Sunday, 16 March 2014

Rationally irrational

Have you ever encountered the following argument?
"But, this Nobel laureate x is a theist and he /she is rational. This means belief is god y has to be rational as they are a rational person."
If you have heard this before I am sure you have planted your hand firmly on your face as you exhaled deeply and shook your head.


What many theists and apologists fail to realise is that to be irrational in one aspect of your life does not require you to be irrational in every aspect of your life. Knowing this will not make sense in simple terms to someone who adheres to this argument, let me give some examples of what I mean.

A chemist wins the Nobel prize in chemistry, this chemist believes that UFOs visit Earth and abduct humans. The chemist is clearly rational in chemistry, however no one would say the belief in UFOs is rational as it has no proof.

The president of the greatest nation in the world believes UFOs visit the Earth and abduct humans. Even though this person is the president, no one would say the UFO belief is rational as it has no proof.

Both arguments used above by people that believe UFOs visit Earth to abduct humans are appeals to authority. Additionally, in both of the examples above the person could be totally rational about everything in their life, except the UFO claim.Now, lets rephrase these arguments.

A chemist wins the Nobel prize in chemistry, this chemist believes that god exists. The chemist is clearly rational in chemistry, however not in the god claim as it has no proof.

The president of the greatest nation in the world believes UFOs visit the Earth and abduct humans. Even though this person is the president, no one would say the god claim is rational as it has no proof.

When a scientist or whomever believes in god, this is not rational. It does not mean the person is always irrational in everything they do. It means they are irrational in one specific aspect of their life.