Some of our militant secularist friends love to take their shots at ‘faith’… which only shows how little they know of how often THEY rely on faith, even for their most profoundly scientific knowledge.
If you ever want to get a reaction out of them, and make their eye start to twitch, it’s easy. The mere mention of the word ‘faith’ gets a visceral reaction from pseudo-intellectuals with a superficial ‘pop culture’ understanding of what the word means.
We have a few regulars in the comment section who pride themselves on relying on ‘science’ and rejecting ‘faith’.
Unfortunately for them, that is an entirely irrational statement, and we can prove it.
Since the enlightenment, philosophers have been trying to drive a wedge between a philosophical understanding of the world, and a theological understanding of the world, despite many areas of overlap between categories, up to and including things like ethics, human psychology, and epistemology.
They want to keep a rational understanding of the world handed down to them by thinkers from Athens, Jerusalem, and Rome… while doing away with some of the great ideas that drew them together.
Reason has been described as an exercise of rational expressions of deduction and logic, while faith or belief has been dismissed as wispy, pie-in-the-sky religious dogma. That is a mistake. A ‘category error’.
St. Augustine was hailed as a great thinker of his time, who continues to have a massive impact on thinking and philosophy that echoes down to today described his own ‘belief seeking understanding’.
He was no secularist, obviously, but he didn’t kick his brain to the curb, either. The real relationship between faith and reason is quite different from the straw man that secularists tell us it is.
What is faith? Stepping beyond the narrow religious understanding of the term, faith more broadly is the confidence in the truth of a thing you cannot personally know to be true.
We do not KNOW for instance, that we live in a solar system in which 8 planets (and Pluto) travel in elliptical orbits around the sun. We believe that, because we have been told it was true, and we believe those who have told us that.
There is plenty that we do not know, but trust. We trust, for example, that what has been labeled chicken or beef in our supermarket is not, for example, pigeon or horse meat. We trust (but do not know) that judges are making decisions about guilt or innocence without receiving bribes. We trust (but do not know) that the numbers we see in our retirement accounts represent a corresponding real-world dollar value… even though we know that some scam artists will dupe suckers out of their money.
We trust (but do not know) the validity of any number of scientific theories, philosophies, historical events, and so on.
The fact is, if any of us were truly the rationalist skeptics that some of our more militant secularists pretend they are, we would doubt almost everything we claim we know because most of what we think we know came to us second-hand.
There are nearly as many ways to communicate or receive that information incorrectly as there are human failings. And still, we find ourselves working from beliefs.
This brings us around to Augustine’s ‘belief seeking understanding’.
His mother, Monica prayed for decades that Augustine would come to faith in Christ. But he fought against it for years, chasing fame, fortune, pleasure, and a number of other belief systems.
He rejected Christian belief as ridiculous… until someone started asking him why. Again and again, he found that his objections to Christianity were an objection to his own misunderstanding about Christian belief. One by one the objections were knocked down.
Until Augustine came face to face with his own sin, his need for redemption and the offer Christ was making of a transformed life.
But it didn’t STOP there; it built out from there.
He took this line from scripture seriously: “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength”
He rooted what he believed in the real world. He connected it to, and measured it against what he knew of other great ideas in religion and philosophy (City Of God), he anchored what he believed and knew in history — in space and time.
He defended these ideas against critics, using reason and logic… and is remembered by historians as taking his place among the greatest and most influential thinkers of the millennium.
Dare the petty secular skeptics that claim to ‘believe their science’ put their own thinking through the same scrutiny? Do they ask what fallacies they have been seduced by? (Scientism, for example?)
Or are they content to snipe at Christians from the shadows?
Most of them sound like they are just parroting the same tired line they heard once from a speech by Dawkins or Hitchens, second-tier atheists who can’t even hold a candle to thinkers who had gone before them, let alone the better Christian apologists of today.
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