Is reason the basis of faith or faith the basis of reason?

by Matt Slick

Reason is the process of logical thinking that is based on the Laws of Logic.  Those laws include the Law of Identity, the Law of Non-Contradiction, the Law of Excluded Middle, the Law of Proper Inference, etc.  But these laws of logic cannot be tested by the scientific method or by using logic.  Instead, people presuppose that they are valid.  Let me explain.  The scientific method analyzes the physical world -- not the Laws of Logic. People who use the scientific method presuppose the validity of the Laws of Logic which are the basis of scientific reasoning. 

Also, a person cannot use logic to validate logic without committing the logical fallacy of Begging the Question, which is assuming the thing to be true that you are trying to prove.  So, instead of using logic to prove logic is true, logical reasoning is based on the assumption -- the presupposition that the Laws of Logic are valid.  In other words, people assume the laws are true. They intuit that they are true.  They believe they are true without being able to prove they are true objectively since proof requires the Laws of Logic they would be using to prove the Laws of Logic.  Since their belief is not based on testing or logical deduction, it is based on a type of faith.  Therefore, this assumption, this faithful trust that the Laws of Logic are valid is the basis for trusting them which becomes the basis for rationality.  This means that ultimately, faith (in the Laws of Logic) is the basis of reason -- not reason the basis of faith.

Furthermore, when a person criticizes a Christian for having a belief in God (that is not testable via the scientific method) or says the Christian is begging the question by simply believing God exists and is working from that assumption, then the critic is being inconsistent and promoting a double standard.  He is inconsistent in that he does not see how he also has a non-testable belief -- the belief that the Laws of Logic are true.  Also, he has a double standard because he requires from the Christian (testability and logical validation) what he does not require of himself when it comes to reason itself.

We all have to start somewhere, and it is the Christian worldview that provides the conditions that make the Laws of Logic workable.  It is only in Christianity that we think the thoughts of God after him.  The atheistic worldview cannot make sense of the Laws of Logic.

Atheists, Naturalism, and Faith

Atheism is a lack of the proper affirmation that God exists.  Naturalism is the philosophical position that nature (matter, motion, energy, physical laws, etc.) is all there is.  Atheists who believe the universe and its laws are all that exist cannot make sense of the Laws of Logic from their assumptive position.  First, if the natural world along with its physical properties and laws is all there is, then our brains are restricted and limited by those natural laws.  This would mean that a person’s own reasoning could not be trusted because his brain must operate under the laws and is restricted by them.  This further means that chemical reactions and brain wiring produce necessary results when "thinking rationally."  But these thoughts are the products of stimulus and neurochemical wiring--not logical necessity.  So, from this perspective, how then can logical conclusions be trusted?  They can’t.  This is why the atheistic, naturalistic worldview is self-refuting.  But instead of acknowledging God, unbelievers substitute him with their own rationality.

So, it would seem that the atheist is really a person of great faith.  They have faith that the Laws of Logic are valid though they cannot be tested without first assuming them.  They have faith that the scientific method is the proper means of learning in the universe though that theory cannot be tested without assuming its validity.  They have faith that their own reasoning is correct though they cannot justify it from their naturalism.

So, atheism is a kind of faith and an inconsistent one at that.

 
 

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.