Rational theism

Matthew Colwell

To a non-theist, the word rational being placed next to theism would be an oxymoron and immediately dismissed. I’m sure there would be some ignorant, grade school insults to go along with it as well. But shrugging off any concept before hearing it out only shows tunnel vision, so let’s hope you’re still reading. As I only have so many words to express a very complicated thought (and subject matter), let me get right to it.

There is a critical division in the way we approach science. The first is that we are uncovering intrinsic knowledge through science. This asserts that the Earth is naturally scientific, and that we are simply uncovering these absolutes. The other is that science is merely a subjective device humans use to describe and control what is around us — that science is only of our own making. This first belief gives the world a sort of natural, intellectual magic to it; we are somehow unaware of the cogs of the universe that make it tick and uncover them as we go. The second sucks the magic right out of that and creates a world where science is simply about control and domination. I will be using this first viewpoint on science to support a logical structure that David Hume, a 1700s philosopher, presented in the “Dialogues Concerning The Natural Religion.”

Boring summaries aside, Hume creates an argument for design that goes like this: 1. The world resembles a finely tuned machine. 2. All machines we know of are created by human intelligence. 3. Therefore, the world must also be created by intelligence.

This argument states that because our world looks like a machine and we create machines, obviously someone had to create the “machine” that is our world. The easiest flaw to point out in this is that we are of the world. And if we are of this world, which this argument supposes is a machine of something greater, then it cannot be a sound analogy because they are not on the same level of comparison. But if the science we are given is naturally absolute, then being a subset of a greater machine doesn’t affect the fact that it is the same concept: we created a machine of naturally uncovered knowledge, just as we were created by something greater than us.

I don’t claim for this to be the soundest argument, or even that I can prove that God exists — especially in 550 words. I’m a 21-year-old; I am not that full of myself.

What I do want to say of all this is that rationale is a part of theism and should be that way. Not all of us are blind sheep to our religious leaders; some of us seek a philosophical soundness in our relationship with our creator. This should also be a part of non-theistic views as well. If you can’t break down what you believe into logical components, then don’t assert it. Instead of getting caught up in the trivialities of the language that defines your belief, spend time contemplating what exactly it is that you believe in the first place and how to articulate that to others.

Matthew Colwell is a junior integrated language arts major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].