I am saying that God cannot make a nonsense – which need not be said. This explanation would also work for 1+1=72 or a square circle, or for that matter, a rock too big for God to lift.

    Of course, the issue comes when I limit God to *my* reasoning, as if *I* was the ultimate source of rationality. But I would still say that that there is a foundation for rationality, and that God is that foundation, and so I believe that God will always act in line with rationality because otherwise he would contradict his own nature (in the same way that I would argue against the Euthyphro dilemma).

  3. Pete Kutuzov (Kutz)

    I’m with you Nathan, identical responses. I agree with your critique. I’d like to explore the edges of ‘faith’ vs ‘rationality’ a bit more than their absolute definitions, as well as to dispute the analogy between the Loch Ness monster and God.

    Just had a look at the FAQ. While to a certain degree the argument holds, it finally fails to come to terms with the reality of the concept of God as a non-contingent being, which does place it in a different order of being than even a super-nessie.

  4. Pingback: Is your faith rational? — cafedave.net

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