What Is Reason? What Is Faith?
Science is the process of determining the behavior of matter (the universe) using observation, testing (controlled observation), and reason; with reason defined as the ability to observe, comprehend and accept self-evident truth.
[Reason is] “the discovery of the certainty or probability of such propositions or truths, which the mind arrives at by deduction made from such ideas, as it has got by the use of its natural faculties; viz, by the use of sensation or reflection.” John Locke
Faith is any belief undiscoverable by science, which is to say any belief based on that which is unobservable and un-testable, which is to say any belief beyond the discovery of reason and science.
“Where revelation comes into its own is where reason cannot reach. Where we have few or no ideas for reason to contradict or confirm, this is the proper matters for faith… that Part of the Angels rebelled against GOD, and thereby lost their first happy state: and that the dead shall rise, and live again: These and the like, being beyond the discovery of reason, are purely matters of faith; with which reason has nothing to do.” John Locke
Religion contains faith that an eternal God created matter (the universe) with a finite beginning – the Big Bang – a supernatural belief not based on direct observation of that which preceded creation. If the universe was not created by God, then where did it come from? We know from the first law of thermodynamics that without outside force neither mass nor energy can create its self, nor can mass or energy be destroyed; the sum of mass and energy is always constant in any closed system, including the universe it’s self. Mass can be converted into energy, and visa-versa, i.e.: mass and energy are limited to interchangeability (E = MC2), but according to the first law of thermodynamics only nothing can come from nothing. It is self-evident that if the universe was not created by God, then, since it did not create its self, and since it cannot be destroyed, it must be eternal in time, both in the past and in the future – possibly an infinite series of Big Bangs. According to the most fundamental laws of science, a self-created universe is an un-scientific belief – an irrational belief. The most basic laws of science tell us that outside power is a requirement for the creation of nature’s mass and energy. So, we are left with either an eternal un-created God, with no beginning and no end, who created our finite universe with a Big Bang (religion), or we have an eternal un-created universe with no beginning and no end (atheism). Since faith is any belief based on that which is unobservable, such as belief in God, and since no one was or could be present to observe the beginning of a Universe with no beginning, belief in an eternal un-created universe is based on faith.
It has been explained that atheism is only an expression of no belief in God, but it is never logically explained, as is done here, that atheism, of scientific necessity, requires belief in an eternal uncreated universe. Both religion and atheism are based on that which is undiscoverable by scientific observation – no one can see God without revelation – and no one was or could be present to observe the origin of a universe with no origin – the irreducible basis of both religious and atheist faith. Many who think of themselves as atheists are only able or willing to express their lack of belief in God, but the only scientific alternative to this lack of belief, is belief in a universe with no beginning – a truth left un-considered. Only the agnostic can escape faith by an inability or refusal to choose between these two mutually exclusive faiths.
There is no conflict between religion, properly understood, and reason; they are in fact mutually exclusive. Reason is simply the ability to understand and accept self-evident material truth which is physically observable and which can often be expressed mathematically, i.e.: reason is science. Religion is not based on reason or science; it is based on faith in the eternal God of creation – a belief which is undiscoverable by scientific observation (reason); a belief based on that which is unobservable and un-testable; a belief which is beyond the discovery of reason and science. Likewise, atheism is not based on scientific reasoning; it is based on faith that the universe is eternal; a belief which is also undiscoverable by scientific observation (reason); a belief based on that which is unobservable and un-testable; a belief which is beyond the discovery of reason and science. It should go without saying that nobody was or could be there (other than God) at the beginning of anything (the universe) whose timeline stretches back into the eternal infinite past – a universe with no beginning. Science and reason are relevant to the universe which we can all observe, both the atheist and the religious, but faith, not science and reason, is relevant to the origin of the universe – two entirely different subjects. Reason is capable of comprehending the universe but not the origin of the universe – the latter requires faith.
Some atheists have defined faith as any belief which is in conflict with reason, that is to say any belief which is refutable by scientific observation, but this is actually the definition of error. Some atheists define faith as acceptance of an idea in the absence of observable evidence or proof, which is to say faith is any belief undiscovered by reason and science, but a belief undiscovered by reason and science is not the same as a belief beyond the discovery of reason and science. Accepting the idea that a new species of beetle exists in the Amazon rain forest in the absence of observable evidence is a type faith – an idea yet undiscovered by scientific observation – a belief undiscovered by reason and science – yet the belief may well be confirmed when such a beetle is finally discovered (observed) with the passage of time. Belief in God (religion) or an eternal un-created universe (atheism) are ideas which are not only undiscovered by reason (undiscovered by scientific observation), they are ideas beyond the discovery of reason, because in both cases there is an absence of observable evidence or proof which, barring revelation by God, will not change with the passage of time.
Faith is actually any belief which is beyond the discovery of reason; beliefs beyond the discovery of reason cannot be in conflict with reason. Since God is undiscoverable by scientific observation (reason), then belief in God becomes faith. By the same token the origin of an eternal un-created universe is also undiscoverable by scientific observation (reason) since no person was or could be present to observe the beginning of a universe whose origin stretches back into the eternal past and thus, like God, has no beginning. Atheism, like religion, is based on faith – in opposite direction – but to equal degree – a truth which for now lies undiscovered by most people, both religious and atheist.
Faith in a good and rational God can be made tangible and rational by accepting the idea that each individual possesses infinite and therefore equal value in the eyes of such an equalizing Creator; value which thereby renders to individuals corresponding equal unalienable rights to life, liberty and the fruit of creative labor in pursuit of happiness. This view of human nature was held by our Founding Fathers and was expressed in our Declaration of Independence, and similarly before them by John Locke.
“The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one: and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions: for men being all the workmanship of one omnipotent, and infinitely wise maker; all the servants of one sovereign master, sent into the world by his order, and about his business; they are his property, whose workmanship they are, made to last during his, not one another’s pleasure: and being furnished with like faculties, sharing all in one community of nature, there cannot be supposed any such subordination among us, that may authorize us to destroy one another, as if we were made for one another’s uses, as the inferior ranks of creatures are for our’s.” John Locke
As with John Locke, Albert Einstein understood that there is no conflict between faith and reason.
"The doctrine of a personal G-d interfering with natural events could never be refuted… by science, for it can always take refuge in those domains in which scientific knowledge has not yet been able to set foot.“ Albert Einstein Religious faith in God will end when scientific knowledge finally sets foot into the domain of God; at that point men with religious faith will finally possess direct and observable knowledge of God through revelation. Atheistic faith in an eternal un-created universe cannot have such an end point, because science on its own will never be able to set foot into the domain of the eternal past, that is to say we will never have scientific knowledge of the origin of an eternal un-created universe since no person was or could be present to observe the beginning of a universe with no beginning.
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