Let’s try to pick up where I left off yesterday. Since this isn’t meant to be an apologetics blog, nor one which lays on the philosophy in thick fashion, I’m not particularly interested in rehearsing the arguments for why I think it is more rational to believe in God than not. But to give one example, St. Thomas Aquinas thought that the mere fact that there was any causal regularity at all in the world was evidence that there was some mind-like agent carefully guiding things. I’m inclined to agree, although I think that most moderns react to the fact that things generally happen in an orderly fashion with demystification (or, if they’re a bit more clever, they might mention something about it not being a valid question to ask why there is regularity).
Anyway, although I’m no relativist, it is true that our cultural upbringing does to some extent influence our perception of reality. A few centuries ago, what was once called natural philosophy started methodologically focusing on those aspects of reality that are quantifiable, those things that can be predicted and manipulated. Naturally, zeroing in on that aspect made us more adept at predicting and manipulating things, so you have scientific and technological advance. That aspect of our perception becomes more pronounced.
But, if there are aspects of reality that aren’t captured by this methodology, then turning our attention away from them would dull our perception of them. And then we start reading our own perceptions backwards in history (“they posited God because they didn’t understand how things work in the world as well as we do”). Because someone growing up in secularized western society today is more conditioned to see the predictable and manipulable, Aquinas’ puzzlement over causal regularity somewhat escapes him because to reach that point is to reach the limits of the predictable/manipulable and hence the limits of the real. On this mindset, God can only be understood as a hypothesis of something existing within the predictable/manipulable and not as something behind it.
To kind of sum up where I’m going with this line of thought: The Medievals et al. thought that a sizable amount of knowledge regarding the existence and nature of God was knowable through pure reason. Us moderns tend to think that they were either being arrogant about what they could know or were otherwise being led on a red herring by misinformation. My claim is that this split is rather because we have lost touch with certain aspects of existence which they had a more intuitive grasp of.
This is part of why the fact that the world makes sense pointed me towards theism. The rationality of the world does not remove its enchantment, and I am quite comfortable in a world where angels, demons and miracles exist alongside all the quarks, neutrons and electrons.
This line of thought will have to be continued I suppose.