Is Faith Rational or Irrational

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"Faith is believing what you know ain't so. (Mark Twain, Following the Equator, "Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar)" Faith is a belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence and is often associated with religion. Because faith is not supported by proof or evidence, it is an irrational belief, irrational meaning not governed by reason. This essay will make no statement as to the rationality of religion or the existence of God, but it will argue that faith by definition is irrational.

It is argued that everyday knowledge has been taken on faith. However, this argument results from the confusion around the definition of faith. For example, it might be said that I have faith in the fact that the desk I place my textbook on will withstand the weight. However, this is not faith. A lifetime of experience with desks has made the theory that desks rarely collapse under the weight of a textbook very plausible in my mind. This is an example of inductive reasoning, and thus this belief rests on logical proof and material evidence and is hence not an act of faith.

It is here that some believers are confused. They entwine belief with faith. It's said that if you believe something, you must be taking it on faith. This is a denial of the fundamental distinction between reason and faith. It pretends that evidence for or against an idea is irrelevant. In example, take the example of a belief that the dog coming towards me is friendly. This is not believed without reason, the dog's tail is wagging, which I know from past experience and knowledge read, means the dog is excited. The dog is not baring its teeth, nor is it barking or growling, which usually signals anger or fear. The dog's tongue is hanging out and he appears to be squirming in excitement, which can be taken to mean he is glad to see me. Thus this belief is not faith as it does rest on reason, but it is not solid fact either. The dog could be unfriendly and could bite me, proving my belief wrong....
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