Is Religion Reasonable?

Is Religion Reasonable?

I do not really defend religion. It can be grand. It can also be sick.

But, is it reasonable?

For all you sincere searchers out there, I applaud your intellectual honesty.
But consider that it is a bit fashionable today, in intellectual circles, to say you cannot buy organized religion. And isn’t there just a bit of sophomoric hubris at work? A friend of mine in his freshman year of college said he had now read Plato and found him shallow.

Isn’t there a bit of the disingenuousness in the idea that you have personally done a survey of all of the literature of religion and theology and you have made your conclusion that all these folk, from  Amos to the Apostle Paul, from Augustine to Aquinas, from Mohammed to Maimonodes are all shabby, delusional or in denial?

And the question is raised, “Is religion reasonable?” If we cannot be convinced with evidence, then we cannot commit.

It should sober us up a bit to consider the rationality of science as reflected in the history of genetics and the “science” of race. Nell Irvin Painter just published The History of White People and shows us how what is intellectually fashionable at any time tends to have its way with our reason. So, paragons of rationality from Greek philosophers to Thomas Jefferson and Ralph Waldo Emerson to that paragon of German scientism, Johann Friedrich Blumenbach have all had a hand in sacrificing compassion to putative reason. They were all convinced by evidence that something that was not so, was. They all thought their own kind of white people superior to people of color and other scientifically verifiable races of whites.

As I say, religion can be beautiful and it can be ugly. It can heal and it can kill. But let’s not claim any and all religion is irrational until we are sure what rationality means. Science too, and reason, can be either truthful or full of lies.

I work with the idea that one’s religion is where one’s world outlook comes together. It is where one’s values have their center. For most of us that place is pretty fuzzy and we need to do a lot more work at figuring it out. None of us sets out to be irrational about that work. And few of us bother with it much at all.

About John

John is a retired pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America who has served congregations for over 40 years, including in rural, suburban, campus ministry and urban settings. His love of Border Collie sheepdogs has been fortified by his many friendships with shepherds all around the world. Nothing he has ever or will ever accomplish is as significant as the patience God, his wife and his friends have shown in putting up with his deficiencies.
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