Freudians and political radicals, along with a great many people who would see themselves as neither, are aware that without reason we are sunk, but that reason, even so, is not in the end what is most fundamental about us. Richard Dawkins claims with grandiloquent folly that religious faith dispenses with reason altogether, which wasn’t true even of the dim-witted authoritarian clerics who knocked me around at grammar school. Without reason, we perish; but reason does not go all the way down. It is not wall to wall. Even Richard Dawkins lives more by faith than by reason. There are even those uncharitable observers who have detected the mildest whiff of obsessive irrationalism in his zealous campaign for secular rationality. His anti-religious zeal makes the Gran Inquisitor look like a soggy liberal.
There are big questions science doesn’t answer, such as why is there something rather than nothing? There can’t be a scientific answer to that because it’s the answer that precedes science. There are all sorts of questions like that which at the periphery of scientific inquiry but which wiggle in the mind like worms: the question “what am I, what is this word ‘I’”? Does it refer to anything? If you try to capture the “I”, you don’t capture it, you capture the object, in which case it’s a nothing, but it’s a nothing on which everything depends. But this nothing on which everything depends thinks of itself as free. This is a philosophical question that worries everyone, but you can’t formulate it.
Faith is as instinctive as breathing; skepticism at long last is an affront. People not only want to believe; they do believe something or someone. If they do not believe in God, they try to believe in success or in themselves. When faith in Christ is thwarted or shelved, faith does not cease; as well might a man resolve not to breathe. No, he then sets his faith on gadgets or Hitler or scientism. Modern man, while repudiating the “sentimentalism” of religious belief, may have sold out to a vast fiction; perhaps he worships his own arguments as the final test of truth.