Reason and Faith
by Frederic Henry Hedge
(from Reason in Religion, 1865)
Faith is determined by accidental causes; it has no necessary relation to truth.
A strong persuasion, but no objective certitude. It embraces error as well as
truth, and embraces it with equal affection. But reason, in its proper nature, is
identical with the actual truth of things, that is, their relation in the mind of God;
and human reason, on any intelligible theory of God's government, must be a
continual approximation to absolute truth....
Reason requires the nutriment and impulse furnished by faith. Faith Requires
the discreet elaboration of reason. The one has substance; the other, the form.
Reason alone would give us a world without God, bodies without spirits, earth
without heaven, a day without a morrow, a way without a goal. Faith alone would
give us a pantheon of questionable divinites, a pandemonium of unqestionable fiends,
an overshadowing theocracy for civil rule, a dispensation of dark ages without end.
(But some of us don't really believe this. Actually what we do believe is that faith
suffocates science, eventually. Ed.)
Scientists say: "Extraordinary claims require extraodinary proof."
Theologians say: That is a double standard since Scientists often do not apply it to their
discoveries. General relativity for instance was proven on the basis of subtle effects
involving the orbit of the planet Mercury, etc., and slight displacement of starlight
when viewed near the sun, evidence hardly qualiying as extraordinary.
With respect to Christianity scientists need to explain how Christianity arose, which
if it was not due to extraodinary events, must have occurred in some other way.
"It is so much easier to believe than to think; it is astounding how much more believing is done than thinking!"
James F. Kemper, civil engineer
from Rising Tide by John M. Barry
"It is through knowledge of the creation that we arrive at knowledge of the Creator."
William of Conches, 1143 AD
"Since God has spoken to us it is no longer necessary to think."
Attributed to Tertullian, 203 AD
Both Science and Religion are concerned with finding out about the truth of our situation. Who are we? Why are we here? What is our purpose? But they can come up with somewhat different answers.
Science versus Religion
Gather Empirical Facts <-???-> Study an Ancient and Revered Book
(the "evidence") (believed to be God's word)
Use Critical Reasoning <-???-> Accept it by Faith
(based on the evidence) (based on instinct, a feeling, intuition?)
Form A Tentative Theory <-???-> Revealed Truth
(Either the reasoning or (must not be doubted?)
the facts may be wrong, so
best if submitted to a jury of
one's peers for their agreement.)
Which is the best path to truth? Science or faith, or some mix of both? You be the judge. The truth of science may not be what you want it to be. It may be an unpleasant truth (eg possibly there is no after-life, no immortal soul), and it will have been hard work to get there (ironically sometimes referred to as "soul-searching"), whereas faith usually appears out of an emotional acceptance, that "Yes, it must be true!" (I can't bear to think about the alternative).
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