I am pleased that you followed up on this post. I myself the last few days have contemplated writing back to George once more about this very question, for though it was asked twice previously George never did answer it directly. The reason I think this question to be important is because it seems to me to reveal an essential difference between Plato and Christianity. In fact, would we not have to say that if belief is irrational, then it would be logically impossible to be a serious student of Plato and a Christian at the same time? But, before we go any further and lose sight of the question again, which you, John, have now also asked, let us see what George has to say. So, George, is belief irrational?
I'm trying to understand what you mean by the terms rational and irrational. If you mean that faith can be proved, then faith, as many things (e.g. is Beethoven greater than Bizet? It can not be proved), is irrational. If you mean that a faith is grounded on reason, then it is rational. E.g. Marx explained faith as a drug. In the same way, one may choose (or choose to keep) that faith and not another, because of various reasons. I thought all of this was clear in previous answers and I don't know what is it that you can't understand.
As for Plato, enough have been said, I think, on how himself doesn't regard reasoning as able to prove everything, and himself offers various beliefs that he doesn't prove. Is he a bad student of himself? If he is not, then a Christian can study also Plato without any problem, and we have many good students of Plato who are Christian.
Let me just remind also once again, that a Christian doesn't believe blindly. Beyond the various reasons that made him get closer to this and not another faith, he is also in expectation of his encounter with the living Christ, Whom many saints have seen and see even in our days, in this life already, before they die. That means, he is not attached to an ideology, his faith is justified only if it is proved by this encounter.
Long time ago I used to thank God for being a Greek and a Christian. I don't do that now, although I enjoy both of these gifts even more. This change happened when I understood that I was not "lucky", that God doesn't prefer this person to another, which means that He gives everyone what is best for him. Why is better for this child to be born in a Muslim family and not in a Christian family? It is better, if that child wants to be a Muslim. How can a child want to be a Muslim. Plato says that a man chooses the way of his life before he is born. Whether we agree that Plato's belief is true, or that God has fore-knowledge of who we are going to become, in both cases our road is not a matter of "luck", but what we have chosen.
Though I am sure you do not want to hear this, George, and though well you might not hear this, and though I really do not want to be writing this, still, I am convinced that it must be said one more time not only for the sake of ourselves but also for any of the readers of this site who might be following this particular link.
On the one hand, George, you can not be a Christian unless first and foremost and above all else you believe, for it is in the very act of believing that one becomes a Christian and is defined as such. And, too, according to Christian doctrine you certainly will not be saved from going to hell (another belief itself, however motivating) unless you believe in Christ. (Isn't it interesting how it is structured that it is necessary to hold the one belief to save you from the other belief). Now though you may find and quote some minor variations here and there in an attempt to appear reasonable, it can not be denied that this necessity of believing in a specific belief is the bottom line of western mainline Christianity.
On the other hand, George, if you are a serious student of Plato, you can not in all honesty hold belief above reason, value belief more than reason, for belief is irrational, for belief is untrustworthy and belongs to the lesser functions of the soul along with images, with opinion, with imagination, with the dream, and with the senses, as Plato so clearly shows in his example of the divided line in the Republic, which you seem to have completely forgotten, George, maybe because it is there Plato specifically states that belief is below intellect, that belief is below reason, and that belief is not even part of the intellectual section of the line, but rather part of the lower section of the line specified for images, where it is placed just above imagination, just above the dream. Too, this is where Plato also equates these four divisions of the line to the four faculties of the soul, in the same order, with intellect at the top followed by reason, and then with belief below that just above imagination. Do you remember that, George? Does it not seem to conflict with the emphasis of belief in Christianity?
Too, which again you seem to have a difficult time remembering, George, in the Republic Plato cleary reveals reason as the higher part of the soul, as the rational principle of the soul, which, because of its rational nature, because it uses reason, is what leads the soul when the soul is temperate. But it would appear that your belief in Christianity has got in you way of remembering Plato to such a degree that you no longer know what rational and irrational even mean, and that in regards to reason, you can only remember Plato mentioning it vaguely in the 7th Epistle, or that he used it some time to examine statements.
So, does soundness of mind come from belief? From believing? Can we say that the more one believes the sounder one’s mind becomes? Or maybe one’s mind only becomes sound from a specific belief, say the belief in Christ, but becomes unsound with the belief in Mohammad?
And so it would appear, George, that in your need to defend belief, which Plato has clearly revealed to be of the irrational part of the soul (whether you can remember reading it or not), you have tossed Plato out the window by ignoring or conveniently forgetting that Plato places reason, the rational principle, as the highest part of the soul, and clearly states that it is what should lead the soul, not belief, not desire, not wishes, not imagination. By making an irrational aspect of the soul, belief, the part of the soul that leads, the soul will then always have to filter everything through that belief, through that irrationality, and as such the soul herself will never become rational, will never have reason as her guide and leader, but will always be irrational.
It is obvious, George that you can sit on the fence and pretend to be a Christian and a student of Plato only so long as no conflict arises, only so long as you do not look too closely at Plato, or as long as no one challenges you. But, as you have shown in this discussion, you can not play both sides equally when your beliefs are held accountable against reason, when you are confronted with Plato, for what has happened is that you have sorely treated Plato, you have demeaned him and devalued his works. Also, in doing this, you have shamed yourself, for you have acted in an irrational manner like you no longer remember or no longer understand all that you have read about Plato, and not only all that you read but also all that you have stated numerous times before in many other postings on this site. And too, if I may say so, George, by sitting on the fence, by responding as you have, you have also poorly represented your faith.
It is little wonder that you think enough has been said on this post. I certainly agree with you.
I would take the teachings of God himself any day over those of a man, however wise.
How do i know Christ is God? Because he showed himself to us. Thats as plain and simple as it gets. He came to us himself; and as clear as day he said: "I am the way, the truth and the light".
This is proven in the Bible, which is an extremely accurate historical document... There is no doubt that Jesus Christ taught and said these things...
Then one might say that Jesus was crazy, that he only 'believed' himself to be God; or that he was playing everyone on in some elaborate 'scam'.
For what reason? Would any person (however crazy) follow such a 'scam' of their's to the point of their own death?
Plato was wise, but by no means perfect, by no means God. (and to my knowledge never claimed to be)
Christ was sinless; the light of the world; through whom we are all saved.
Is it irrational to claim that the only way to heaven is though Christ?
Not for God its not.
The doctor can perscribe the medicine, but it is the patient's choice whether to take it.
I would consider myself a serious student of Plato (although just starting to be); as, i would believe, does George. But does being a serious student of Plato mean taking everything he teaches, and fitting it into some sort of 'religion'? You assume everything Plato teaches to be 'perfect'? How do you assume this? Through reason? The reasoning of a human being? Who's nature is govorned by instinct and desire.
I would take the word of God, over the word of a human any day.
As i said this is just my opinion, and i mean no disrespect to Plato, or to you Niel. This is just my two-cents in our discussion. :)