Custom «When Is Faith in Something Rational?» Essay Paper Sample
People perceive the world through the two main tools of the mind: logic and intuition. Logic is responsible for the rational explanation of the world. It requires people to gather as much evidence as possible to make informative decisions. Meanwhile, some part of a person is irrational, related to the intuitional insight into reality. It does not require collecting evidence for inspecting its accuracy. Faith also belongs to irrational sphere of life. Therefore, many hold the opinion that faith is about believing in the absence of evidence. In many people’s thoughts, the faith and reason have nothing to say to each other (Buchak 1). They tend to oppose faith to reason. Nevertheless, believing in the absence of evidence is difficult from a psychological view. Therefore, faith needs some reason. It means that the faith can be rational sometimes.
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To start with, faith implies a special attitude of an individual. When someone has faith in something, he or she agrees to it completely (Buchak 4). As one might say, faith is about acceptance of some truth without denying it. It lasts as long as an individual thinks a claim is likely to be true and the actions it supports are beneficial enough. In other words, those who believe give credit to the future based on the present information they have. Therefore, faith is based on certain rational issues. For example, if a person has higher expectations from marriage and has faith in his or her partner, it means one has some reasons to believe in faithfulness of the partner. Following the logic of this reasoning, the one who believes in faithfulness rejects the possibility to be cheated on by a partner in the future (Birkett 4). In this case, people obviously rely on some evidence to support their faith. If they find it necessary, they will investigate the issue to learn whether their partner is truly faithful or not.
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At this point, one should consider the relation between faith and evidence. According to epistemic rationality theory, people base their beliefs on their evidence. Therefore, one cannot choose favorable evidence and ignore the arguments that challenge it (Buchak 14). It means also that one should be objective in dealing with all evidence relating to the claim. Therefore, a rational person can only adjust his belief to the evidence. Rational views and decisions fit perfectly into this theory. Those people who rely on their logical thinking usually update their views depending on the nature of the evidence. In turn, some evidence may influence the degree of one’s belief (Buchak 15). However, faith appears to be irrational in terms of a valid approach. It does not require one to gather evidence; this feature is an important element of the valid rationality. People who believe act as if some claim is already true. They do not need to examine additional evidence, as further evidence would hardly change their mind. Therefore, in some sense, faith goes beyond the evidence.
While epistemic rationality is about gathering evidence, practical rationality is about making choices. As a rational being, a person often chooses the behavior that may bring the maximum utility. People expect that acting in a certain way will result in a particular outcome (Lombrozo 1). Faith involves two key actions in terms of making choices. First is making a choice among the available alternatives and second is not gathering more evidence to support it (Lombrozo 15). As a result, faith can be practically rational only if its actions are practically rational. The question that arises from the foregoing is how to prove that the two actions are practically rational. Therefore, when one has a strong faith in something, and there is no significant evidence against it, the faith is rational.
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To add even more, faith can be rational even when a person strongly believes in something because making an action (choice) is usually a rational act. Strong belief in something does not need evidence; otherwise, it questions that same belief. Gathering more evidence on a particular idea would only show that one has no faith in something. For example, in a marriage, a man who has faith in his wife will not hire investigators or start a conversation with her wife’s workmate to check whether she is cheating on him or not. If a man does hire investigators, the wife will be right to complain that he does not have faith in her, even though he can be 100 percent sure that she is not cheating. The decision should only be informed by prevailing evidence (Buchak 11).
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To conclude, sometimes faith in something can be rational. Nonetheless, it can be rational if it meets two important conditions. First, faith can be rational when one is making a choice depending on the prevailing situation; the faith does not depend on the potential evidence relating to the claim. Another reason is that people’s choices and decisions do not have any underlying postponement costs. Second, faith can be rational when one has a strong belief in something; it depends on the nature and character of the available evidence. In particular, faith in something can only be rational if there is no significant evidence against it. Furthermore, when a person has a strong belief in a particular idea, he or she apparently grounds his or her beliefs on some evidence. As a result, faith is rational only when a person’s belief is already supported by a range of evidence.