30 September 2008

Nobody Believes in Rationalism

The fact is that if you are a thoroughgoing rationalist there is no way anyone can prove to you that it is worth getting up in the morning. The purely rational conclusion is that life is not worth living, so why go on? And yet, the rationalist does get up, driven by non-rational urges to get dressed, to get breakfast, and to start another day. Because, deep down, the rationalist does not entirely believe in rationalism.

Let us therefore admit that rationalism speaks to the "how" and "what" of existence, but not the "why" of it. The why of it is the crisis of our age - the crisis of meaning.

In order to live, we must satisfy our non-rational urge to live meaningful lives. To find meaning, we must (and do) ultimately turn to faith. So, the question is not whether we can have faith. We all of us already have faith to some extent, because we simply must. The question is how can we live simultaneously with the faith we need, and with the scientific rationalism we have fought so hard to achieve?

The necessary synthesis begins by realizing that faith and rationalism begin helping each other by placing limitations on each other. I cannot believe things I can prove false, but I know some things to be true that I cannot prove.

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