What Is Faith?

What Is Faith?

Without risk there is no faith... If I am capable of grasping God objectively, I do not believe, but precisely because I cannot do this I must believe. If I were to preserve myself in faith I must constantly be intent upon holding fast to the objective uncertainty, so as to remain out upon the deep, over seventy thousand fathoms of water, still preserving my faith.

- Søren Kierkegaard, Concluding Unscientific Postscripts, trans D. F. Swenson & W. Lowrie.

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Inevitably, however, the discussion starts to fizzle when someone raises a hand and says (sometimes ardently, sometimes smugly) “But aren’t you forgetting about faith?”

That seems to be enough for most students.  The trump card has been played, and they — or at least the many who find religion more a comfort than a burden — happily remember that believing means never having to explain why.

I myself, the product of a dozen years of intellectually self-confident Jesuit education, have little sympathy with the “it’s just faith” response.  “How can you say that?” I reply.  “You wouldn’t buy a used car just because you had faith in what the salesperson told you.  Why would you take on faith far more important claims about your eternal salvation?”

Continue reading Gary Gutting's short article: Philosophy and Faith.

Further Reading

Traditionally, faith and reason have each been considered to be sources of justification for religious belief. Because both can purportedly serve this same epistemic function, it has been a matter of much interest to philosophers and theologians how the two are related and thus how the rational agent should treat claims derived from either source. Some have held that there can be no conflict between the two—that reason properly employed and faith properly understood will never produce contradictory or competing claims—whereas others have maintained that faith and reason can (or even must) be in genuine contention over certain propositions or methodologies.

Continue reading the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Faith and Reason by James Swindal.

Related Topics

AugustineKierkegaard | Religion

Each day I post short quotes by great thinkers on a particular philosophical, scientific or historical topic, along with videos, interviews and articles by contemporary thinkers that explore each topic in more detail. Find me on Facebook or Twitter or enter your email below to learn about the ideas that helped shape our world.

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