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Faith versus Faith

Everyone believes in something and all understanding is based on faith.

Those are precisely the reasons I believe the current faith-versus-reason debate misses the mark entirely. When people start talking about faith and reason, the common view accepts the notion the two are opposite approaches to understanding. Religion, the story goes, and personal beliefs are a matter of faith, including belief in God or a supernatural, spiritual dimension to life. Reason, on the other hand, is  viewed as an objective approach to true, factual-based knowledge. Reason stands alone as the basis of science, facts, and truth. Faith is merely something we cling to for personal reasons.

The problem with this distinction is that it is all stuff-and-nonsense. Poppycock, I say.

Well, I must admit I've never actually said the word "poppycock," at least not in a non-ironic way. But the word seems to fit nicely here. The distinction between these two apparent contrasting approaches to understanding truth is entirely false. They are not two separate approaches, but one presupposes the other. Faith is the foundation of everything, including reason. The debate is not between faith and reason as two distinct paths to truth. The debate is between faith in the revealed God of the Bible and faith in human reason. Everyone has faith in something and everyone begins their journey by making a faith-based assumption. The question is, which faith?

The common worldview, held even by many modern-day theologians who claim to know better, is that faith relates to the "things above," the upper story of human belief. Reason relates to the "things below," which includes the universe, science, and objectivity. This, of course, is all based on the same dualism that has plagued Western thinking since the days when the early church accepted the Greek philosophies of Plato and Aristotle. Upper and lower, ideals and real, spiritual and physical, God and man, grace and nature, freedom and nature. It's the same worldview as the Enlightenment and the Church has done precious little to escape its grip.

Instead, the Church should take a different approach to the debate. Believers in Christ should not give in to the notion that our faith is merely a personal choice, while reason reigns supreme as some objective means to true knowledge. (Okay, skepticism truly dominates the modern and post-modern worldviews, but we will save that discussion for later, since we "Kant" discuss it here!)

What is reason? Or more accurately, what is the true worldview that looks to reason as the high road to knowledge? Really it is a faith-based religion. Man places faith in reason as objectivity personified -- you could say reason is viewed as objective truth incarnate.

But why trust reason? How can you justify "reason" as the path to enlightenment without appealing to "reason" for support? You can't, and that is reasoning every bit as circular as any religious faith.

So "reason as a path to truth" is based on faith, the same as any other "religion."

Everyone begins with faith in something. Everyone picks that faith for any variety of reasons, but everyone has faith in something. Atheist, skeptic, post-modernist, they all have faith in something.

Jesus Christ said he was truth. Not that He is a way to truth, but He is truth. I put my faith in Jesus as truth incarnate, not in Reason. And Reason did not reveal that to me. See what Jesus said about that.

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