|Keanu Reeves as the Prince of Denmark during Winnipeg's MTC production in 1995. Check out that passion.|
“You seem to operate out of a rationalist-empiricist framework. And there is of course nothing wrong with that when one is considering matters subject to the analytical benefits of this sort of world-view. But I suggest that there is plenty of human endeavor and human interest in matters not well suited to this sort of analysis. I mean, would you really mock John Keats because figures on an urn are not really “frozen” there? Or would your smirk at Bob Dylan because the times don’t really change? Would one do a cost/benefit analysis of caring for one’s child?
… since God and belief in God are human preoccupations based upon faith, they are not subject to rationalist/empiricist argumentation. You may call it “irrational” but I might propose calling it “hyper-rational.””
The idea here is that there are matters that are not subject to reason and evidence and that the question of God's existence is one of those matters.
If true, then one's belief in God simply cannot be questioned or challenged. This is a big & bold claim that serves to insulate one's belief from criticism.
But imagine the defendant in a murder trial asserting that there are matters not subject to reason and evidence and that the question of his guilt is one of those matters. The incoming tide of further accusations he would face from judge, jury, and the wider court of public opinion would surely include arrogance, stupidity, & foolishness. I mean, it'd be a great move if one could pull it, but can one really ever pull it? What exactly are these matters that are not subject to reason and evidence, and is the question of God's existence really one of them?
Consider a couple of questions. Do reason and evidence explain why we fall in love with whom we do? Can reason and evidence explain why I don't like anchovies? Emotional matters and personal tastes cannot (yet!) be satisfactorily explained by reason and evidence, but it would be absurd to suggest that questions about the existence or nonexistence of certain entities (or the guilt or innocence of those charged) can be answered using emotions and personal preferences, wouldn't it? Would you believe in the existence of Bigfoot on the basis of emotions or personal preferences?
" in the chaos of nature, there is more that we don't understand than do, and it is arrogant to think that controlled experiments in hermetically sealed labs can in any way replicate the chaos and uncertainty that occurs in nature."
"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy." - Shakespeare, Hamlet
"I'm talking about something that's beyond you, beyond everything, and neither you nor anybody can touch it."
This attitude - that one is in possession of information that transcends reason and empirical evidence - can be harmless, but it can also lead people to accept ineffective treatments when effective ones exist (see here and here), and it lies behind religiously motivated discrimination and slaughter of infidels and perpetrators of imaginary crimes- the most horrible and tragic aspects of faith-based beliefs.
So this important question still stands: Is the supernatural off-limits for reason and evidence? Chime in and let me know what you think. I'll be responding in a few days.