Is Faith in God Rational?

May 9, 2017 | Apologetics, Article

There exists a huge divide and disconnect inside of the greater Christian community today.

Unfortunately, the philosophy of the world has begun to creep its way inside of the church over the last few centuries, leading many pastors and other church leaders to reject the use of thought and rationale in our evangelism and discipleship.

This, I believe, has been a tragic mistake.

What we are left with is a larger faith community that has no intellectual grounding for what they believe. Students are shipped off to college to “learn” and to “prepare for their career” only to come home with the humanistic philosophies of their professors, and to have left the Christian faith altogether.

Something must be done. Something must give.

There are many working tirelessly towards changing this landscape, me being one of them, but this will be a long process.

I want to take a few moments just to lay the groundwork. Is faith is God actually rational at all?

I believe that if faith in God is not rational, then some key biblical characters are going to have to explain their reasoning for believing the things that they did.

A quick example would be the martyrdom of the Apostles. Either they died for something they believed that was not true, or they died for something that they believed to be true and was true. I believe they died for what they knew to be true and would be able to rationally verify that truth (as they did in their gospels).

Let’s look at a few things that I believe build the case for the rationality of belief in God.

Bible Faith


The first thing we should look at, I believe, is what the Bible means when it uses the word, “Faith.”

Now–we see this word all the time in religious circles. Christianity is no exception! But if we’re not careful, we’ll impute a 21st-century meaning onto a word that goes back to before the first century!

The Greek word used in the Bible that we translate as faith is pistis. It means, “be persuaded, come to trust.”

When the Bible speaks of faith, it always refers to trust. In other words, it NEVER refers to blind faith. When we say, “I place my faith in Jesus Christ,” we could just as easily say, “I place my trust in Jesus Christ.”

It is the same thing, and there is no contradiction nor distinguishment to be made between the two.

Hebrews 11, the great faith chapter of the Bible, gives us the Bible’s own definition of the word faith in verse 1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Notice the word “evidence.” “Evidence” is a very “apologetic” word. It speaks of something that can be known; something that can be verified. Now, don’t get tripped up when it says, “…of things not seen.”

Notice Romans 1:20: “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:”

The Bible claims that “invisible things” are “clearly seen.” When God created this beautiful earth, He left plenty of evidence in the world for Him. The Bible says, “no man hath seen God”–and that’s true! But we have seen His magnificent creation.

We have seen the beauty of life that He has given us to behold. We are made in His image, and the world we live in clearly reveals the things (of Him) that are not seen.

Make no mistake, friend, we place in faith in God–but not blindly!

Bible faith always deals with something that we can know. God will not ask us to believe something that He will not give us proof and evidence for.

That brings me to my next thought,

Logic is from God


Hebrews 1:3 – “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;”

God is “upholding all things by the word of his power”. This is a magnificent statement–and one that we find to be true when we look at the world around us.

The universe is upheld by laws. The laws of gravity, thermodynamics, and even logic are directly from the mind of God.

Think of something like a number. We know that 2+2=4. Let me ask you something, can you please show me a “2”? I would like to know where I can find one, so that I may have another one, and add them together to have a “4”.

It can’t be done!

The law of logic is not a machination of some collective human mind, and yet it is not abstract like platonism teaches. There is not a “2” floating around in space somewhere or in some other realm from which we get mathematical equations.

Just as there is an objective morality in the universe to account for, there is also an objective logic that must be accounted for.

When God created the universe and the earth, He created them such that they would abide by certain rules and laws. If there were no law or principle of gravity, for example, it would be impossible for us to be here today!

Do you realize that the fact that you can expect to wake up tomorrow and follow a similar routine to what you did today is only because God is upholding these laws? If we even introduce the idea into the world that random and sporadic things can occur in our universe, there is no telling the world we would live in!

Think about this: the only reason we can wake up tomorrow morning with a fair amount of certainty that a lion will not be waiting for us in our living room is because things do not just “happen randomly.” Everything is part of a plan that God set in motion from the beginning, and the universe follows in that order.

Now if there were no laws of logic, there would be no way to make sense of anything in the world. The very fact that we have a mind able to even consider the things of God and make a choice to believe in Him or not requires the logic made and upheld by Him!

This is what is meant when apologists say something like, “atheism is incoherent and is grounded in absurdity.” Quite frankly, they have an unlivable worldview.

One cannot live in the world that atheism proposes!

Atheists must steal key attributes of the Christian worldview in order to even make the case for theirs, which is good enough reason for me to reject atheism in the marketplace of ideas.

Blind Faith Leads to Error


Important to this discussion is understanding why the God of the Bible does not advocate for blind faith.

This one is not hard to understand, yet for some reason, it is deceiving millions across the globe.

Here is the issue: If God expected Christians to use blind faith, there would be no reason to trust in Him over anyone else.

This is important because of the character of God. God is love, and God is “goodness” in its most perfect form. How could a good God withhold grace from anyone, even those who choose not to believe, if they were not given the opportunity to come to faith?

There is a much wider discussion around the question I just asked, and that is not something that is in view today. But the point is, the God of the Bible is not worthy of the honor and respect He demands if His Word is no more true and verifiable than that of Allah, Krishna, or Joseph Smith.

That’s the cold hard truth.

Consider a passage, if you will, in the Old Testament. In the book of 1 Kings and chapter 18, we find Elijah the Prophet in quite the engagement with some prophets of the god, Baal.

To paraphrase the exchange, Elijah places a “wager” of sorts. Elijah was ready to settle the matter once and for all just who really was God. The prophets of Baal, obviously, contended that he was the one true god. While Elijah, on the other hand, contended that Yahweh was the one true God.

Elijah basically says to them, “Let’s settle this once for an all. You set up an altar, and I’ll set up an altar, and the God that answers by fire, let Him be God!”

The prophets of Baal took all day, even cutting themselves and crying out to their god for an answer–and they received nothing but silence. Elijah, quite humorously, says, “Well–maybe he’s just asleep; or, maybe he’s traveling and cannot answer!” Friends–this is an example of blind faith.

The prophets of Baal had faith in their god, and they were sincere! But at the end of the day, he could not prove himself.

The Lord came through for Elijah, however. Elijah rebuilt the altar and even went so far as to pour water all over the altar! Elijah prayed a prayer unto God, and He showed Himself by fire as promised.

This is why God does not operate by blind faith.

God would NOT expect us to place our trust in Him if He was not able to verify who He is. Now, God does not show up by fire on an altar in this day.

Signs and wonders were required in the Bible because we did not have the revealed Word of God, which itself is historically and scientifically verifiable.

I will make a bold, but true claim: You will not find even one example of blind faith in the Word of God. Anyone in the Bible, who exercised faith in God, always did so with the prior experiential knowledge of Who He was and what He has done and could do.

Reconciling Faith with Rationality


If I had been making the case for blind faith up until now, this would really be a moot point. There is NO way to reconcile blind faith with rationality. The concept itself of blind faith is irrational, and therefore must be necessarily disqualified.

However, it is easy to reconcile Bible faith with rationality. Trust (Bible faith) is 100% rational. As sure as we can trust in anything else right in front of our eyes, we can have faith (trust) in what the Bible says.

This is the point in the conversation where, if you’re not careful, you’ll lose the attention of the skeptic.

They may say something like, “If God is so rational and logical and real, why doesn’t He just step out of heaven and prove to me that He exists!” There are probably at least 10 things wrong with that question.

But the one important distinction you must draw here is that all you aim to do, as the Christian representative in this exchange, is prove the Bible beyond a reasonable doubt.

This is all that can be done in a court of law!

Some detective work in light of the courtroom will bear this out. There are only two types of evidence one can use when dealing with a cold case: circumstantial and eyewitness.

In most cold cases, all of the eyewitnesses are dead, so the only way to reach a verdict is by closely examining the evidence and going by what the eyewitnesses said at the time. If crime in America had to be proved beyond ALL doubt, not one conviction would ever be made!

I think the evidence provided by God in His Word can be proved to be true beyond a reasonable doubt, and therefore we can take that evidence and reconcile it with our faith and trust in God without any loss of coherence.

This forms the basis for our worldview.

This is another reason why is it important to start with the Bible in apologetics. When you view the world in light of how God says it should be, it is so easy to see the hand of God in its formation. Truly, it would be most irrational to disqualify God as the Creator of the heavens and the Earth.

Christians Should Become Critical Thinkers


In light of what we know, I think it is time for Christians to “take up the cross” of intellectualism, and prepare themselves for the head-to-head battle with the post-truth culture that we live in.

Christians should become critical thinkers.

It’d be one thing to rest on our blessed assurance if God had not given us the Great Commission. If salvation was such a personal experience that it was never meant to be shared, there would be no issue. The Holy Spirit witnesses to us, as believers, but Holy Spirit conviction works differently than Holy Spirit witnessing.

There are people in this world who want to believe in something greater than themselves, but there are intellectual barriers that are holding them back from belief. This is where apologetics is put into practice.

Yes, we have faith. But we have every right–and instruction from the Lord (see 1 Peter 3:15)–to give clear, reasonable answers for the hope found within us.

If I had one piece of advice it would be this: ask questions.

Don’t believe anything just because someone tells you! Dig into the Word for yourself and find out what God has to say. When you’re witnessing to others, there are going to be those with tough questions about your faith. Be ready to give them an answer!

God gave us a mind for the purpose of using it! We can love Him with all of our minds just like He has commanded us to.

I think you’ll find that when your mind begins to catch up with what your heart already knows, God will become even more real and incredible in your life.

Questions? Feel free to comment below and start the discussion, or click the blue button on the right (desktop only) to ask a question with a voicemail. We will do our best to answer in an upcoming post. Thanks!

Meet Steve

Meet Steve

Hi, I’m Steve, an author, speaker, and Bible teacher with a heart for exploring God’s Word and God’s world.

I’m interested in the surprising connection between creation, theology, business, and storytelling. We explore those themes and more on this blog.

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