Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Religious rationality

A redated post.

t's important not to over-emphasize, or to under-emphasize, the role of reason in C. S. Lewis. It is often assumed that where reason is present, the emotions are not, and where emotions are present, reason is not, but this is what I call the Star Trek fallacy. Lewis was persuaded of various things by reason, with which he would not have become a Christian. He descibed himself as the most reluctant convert in all England; if he is telling the truth about himself, then it must be that rational argument played an important role in persuading him to believe. Even the appeal to the Desire for the Infinite has to be defended by rational argument, otherwise it can be dismissed as wishful thinking, which is precisely what Beversluis does with it.

We should expect to be as rational about our religious beliefs as we are when buying a used car. In both cases, irrationality can lead to being taken, by shark salesmen on the one case, and by cult leaders and television evangelists on the other. The religious skeptic and fideistic believer (a fideist is someone who believes that religious belief should not be open to rational evaluation) maintain that a person can be a Christian insofar is he or she abandons rationality. Lewis said "I am not asking anyone to believe in Christianity if his best reasoning tells him the weight of the evidence is against it." If Beversluis or anyone else has succeeded in showing that you can believe only if you go against reason, I con understand that this would be a problem for Mr. Ku, as it would be for me.

No comments: