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How Can We Reconcile Rational Thinking and Religious Faith?

Are human reason and the God of the Bible really in conflict?

by
Dennis Prager

Bio

May 5, 2013 - 10:00 am

The atheist movement has always contended that reason and logic are on its side. Faith, atheists argue, is the sole domain of those who believe in God. The truth is the opposite. It is the belief that everything created itself that is irrational; not the belief in a Creator. It is belief that Bach, the Eiffel Tower, and the iPhone are the culminations of literally nothing that requires far more faith than belief in a Designer. Reason and logic are on our side, not theirs.

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Image illustration courtesy shutterstock / Vitaly Korovin

PJ Lifestyle features each new video from Prager University and encourages dialogue and debate about their ideas. Check out some of the previous weeks’ discussions about religion, philosophy, and ideas:

Why Is Atheism so Appealing?

How Does Daily Life Transform When One Chooses to Perceive Humanity’s Existence as a Miracle?

Why You Should Stop Wasting Your Time ‘Doing Philosophy’

Why Is Human Sacrifice Evil?

What Does the Totalitarian Temperament Look Like?

What Is the Meaning of the Mysterious Phrase, ‘It Is What It Is’?

What Happens When God is Made in Man’s Image?

6 Reasons Why Rational Thinkers Choose to Believe in God

Dennis Prager, one of America's most respected radio talk show hosts, has been broadcasting in Los Angeles since 1982. Dennis Prager's popular show became nationally syndicated in 1999 and airs live, Monday through Friday, 9am to 12pm (Pacific Time), 12pm to 3pm (Eastern) from his home station, KRLA. He has frequently appeared on C-SPAN as well as on shows such as Larry King Live, The Early Show on CBS, The Today Show, The O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, Hannity & Colmes and the Dennis Miller Show. Dennis has written five books, "Still The Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph" (2012, Harper Collins), the best-selling "Happiness Is A Serious Problem" (1998, Harper Collins) "Think a Second Time" (1996, Harper Collins) described by Bill Bennett as "one of those rare books that can change an intelligent mind;" "Why the Jews? The Reason for Anti-Semitism" (reissued in 2003 by Touchstone), and "The Nine Questions People Ask about Judaism" (1986, Touchstone), still most used introduction to Judaism in the world. The latter two books were co-authored with Joseph Telushkin. Dennis has lectured on all 7 continents, in 45 U.S. states and in 9 of Canada's 10 provinces. He has lectured in Russian in Russia, and in Hebrew in Israel. Hundreds of his lectures are available on tape at his website www.dennisprager.com.

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Top Rated Comments   
Dennis and I share a birthday. (although I share the year with VDH)

I found the book "Proof of Heaven" to be a wonderful read that examines this very concept of "reasoning out whether Heaven or God exist".

Humans have a tendency toward arrogance at their "knowledge" and "ability to find answers" to any question. The more one begins to break their own arm patting themselves on the back, the more they fall into the arrogance trap.

What we know about the vastness of the multiverse you could stick on the head of a pin. Our understanding of the quantum world is the equivalent of a toddler's understanding of calculus.

Faith is demanded of us not to replace reason but to replace the arrogance that comes with the false self-congratulatory attitude that we know everything there is to know. Or, that the "science is settled", when clearly it is not.

The concept of God is the tethering to humility that allows us to grow and learn without making ourselves lord over others. What atheists and leftists of all stripes routinely offend in this equation, is the notion that if there is indeed a God...it is most certainly not them.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (58)
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“Well, the new religion, as Ms Phillips teaches, is ‘secular humanism’ which, although it lacks logically consistent precepts, does contain innumerable sanctions and taboos. Of these latter, the most observed is loud and clear: do not tell the truth.”

Theater of the left apostate/heretic David Mamet's foreword to paperback edition of Melanie Phillips' "The World Turned Upside Down".

Which itself begins (two ellipses, both mine):

In what we tell ourselves is an age of reason, we are behaving increasingly irrationally. A loss of religious belief has led the West to replace reason and truth with ideology and prejudice. The result has been a kind of mass derangement, as truth and lies, right and wrong, victim and aggressor are all turned upside down.

...

The basic cause of all this unreason is the erosion of the building blocks of western civilisation. We tell ourselves that religion and reason are incompatible, but in fact the opposite is the case. It was Christianity and the Hebrew Bible that gave us our concepts of reason, progress and an orderly world—the foundations of science and modernity.

The loss of religious belief has meant the West has replaced reason and truth with ideology and prejudice, which it enforces in the manner of a secular inquisition. The result has been a kind of mass derangement, as truth and lies, right and wrong, victim and aggressor are all turned upside down.

...

Thus the West is losing both its rationality and its freedoms. It is succumbing to a “soft totalitarianism”, which not only is creating an ugly mood of intolerance but is undermining its ability to defend itself against Islamic aggression. While the Islamists are intent on returning the free world to the seventh century, the West no longer seems willing or able to defend the modernity and rationalism that it brought into being.

(end quote)

So if one day when the world news is really bad and you're feeling really queasy because people who want your place on earth are coming for you, and someone mentions that the bible is chockful of that situation and was written in order to pass along some tips on what you did wrong before to get in this mess, and what to do now to avoid the ruin of you & your people, will it dawn that the least of our concerns is whether or not we can picture an invisible guy who lives in the sky, nor even the moral tale of our personal journies between the infinities birth and death, but really, about the presence or absence of our people in time and space?

I can ask it, but i sure can't answer it.

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this guy sure has some bodaciously entertaining bons mot, in the mouths of his characters mainly, and here they are, many of them, very well ordered:

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Robert_A._Heinlein


48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Faith is supported by reason and logic . Further, faith is required in almost every aspect of our lives - regardless of whether we believe in God or not.

Every time you get on an airplane and put on your seatbelt, you have, in every sense of the word, excercised faith in the engineers who designed the plane, the mechanics who assembled it and the pilot who flies it.

The better question then is whether we have enough credible evidence to place our faith in any particular thing, including the concept of God. Two pitfalls can't be overlooked in the "search" for such evidence.

The first is self-deception: We may not want to believe in God and therefore, we artificially set the bar for evidence ever higher so that nothing could ever be "convincing" enough for us to believe. Those in this camp likely believe everything they were taught - without question - in history class about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, but ignore Biblical accounts of Jesus Christ on the basis that they are "religious texts" and therefore not "credible".

The second is that some are looking for evidence of God with "science" or the scientific method. Those that fall in this camp usually fail to realize that if God does exist, He is not likely to be found by methods that discover created things rather than their creator. But why would reason or logic lead us to think that God is related to His creation the same as one of the objects of His creation are related to it?

Then again you may already have found "God". Ask yourself, why do you get up in the morning? Answer that question and most likely you will have found your "God".
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
The universe requires no causal explanation. But then again, neither does God. The universe has always existed, and always will. If one defines the universe as that which contains all, one can also define God as that which contains all. If such a definition establishes the identity of the universe, then it would seem God has also acquired identity. Of course, the universe can be observed, and God can not be. Hence, not faith, so much as a search for faith, is required. Try praying. Or meditating. It's possible if a skeptic found reason to do so, they might discover more than they were aware of. My reason for such attempts were pain, and desperation. The cornerstone of so much faith. It still leaves you wondering about everything, but it does clear up at least one thing. God exists, as the universe does. But don't take my word for it, you need faith.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
"It is belief that Bach, the Eiffel Tower, and the iPhone are the culminations of literally nothing that requires far more faith than belief in a Designer. Reason and logic are on our side, not theirs."

That's an assetion without a single shred of evidence or logic behind it, just like it was the last 15,000 Prager said it.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's argument from incredulity. He can't imagine the Eiffel Tower existing unless there is a Designer. The Eiffel Tower exists. Therefore, there is a Designer.

I think someone who says he "feels God's presence in his life" is closer to the truth, more trustworthy, and more convincing than someone who needs to back up his faith with these kinds of lame "logical" arguments.

Just feel what you feel, believe what you believe - get on with it. Why does it have to be so complicated?

When somebody asks me "Well, how do YOU explain how all this got here?" all I can say is "How the hell should I know?"

That's the only honest answer anyone can give.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think my prior comment was reported by mistake. Please correct it, it offended no rules.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
This argument that you can come to a belief in God through reason is so lame it is pathetic. Belief in God is based on purely faith. Even when I was a Christian I understood this. Most of my Christian friends are mature enough to understand this. I've had it with the sophomoric arguments and with PJ Media. I'm going to look for source for more intelligent discussions.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Then you need to take up your argument with God, because scripture says creation in itself reveals God. That's not faith - that is pure reason.

Romans 1: 19-20

Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

Furthermore pal, scripture says you never truly knew Christ. You don't call yourself a "former Christian" anymore than you call yourself a former "college graduate."

Just as you've grown weary about coming to belief in God through reason, I've grown even more weary of "former Christians" who obviously understand so little of the Bible, but claim to.

48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Contrary to your assumption, I have read a lot of the Bible and more importantly many works by Biblical scholars. If you want to understand what's really in the Bible, I suggest you start with one of the many books by Bart Ehrman. You have no idea what's really in the Bible or who Jesus really was. Heck even his brother believed he was an apocalyptic prophet and not the messiah. Next you'll try to tell me this is a Christian country and our Founding Fathers were all Christians. Are there any intelligent, educated Conservatives left like Barry Goldwater? I am so out of here.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes, I know. You're a scholar. Like Random the engineer (cough cough) is a scientist. I've seen both on demonstration here before.

Like you told me about the Book of the Revelations last time we had this discussion. Remember?

Only Revelation, not plural. I'm still looking for the others...
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Without knowing what is "out there", i.e., if intelligent life exists in outer space, if advanced beings have visited our planet and so on, it is irrelevant to argue about God, reason, religious faith, etc. And I do lean toward faith in God...but I want to know about that missing piece and have some rational reason to believe that the entity we call "God" also created "them" if they exist.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sorry to repeat myself, but reason is reason and religious faith is religious faith. Two completely different thought processes.

A person with reason but no Christian faith cannot - not if he tries for a billion years - start with nothing and reason his way to John 3:16. Can't even start with the Universe and reason that far. John 3:16 doesn't follow logically from anything.

A person with Christian faith CAN reason his way to John 3:16 - but he cannot start with nothing. He MUST start with the Bible. One you've accepted Biblical truth, you can reason about it's contents all you want. But you can't reason INTO the Bible from OUTSIDE the Bible.

Outside is where Science lives. Unless God appears in somebodys telescope or particle accelerator, Science will never find God.

What part of "revealed religion" don't people understand? You either believe what's revealed, or you don't.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ever read Maimonides' 13 principles of faith? It's sort of like Judaism in a nutshell. In the translation in front of me now, the form of each principle is: "I believe with perfect faith" that such and such is true.

It doesn't say "It has been proven..." or "I have logically concluded..." or "Science tells us..." It just says "I believe with perfect faith."

THAT IS RELIGION. So get over it, for God's sake...
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
These posts remind me of the flyers that earnest evangelicals hand out to bored office workers, who dump 'em in the trash can once they get around the corner. I guess you could find the endless repetition of the same shopworn message rather touching; but educated people, even if they are generally sympathetic to spiritual concerns, know that the arguments don't hold water. It isn't just that the ancient proofs of the existence of God are no longer fashionable. They shouldn't be fashionable because they aren't valid. If you're going to make sense out of theism, you need to be a hair more sophisticated about what science does and does not claim instead of just preaching to the cheap seats. I'm afraid, however, that preaching to the cheap seats is exactly what this operation is about. Prager University is a university in much the same way that my apartment is a dukedom.

48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Says the man still living in an apartment... LOL.

48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
What I intended to do was to say that Stephan Hawking, who likes to make fun of the idea that there is a God, completely accepts the idea of a universe created by a 'singularity', something out of nothing. I am not a religious person, but I must say I find this a bit amusing.

It seems this singularity was discovered by theoretically running the arrow of time backward by using, probably, a lot of Math beyomd my verification.

But how could mathematics lead to a conclusiom that something could come from nothing at all, that is to say, from zero? As best I can understand it, and I must confess I no doubt oversimplify, probablility theory and Quantum Electro Dynamics indicate that basically anything can happen over a long enough period of time. Something could come from nothing. But if there is nothing then there can't be any time. Time is at least two somethings, moving in relation to each other.

So what we have is that something like the following must be is somehow true:

0 = 13, 456...or...0 = 0.00000000001...etc.

I patiently await correction.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
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