Rationalizing the Transcendent

The discussion on the rationality of a transcendent being continues unabated over at PseudoPolymath. Mark and Jim continue to wrangle over whether it is possible or necessary to determine whether God is rational. The discussion has sidelined into issues of theodicy and Romans 9, prompting Mark to provide this treatment of the difficult passage.

Work and sickness have kept me away from blogging, and the discussion has consequently moved beyond me, but I thought I would offer a few reflections. In his concise reply to my post, my brother asked this provocative question: “if transcendent thoughts are “utterly other,” how is it possible to judge them “not irrational?”” The question is beautifully framed, and difficult to answer. Mark and Keith’s replies are, I think, spot on. But, as Chesterton understood, there are thoughts that stop thought, and I think my brother has hit on one. If the transcendant thoughts are not rational, then it seems any rational basis for judging anything is lost. If the fundamental reality of the world is will, rather than reason, then all reason can be reduced to the irrational will that undergirds all. The end result is that the stopping point for any question will not be a rational stopping point, but rather an irrational power. Because there is no Answer that will make sense of the universe, there can be no answers that will make sense of our experience.
The ability to question well–to ask and hope for answers–depends upon a logos at the center of the universe. The fact that we do question indicates that we are looking for answers that make sense–that rationally explain the reality. The question itself, as with all questions, seems to point to the rational structure of the universe. The question is its own answer.

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