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(intro music) Hi, my name is Greg Ganssle, and I am a Senior Fellow[br]at the Rivendell Institute at Yale University. Today, we're going to talk[br]about faith and reason. It's a very popular idea that faith and reason are opposites. That if I hold something by[br]faith, it's not also the case that I have good reasons to hold it. or if I am reasoning about something, it's not the case that I have faith. Some of the reason that it's[br]difficult today to relate faith and reason has to do with how we talk about what we believe. We will use sentences[br]such as the following: "I believe that George[br]Washington existed," "I believe that ice cream tastes good," "I believe in recycling," "I believe in God." Notice that the various sentences I used use the word "believe." But we often follow that word either with "believe that" or "believe in." So when I say "I believe that[br]George Washington existed," I take a sentence "George[br]Washington existed," and I believe that[br]that sentence is true. What I believe, in this sense,[br]is either true or false. I'm either correct about my belief, or I'm mistaken about my belief. Now when we talk about "believe in," it gets much more complicated. "I believe in the Constitution." What does that mean? It does not mean "I believe[br]that the Constitution exists," although I do. It must mean something else. It means something like "I have confidence in the Constitution," or "I think it's a good[br]thing," or "I trust it." "I believe in recycling"[br]is even more complicated. It has to be more than[br]"I believe recycling exists" or "I believe it's good to[br]recycle," because I could tell you that I believe it's good to recycle. But if I never recycle[br]myself, you would say I really don't believe in recycling. To say "I believe in recycling" is to say that I am committed to a certain practice. It's the practice of recycling. So when we say "I believe in," it's very complicated. "I believe that" has to do[br]with making certain claims, and those claims are either true or false. Reason has much more to do[br]with "I believe that" claims. This is where we can[br]bring evidence to bear. I believe that George Washington existed. There's lots of evidence for this. Every once in a while, I[br]actually have a dollar bill, and his picture's on the dollar bill. Or I've been to Washington, DC,[br]and I've been to the archives, and I've seen his signature on documents. All of these are bits of[br]evidence that my claim, the claim "I believe that George[br]Washington existed," is true. Reason can be brought to bear on "believe that" statements. Now, when someone says "I believe in God," what does that mean? It does mean "I believe that God exists," but it also means something more. For many people, it means not only do I believe the claim that God exists, but somehow God is an[br]important part of my life. I have a commitment to God in some way. And this is a kind of ambiguity. You think of "ambiguity" meaning "the sentence can go in two directions." The sentence "I believe in[br]God" goes in two directions: I believe that God exists, and somehow I make God an[br]important part of my life. I have a commitment to God. So let's get back to faith and reason. In the sentence "I believe in God," which has these two divergent tracks, reason applies mostly to one track: "I believe that God exists." In other words, "I think[br]it's true that God exists." And it's exactly at that claim that reason applies the most: "Is there evidence?", "Are there reasons to think God exists?", "Or reasons to think God doesn't?" Some of the other videos in[br]this series discuss various reasons to think either God[br]does exist or God doesn't exist. This is the application of reason to the question of God's existence. Now, someone who says "I believe in God" also may have a trust[br]or a confidence in God. Some people have complained that religious believers'[br]confidence or trust in God goes much further than[br]what reason can support. So there may be evidence that God exists, but it is nowhere close[br]to bringing certainty. Yet religious believers seem to have one hundred percent commitment to God. There is a lack of proportion between the evidence and[br]the level of commitment. This is one of the accusations against religious belief being reasonable. Now, I think we can make some progress on this problem with a[br]couple of illustrations. Suppose you are going to drive from New Haven, Connecticut[br]to New York City. You get in your car and you are going to[br]drive down Interstate Ninety-Five. If you've ever driven down[br]Interstate Ninety-Five in Connecticut, you know it's kind of dangerous. When you get into your car,[br]you know that you do not have absolute certainty that[br]you will make it to New York without breaking down or without crashing, because people break[br]down and crash every day. So your confidence that[br]the claim "You will make it to New York" is true is less[br]than one hundred percent. But notice you have to get into the car either one hundred percent[br]or zero percent. You commit yourself wholly to the car, yet you know that it's less than[br]one hundred percent certain. Every time you get on an airplane, you know there's a chance[br]the airplane will crash. Now, it's a very small chance, but your certainty you will be safe[br]is less than one hundred percent. Yet you can make yourself one hundred[br]percent to getting on the airplane. There are certain decisions in life that require either one hundred percent[br]or zero percent commitment, and these decisions hold[br]or are binding on us, even if our reason tells us we have less than one[br]hundred percent certainty. This is simply the way[br]these things work together. So faith and reason can[br]be related in this way. We can have evidence[br]perhaps that God exists, but the question of God's existence is not purely theoretical. There may be something where[br]we commit ourselves to God, and that commitment[br]might require going beyond the degree of evidence. Is it reasonable for us to do so? Probably it depends on how strong our evidence is that God exists. So when faith and reason[br]seem to come in conflict, sometimes it's because reason applies to one part of the question,[br]"Is the claim true or false?", but reason is more indirect[br]with the second question, "Should I commit myself?" Now, the final illustration for this point is, if you were ever to get married, you would not commit[br]yourself to your spouse simply in proportion to your evidence that he or she would make a good partner. That's very bad relationship advice. Assess "Is this a good partner?", and then you commit yourself fully. That's the nature of a relationship, that's the nature of[br]getting on an airplane, and that's the nature of what it means to be a believer in God, despite the fact that our evidence might[br]be less than certain. Subtitles by the Amara.org community