Logic vs Faith

When the Big Bang theory was initially accepted in the scientific community, there were a group of people who said, ”Since now we understand the creation of the universe without any role of God, clearly God doesn’t exist”.

When someone proposed the theory of evolution and said that humans evolved from monkeys, a large group of people saw this as a proof that God didn’t exist since as believed earlier, he didn’t create the humans; humans evolved from the monkeys.

Originally, when these doubts were raised on the existence of God, they created a lot of turbulence in the lives of believers. However, as I now look at these doubts, I find them amusing and quite funny.

Even though science has explained that the universe came out of the big bang, it hasn’t explained why the big bang happened, or from which thing did it all originate.

Similarly, when the person said that humans have evolved out of monkeys, the question is: who created the monkeys? Another question is: who caused the evolution? Isn’t there some intelligence behind the evolution? But then, they can argue that evolution is natural; it is the natural order of the things, and not because of God. In response, I’ll ask, “Why is evolution the natural order of the things?”

No matter how many answers you give me, I can still ask you “why” on your last answer. An answer that can satisfy us both is “It is what it is”. And then, I’ll say it is what it is because of God.

The problem with logic is that it is always finite; it is never infinite. You can explain anything only up to a certain extent, not beyond that. For example: Science says “leaves are green because they contain chlorophyll”. Then, I may ask them, “Why does chlorophyll make them green?” and “Why do they contain chlorophyll at all?”. To the first question, they may answer “because chlorophyll reflects green light. That’s why we see leaves as green”. To the second question, they don’t have an answer except that “it is what it is”. Even to their answer to the first question, I may ask them, “Why does chlorophyll reflect green light?” Again, they will say “it is what it is”.

So, ultimately, if you see through any logical argument, it is always finite and thus, breakable. If you try to pursue it till its limit, you’ll always find it based on some value judgments or just the way things are. Many of the logical arguments advanced in our daily lives are based on value judgements even though they sound very logical.

Also, it has happened throughout the history of mankind that logical arguments which had been established for a long time were found to be illogical after some time. How? Because one person asked one more why. Let’s take an example:

The world went through a serious economic depression during 1929-1933. To counter the depression by promoting domestic production, the US government passed Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act. The law increased the tariffs on a number of goods imported into US. If you increase the tariffs on imports, the imported goods will become expensive. What will happen then? People will prefer domestic goods, and thus domestic production will rise, leading to rise in domestic jobs, and thus, an overall rise in the economy. Does the step sound logical? Definitely, it sounded logical to the US government at that time since it passed this law. What was the effect? The economy went into a more severe depression. Why? Because the US government didn’t ask one more question to themselves, “How would other countries react to this law?” or they grossly underestimated the reaction of other countries.

After the law was passed, other countries also increased their tariffs for imports from US, thus impacting the US exports.

So, while the law as deemed as a logical step at the time it was enacted, it turned out to be illogical in the end.

Let’s take one more example. This example is taken from Quora from an answer posted by Abhinav Srinivasan:

“Mexico City is notorious for its traffic and the large amount of air pollution that vehicles cause. In order to stop this problem, the government designated certain days as “No drive days”, meaning, if your car’s plate number ended with certain digits, you could not drive on specific days.

For example,

On Mondays, Number plates ending with 5 or 6 weren’t allowed on roads.

On Tuesdays, 7 or 8. Wednesdays, 3 or 4, Thursdays 1 or 2, and Fridays 9 or 0.

It seemed like a neat idea, and although the move was supposed to reduce the number of vehicles on roads and thereby reduce air pollution, the exact opposite happened.

The reason for that is mentioned in the book Think Like a Freak, by the Freakonomics authors.

People in Mexico City bought cars, mostly very old second hand ones, making sure that the number plates had different last digits from the ones they already owned!

So now the number of cars that people owned virtually doubled.

When it was the “No drive day” for one car, people would simply use the other car.

And because there were more old cars on road, pollution increased, not decreased.

Hence the solution to the problem exacerbated the problem itself.”

In this case also, a seemingly logical argument was accepted and a step was taken, which proved out to be illogical in the end. Some people may say that these people who took this step were stupid. But whom are we calling stupid? These people are at the top government positions and must have earned their degrees from the best of the colleges in the world. If they are stupid, whom can we trust to be logical?

We can even take the example of gravitation. The theory of gravitation was proposed by Newton more than 300 years ago, and one of the fundamental assumptions of this theory was that time is absolute. Everyone accepted this theory as true until Einstein came and proposed the theory of relativity, which says time is not absolute; it is relative. Does it mean that scientists – top class scientists – the epitome of logical people – were wrong for 300 years?

The point I am making is that no logic is bullet-proof. An argument that is considered logical today may be considered absurd tomorrow. It could happen that the logic on which we base our lives may turn out to be wrong later. Wouldn’t we have wasted our lives then?

All religions talk about God, souls, our spiritual lives, our true nature, life beyond death etc. Logical people don’t believe in these things. Can’t it be that tomorrow’s logic may accept these things? Why do we have to be limited by what is accepted by logic today? Why can’t we believe in things which our current logic cannot justify?

Even more fundamentally, why do we have to be driven by logic?

Ask yourself these questions: Why do we have to be driven by logic? Why can’t we be driven by our instincts? Why can’t we be driven by our emotions?

The point is not that logic is useless, or we shouldn’t use logic at all. Of course, logic has a place. Most of the material development is because of the use of the logic. However, it doesn’t mean that we should put logic on a pedestal, and treat as inferior other aspects of human life such as emotions and faith. Everything that we have in the world, including logic, is to support a human emotion called happiness. Isn’t it? Isn’t everything we are doing for the pursuit of happiness and wellbeing?

So, it is logical to drop the logic if it comes in the path of happiness. In other words, if there is a choice between logic and happiness, we should logically choose happiness.

I have observed it many times that if two parties are on the opposite sides in a debate, both the parties will have some logic on their sides. You’ll see it in almost all aspects of life: logic will exist on both sides of the line. Of course, you can spend time and use logic to figure out who is more logical. Most of the time, I believe it will be possible to figure out the more logical position. However – and it is a big HOWEVER – people hardly have the time or even such logical depth to correctly figure out the logical superiority of one position over the other. What do they do then? They choose one position that is more in line with their value system and have “faith” that it is more logical than the other. Then, they go on defending their faith of logical superiority, often by shouting or ignoring the logic of others.

In essence, I am saying logic is not infallible, and there is an element of “faith” in logic always. Just as we shouldn’t disrespect logic, we shouldn’t disrespect human emotions and faith.

Now, let’s look at faith.

Whenever we are less than 100% sure, we are having faith. Isn’t it? We devote 20 or more years of our life to education having faith that it will help us in the future. We have faith in our parents. All relations stand on faith. Rather, our entire future is based on faith since we cannot be 100% sure of anything. The degree of faith varies from situation to situation, depending on how much surety the logic can provide. However, faith is always existent. Besides, given that logic can always prove to be wrong, you need faith in logic. Isn’t it? What you deem as logical is logical only because you have believed (or have faith) in the logic. It may later turn out that your faith was misplaced, and the logic was actually wrong. Isn’t it?

So, faith is a very integral part of life. If you look at it, no relation can work without faith. Imagine doubting the intentions of your parents or better half or siblings every time. What would your life become? Faith helps us live peacefully and helps us build relationships with others. There cannot be any relationship without faith or trust. And what would be a life without any relationship?

However, people today are detesting or running away from faith because faith has been misused by a lot of people, especially in the religious and spiritual domains. However, the point is that everything has been misused by man: educational systems, political systems, economic systems, relationships, science, power etc. The question is: what has not been misused by man?

So, while we have to be cautious while exercising faith, we shouldn’t run away from faith.

Now, my question is for Sikhs: isn’t it safe to trust Gurbani? Isn’t it safer to trust Gurbani than any other source?

If we can trust Gurbani, then why are we not following it in our daily lives? Why are we not following its message? Have we even understood the message of Gurbani? Have we even spent time trying to understand Gurbani? Or are we just too busy in chasing the trivial things in life?

Gurbani says:

  1. We are souls or divine rays, and thus, happiness, love, bliss, peace, compassion, kindness, and benevolence are our natural heritage
  2. Once we connect with our true self, we’ll be able to partake our natural heritage
  3. The path to connect with our true self is by
    1. Remembering Waheguru, who is our true self, through chanting the word “Waheguru”
    2. Listening to Kirtan
    3. Associating with holy people or spiritual aspirants
    4. Selfless service
    5. Inculcating virtues such as compassion, kindness, forgiveness, sweetness, humility etc

As we move closer to our true self, Gurbani says, we’ll have more and more joy, peace, and love in our life. If this is the way to endless joy and bliss, why are we running after the material pursuits while ignoring our true nature? Why don’t we get our priorities right? Isn’t our top most priority joy and happiness? Or has it become social acceptance and greed? If our top most priority is joy, then shouldn’t we turn inward and walk on the path of Gurbani?

Don’t you think that just listening to and chanting Gurbani won’t help unless we use it in our daily lives, just as repeating a theory doesn’t help till we use it practically? I am not saying Gurbani is just theory; if it sung with love and faith, it’ll generate a force within you that will drive you to act virtuously. However, just mechanical repetition won’t do anything.

Just saying that we have faith in Gurbani doesn’t mean anything till we live our life according to it. We can’t cheat ourselves. But we are trying to. And given the state of our lives, it is not helping.

Let’s gather some courage and faith and try to understand and walk on the path of Gurbani. Guru Sahib will guide us and send us his power to continue on the path of joy, peace, and love.

Dhan Guru Nanak!

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