Faith and Reason | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
sciences. The difference between them is in the point of view Faith and Reason jn the Theology of St. Thomas. 13 .. You told me death is strong-and you lied!. Fides et Ratio (Relationship between Faith and Reason) in every person's life ( other than the fact that we exist) is the certainty of death. Later, St. Thomas Aquinas recognized that “nature, philosophy's proper concern. The relationship between faith and reason has been intrinsic to Christianity since its University of Venice, Pontifical Academy of Saint Thomas Aquinas. .. a divine religion cannot invite to employ violence (and killing) against the others.
The Protestant Reformers shifted their emphasis from the medieval conception of faith as a fides belief that to fiducia faith in. Thus attitude and commitment of the believer took on more importance. The Reformation brought in its wake a remarkable new focus on the importance of the study of Scripture as a warrant for one's personal beliefs. The Renaissance also witnessed the development of a renewed emphasis on Greek humanism. In the early part of this period, Nicholas of Cusa and others took a renewed interest in Platonism.
The Galileo Controversy In the seventeenth century, Galileo understood "reason" as scientific inference based and experiment and demonstration.
Moreover, experimentation was not a matter simply of observation, it also involved measurement, quantification, and formulization of the properties of the objects observed. Though he was not the first to do attempt this systematization -- Archimedes had done the same centuries before - Galileo developed it to such an extent that he overthrew the foundations of Aristotelian physics.
He rejected, for example, Aristotle's claim that every moving had a mover whose force had to be continually applied. In fact it was possible to have more than one force operating on the same body at the same time.
Without the principle of a singular moved mover, it was also conceivable that God could have "started" the world, then left it to move on its own.
The finding of his that sparked the great controversy with the Catholic Church was, however, Galileo's defense of Copernicus's rejection of the Ptolemaic geocentric universe. Galileo used a telescope he had designed to confirm the hypothesis of the heliocentric system.
He also hypothesized that the universe might be indefinitely large. Realizing that such conclusions were at variance with Church teaching, he followed Augustine's rule than an interpretation of Scripture should be revised when it confronts properly scientific knowledge. The officials of the Catholic Church - with some exceptions -- strongly resisted these conclusions and continued to champion a pre-Copernican conception of the cosmos. The Church formally condemned Galileo's findings for on several grounds.
First, the Church tended to hold to a rather literal interpretation of Scripture, particularly of the account of creation in the book of Genesis. Such interpretations did not square with the new scientific views of the cosmos such as the claim that the universe is infinitely large. Second, the Church was wary of those aspects of the "new science" Galileo represented that still mixed with magic and astrology. Third, these scientific findings upset much of the hitherto view of the cosmos that had undergirded the socio-political order the Church endorsed.
Moreover, the new scientific views supported Calvinist views of determinism against the Catholic notion of free will. It took centuries before the Church officially rescinded its condemnation of Galileo. Erasmus Inspired by Greek humanism, Desiderius Erasmus placed a strong emphasis on the autonomy of human reason and the importance of moral precepts.
As a Christian, he distinguished among three forms of law: Paul had argued, laws of works, and laws of faith. He was convinced that philosophers, who study laws of nature, could also produce moral precepts akin to those in Christianity.
But Christian justification still comes ultimately only from the grace that can reveal and give a person the ability to follow the law of faith. As such, "faith cures reason, which has been wounded by sin. The Protestant Reformers Martin Luther restricted the power of reason to illuminate faith.
Like many reformers, he considered the human being alone unable to free itself from sin. In The Bondage of the Will, he makes a strict separation between what man has dominion over his dealings with the lower creatures and what God has dominion over the affairs of His kingdom and thus of salvation.
Reason is often very foolish: But by its reflections on the nature of words and our use of language, it can help us to grasp our own spiritual impotence. Luther thus rejected the doctrine of analogy, developed by Aquinas and others, as an example of the false power of reason.
In his Heidelberg Disputation Luther claims that a theologian must look only "on the visible rearward parts of God as seen in suffering and the cross. Thus faith is primarily an act of trust in God's grace. Luther thus stresses the gratuitousness of salvation.
In a traditional sense, Roman Catholics generally held that faith is meritorious, and thus that salvation involves good works. Protestant reformers like Luther, on the other hand, held that indeed faith is pure gift. He thus tended to make the hitherto Catholic emphasis on works look voluntaristic.
Like Luther, John Calvin appealed to the radical necessity of grace for salvation. This was embodied in his doctrine of election. But unlike Luther, Calvin gave a more measured response to the power of human reason to illuminate faith. In his Institutes of the Christian Religion, he argued that the human mind possesses, by natural instinct, an "awareness of divinity.
Even idolatry can contain as aspect of this. So religion is not merely arbitrary superstition. And yet, the law of creation makes necessary that we direct every thought and action to this goal of knowing God. Despite this fundamental divine orientation, Calvin denied that a believer could build up a firm faith in Scripture through argument and disputation.
He appealed instead to the testimony of Spirit embodied gained through a life of religious piety. Only through this testimony is certainty about one's beliefs obtained. We attain a conviction without reasons, but only through "nothing other than what each believer experiences within himself--though my words fall far beneath a just explanation of the matter.
Calvin is thus an incompatibilist of the transrational type: But he expanded the power of reason to grasp firmly the preambles of faith. In his Meditations, he claimed to have provided what amounted to be the most certain proofs of God possible. God becomes explicated by means of the foundation of subjective self-certainty. His proofs hinged upon his conviction that God cannot be a deceiver.
Little room is left for faith. Descartes's thinking prepared Gottfried Leibniz to develop his doctrine of sufficient reason. Leibniz first argued that all truths are reducible to identities. From this it follows that a complete or perfect concept of an individual substance involves all its predicates, whether past, present, or future.
From this he constructed his principle of sufficient reason: He uses this not only to provide a rigorous cosmological proof for God's existence from the fact of motion, but also to defend the cogency of both the ontological argument and the argument from design. In his Theodicy Leibniz responded to Pierre Bayle, a French philosophe, who gave a skeptical critique of rationalism and support of fideism.
First, Leibniz held that all truths are complementary, and cannot be mutually inconsistent. He argued that there are two general types of truth: God can dispense only with the latter laws, such as the law of our mortality. A doctrine of faith can never violate something of the first type; but it can be in tension with truths of the second sort.
Thus though no article of faith can be self-contradictory, reason may not be able to fully comprehend it. Mysteries, such as that of the Trinity, are simply "above reason. We must weigh these decisions by taking into account the existence and nature of God and the universal harmony by which the world is providentially created and ordered.
Leibniz insisted that one must respect the differences among the three distinct functions of reason: However, one sees vestiges of the first two as well, since an inquiry into truths of faith employs proofs of the infinite whose strength or weakness the reasoner can comprehend.
Baruch Spinozaa Dutch philosopher, brought a distinctly Jewish perspective to his rigorously rationalistic analysis of faith. Noticing that religious persons showed no particular penchant to virtuous life, he decided to read the Scriptures afresh without any presuppositions. He found that Old Testament prophecy, for example, concerned not speculative but primarily practical matters. Obedience to God was one. He took this to entail that whatever remains effective in religion applies only to moral matters.
He then claimed that the Scriptures do not conflict with natural reason, leaving it free reign. No revelation is needed for morality.
Moreover, he was led to claim that though the various religions have very different doctrines, they are very similar to one another in their moral pronouncements. Instead he focused on the way that we should act given this ambiguity. He argued that since the negative consequences of believing are few diminution of the passions, some pious actions but the gain of believing is infinite eternal lifeit is more rational to believe than to disbelieve in God's existence.
This assumes, of course, both that God would not grant eternal life to a non-believer and that sincerity in one's belief in God is not a requirement for salvation. As such, Pascal introduced an original form of rational voluntarism into the analysis of faith. Empiricism John Locke lived at a time when the traditional medieval view of a unified body of articulate wisdom no longer seemed plausible.
Yet he still held to the basic medieval idea that faith is assent to specific propositions on the basis of God's authority. Yet unlike Aquinas, he argued that faith is not a state between knowledge and opinion, but a form of opinion doxa. But he developed a kind of apology for Christianity: His aim was to demonstrate the "reasonableness of Christianity. Faith cannot convince us of what contradicts, or is contrary, to our knowledge. We cannot assent to a revealed proposition if it be contradictory to our clear intuitive knowledge.
But propositions of faith are, nonetheless, understood to be "above reason. The truth of original revelation cannot be contrary to reason. But traditional revelation is even more dependent on reason, since if an original revelation is to be communicated, it cannot be understood unless those who receive it have already received a correlate idea through sensation or reflection and understood the empirical signs through which it is communicated.
For Locke, reason justifies beliefs, and assigns them varying degrees of probability based on the power of the evidence. But faith requires the even less certain evidence of the testimony of others.
In the final analysis, faith's assent is made not by a deduction from reason, but by the "credit of the proposer, as coming from God, in some extraordinary way of communication. Locke also developed a version of natural theology. In An Essay Concerning Human Understanding he claims that the complex ideas we have of God are made of up ideas of reflection.
For example, we take the ideas of existence, duration, pleasure, happiness, knowledge, and power and "enlarge every one of these with our idea of Infinity; and so putting them together, make our complex idea of God. David Humelike Locke, rejected rationalism, but developed a more radical kind of empiricism than Locke had. He argued that concrete experience is "our only guide in reasoning concerning matters of fact. He supported this conclusion on two grounds.
First, natural theology requires certain inferences from everyday experience. The argument from design infers that we can infer a single designer from our experience of the world. Though Hume agrees that we have experiences of the world as an artifact, he claims that we cannot make any probable inference from this fact to quality, power, or number of the artisans.
Second, Hume argues that miracles are not only often unreliable grounds as evidence for belief, but in fact are apriori impossible. A miracle by definition is a transgression of a law of nature, and yet by their very nature these laws admit of no exceptions.
Thus we cannot even call it a law of nature that has been violated. He concludes that reason and experience fail to establish divine infinity, God's moral attributes, or any specification of the ongoing relationship between the Deity and man.
But rather than concluding that his stance towards religious beliefs was one of atheism or even a mere Deism, Hume argued that he was a genuine Theist. He believed that we have a genuine natural sentiment by which we long for heaven. The one who is aware of the inability of reason to affirm these truths in fact is the person who can grasp revealed truth with the greatest avidity.
German Idealism Immanuel Kant was heavily influenced by Descartes's anthropomorphism and Spinoza 's and Jean Jacques Rousseau 's restriction of the scope of religion to ethical matters. Moreover, he wanted a view that was consistent with Newton's discoveries about the strict natural laws that govern the empirical world. To accomplish this, he steered the scope of reason away from metaphysical, natural, and religious speculation altogether.
Kant's claim that theoretical reason was unable to grasp truths about God effectively continued the contraction of the authority of scienta in matters of faith that had been occurring since the late medieval period. He rejected, then, the timeless and spaceless God of revelation characteristic of the Augustinian tradition as beyond human ken.
This is most evident in his critique of the cosmological proof for the existence of God in The Critique of Pure Reason. This move left Kant immune from the threat of unresolvable paradoxes. Nonetheless he did allow the concept of God as well as the ideas of immortality and the soul to become not a constitutive but a regulative ideal of reason.
God's existence remains a necessary postulate specifically for the moral law. God functions as the sources for the summum bonum. Only God can guarantee an ideal conformity of virtue and happiness, which is required to fulfill the principle that "ought implies can.
Rational faith involves reliance neither upon God's word nor the person of Christ, but only upon the recognition of God as the source of how we subjectively realize our duties. God is cause of our moral purposes as rational beings in nature. 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. 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.
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.PHILOSOPHY - Religion: Reason And Faith [HD]
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.
- Faith and Reason
- Aquinas: Philosophical Theology
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. For a characteristic feature of bodies is that they are subject to being moved by something other than themselves.
And because God is not a body, he cannot be a composite of material parts ST Ia 3. Not only does Aquinas think that God is not a material composite, he also insists that God is not a metaphysical composite Vallencia, In other words, God is not an amalgam of attributes, nor is he a being whose nature or essence can be distinguished from his existence.
He is, rather, a simple being. The doctrine of divine simplicity is complicated and controversial—even among those who admire Aquinas' philosophical theology. But the following account should provide the reader with a rough sketch of what this doctrine involves. Consider the example human being. Of course, a human being is also material being. In virtue of materiality, she possesses numerous individuating accidents. These would include various physical modifications such as her height or weight, her particular skin pigmentation, her set of bones, and so forth.
According to Aquinas, none of these accidental traits are included in her humanity indeed, she could lose these traits, acquire others, and remain a human being. They do, however, constitute the particular human being she is.
In other words, her individuating accidents do not make her human, but they do make her a particular exemplification of humanity. This is why it would be incorrect to say that this person is identical to her humanity; instead, the individuating accidents she has make her one of many instances thereof. But what about substances that are not composed of matter?
On faith and reason
Such things cannot have multiple instantiations since there is no matter to individuate them into discrete instances of a specific nature or essence. An immaterial substance then will not instantiate its nature. Instead, the substance will be identical to its nature. This is why Aquinas insists that there can be no distinction between 1 God and 2 that by which he is God.
For example, we often say that God is supremely good. But it would be a mistake on Aquinas' view to think that goodness is a property that God has, as if goodness is a property independent of God himself.
What he is God is indistinguishable from that by which he is his divine essence. Presumably other immaterial beings would be simple in precisely this way in virtue of their immateriality. Consider, for example, the notion of angels. That there is no matter with which to individuate angelic beings implies that there will not be multiple instantiations of an angelic nature.
Like Aquinas' notion of God, each angelic being will be identical to its specific essence or nature ST Ia 3. But God is obviously unlike angelic beings in an important way. In order to see what this means, consider the conclusions from section 2.
There, we noted that the constituent members of the causal order cannot be the cause of their own existence and activity. Thus the constituent members of the causal order must exist in virtue of some other, exterior principle of causality. We are now in a position to see why, according to Aquinas, God and the principle by which he exists must be the same. Unlike the constituent members of the causal order, all of whom receive their existence from some exterior principle, God is an uncaused cause.
If it was, then God and the principle by which he exists would be different. Yet the idea that God is the first efficient cause who does not acquire existence from something else implies that God is his own existence Ibid. Brain Davies explains this implication of the causal argument in the following way: The conclusion Aquinas draws [from the five ways] is that God is his own existence. He is Ipsum Esse Subsitens.
But with God this is not so. He is his own existence and is the reason other things have it Davies, Faith So far, this article has shown how and to what extent human reason can lead to knowledge about God and his nature.
Aquinas clearly thinks that our demonstrative efforts can tell us quite a bit about the divine life. Yet he also insists that it was necessary for God to reveal to us other truths by means of sacred teaching. Unlike the knowledge we acquire by our own natural aptitudes, Aquinas contends that revealed knowledge gives us a desire for goods and rewards that exceed this present life SCG I.
Also, revealed knowledge may tell us more about God than what our demonstrative efforts actually show. Although our investigative efforts may confirm that God exists, they are unable to prove for example that God is fully present in three divine persons, or that it is the Christian God in whom we find complete happiness ST Ia 1.
Revealed knowledge also curbs the presumptuous tendency to think that our cognitive aptitudes are sufficient when trying to determine more generally what is true SCG I. Moreover, Aquinas contends that it was fitting for God to make known through divine revelation even those truths that are accessible to human reason. For if such knowledge depended strictly on the difficult and time-intensive nature of human investigation, then few people would actually possess it.
Also, our cognitive limitations may result in a good deal of error when trying to contrive successful demonstrations of divine realities. Given our proneness to mistakes, relying on natural aptitude alone may seem particularly hazardous, especially when our salvation is at stake Ibid.
Popular accounts of religion sometimes construe faith as a blind, uncritical acceptance of myopic doctrine. Such a view of faith might resonate with contemporary skeptics of religion. But as we shall see, this view is not remotely like the one Aquinas—or historic Christianity for that matter—endorses. There are other things that fall under the purview of faith, such as the doctrine of the Trinity and the Incarnation.
But we do not affirm these specific doctrines unless they have some relation to God. These beliefs are not so it seems things over which we have much voluntary control.
By contrast, the assent of faith is voluntary. By will Aquinas means a native desire or love for what we think contributes to our happiness. How is the will involved in the assent of faith? Aquinas appears to have something like this in mind: For Aquinas, the mere acknowledgment of this truth does not denote faith—or at least a commendable form of faith that is distinct from believing certain propositions about God. After all, the demons believe many truths about God, but they are compelled to believe due to the obviousness of those truths.
Thus we can imagine that a person who is convinced of certain sacred truths may for any number of reasons choose not to consider or endorse what she now believes. Alternatively, she may, out of love for God, actively seek God as her proper end. According to Aquinas, this love for God is what distinguishes faith from the mere acknowledgement that certain theological statements are true.
For faith involves an appetitive aspect whereby the will—a love or desire for goodness—moves us to God as the source of ultimate happiness ST IIaIIae 2. But what prompts the will to desire God? After all, Christianity teaches that our wills have been corrupted by the Fall. According to Aquinas, that transformation comes by way of grace.
We will say more about grace in the following subsection of this article. For now, we can construe grace as Aquinas does: According to Aquinas, if a person seeks God as the supreme source of human happiness, it can only be because God moves her will by conferring grace upon her. How can the act of faith be voluntary if the act itself is a result of God generating a change in the human will?
Does the infusion of grace contravene the sort of voluntariness that Aquinas insists is a component of faith? Limitations of space prohibit an extensive treatment of this subject. For this reason, a brief presentation of Aquinas' view will follow. The act of faith has a twofold cause: Observing a supernatural act or hearing a persuasive sermon or argument may corroborate the truth of sacred teaching and, in turn, encourage belief.
These inducements, however, are not sufficient for producing faith since not everyone who witnesses or hears them finds them compelling. We must therefore posit an internal cause whereby God moves the will to embrace that which is proposed for belief. But how is it that God moves the will? In other words, what does God do to the will that makes the assent of faith possible? None of the proposed answers to this question are uncontroversial, but what follows appears to be faithful to the view Aquinas favored for some competing interpretations of Aquinas' account, see Jenkins, ; Ross, ; Penelhum, ; and Stump, and Thus we might think of the inward cause of faith to be a kind of infused affection or, better yet, moral inclination whereby the will is directed to God Ibid.
As a result of this moral posturing, a person will be able to view Christian teaching more favorably than she would were it not for the infusion of charity. John Jenkins endorses a similar account. He suggests that pride, excessive passion, and other vicious habits generate within us certain prejudices that prevent us from responding positively to sacred teaching Jenkins, In other words, faith formed by charity transforms the will by allaying the strength of those appetitive obstacles that forestall love of God.
On this view of faith, the person who subordinates herself to God does so not as a result of divine coercion but by virtue of an infused disposition whereby she loves God. For grace curtails pride and enables us to grasp and fairly assess what the Christian faith proposes for belief Jenkins, In doing so, it permits us to freely endorse those things that we in our sinful state would never be able—or want—to understand and embrace.
Indeed, the arguments offered in support of Christian claims often provide us with the motivation we sometimes need in order to embrace them. But does the use of reasons or argument compromise the merit of faith? Aquinas expresses the objection this way: He also quotes St.
In short, human investigation into sacred doctrine threatens to render faith superfluous.
Historical Introduction to Philosophy/Faith and Reason
For if one were to offer a good argument for the truth of what God reveals, then there would be no need for us to exercise faith in regard to that truth.
What sort of reasoning or argumentation does Aquinas have in mind? He makes a distinction between demonstrative reasoning and persuasive reasoning. Were a person to grasp the truth of sacred doctrine by means of this sort of reasoning, belief would be necessitated and the merit of faith destroyed Ibid.
Persuasive reasoning, on the other hand, does no such thing. In other words, the arguments in which persuasive reasoning consists may provide reasons for accepting certain doctrines, but they cannot compel acceptance of those doctrines. One still needs the grace of faith in order to embrace them.
Christian Doctrine A closer look at some central Christian doctrines is now in order. And although there are many doctrines that constitute sacred teaching, at least two are foundational to Christianity and subject to thorough analysis by Aquinas. These include the Incarnation and the Trinity. Aquinas takes both of these doctrines to be essential to Christian teaching and necessary to believe in order to receive salvation see ST IIaIIae 2. For this reason it will be beneficial to explore what these doctrines assert.
Incarnation and Atonement The doctrine of the Incarnation teaches that God literally and in history became human in the person of Jesus Christ. The doctrine of the Incarnation further teaches that Christ is the complete and perfect union of two natures, human and divine. The idea here is not that Jesus is some strange hybrid, a chimera of human and divine parts.
The idea rather is that in Christ there is a merger of two natures into one hypostasis—a subsisting individual composed of two discrete but complete essences ST III 2. Aquinas' efforts to explicate and defend this doctrine are ingenious but may prove frustrating without a more advanced understanding of the metaphysical framework he employs see Stump for a treatment of this subject.
Rather than pursue the complexities of that framework, we will instead address a different matter to which the Incarnation is intricately connected.
According to Christian teaching, human beings are estranged from God. So understood, sin refers not to a specific immoral act but a spiritual wounding that diminishes the good of human nature ST IaIIae Further, Christian doctrine states that we become progressively more corrupt as we yield to sinful tendencies over time. Sinful choices produce corresponding habits, or vices, that reinforce hostility towards God and put beatitude further beyond our reach. No amount of human effort can remedy this problem.
The damage wrought by sin prevents us from meriting divine favor or even wanting the sort of goods that which makes union with God possible. The Incarnation makes reconciliation with God possible. To understand this claim, we must consider another doctrine to which the Incarnation is inextricably tied, namely, the doctrine of the Atonement.
According to the doctrine of Atonement, God reconciles himself to human beings through Christ, whose suffering and death compensates for our transgressions ST III Yet this satisfaction does not consist in making reparations for past transgressions. Rather it consists in God healing our wounded natures and making union with him possible. From this perspective, satisfaction is more restorative than retributive. As Eleonore Stump notes: A partial list is as follows: This last benefit requires explanation.
Only a supernatural transformation of our recalcitrant wills can heal our corrupt nature and make us people who steadily trust, hope in, and love God as the source of our beatitude.
This brief description of grace might suggest that it is an infused virtue much like faith, hope, and charity. According to Aquinas, however, grace is not a virtue. This account helps explain why grace is said to justify sinners. Justification consists not only in the remittance of sins, but in a transmutation whereby our wills are supernaturally directed away from morally deficient ends and towards God. In this way God, by means of his grace, heals our fallen nature, pardons sin, and makes us worthy of eternal life.
Now, remission of sin and moral renovation cannot occur apart from the work God himself accomplishes through Christ. Yet such favor was not limited to Christ.
But again, the aim of satisfaction is not to appease God through acts of restitution but to renovate our wills and make possible a right relationship with him Stump, Thus we ought not to look at Christ simply as an instrument by which our sins are wiped clean, but as one whose sacrificial efforts produce in us a genuine love for God and make possible the very union we desire ST III The preceding survey of the Incarnation and the Atonement will undoubtedly raise further questions that we cannot possibly address here.
For a careful treatment of this issue, see Stump: Instead, this brief survey attempts only a provisional account of how the Incarnation makes atonement for sin and reconciliation with God possible. Trinity This section will focus on the doctrine of the Trinity with all the typical caveats implied, of course.
Aquinas' definition of the Trinity is in full accord with the orthodox account of what Christians traditionally believe about God. According to that account, God is one.
That is, his essence is one of supreme unity and simplicity. Yet the doctrine also states that there are three distinct persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. By distinct, Aquinas means that the persons of the Trinity are real individuals and not, say, the same individual understood under different descriptions.
Moreover, each of the three persons is identical to the divine essence. That is, each person of the Trinity is equally to God. The doctrine is admittedly confounding. But if it is true, then it should be internally coherent.
In fact, Aquinas insists that, although we cannot prove the doctrine through our own demonstrative efforts, we can nevertheless show that this and other doctrines known through the light of faith are not contradictory de Trinitate, 1. Aquinas' exposition of the Trinity endeavors to avoid two notable heresies: It teaches that Christ was created by God at a point in time and therefore not co-eternal with him.
In short, God and Christ are distinct substances. The other heresy, Sabellianism, attempts to preserve divine unity by denying any real distinction in God. Aquinas' account attempts to avoid these heresies by affirming that the persons of the Trinity are distinct without denying the complete unity of the divine essence.
How does Aquinas go about defending the traditional doctrine? The challenge, of course, is to show that the claim 1 the persons of the God-head are really distinct is consistent with the claim that 2 God is one In an effort to reconcile 1 and 2Aquinas argues that there are relations in God.
For example, we find in God the relational notion of paternity which implies fatherhood and filiation which implies sonship ST Ia Paternity and filiation imply different things. Thus if there is paternity and filiation in God, then there must be a real distinction of persons that the divine essence comprises ST Ia The notion of distinction, however, does not contravene the doctrine of simplicity because according to Aquinas we can have a distinction of persons while maintaining divine unity.
This last claim is obviously the troubling one.