WHEN someone tries to appear reasonable but is unequal to the task, the results can be quite amusing. To illustrate this, we present to you, dear reader, Faith and reason, a letter-to-the-editor which appears in the Journal Times of Racine County, a rural community in southeastern Wisconsin
There are several letters at the link we provided. You’ll need to scroll down to find the one we’re using, but it’s not necessary. We’ll copy today’s letter in its entirety, omitting only the writer’s name and city, and we’ll add Curmudgeonly commentary between the paragraphs. The bold font was added for emphasis. Here we go:
The letters concerning religion and atheism seem to overlook that as one can have faith without reason (religious fundamentalism) one can have reason without faith (conventional atheism or dialectical materialism), that both are fundamentalisms in polar opposition to one another. One is the inversion of the other. They share a fear of uncertainty.
At the start, we realize we’re dealing with an ignoramus (at best). “Faith without reason” is an unnecessarily verbose term for “faith” — which has been defined by philosophers for centuries as belief without evidence or logical proof. Of course faith is without reason — that’s the definition. And although “religious fundamentalism” is a common manifestation of faith, the range of beliefs embraced by faith is far broader. “Faith” and “religious fundamentalism” are not interchangeable terms.
Then we come to the letter-writer’s bizarre claim that “reason without faith” (an expression like “atmosphere without vacuum”) means the same as “conventional atheism or dialectical materialism.” There probably are more ignorant statements in the world, but the letter-writer’s ranks high among them. Very high.
As the letter-writer gets near the end of his first paragraph, he asserts that faith and reason “both are fundamentalisms in polar opposition to one another.” We agree they’re in opposition to one another, but are they “fundamentalisms”? Does the letter-writer have any idea what he’s saying?
The last sentence in that paragraph, where the letter-writer is still talking about faith and reason, says: “They share a fear of uncertainty.” What? Can this thing possibly get worse? Let’s read on:
I feel it is best to try to marry intuition with reason, though that is an art and does not appeal to the fundamentalists of the scientific bent.
Wrong again. There could be a limited appeal for “fundamentalists of the scientific bent” to artfully use their intuition — for example, to conclude that the letter-writer is a flaming imbecile. Anyway, we continue:
It’s true science has brought us many gadgets – and A-bombs – but the inner quest for something beyond one’s own ego keeps many on one spiritual path or another including me.
Yes, let’s not be blinded by gadgetry. There’s that all-important “inner quest” that makes spiritual people — like today’s letter-writer — so special. Here’s more:
But to be blunt, adding reason to faith means admitting, for instance, the Bible has many irreconcilable contradictions. Just do an Internet search on same for some examples. If it is the word of God, it sure is lacking in, shall we say, “quality control.” And insisting on a beginning with just an Adam and Eve is to admit their children had incest to generate the human race. So much for genetic diversity.
He’s not “adding reason to faith.” He’s using reason — to the extent that he’s capable. Moving along:
And, to be fair, scientific fundamentalists must admit that evolution is not a neatly sewn-up concept. For instance, the fossil record has few transitional forms. That is most curious.
Hang on, dear reader, this mess will be over soon:
But neither side will yield an inch fearing to do so amounts to unconditional surrender.
At last we come to the end:
I rather regard the creation as God’s ineffable experience. And in the interests of not fearing uncertainty, I admit I might be wrong.
[Writer’s name and city can be seen in the original.]
Fascinating. He concludes with an utterly meaningless statement about “God’s ineffable experience,” and then admits that he might be wrong. What a guy!
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