Universalis

Should we be rational?

Argh! Tell me something. I give you two options: guess heads or tails in a coin flip, or guess a six digit number that I'm thinking of. You'll get $10 if you get it correct. Which game would you rather play?

One gives you a one out of two chance; the other gives you a one in a million chance. If you want to win $10, you would choose the coin toss....... right...... ?

I came back from a class and a bunch of students say it doesn't matter! I sincerely don't get it. They don't think that we ought to act rationally. This is not just a gripe; I want to lead on to this important point: should we be rational when it comes to our faith?

This point is a little tricky because not all matters of faith can be rationalised fully, but I must qualify this carefully. I think we should be rational as possible, but I also accept that some things are beyond the capacity of human reason to rationalise. But this does'nt mean that we therefore should not rationalise about everything else!

Just as a matter of fact, the student that I am refering to happens to be a protestant. I may be generalising a little here, but because there is quite a lot of emphasis in protestanism of personal faith, I feel that they are more willing to throw rationalism out of the window. "Why rationalise! All that matters is God and me!". This I'm sure very well applies to a lot of Catholics. They are not willing to be rational at all about things. I think that this is a mistake.

What do you think?

3 comments:

Numquam Satis said...

Either "one out of two" or "one out of a million" is not about "rationality" but of "probability."

I understand your concern of the "rationality" of our faith but your example doesn't hit it right: one out of two is NOT more rational that one out of a million. By using this example, you're actually reducing rationality to a practical mode of "estimation."

John Paul II wrote "Fides et Ratio" several years ago, in which he explained that "ratio" or human intelligence is capable of finding God; though faith could reveal what our intelligence fails to reach.

I don't become a Catholic because it's more "likely" that it is the true Church of Christ. A rational person does not act upon 99.99999% possibility. A professional gambler does.

So to your initial question: it doesn't really matter to me either. Rationality is nothing about winning.

ChrisYeo said...

'Either "one out of two" or "one out of a million" is not about "rationality" but of "probability."'

Are you saying that our "practical mode of estimation" is not part of our ratio, our human intellect? While it is true that none become Catholic just because it's more likely to be true, it is also true that many protestants are led by their reason to the Church.

For example, we shouldn't put too much faith in an image of Mary when it all likelihood it is a random water stain (see Image is nothing but an image). Should probabilty not matter in something like this?

Maybe you are making a distinction between inductive and deductive logic. Maybe rationality with regards to faith does not include the inductive brand of logic? If that were the case, what about science, which says that we evolved? Does science have nothing to do with our fides et ratio?

Numquam Satis said...

Point well taken. I'm not arguing against that people could be led to the faith by their reason. I was merely stating that your example at the initial post does not manifest the true nature of human intellect.

Science can certainly reveal things unknown to us, but true scientists also acknowledge that what cannot be proven by science is not less true. Therefore, something very unlikely in terms of science, for instance, resurrection, could still be true, against all odds.

Blaise Pascal once said that "Heart has its own reason that Reason doesn't know." Reason leads people into the Faith, and continues to sustain us staying in our Faith.