Faith and Reason
There are questions that have no answers – whether one is an atheist, an agnostic, or a believer. Our human experience and knowledge, thus far, prevent us from evidential knowledge that answers life’s ultimate questions, like the whys of existence and the afterlife.
Despite our limited understanding, many thinkers, from antiquity to present day, have sought to find ways to reconcile personal intuition and beliefs with larger concepts, like religion, humanism, and science.
Thomas Aquinas sought to reconcile reason and faith in the 12th century, as did thinkers like Descartes and in the 17th century, and Lewis in the 20th century. At some point in our lives, most of us have pondered the relationship and questions surrounding faith and reason, science and faith, or atheism and theism.
Regardless of what our personal answers are, we attempt to find ways to live into truth as we know /experience it, although our personal experiences will be unique. Once we reach a personal understanding, are we able to explain it to someone else, and do we have an obligation to?
Most Christians would say yes — spreading the good news is an essential aspect of our faith. So, what prepares us to share? If someone does not accept the authority of the Bible, where does the conversation go from there?
Having a basic understanding of arguments for and against a theistic view allows an individual to interact in a world where empiricism and knowledge are valued; for example, understanding and appreciating the contributions of Francis Collins and other Christian scientists, while also acknowledging the work of Christopher Hitchens and other well known atheists. According to Aristotle, a wise man is one who can entertain thoughts and ideas without necessarily accepting them to be true.
Many arguments such as the “unmoved mover” and the “first cause” arguments can help an individual wrap his or her mind around the idea of the universe – all of which continues the conversation, and creates a plausibility structure for God.
However, when it comes to the heart of Christianity, we know that Jesus interacted with people by listening to their stories, and understanding where they had been. Jesus “walked” with the people to better understand the human condition. He did not sit with the Pharisees, happy that he was “NOT” the tax collector. He sat with the tax collector, exalted his personal truth (his humility), and looked out upon the world from that perspective.
If we, as Christians, can better understand the intellectual inquiries and walks of others, then we are better able to relate and communicate our own spiritual journeys, and truly affect the lives of others.