Is faith irrational?
Some people say, “I am rational; I don’t accept irrational ideas such as faith.”
While rationality is a vital tool in the human search for understanding reality, it is not the only tool. Even in science, which prides itself for its rationality, many major breakthroughs have come not through rational, step-by-step analysis, but through inspiration-stimulated quantum leaps in understanding. It took reason years or even decades to vindicate what inspiration had revealed. As inspiration gives real knowledge, it exemplifies ways of knowing that transcend reason — such ways aren’t irrational; they are trans-rational.
Is there a trans-rational level of reality? Those who claim there isn’t, believe that all of reality is knowable by reason alone. Is their belief grounded in any conclusive reasoning? Given that reality is incredibly complex, as revealed by scientific advances in quantum physics, isn’t it reasonable to consider that reality might have levels unknowable by reason? Why would we blind ourselves to such realities because of a misconceived devotion to rationality? If we blind ourselves thus, won’t we be subscribing to an irrational faith in rationality?
Freeing us from such an irrational faith, Gita wisdom invites us to explore trans-rational reality through time-tested processes of yoga. By such yogic exploration, we can perceive two trans-rational truths: the overarching intelligence that pervades the universe and the animating consciousness that pervades our body. Indeed, these twin truths are the basis of rationality. Rationality works as a way of knowing because a trans-rational intelligence has infused nature with a rational order and has infused us humans with the rational faculty to discern that order.
Thus, the trans-rational, far from being irrational, is the rationale for the rational. Or in the Bhagavad-gita’s words (04.39), faith is the way to knowledge.
Faith is not irrational, it is rational receptivity to realities that both supersede and underlie rationality.
Think it over:
- How does science progress through trans-rational ways of knowing?
- How is the rejection of the trans-rational irrational?
- How is the trans-rational the rationale for the rational?
04.39: A faithful man who is dedicated to transcendental knowledge and who subdues his senses is eligible to achieve such knowledge, and having achieved it he quickly attains the supreme spiritual peace.
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