Catholic.com has a question/answer on the irrationality of religion, which I would like to address. You can see the original article here: http://www.catholic.com/quickquestions/religion-is-irrational-right
The answer starts of with the assertion that “rationalists are among the most irrational people“. They offer no basis for making such a claim, and then move on. I would call this an attempt at poisoning the well.
Let’s take a look at the answer, and try to clear up the problems.
Christianity claims there are truths which are beyond the power of reason to demonstrate, but that doesn’t mean it’s irrational. There’s a difference between what is irrational (against reason) and what is suprarational (above reason).
Actually, yes it does. This is precisely the meaning of irrational beliefs. Call it suprarational if you want (because the word is completely meaningless, just like supernatural), but holding a beliefs which is not yet justified, with reason and evidence, makes it an irrational belief, by definition.
The answer then goes on about quantum physiscs, and how it’s beyond the reasoning ability of a four year old. Frankly, quantum physics is beyond the reasoning of most people over the age of four as well, but this isn’t the problem.
- Quantum physics actually has a tremendous amount of evidence in support of it
- Quantum physics has falsifiability, meaning that it can be shown to be wrong
- Most importantly, quantum physics would have been a completely irrational belief 500 years ago
In other words, the fact that a person is limited in what he can know doesn’t mean there isn’t something beyond that. If we move from an individual to the human race as a whole, we can say that the fact that there may be limits upon what man, as a finite creature can know, doesn’t mean there aren’t thing beyond what he can know.
The above is correct, there are limits to ones knowledge, but the question doesn’t ask about epistomology, rather it asks about rationality. Is it rational to accept that there is a reality beyond reason? Frankly, I see no reason to accept that there is anything beyond our reasoning, until such time as it can be demonstrated. The last part of that sentence is key, and is the basis for a position of skepticism.
Christianity claims to have a message from beyond man’s intellectual horizon. It claims God (whose existence, by the way, is knowable even with our finite reasoning abilities) has revealed things which are beyond reason, but which don’t conflict with it. It also claims that reality as we know it gives evidence, though not proof, that transcendental truths exist. Whether this is so or not, it’s not an irrational position.
Apparently the author believes that God is knowable, but yet nobody can provide a reliable method of determining if God actually exists, rather they just claim this with baseless assertions. Regardless of there being some evidence for a claim, the God claim has come nowhere near meeting its burden of proof.
From the Christian perspective, the rationalist is like a man with a road map who, having found the map reliable in what is pictured, somehow concludes from this that only what is pictured is real. The rationalist thinks roads which go off the map go nowhere, but it’s really rationalism with its blind faith that’s a dead end.
No, actually, the rationalist is like a man in a world with only maps of Kentucy, who asks how to get from Louisville to Chicago Illinios? When nobody can give them precise directions, they attempt to drive there by faith, and end up on a dead end street in Lexington. The rational conclusion is that faith is not reliable, and we don’t know of any way to get to Chicago.
The religious person, on the other hand, doesn’t bother to take the drive, but claims that faith will get them there if they need to.
The author seems to want to conflate truth, with rationality. In truth, there are things that are true which are completely irrational to accept, because the evidence doesn’t yet justify belief. I’d put almost all religious claims in this category. Frankly, this answer is not suprizing from a Catholic, but is almost complete nonsense.