Faith and reason statement
Are faith and reason in conflict? Which side do you choose?
I do think that faith and reason are in conflict, and I am an advocate for reason. What is the harm for refusing to believe in supernatural phenomena, like miracles and higher powers? There are very real harms, however, they are not ones that prevent us from acting ethically and coming closer to understanding the truth -- of how the world works, how people work. The harms from not having faith are related to social status. Our society rewards certain beliefs over others; it's unlikely that the president of the US will be a public atheist anytime soon. This is one of the reasons that I'm one of "those people" who would seek to "secularize" our culture -- for instance, I advocate that a strict line be held between government and religion. I like the statement that "I don't agree with you, but I'll defend your right to say it." I believe in the open debate under the rules of academic discourse (nonviolent discussion, wait your turn to talk, support your point with evidence, and so on). The faith model is opposed to this -- faith is a leap of reason; it's the belief in something that reason tells us is impossible, like miracles. People have been pronounced dead and have come back alive, but no one's lost limb has ever regrown, and gravity has never stopped all of a sudden. Some people make the argument that "other people" would not feel comfortable in life if they did not have religion to fall back on, but in my experience, giving up on faith made me feel like I'm closer to seeing the truth. Part of me wants to just see faith and reason and not espouse either side, and acknowledge multiple truths, and perhaps play devil's advocate. But we are a human community, and each person's belief affects his/her action, and each action affects the community. On balance, reason gets us closer to the truth, and therefore helps us act for the good.