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I have seen life at either extreme, first as a Hindu, with a sort of blind faith in general religiosity, and later as an atheist, with a blind faith in knowledge obtained through the senses alone. I have now been a Christian for 2 years, and I find that it resonates with my life experiences, and I am wiser and more balanced in living my life. Christianity seems to be the most rational of all worldviews I have experienced, if we define rationality not solely at an intellectual level, but at a level which takes into account the human experience. In fact, since we are embodied beings, and not merely thinking agents(or philosophers), I would suggest that the very definition of rationality of a worldview needs to take this "experiential" reality into account. To try and put things another way, Christianity seems rational at a holistic and integrative level -- one involving faith, reason, emotion, intellect and experience -- a level that transcends pure reason alone.

I would like to know if any Christian philosophers or apologists have made a case for Christianity from this sort of definition of what it means to be rational.


I would like to add the excerpt below, taken from Wikipedia, as a guide to the notion of rationality that I refer to.

In philosophy, rationality is the characteristic of any action, belief, or desire, that makes their choice optimal under a set of constraints.

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I'd love this to be answered, but I'm afraid that if you redefine rational then of course you can get any answer to fit the definition. Normally rational specifically excludes faith and emotion. You may need a different word, but I don't know what that would be. –  Andrew Leach Mar 7 '13 at 7:29
    
Most Christians do hold their beliefs to be rational or otherwise they probably would not hold such a view. –  Neil Meyer Mar 7 '13 at 9:03
    
I'm not sure that the phrase "blind faith in pure reason" actually makes any sense. –  TRiG Mar 7 '13 at 16:06
    
This is interesting, but I do not think it is the sort of question that we can handle productively. It is asking for people to find philosophers who share your very personal view of rationality. There is no definite answer to such a question, though there are many responses. Perhaps describing your view on philosophy.se, and asking "what is this view called?" would be better? –  Alypius Mar 7 '13 at 18:09
    
A man named Pascal said something that I think relates to this issue. Basically, even if there is no god let us behave like there is because there is more to gain. –  fredsbend Mar 7 '13 at 21:01
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You are not the first person in history to make such observations. One person who articulated it well is the late Clive Staples:

"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen. Not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." -- C.S. Lewis

Another man, circa the same erra and place, who argued emphatically that Christianity is the only view that makes sense of the world we live in is G.K. Chesterton. I emphatically disagree with the man on many points of theology, but he does hold an interesting place in literature -- commanding respect from people on both sides of theological divides for his articulation of ideas.

While not his greatest treaties on philosophy, my favorite work of his is The Ball and the Cross. Throughout the story, a wide variety of philosophical ideas are aired in the context of two men debating whether atheism or Christianity is a more rational position.

It is difficult to convey the context of the statements he makes without the whole story, but let me set the stage with this quote:

"Well, we won't quarrel about a word," said the other, pleasantly. "Why on earth not?" said MacIan, with a sudden asperity. "Why shouldn't we quarrel about a word? What is the good of words if they aren't important enough to quarrel over? Why do we choose one word more than another if there isn't any difference between them? If you called a woman a chimpanzee instead of an angel, wouldn't there be a quarrel about a word? If you're not going to argue about words, what are you going to argue about? Are you going to convey your meaning to me by moving your ears? The Church and the heresies always used to fight about words, because they are the only things worth fighting about.

In the end, these two parties agree to carry on an extended debate (played out dramatically with an ongoing duel) about the rationality of their respective views. In the dialogue that develops, Chesterton forwards many ideas about the nature of Christianity and it's relation to reason.

Christianity is always out of fashion because it is always sane; and all fashions are mild insanities.

This thought gets considerably more developement, although this quote will not do it justice:

The Church always seems to be behind the times, when it is really beyond the times; it is waiting till the last fad shall have seen its last summer. It keeps the key of a permanent virtue.

In parting, he poses many questions about sanity vs. madness in relation to Christianity vs. the humanism -- questions I think men would do well to continue wrestling with.

In the long run, which is most mad--the Church or the world? Which is madder, the Spanish priest who permitted tyranny, or the Prussian sophist who admired it? Which is madder, the Russian priest who discourages righteous rebellion, or the Russian novelist who forbids it? That is the final and blasting test. The world left to itself grows wilder than any creed.

In another place:

That is the only real question-- whether the Church is really madder than the world. Let the rationalists run their own race, and let us see where they end.

In a round* about way, Chesterton argues that it is only rational to understand the world through the lens of the cross:

Turnbull, we cannot trust the ball to be always a ball; we cannot trust reason to be reasonable. In the end the great terrestrial globe will go quite lop-sided, and only the cross will stand upright.

Chesterton takes a much more conventional approach to reason in his book Orthodoxy.

Thoroughly worldly people never understand even the world; they rely altogether on a few cynical maxims which are not true.

Here he also makes a few lucid observations about the nature of religious vs irreligious world views:

Neither modern science nor ancient religion believes in complete free thought. Theology rebukes certain thoughts by calling them blasphemous. Science rebukes certain thoughts by calling them morbid.

Chesterton highlights many of the ways in which reason runs aground when not grounded on Christian doctrine:

Only the Christian Church can offer any rational objection to a complete confidence in the rich. For she has maintained from the beginning that the danger was not in man's environment, but in man.

While I disagree with Chesterton's view of free will, still the call he places on us to not just see the world in light of the only thing that makes it all make sense but to do something about that view is indeed part of orthodox Christian thought.

The vast and shallow philosophies, the huge syntheses of humbug, all talk about ages and evolution and ultimate developments. The true philosophy is concerned with the instant. Will a man take this road?

* Excuse the puns!

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Caleb mentions some great names. C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterston are good theologian philosophers who, I think, argue a strong rational support of Christianity.

Cornelius Van Til is another good one, who, I believe, argues that apart from God, there is no rational basis for rationality. This kind of gets to Andrew Leach's comment; I don't disagree with what he said -- that rationalists would probably reject any definition of rationality that allows for faith -- but I think that's a bit of an intellectually-lazy self-evaluation on their part, because in order for rationality to be worth-while, then the universe must behave in a manner that is observable in a rational manner, and we, the observers, must be capable of proper rational thought processes. Accepting that these two components are in place, especially if one rejects that there's a transcendent authority overseeing such a design, requires a good bit of faith by its own right.

John Frame was a student of Van Til's and also offers some interesting philosophical analysis on Rationalism.

I'm not sure that it's quite what you're looking for, but Ravi Zacharias is also an interesting apologist, who argues that Chrisitanity uniquely offers a philosophically coherent worldview. Maybe it's a bit of a stretch to count coherency as the same as rationality, and I haven't read a whole lot of his work, but he might have some interesting insights on the nature of rationality.

Along the same lines as Zacharias, Tim Keller is another modern pastor and apologist who is known for making a rational argument for Christianity as well.

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You might include Alvin Plantinga and Gordon H. Clark also, though they tend to emphasize the intellectual side of things than the holistic. As for Van Til, I would not start with his own works. He himself is quite obscure. His students like John Frame and Greg Bahnsen (and Tim Keller) are much clearer. –  metal Mar 7 '13 at 14:35
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Frame's major work on this topic is The Doctrine of Knowledge of God, which would be most interesting to philosophically/theologically astute readers. It's fairly easy reading in terms of style (not full of technical terms or complex sentences), but the material itself is fairly sophisticated. It discusses humans as holistic beings with reason, emotions, imagination, etc. Many of Frame's shorter works (but not Doctrine of Knowledge of God) can be had for free at his website: frame-poythress.org –  metal Mar 7 '13 at 14:36
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We need to remember that our human reasoning is flawed. This is because we are fallen beings--not only is our mind much less than perfect due to God's curse on creation in Genesis 3, but we are also sinful, which often corrupts our thinking patterns. Paul warned in Colossians 2:

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

Also, when Peter declared that Jesus was "the Christ, the Son of the living God", Jesus answered,

Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

And so we need to be careful not to get overly wrapped up in human logic, philosophy, and reasoning. Rather, for those who are saved, God has revealed the truth of His gospel through Christ, as He did to Peter in the Bible.

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Welcome to the site! This is a pretty good answer, but it would be even better if you could clarify which denominational view this represents. I see you've answered quite a few questions recently, and I want to encourage you to continue, but it might help ti check out the FAQ and these Meta posts, which clarify the purpose of the site: meta.christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/faq Your answers are sound doctrinally, but indicate that you may be misunderstanding the purpose of this site. It's less a Christian site, and more a secular site explaining Christian views. –  David Stratton Mar 29 '13 at 2:09
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William Lane Craig is one of the best known Apologetics heavyweights today. He had a debate not long ago with a Duke University Professor of Philosophy, Alex Rosenburg. William Lane Craig vs Alex Rosenburg

Worth checking out but skip to 10:50 if you want to see the opening of the debate question posed to the two men, "Is Faith in God reasonable?", or skip to 17:15 to hear William Lane Craig's opening statements ... Good stuff.

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