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faith, God, philosophy, reason, religion, thought, wisdom

The Battle between Faith and Reason

From Americaswatchtower.com HERE

“I have wanted to write a post about first philosophy, or metaphysics, for quite some time so against my better judgement  I  have decided to go for it. I intend to write a philosophical post about the difference between the so-called “free thinker” and the theist.

I am stepping way beyond my comfort zone because I do not feel I am up to the task, many others much better and more versed in theology and philosophy than I am have broached this subject, but this is a post I have been thinking about writing for quite some time so here goes.

This is basically a post about faith and reason, or faith versus reason, and their relationship, or contradiction, to one another.

Faith and Reason

In the past I have considered myself to be a “free thinker” while debating in my mind the possibility of an omnipotent God who created the universe versus the idea that a whole bunch of unrelated and coincidental accidents happened which led to the “creation” of the world we know exists. But, even while questioning, I still found it hard to believe the intricacies of nature, how everything works together, could have been an accident. So I continued thinking and it led me to a study of philosophy and theology in my search for the truth.

This is the ultimate question we as human beings have to ask ourselves and it has been debated for thousands of years–where did we come from? This is in contrast to Albert Camus who argued in “The Myth of Sisyphus” that the only philosophical topic worth debating was suicide. Of course Albert Camus was an absurdist who believed there was no meaning to life, he had already given up on the ultimate question and moved on  to the question about how to react to his “unbelief.”

…let us define out terms: dictionary.com defines a free thinker as “a person who forms opinions on the basis of reason, independent of authority or tradition, especially a person whose religious opinions differ from established belief.” While a theist is obviously a person “who engages or is an expert in theology”– in this case specifically Judeo-Christian belief.

I know more than one person who define themselves as “free thinkers” because in their minds reason has led them to believe that all that is in the world is all that exists, and there is nothing more to this life than what we can see. But I believe their “reasoning” has led them to stop thinking where they need to start thinking.

Reason without sufficient study would logically lead one to believe there is no god because that is the easiest thing to believe and it comes with no consequences, nature is nature and we are not subject to judgement for our actions but rather to the laws of nature….  But with study we can come to a different conclusion: Aristotle is known as the “father of reason” and yet through study he came to the conclusion that there was a “prime mover” or an “un-caused cause” which must be eternal and perfect. He called this “un-caused cause” god but went on to call this god “thought.” He also said that because this “prime mover” was perfect it could only ponder perfect thoughts therefor this god only thought about himself.

In my opinion “free thinkers” are taking the easy way out. It is the easiest thing in the world to believe there is nothing more than this, in fact it takes no thought. However to think as Plato and Socrates did, that there is more to reality than what the human mind can comprehend is what true free thinking is all about. In other words being a theist is more true to free thinking than “free thinking” is! Solomon knew this roughly 500 years before Socrates when he asked God for wisdom and he was rewarded for it. (2 Chronicles 1:10) Solomon turned to God for wisdom instead of using man’s wisdom to prove God. He could have had anything in the world that he wanted, but he wanted something more important–the Truth. And isn’t that what we all are seeking?

To think beyond the here and now, to think beyond what we can see, feel, taste, and touch, to think there is something more than this life, or after this life, to think beyond reason–well that is true free thinking. Reason might be the god of this world…that is not quite correct let me expand that thought: reason might be a tool of the god of this world–the master of deception–and twisted for his own purposes, but is there more to it all than that?

I think I have written enough about “free thinkers” for now so now let us move beyond this (think beyond this?) and examine theology and what better example can we use than Thomas Aquinas, who used Aristotle’s reason, in his five proofs to prove the existence of God? His first and second proofs use Aristotelian reason to prove God so that is what I am going to focus on for the time being.

Basically, it is the argument of the first cause, or the possibility of the un-caused cause. Aquinas argues that everything comes from something, nothing comes from nothing.  A whole bunch of nothing cannot will itself to become something. This would mean the will is preexisting, so there must have been something eternal–with no beginning and no end–which caused everything in succession. Therefore there is a first cause and we know this as God. At this point it might be interesting to ponder exchanging the idea that god is thought  with the term “Word of God” with Jesus naturally being the Word–Deism versus Christianity–but that might be the subject of a follow up post.

So even if we accept the Big Bang THEORY as truth does this disprove the Biblical account of the creation? I think not, the Bible does not specifically say how God created the heavens and the earth, just that He did. This is lost on people who believe the Big Bang disproves the existence of God or the Biblical account of creation. Where does reason play in all of this? Aristotle gave us a clue, but moving on…

Socrates said “wisdom begins in wonder” while Solomon in Proverbs said “fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” Socrates was on the right path but Solomon went beyond this, so who was right or (to use a Buddhist term) is there a middle way?

Dr. Peter Kreeft quotes and expands upon Thomas Aquinas’ writings about the relationship between faith and reason:

 “Thomas is marvelously clear: Here are all the things that we know by faith and divine revelation, and here are all the things that we know by the operation of natural human reason alone.  What is the relation between these two kinds of truths, or two classes of propositions?  Well, they could be simply different.  They could be identical.  They could be such that one includes the other.  Or they could overlap.  And the answer is that they overlap.”

“There are some things like the Trinity, and the fact that God chooses to love you and save you, that can be known only by divine revelation.  They can’t be proved by human reason, or even fully understood — they are divine mysteries.  There are other things, like most of the propositions of natural science, and common sense, that form no part of divine revelation.  And there are a third category, the most interesting kind — for instance, the existence of God, and the perfection of God, and the fact that God is one, and the fact that God is moral, and natural morality, which are both divinely revealed and knowable by reason.  And that’s the area that Christian apologetics focuses on.  That’s where the two meet the most.  That’s, so to speak, the marriage bed of the two of them.”

Reason and faith are wedded; Aristotle realized this although his conclusion was faulty–if Aristotle’s god was perfect thought and self-absorbed how could this god be the “prime mover” or the “un-caused cause?” This would mean his god would have been an accidental “prime mover” or “un-caused cause,” yet how could a perfect god accidentally move everything else? This thought-god could not be perfect which leads us to the topic of faith wedded with reason.

The “free thinkers” of today will dismiss the possibility that reason and faith are wedded out of hand but even Socrates,  through the writings of Plato, argued that life comes from death much like being awake comes from being asleep. (An interesting metaphor considering the topic.)

He was arguing about the immortality of the soul. He was close but, much like Aristotle, he missed the point because while he seems to have understood the concept he missed the true author of immortality and life beyond the grave–the unnamed god of Acts 17:23.

While traveling through Athens Luke tells us that Paul found an alter to an unnamed god and used that alter to continue thinking, and teaching, about God where the Greeks stopped thinking. I cannot help but note the irony of this: the ancient Greeks had a love of wisdom (literally translated to philosophy with philo meaning love and sophos meaning wisdom) and yet it was the theist who thought beyond the Greeks and educated them.

When Socrates was facing death by execution for denying the Greek Gods  he said “the hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways – I to die, and you to live. Which is better God only knows,” while  Friedrich Nietzsche stated in The Gay Science that “God is Dead.” Which of these men would you consider to be a “free thinker?” Which man took the more difficult position? Which man thought harder?

To bring this all back around again we must look at “the father of existentialism” Soren Kierkegaard. Albert Camus was influenced by Kierkegaard but while Camus used his unbelief to contemplate suicide Kierkegaard used his belief to take what he coined as a “leap of faith” to rationalize what he thought was an absurd world. He said, “to have faith is to lose your mind and to win God.” In other words he began to think where Camus stopped thinking. This echoes Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:39: “he that finds his life shall lose it: and he that loses his life for my sake shall find it.”

Not everybody can make this leap and in conclusion it brings me to the ultimate and ironic conclusion that “free thinkers” stop thinking at precisely the same point theists begin thinking. This thought cannot be overstated because it is at precisely at this point when thought is most needed. Reason can lead to faith but faith does not exclude reason.”

One comment below the post says “…I see science as the study of Creation. When we learn something that is in conflict with our beliefs, it means our belief needs to be reconsidered. This is where science and theism come into conflict.”

I thought the author made some interesting points.  If you enjoyed it, maybe you’ll choose to follow my blog, or his blog, or both…

About David Montaigne

Historian, investigator, and author of prophecy books like End Times and 2019, and Antichrist 2016-2019


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