Religion A4: Aquinas - Faith and Reason
St. Thomas Aquinas was the greatest medieval philosopher. deals with a short reading from Aquinas about the relationship between faith and reason. to anyone by experience and logic alone, apart from any special revelation from God. St. Anselm; Peter Lombard; Islamic Philosophers; Jewish Philosophy; St. Revelation is either direct, through some kind of direct infusion, or indirect, usually from .. Aquinas also elucidates the relationship between faith and reason on the. By this Revelation, then, the deepest truth about God and human . by reason; and it is in the Wisdom literature that this relationship is.
Faith and Reason
Woe is me, one of the poor children of Eve, far from God, what did I set out to do and what have I accomplished? What was I aiming for and how far have I got? What did I aspire to and what did I long for? O Lord, you are not only that than which nothing greater can be conceived non solum es quo maius cogitari nequitbut you are greater than all that can be conceived quiddam maius quam cogitari possit As absolute truth, it summons human beings to be open to the transcendent, whilst respecting both their autonomy as creatures and their freedom.
At this point the relationship between freedom and truth is complete, and we understand the full meaning of the Lord's words: Christian Revelation is the true lodestar of men and women as they strive to make their way amid the pressures of an immanentist habit of mind and the constrictions of a technocratic logic. It is the ultimate possibility offered by God for the human being to know in all its fullness the seminal plan of love which began with creation.
To those wishing to know the truth, if they can look beyond themselves and their own concerns, there is given the possibility of taking full and harmonious possession of their lives, precisely by following the path of truth.
Here the words of the Book of Deuteronomy are pertinent: It is not in heaven that you should say, 'Who will go up for us to heaven, and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it? This text finds an echo in the famous dictum of the holy philosopher and theologian Augustine: In interiore homine habitat veritas.
It appears instead as something gratuitous, which itself stirs thought and seeks acceptance as an expression of love. This revealed truth is set within our history as an anticipation of that ultimate and definitive vision of God which is reserved for those who believe in him and seek him with a sincere heart.
The ultimate purpose of personal existence, then, is the theme of philosophy and theology alike. Sacred Scripture indicates with remarkably clear cues how deeply related are the knowledge conferred by faith and the knowledge conferred by reason; and it is in the Wisdom literature that this relationship is addressed most explicitly.
What is striking about these biblical texts, if they are read without prejudice, is that they embody not only the faith of Israel, but also the treasury of cultures and civilizations which have long vanished. As if by special design, the voices of Egypt and Mesopotamia sound again and certain features common to the cultures of the ancient Near East come to life in these pages which are so singularly rich in deep intuition.
It is no accident that, when the sacred author comes to describe the wise man, he portrays him as one who loves and seeks the truth: He pursues her like a hunter and lies in wait on her paths. He peers through her windows and listens at her doors.
For the inspired writer, as we see, the desire for knowledge is characteristic of all people. It is true that ancient Israel did not come to knowledge of the world and its phenomena by way of abstraction, as did the Greek philosopher or the Egyptian sage. Still less did the good Israelite understand knowledge in the way of the modern world which tends more to distinguish different kinds of knowing. Nonetheless, the biblical world has made its own distinctive contribution to the theory of knowledge.
What is distinctive in the biblical text is the conviction that there is a profound and indissoluble unity between the knowledge of reason and the knowledge of faith. The world and all that happens within it, including history and the fate of peoples, are realities to be observed, analysed and assessed with all the resources of reason, but without faith ever being foreign to the process.
Faith intervenes not to abolish reason's autonomy nor to reduce its scope for action, but solely to bring the human being to understand that in these events it is the God of Israel who acts. Thus the world and the events of history cannot be understood in depth without professing faith in the God who is at work in them. Faith sharpens the inner eye, opening the mind to discover in the flux of events the workings of Providence. Here the words of the Book of Proverbs are pertinent: This is to say that with the light of reason human beings can know which path to take, but they can follow that path to its end, quickly and unhindered, only if with a rightly tuned spirit they search for it within the horizon of faith.
Therefore, reason and faith cannot be separated without diminishing the capacity of men and women to know themselves, the world and God in an appropriate way. There is thus no reason for competition of any kind between reason and faith: Again the Book of Proverbs points in this direction when it exclaims: In their respective worlds, God and the human being are set within a unique relationship.
In God there lies the origin of all things, in him is found the fullness of the mystery, and in this his glory consists; to men and women there falls the task of exploring truth with their reason, and in this their nobility consists. The Psalmist adds one final piece to this mosaic when he says in prayer: How vast is the sum of them!
If I try to count them, they are more than the sand. The desire for knowledge is so great and it works in such a way that the human heart, despite its experience of insurmountable limitation, yearns for the infinite riches which lie beyond, knowing that there is to be found the satisfying answer to every question as yet unanswered.
We may say, then, that Israel, with her reflection, was able to open to reason the path that leads to the mystery. With the Revelation of God Israel could plumb the depths of all that she sought in vain to reach by way of reason.
On the basis of this deeper form of knowledge, the Chosen People understood that, if reason were to be fully true to itself, then it must respect certain basic rules. For the Bible, in this foolishness there lies a threat to life. The fool thinks that he knows many things, but really he is incapable of fixing his gaze on the things that truly matter.
Therefore he can neither order his mind Prov 1: The Book of Wisdom contains several important texts which cast further light on this theme.
There the sacred author speaks of God who reveals himself in nature. For the ancients, the study of the natural sciences coincided in large part with philosophical learning. Making his own the thought of Greek philosophy, to which he seems to refer in the context, the author affirms that, in reasoning about nature, the human being can rise to God: If human beings with their intelligence fail to recognize God as Creator of all, it is not because they lack the means to do so, but because their free will and their sinfulness place an impediment in the way.
Seen in this light, reason is valued without being overvalued. The results of reasoning may in fact be true, but these results acquire their true meaning only if they are set within the larger horizon of faith: For the Old Testament, then, faith liberates reason in so far as it allows reason to attain correctly what it seeks to know and to place it within the ultimate order of things, in which everything acquires true meaning.
In brief, human beings attain truth by way of reason because, enlightened by faith, they discover the deeper meaning of all things and most especially of their own existence. Rightly, therefore, the sacred author identifies the fear of God as the beginning of true knowledge: For the Old Testament, knowledge is not simply a matter of careful observation of the human being, of the world and of history, but supposes as well an indispensable link with faith and with what has been revealed.
These are the challenges which the Chosen People had to confront and to which they had to respond. This opening to the mystery, which came to him through Revelation, was for him, in the end, the source of true knowledge. It was this which allowed his reason to enter the realm of the infinite where an understanding for which until then he had not dared to hope became a possibility.
For the sacred author, the task of searching for the truth was not without the strain which comes once the limits of reason are reached. This is what we find, for example, when the Book of Proverbs notes the weariness which comes from the effort to understand the mysterious designs of God cf.
Yet, for all the toil involved, believers do not surrender. Leaning on God, they continue to reach out, always and everywhere, for all that is beautiful, good and true.
In the first chapter of his Letter to the Romans, Saint Paul helps us to appreciate better the depth of insight of the Wisdom literature's reflection.
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Developing a philosophical argument in popular language, the Apostle declares a profound truth: This is to concede to human reason a capacity which seems almost to surpass its natural limitations. Not only is it not restricted to sensory knowledge, from the moment that it can reflect critically upon the data of the senses, but, by discoursing on the data provided by the senses, reason can reach the cause which lies at the origin of all perceptible reality.
In philosophical terms, we could say that this important Pauline text affirms the human capacity for metaphysical enquiry. According to the Apostle, it was part of the original plan of the creation that reason should without difficulty reach beyond the sensory data to the origin of all things: But because of the disobedience by which man and woman chose to set themselves in full and absolute autonomy in relation to the One who had created them, this ready access to God the Creator diminished.
The symbol is clear: The blindness of pride deceived our first parents into thinking themselves sovereign and autonomous, and into thinking that they could ignore the knowledge which comes from God.
All men and women were caught up in this primal disobedience, which so wounded reason that from then on its path to full truth would be strewn with obstacles. From that time onwards the human capacity to know the truth was impaired by an aversion to the One who is the source and origin of truth. The eyes of the mind were no longer able to see clearly: The coming of Christ was the saving event which redeemed reason from its weakness, setting it free from the shackles in which it had imprisoned itself.
This is why the Christian's relationship to philosophy requires thorough-going discernment. The depth of revealed wisdom disrupts the cycle of our habitual patterns of thought, which are in no way able to express that wisdom in its fullness.
The beginning of the First Letter to the Corinthians poses the dilemma in a radical way. The crucified Son of God is the historic event upon which every attempt of the mind to construct an adequate explanation of the meaning of existence upon merely human argumentation comes to grief.
The true key-point, which challenges every philosophy, is Jesus Christ's death on the Cross. It is here that every attempt to reduce the Father's saving plan to purely human logic is doomed to failure. Where is the learned? Where is the debater of this age?
Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? The wisdom of the wise is no longer enough for what God wants to accomplish; what is required is a decisive step towards welcoming something radically new: Human wisdom refuses to see in its own weakness the possibility of its strength; yet Saint Paul is quick to affirm: Adopting the language of the philosophers of his time, Paul comes to the summit of his teaching as he speaks the paradox: In order to express the gratuitous nature of the love revealed in the Cross of Christ, the Apostle is not afraid to use the most radical language of the philosophers in their thinking about God.
The Necessity for Revelation: A Primer on Summa Contra Gentiles 1, Chaps.
Reason cannot eliminate the mystery of love which the Cross represents, while the Cross can give to reason the ultimate answer which it seeks. It is not the wisdom of words, but the Word of Wisdom which Saint Paul offers as the criterion of both truth and salvation. The wisdom of the Cross, therefore, breaks free of all cultural limitations which seek to contain it and insists upon an openness to the universality of the truth which it bears.
What a challenge this is to our reason, and how great the gain for reason if it yields to this wisdom! The preaching of Christ crucified and risen is the reef upon which the link between faith and philosophy can break up, but it is also the reef beyond which the two can set forth upon the boundless ocean of truth. Here we see not only the border between reason and faith, but also the space where the two may meet. The city of philosophers was full of statues of various idols.
One altar in particular caught his eye, and he took this as a convenient starting-point to establish a common base for the proclamation of the kerygma. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, 'To an unknown god'. From this starting-point, Saint Paul speaks of God as Creator, as the One who transcends all things and gives life to all.
Aquinas: Philosophical Theology
He then continues his speech in these terms: The Apostle accentuates a truth which the Church has always treasured: The Liturgy of Good Friday recalls this powerfully when, in praying for those who do not believe, we say: In different ways and at different times, men and women have shown that they can articulate this intimate desire of theirs.
Through literature, music, painting, sculpture, architecture and every other work of their creative intelligence they have declared the urgency of their quest. In a special way philosophy has made this search its own and, with its specific tools and scholarly methods, has articulated this universal human desire. Everyday life shows how concerned each of us is to discover for ourselves, beyond mere opinions, how things really are. Within visible creation, man is the only creature who not only is capable of knowing but who knows that he knows, and is therefore interested in the real truth of what he perceives.
People cannot be genuinely indifferent to the question of whether what they know is true or not. If they discover that it is false, they reject it; but if they can establish its truth, they feel themselves rewarded.
It is this that Saint Augustine teaches when he writes: This is what has driven so many enquiries, especially in the scientific field, which in recent centuries have produced important results, leading to genuine progress for all humanity.
No less important than research in the theoretical field is research in the practical field—by which I mean the search for truth which looks to the good which is to be performed.
In acting ethically, according to a free and rightly tuned will, the human person sets foot upon the path to happiness and moves towards perfection. Here too it is a question of truth. The truth of these values is to be found not by turning in on oneself but by opening oneself to apprehend that truth even at levels which transcend the person.
This is an essential condition for us to become ourselves and to grow as mature, adult persons. The truth comes initially to the human being as a question: Does life have a meaning? Where is it going? At first sight, personal existence may seem completely meaningless. It is not necessary to turn to the philosophers of the absurd or to the provocative questioning found in the Book of Job in order to have doubts about life's meaning. Too many Christians ground God in reason instead of reason in God.
God is creator of the human race, therefore all reason must be His servant. This view is correct in an ontological sense. Revelation is prior to reason ontologically. Before one can reason about revelation and truth, they must know it. Surely one cannot reason about something they do not know. Apart from God giving us revelation, human reason as incited by the fallen nature, will naturally lead to error. God is superior to all things, including human reason.
This view's weakness is that it tends to belittle human reason, commonly viewing it as an enemy to God. It does not give enough attention to man's reason as part of the image of God in us, and something which should be utilized to its fullest extent, but within the limits of revelation.
Revelation and Reason Augustine held that one can reason for revelation, but never against it. The thinking Christian should attempt to render the credible intelligible. He based this off of the Septuagint reading of Isaiah 7: No one should believe a revelation which he has not first judged by reason to be worthy of belief.
A partial understanding is necessary for one to know by reason in order to believe, but after believing, a fuller understanding will come. Ultimately, man must accept by faith that which can be proved by reason, and that which cannot.
Thomas Aquinas believed in the total depravity of man, but still believed that our human rationality was not destroyed altogether. If it was destroyed altogether, he reasoned, we would no longer be capable of sinning, or at least being held accountable for our sins. The best that reason can do for us is demonstrate that God exists, but divine revelation is the only ground for believing in God. Reason leads to our belief that something is truth, while revelation is the only basis for belief in that truth.
Even the Scripture says that demons believe that God exists, but they do not believe in God James 2: Even though one cannot reason to belief in God, he can find reasons for it.
The believer finds reasonable support for his faith in experiential and historical evidences and miracles, and philosophy.
Yet reason is prior to faith personally; for one does not believe in God or His alleged Word if he has no evidence that it is true. This view's strength is found in that it gives proper emphasis to both reason and revelation, understanding that each work together to bring the believer truth and understanding. Without reason the concept of faith is belittled to a mere confession or dogmatic commitment to a list of non-intelligible "facts.
Conclusion Seeing that God has the ability to reason, and we are made in His image, it follows that God has intended for us to use our reasoning ability to discover and contemplate truth. Many truths, however, can only come via revelation. Revelation and reason cannot be separated from the life of the Christian. They call upon our reasoning abilities to prove that their view is correct. On the flip-side, any attempt at pure rationalism divorced from revelation is also futile because not everything can be proved.
Something is always presupposed or simply believed behind every provable belief. Justification, which comes by reason, must stop somewhere. How can we do such discerning apart from reason, even if it is reasoning from the Scriptures?
It must be remembered that there is a difference between reasoning to see whether something is revelation, or to determine what in the Bible is revelation. Yet faith is "free belief": Like Spinoza, Kant makes all theology moral theology.
Since faith transcends the world of experience, it is neither doubtful nor merely probable. Thus Kant's view of faith is complex: He provided a religion grounded without revelation or grace.
It ushered in new immanentism in rational views of belief. Hegel, at the peak of German Idealismtook up Kant's immanentism but moved it in a more radical direction. He claimed that in Kant, "philosophy has made itself the handmaid of a faith once more" though one not externally imposed but autonomously constituted. Hegel approved of the way Kant helped to modify the Enlightenment's dogmatic emphasis on the empirical world, particularly as evidenced in the way Locke turned philosophy into empirical psychology.
But though Kant held to an "idealism of the finite," Hegel thought that Kant did not extend his idealism far enough. Kant's regulative view of reason was doomed to regard faith and knowledge as irrevocably opposed. Hegel argued that a further development of idealism shows have faith and knowledge are related and synthesized in the Absolute.
Hegel reinterpreted the traditional proofs for God's existence, rejected by Kant, as authentic expressions of the need of finite spirit to elevate itself to oneness with God. In religion this attempt to identify with God is accomplished through feeling. Feelings are, however, subject to conflict and opposition. But they are not merely subjective.
The content of God enters feeling such that the feeling derives its determination from this content. Thus faith, implanted in one's heart, can be defended by the testimony of the indwelling spirit of truth.
Hegel's thoroughgoing rationalism ultimate yields a form of panentheism in which all finite beings, though distinct from natural necessity, have no existence independent from it. Thus faith is merely an expression of a finitude comprehensible only from the rational perspective of the infinite. Faith is merely a moment in our transition to absolute knowledge. The Nineteenth Century Physics and astronomy were the primary scientific concerns for theologians in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
But in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the sciences of geology, sociology, psychology, and biology became more pronounced. Kant's understanding of God as a postulate of practical reason - and his dismissal of metaphysical and empirical support for religion -- soon led to the idea that God could be a mere projection of practical feeling or psychological impulse.
Such an idea echoed Hobbes's claim that religion arises from fear and superstition. Sigmund Freud claimed, for example, that religious beliefs were the result of the projection of a protective father figure onto our life situations.
Although such claims about projection seem immune from falsification, the Freudian could count such an attempt to falsify itself simply as rationalization: The nineteenth century biological development most significant for theology was Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection. It explained all human development on the basis simply of progressive adaptation or organisms to their physical environment. No reference to a mind or rational will was required to explain any human endeavor.
Darwin himself once had believed in God and the immortality of the soul.8. Faith and Reason: Aquinas
But later he found that these could not count as evidence for the existence of God. He ended up an agnostic. On the one hand he felt compelled to affirm a First Cause of such an immense and wonderful universe and to reject blind chance or necessity, but on the other hand he remained skeptical of the capacities of humans "developed from a mind as low as that possessed by the lowest animals.
Not all nineteenth century scientific thinking, however, yielded skeptical conclusions. He concluded that the cultic practices of religion have the non-illusory quality of producing measurable good consequences in their adherents.
Moreover, he theorized that the fundamental categories of thought, and even of science, have religious origins.
Almost all the great social institutions were born of religion. He was lead to claim that "the idea of society is the soul of religion": In the context of these various scientific developments, philosophical arguments about faith and reason developed in several remarkable directions in the nineteenth century. Romanticism Friedrich Schleiermacher was a liberal theologian who was quite interested in problems of biblical interpretation.
He claimed that religion constituted its own sphere of experience, unrelated to scientific knowledge. Thus religious meaning is independent of scientific fact. His Romantic fideism would have a profound influence on Kierkegaard. Socialism Karl Marx is well known as an atheist who had strong criticisms of all religious practice. Much of his critique of religion had been derived from Ludwig Feuerbach, who claimed that God is merely a psychological projection meant to compensate for the suffering people feel.
Revelation And Reason - Unification Theology - Young Oon Kim
Rejecting wholesale the validity of such wishful thinking, Marx claimed not only that all sufferings are the result of economic class struggle but that they could be alleviated by means of a Communist revolution that would eliminate economic classes altogether. Moreover, Marx claimed that religion was a fundamental obstacle to such a revolution, since it was an "opiate" that kept the masses quiescent.
Religious beliefs thus arise from a cognitive malfunction: He came up with an unequivocal view of faith and reason much like Tertullian's strong incompatibilism.
If Kant argued for religion within the limits of reason alone, Kierkegaard called for reason with the limits of religion alone.
Faith requires a leap. All arguments that reason derives for a proof of God are in fact viciously circular: Hegel tried to claim that faith could be elevated to the status of objective certainty.
Seeking such certainly, moreover, Kierkegaard considered a trap: The radical trust of faith is the highest virtue one can reach. Kierkegaard claimed that all essential knowledge intrinsically relates to an existing individual. The aesthetic is the life that seeks pleasure. The ethical is that which stresses the fulfillment of duties. Neither of these attains to the true individuality of human existence.
But in the ethico-religious sphere, truth emerges in the authenticity of the relationship between a person and the object of his attention. With authenticity, the importance is on the "how," not the "what," of knowledge. It attains to a subjective truth, in which the sincerity and intensity of the commitment is key. This authenticity is equivalent to faith understood as "an objective uncertainty held fast in an appropriation-process of the most passionate inwardness.
Kierkegaard makes a similarly paradoxical claim in holding that "nothing historical can become infinitely certain for me except the fact of my own existence which again cannot become infinitely certain for any other individual, who has infinite certainty only of his own existence and this is not something historical.
Faith involves a submission of the intellect. It is not only hostile to but also completely beyond the grasp of reason. Though he never read Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche came up with remarkable parallels to his thought. Both stressed the centrality of the individual, a certain disdain for public life, and a hatred of personal weakness and anonymity. They also both attacked certain hypocrisies in Christendom and the overstated praise for reason in Kant and Hegel.
But Nietzsche had no part of Kierkegaard's new Christian individual, and instead defended the aesthetic life disdained by Kierkegaard against both morality and Christianity. So he critique religion not from Kierkegaard's epistemological perspective, but from a highly original moral perspective.
Nietzsche claimed that religion breeds hostility to life, understood broadly as will to power. Religion produces two types of character: In The Joyful Wisdom Nietzsche proclaims that God as a protector of the weak, though once alive, is now dead, and that we have rightly killed him. Now, instead, he claims that we instead need to grasp the will to power that is part of all things and guides them to their full development completely within the natural world.
For humans Nietzsche casts the will to power as a force of artistic and creative energy. Catholic Apologists Roman Catholics traditionally claimed that the task of reason was to make faith intelligible. In the later part of the nineteenth century, John Cardinal Newman worked to defend the power of reason against those intellectuals of his day who challenged its efficacy in matters of faith.
Though maintaining the importance of reason in matters of faith, he reduces its ability to arrive at absolute certainties. In his Grammar of Assent, Newman argued that one assents to God on the basis of one's experience and principles.
And one can do this by means of a kind of rational demonstration. And yet this demonstration is not actually reproducible by others; each of us has a unique domain of experience and expertise.
Some are just given the capacity and opportunities to make this assent to what is demonstrated others are not. Drawing for Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, Newman argues that "a special preparation of mind is required for each separate department of inquiry and discussion.
He claims that Locke, for example, overlooked how human nature actually works, imposing instead his own idea of how the mind is to act on the basis of deduction from evidence. If Locke would have looked more closely at experience, he would have noticed that much of our reasoning is tacit and informal. It cannot usually be reconstructed for a set of premises. Rather it is the accumulation of probabilities, independent of each other, arising out of the circumstances of the particular case.
No specific consideration usually suffices to generate the required conclusion, but taken together, they may converge upon it. This is usually what is called a moral proof for belief in a proposition. In fact, we are justified in holding the beliefs even after we have forgotten what the warrant was. This probabilistic approach to religious assent continued in the later thinking of Basil Mitchell.
Pragmatists held that all beliefs must be tested, and those that failed to garner sufficient practical value ought to be discarded. In his Will to Believe, James was a strong critic of W. Clifford, like Hume, had argued that acting on beliefs or convictions alone, unsupported by evidence, was pure folly.
He likened such acting to that of an irresponsible shipowner who allows an untrustworthy ship to be ready to set sail, merely thinking it safe, and then gives "benevolent wishes" for those who would set sail in it.
Clifford concluded that we have a duty to act only on well founded beliefs. If we have no grounds for belief, we must suspend judgment. This provided the basis for an ethics of belief quite different than Newman's. Clifford's evidentialism inspired subsequent philosophers such as Bertrand Russell and Michael Scriven. James argued, pace Clifford, that life would be severely impoverished if we acted only on completely well founded beliefs.
Like Newman, James held that belief admits of a wide spectrum of commitment: The feelings that attach to a belief are significant. He defended the need we have, at times, to allow our "passional tendencies" to influence our judgments. Thus, like Pascal, he took up a voluntarist argument for religious belief, though one not dependent solely upon a wager.
There are times, admittedly few, when we must act on our beliefs passionately held but without sufficient supporting evidence. These rare situations must be both momentous, once in a lifetime opportunities, and forced, such that the situation offers the agent only two options: Religious beliefs often take on both of these characteristics.
Pascal had realized the forced aspect of Christian belief, regarding salvation: God would not save the disbeliever. As a result, religion James claimed that a religious belief could be a genuine hypothesis for a person to adopt.
James does, however, also give some evidential support for this choice to believe. We have faith in many things in life -- in molecules, conversation of energy, democracy, and so forth -- that are based on evidence of their usefulness for us. But even in these cases "Our faith is faith in some one else's faith.
Nonetheless, James believed that while philosophers like Descartes and Clifford, not wanting to ever be dupes, focused primarily on the need to avoid error, even to the point of letting truth take its chance, he as an empiricist must hold that the pursuit of truth is paramount and the avoidance of error is secondary. His position entailed that that dupery in the face of hope is better than dupery in the face of fear.
In "The Sentiment of Rationality" James concludes that faith is "belief in something concerning which doubt is still theoretically possible; and as the test of belief is willingness to act, one may say that faith is the readiness to act in a cause the prosperous issue of which is not certified to us in advance.
Faith is oriented towards action: The Twentieth Century Darwins's scientific thesis of natural selection and Freud's projective views of God continued to have a profound impact on many aspects of the philosophy of religion in the twentieth century.
In fact the interplay between faith and reason began to be cast, in many cases, simply as the conflict between science and religion. Not all scientific discoveries were used to invoke greater skepticism about the validity of religious claims, however. For example, in the late twentieth century some physicists endorsed what came to be called the anthropic principle. The principle derives from the claim of some physicists that a number of factors in the early universe had to coordinate in a highly statistically improbable way to produce a universe capable of sustaining advanced life forms.
Among the factors are the mass of the universe and the strengths of the four basic forces electromagnetism, gravitation, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. It is difficult to explain this fine tuning. Many who adhere to the anthropic principle, such as Holmes Rolston, John Leslie, and Stephen Hawking, argue that it demands some kind of extra-natural explanation.
Some think it suggests possibilities for a new design argument for God's existence. However, one can hold the anthropic principle and still deny that it has religious implications.
It is possible to argue that it indicates not a single creator creating a single universe, but indeed many universes, either contemporaneous with our own or in succession to it.
The twentieth century witnessed numerous attempts to reconcile religious belief with new strands of philosophical thinking and with new theories in science. Logical Positivism and Its Critics Many philosophers of religion in the twentieth century took up a new appreciation for the scope and power of religious language. This was prompted to a large extent by the emphasis on conceptual clarity that dominated much Western philosophy, particularly early in the century.
This emphasis on conceptual clarity was evidenced especially in logical positivism. Ayer and Antony Flew, for example, argued that all metaphysical language fails to meet a standard of logical coherence and is thus meaningless. Metaphysical claims are not in principle falsifiable.
As such, their claims are neither true nor false. They make no verifiable reference to the world. Religious language shares these characteristics with metaphysical language. Flew emphasized that religious believers generally cannot even state the conditions under which they would give up their faith claims. Since their claims then are unfalsifiable, they are not objects for rational determination. One response by compatibilists to these arguments of logical positivists was to claim that religious beliefs, though meaningless in the verificational sense, are nonetheless important in providing the believer with moral motivations and self-understanding.
This is an anti-realist understanding of faith. An example of this approach is found in R. Responding to Flew, he admitted that religious faith consists of a set of unfalsifiable assumptions, which he termed "bliks.
Basil Mitchell responded to Flew's claim that religious beliefs cannot be falsified. Mitchell argued that although rational and scientific considerations can and ought at times to prompt revisions of one's religious belief, no one can give a general determination of exactly at what point a set of evidence ought to count decisively against a faith claim.
It is up to each believer to decide when this occurs. To underscore this claim, Mitchell claimed that the rationality of religious beliefs ought to be determined not foundationally, as deductions from rational first principles, but collectively from the gathering of various types of evidence into a pattern. Nonetheless, he realized that this accumulation of evidence, as the basis for a new kind of natural theology, might not be strong enough to counter the skeptic.
In the spirit of Newman, Mitchell concluded by defending a highly refined cumulative probabilism in religious belief. Another reaction against logical positivism stemmed from Ludwig Wittgenstein.
In his "Lectures on Religious Belief," he argued that there is something unique about the linguistic framework of religious believers. Their language makes little sense to outsiders. Thus one has to share in their form of life in order to understand the way the various concepts function in their language games. The various language games form a kind of "family resemblance. From Wittgenstein's perspective, science and religion are just two different types of language games.
This demand to take on an internal perspective in order to assess religious beliefs commits Wittgenstein to a form of incompatibilism between faith and reason. Interpreters of Wittgenstein, like Norman Malcolm, claimed that although this entails that religious beliefs are essentially groundless, so are countless other everyday beliefs, such as in the permanence of our objects of perception, in the uniformity of nature, and even in our knowledge of our own intentions.
Wittgenstein, like Kierkegaard, claimed that proofs for God's existence have little to do with actual belief in God. He did think that life itself could "educate" us about God's existence. In Culture and Value he claims that sufferings can have a great impact on one's beliefs. Experiences, thoughts--life can force this concept on us. Phillips also holds the view that religion has its own unique criteria for acceptable belief.
John Hickin Faith and Knowledge, modifies the Wittgensteinian idea of forms of life to analyze faith claims in a novel manner. Hick claimed that this could shed light upon the epistemological fides analysis of faith. From such an analysis follows the non-epistemological thinking fiducia that guides actual practice. Taking up the epistemological analysis, Hick first criticizes the voluntarisms of Pascal and James as "remote from the state of mind of such men as the great prophets.
Hick argues instead for the importance of rational certainty in faith. He posits that there are as many types of grounds for rational certainty as there are kinds of objects of knowledge. He claims that religious beliefs share several crucial features with any empirical claim: Nonetheless, Hick realizes that there are important ways in which sense beliefs and religious beliefs are distinct: In fact, it may in fact be rational for a person who has not had experiences that compel belief to withhold belief in God.
From these similarities and differences between faith claims and claims of reason, Hick concludes that religious faith is the noninferential and unprovable basic interpretation either of a moral or religious "situational significance" in human experience.
Faith is not the result of logical reasoning, but rather a profession that God "as a living being" has entered into the believer's experience. This act of faith situates itself in the person's material and social environment. Religious faith interprets reality in terms of the divine presence within the believer's human experience. Although the person of faith may be unable to prove or explain this divine presence, his or her religious belief still acquire the status of knowledge similar to that of scientific and moral claims.
Thus even if one could prove God's existence, this fact alone would be a form of knowledge neither necessary nor sufficient for one's faith. It would at best only force a notional assent. Believers live by not by confirmed hypotheses, but by an intense, coercive, indubitable experience of the divine.
Sallie McFague, in Models of God, argues that religious thinking requires a rethinking of the ways in which religious language employs metaphor. Religious language is for the most part neither propositional nor assertoric. Rather, it functions not to render strict definitions, but to give accounts.
To say, for example, "God is mother," is neither to define God as a mother nor to assert an identity between them, but rather to suggest that we consider what we do not know how to talk about--relating to God - through the metaphor of a mother.
Moreover, no single metaphor can function as the sole way of expressing any aspect of a religious belief. Philosophical Theology Many Protestant and Roman Catholic theologians in the twentieth century responded to the criticisms of religious belief, leveled by atheistic existentialists, naturalistsand linguistic positivists, by forging a new understanding of Christian revelation.
Karl Barth, a Reformed Protestant, provided a startlingly new model of the relation between faith and reason. He rejected Schleiermacher's view that the actualization of one's religious motivation leads to some sort of established union between man and God.
Barth argued instead that revelation is aimed at a believer who must receive it before it is a revelation. This means that one cannot understand a revelation without already, in a sense, believing it.
God's revelation of Himself, His very communication of that self, is not distinct from Himself.
Moreover, Barth claimed that God's revelation has its reality and truth wholly and in every respect, both ontically and noetically, within itself. Revelation cannot be made true by anything else.
The fullness of the "original self-existent being of God's Word" reposes and lives in revelation. This renders the belief in an important way immune from both critical rational scrutiny and the reach of arguments from analogy. Barth held, however, that relative to the believer, God remains "totally other" totaliter aliter.
Our selfhood stands in contradiction to the divine nature. Religion is, in fact, "unbelief": This was a consistent conclusion of his dialectical method: Barth was thus an incompatibilist who held that the ground of faith lies beyond reason. Yet he urged that a believer is nonetheless always to seek knowledge and that religious beliefs have marked consequences for daily life. Karl Rahner, arguably the most influential Catholic theologian of the twentieth century, was profoundly influenced by Barth's dialectical method.
But Rahner argued that God's mystical self-revelation of Himself to us through an act of grace is not predestined for a few but extends to all persons: It lies beyond proof or demonstration. Thus all persons, living in this prior and often unthematized state of God's gift, are "anonymous Christians.
Rahner held thus that previous religions embodied a various forms of knowledge of God and thus were lawful religions. But now God has revealed his fullness to humans through the Christian Incarnation and word. This explicit self-realization is the culmination of the history of the previously anonymous Christianity. Christianity now understands itself as an absolute religion intended for all.
This claim itself is basic for its understanding of itself. Rahner's claim about the gratuitous gifts of grace in all humans reaches beyond a natural theology. Nonetheless one form of evidence to which he appeals for its rational justification is the stipulation that humans, social by nature, cannot achieve a relationship to God "in an absolutely private interior reality. Rahner thus emphasized the importance of culture as a medium in which religious faith becomes understood.
He thus forged a new kind of compatibilism between faith and rationality. Neo-Existentialism Paul Tillich, a German Protestant theologian, developed a highly original form of Christian apologetics. In his Systematic Theology, he laid out a original method, called correlation, that explains the contents of the Christian faith through existential questions and theological answers in mutual interdependence. Existential questions arise from our experiences of transitoriness, finitude, and the threat of nonbeing.
In this context, faith is what emerges as our thinking about our "ultimate concern. Secular culture provides numerous media, such as poetry, drama, and novels, in which these questions are engendered. In turn, the Christian message provides unique answers to these questions that emerge from our human existence. Tillich realized that such an existentialist method - with its high degree of correlation between faith and everyday experience and thus between the human and the divine -- would evoke protest from thinkers like Barth.
Steven Cahn approaches a Christian existentialism from less sociological and a more psychological angle than Tillich. Cahn agrees with Kierkegaard's claim that most believers in fact care little about proofs for the existence of God.