The Hope That I Have: Faith and Reason

“All truth is God’s truth” – Arthur F. Holmes

Original Post: December 29, 2011

A number of years ago, when I started to finally take my faith more seriously, I was assailed on all fronts concerning the rationality of it (not so much from people but from my own mind). I had heard of the challenges before, but had never been compelled to take them on intellectually. Some of the challenges were philosophical, some scientific. Others were historical, and some were emotional. On the scientific side of things, the belief held by many today is that faith and reason, or at least religious belief and science, are mutually exclusive. I’ve never believed this, and still don’t.

Reason and faith are not mutually exclusive. They can’t be. All rational belief is based in a faith (trust) of some kind; therefore reason presumes faith. In fact, this is the very basis of the scientific method. Science presumes on faith that the world surrounding us is intelligible and that truths can be drawn from its analysis.

6937142431_516b364032_nHere’s a more pragmatic example. You trust, in faith, that the next time you step in to your car it will not fall out from under your weight. Some now argue that you have rational grounds for believing that your car will support your weight – and they’re right. Based on rational grounds, you trust that your car will support you, but you can’t prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt, so you trust. So there is an element of trust that work
s with your rational cognitions. I would content that this is true for almost every aspect of your life as you know it. You are always basing decisions you make and positions you hold on both faith and reason.

You also cannot scientifically prove anything. Outside perhaps mathematical proofs of certain relationships, no scientific “fact” is proven. They are simply well-founded. One has much reason to believe something based on the given verified evidence, but we really can’t be 100% certain of anything. This is assumed in the scientific method. Even the outspoken atheist and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins states in his book “The God Delusion” that he would on a 7-point scale consider himself only a 6, where 7 would be a position of more absolute certainty that God does not exist (The God Delusion, p. 51).

With that said, don’t religious people in general and maybe Christians in particular believe in things that are not rationally grounded at all, and based purely in faith? I think it’s a fair question, mostly because I do think there are many a religious person who don’t think through what they claim to believe. They have a sort of blind faith, or what you might call faith without reason. Though I could go on about the specifics, I think for now I’ll focus on how things should be, as opposed to how they sometimes are. I would now contend that biblical Christianity is not to be of blind faith. I believe this not only because I think my faith is rationally grounded (and it would make sense that if God gave us brains he gave them to us to use them), but because the Bible teaches it. What is the great commandment? To “…love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37, emphasis added). The apostle Paul wrote that “… if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile… we of all men are to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:16). Christianity is founded on truths like the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and its truthfulness is assumed throughout the Bible; it is therefore not to be believed on untruthful or irrational bases.4355587247_c0d854d5f4_n

There’s so much to say on this topic, so I’m sure I’ll cover it in more depth in the future. If you have any questions or contentions I’d be glad to hear them out and address them either here or personally, so don’t be afraid to message or text or whatever.

If you have any particulars you want discussed or questions you have or have heard, send them my way.

 

Corey

“I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Jesus Christ,  John 14:6

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