Religion Vs Science:
Is Faith Rational?

...Continued from Page 2 of Religion Vs Science

Contents for this page on Religion Vs Science: Is Faith Rational?

  • Is Faith Rational?
  • A poem on Religion versus Science - Experiment
  • Both Religion and Science Can Involve a Journey of Exploration
  • Your Cup is Too Full - a spiritual wisdom story
  • Meeting Others' Beliefs In A Spirit of Scientific Inquiry

Is Faith Rational?

There are those who say that in the religion vs science argument science wins because faith is not rational.

It is true that you do not need a rational explanation of religious beliefs in order to hold them. (The same is true of any kind of belief.) But I don't agree that religious belief is necessarily irrational. Faith and reason can coincide.

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The most popular current view is that our reality forms our beliefs.

I share the belief, instead, of A Course In Miracles that the world is an illusion and is a projection of our thoughts. In other words, our beliefs create our reality.

I have engaged in spiritual practices and seen certain results take place. I would have to ignore a whole body of experience in order to continue to hold the more popular belief.

The theory that beliefs create our reality explains experiences I have had that are not explained by the first theory.

Surely the journey of science is one which seeks explanations that embrace more and more of what we experience.

I maintain that faith is rational.

Spiritual Poem About Belief


Your belief in God is
based on your own experience.
So is mine.

So why should your belief be labelled
mine not?

I have, after all,
experimented more than you.

Should the wider experience be
the one denied?

It's OK to dismiss something until you experience it for yourself, even though you know there must be many things you haven't experienced.

"No one can judge on partial evidence. That is not judgment. It is merely an opinion based on ignorance and doubt. Its seeming certainty is but a cloak for the uncertainty it would conceal." (W-151.1, A Course in Miracles quote)

© Katherine T Owen.

The spiritual poem above appears in the book It's OK to Believe, A Journey with Faith and Reason.

For an explanation of the forgiveness exercise – It’s OK to...

For a discussion on how to use quotes as part of your spiritual practice.

See Do Beliefs Create Our Reality? for more on this subject.

(Return to the content list for Religion Vs Science)

Both Religion and Science Involve a Journey of Exploration

For me, there are certain qualities which are not so much religion vs science but are valuable within both good religion and science. These include:

  • Being willing to learn from another – be that God or another human-being
  • Being willing to experiment for oneself, not simply rely on what you know so far
  • Being willing to hold non-conformist beliefs in the face of ridicule and opposition. Many scientists have had a hard time in putting forward new ideas – sometimes from the religious, but often from their own colleagues
  • The assumption that there is a certain order to things.

    For example, the assumption of good design of flowers motivated scientists to study them and to identify ultraviolet markings that guide the bees to the pollen.

    The belief that there is a loving, all-powerful God suggests that circumstances cannot be random and that help is always available. Out of this belief, religious and spiritual explorers become willing to surrender into and accept the present moment, no matter how bad the circumstances. 
  • Being willing to accept that you don't have all the answers
  • Accepting there is either more to know or more peace to experience.

Your Cup is Too Full

On the subject of being willing to accept there is more to know, there is a story which goes something like this:

spiritual wisdom story

There are undoubtedly those in religion who claim to have the answers. But my personal experience is to find an attitude of:

"I don't know what this is all about, but there is something I get from this spiritual practice...peace of mind, joy, somewhere to go in times of trouble, somewhere to express gratitude....and so I will persist, and perhaps as I practise, I will know more."

Similarly the good scientist accepts that he doesn't have all the answers and enjoys turning up and doing the experiment. 

In all likelihood, he – like the spiritual seeker – will find more questions than answers, and that is OK.

Both religion and science can benefit from a level of certainty that motivates us to pursue our path, and a level of doubt that keeps our minds open to answers beyond the familiar.

The difference is that when it comes to spirituality, each of us is the guinea-pig. Spiritual practice is the experiment.

If we want to see the results we cannot wait for someone else to do it for us. We need to carry out the experiment for ourselves.

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Meeting Others' Beliefs In A Spirit of Scientific Inquiry

On the subject of religion vs science, I find many atheists and agnostics are genuinely interested in knowing what motivates me to follow a spiritual path or attend a place of worship.

However, some have clearly already made up their mind that when religion vs science, religion loses.

It is interesting to me that such people can be less than scientific in their approach to a conversation on the subject.

They might for example start by telling me what I believe. (How do they know?) Or telling me how irrational it is to be religious.

This stance of attack does not encourage me to open my heart about the beauty, the peace and the richness of the spiritual path. And so they block themselves from exposure to information that would potentially take them beyond their preconceived notions.

For me, to meet someone's beliefs in a spirit of scientific enquiry is to set aside my prejudices and expectations sufficiently to receive information about those beliefs with as much neutrality as possible.

I may agree or disagree.
I may choose to voice my opinion or keep silent.
But if I want to be scientific and become informed about the beliefs of someone else, I need to listen and ask questions.

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