Some people say that religious beliefs can be neither justified nor refuted by reason. However, while sometimes this claim is used as a reason for rejecting religious beliefs, at other times it is used to conclude that these beliefs are established by faith. To what extent is faith a legitimate basis for knowledge claims, in religion and different Areas of Knowledge?In order to fully understand the legitimacy of faith as a basis for knowledge claims, one must first look at how faith is affected by the three ways of knowing: emotion, perception, and reason. Firstly, faith is the adherence to an idea or theory without any necessary concrete proof of the concept; this notion can be something as small as a specific superstition to something as significant as a way of living and approaching one’s values and morals. In order to understand the question that’s being asked, one must first realize why people have faith and its importance in our society as a whole.
Even though faith is not restricted to religion and the belief in God, all forms of faith are caused mostly by emotions rather than actual concrete evidence. Even if a religious Catholic believes all of the stories in the bible, for example, and struggles to find scientific proof of those ‘facts’ that he or she considers true, their faith is still supported mostly by emotions rather than the belief in those facts. At this point, it is necessary to make a distinction between faith and belief. Many people consider that belief and faith are synonyms, however it is important to realize that faith has a much stronger and connotation.When I believe my friend that he did not steal my money, I do so without much emotional awareness simply because I trust him.
Trust, in my opinion, is a more crucial feature of belief than faith. That being said, one obviously trusts whatever or whoever they have faith in. Still, faith is a more emotionally powerful and slightly ambiguous notion.
In order to truly have faith in a person one must not only trust them and believe them, but also have clear assurance in their ambitions and abilities. My attempted explanation of faith will be an assumption throughout the essay. A definition of faith that I found interesting was written by James Fowler in his book “Faithful Change”. Even though this writer is considered controversial his definition seemed appropriate:”..
. characterized as an integral centering process, underlying the formation of beliefs, values, and meanings, that give coherence and direction to persons’ lives, links them to shared trusts and loyalties with others, grounds their personal stances and communal loyalties in a sense of relatedness to a larger frame of reference, and enables them to face and deal with the limit conditions of human life, relying upon that which has the quality of ultimacy in their lives.”Our perception is also an important way of knowing that factors into faith. Very often, visual musical are a part of faith. In religion for example, the arts play a significant role in the way people express (either to themselves or others) their faith.
For example, Orthodox Christians have very richly decorated designs and hundreds of paintings of saints in the churches. Also, Orthodox Christians carry a sort of icon with the when they are driving or traveling.1 With this, art becomes a part of the peoples’ religion and in turn a part of their faith. An interview with a Christian poet Lucy Shaw, the critically acclaimed author of several collections of poetry, defines her art as “an attempt to express the thing that is most significant and burning in your own heart to a fellow Christian.”2 Christianity is not the only religion to use arts as a way to express peoples’ religious beliefs and ideas; most religious practices have engulfed art in one way or another.Reason also plays an important role in our faith. The title of this topic says:”Religious beliefs can be neither justified nor refuted by reason .
..while sometimes this claim is used as a reason for rejecting religious beliefs, at other times it is used to conclude that these beliefs are established by faith.
“Firstly, I would like to say that there are several unclear assumptions in the first part of the question. It is unclear what the author of the question means when he says “rejecting religious beliefs.” He goes on to say that at OTHER times they this claim to prove that these beliefs are established by faith.
The fact that beliefs are established by faith is a given; after all people say do you believe in god or do you believe the Koran. In fact faith has become an almost ‘divine’ word in the religion. One must not see religion as an Area of Knowledge but rather an area of trust and belief. In fact all ‘Areas of Knowledge’ should be called ‘Areas of Trust and Belief ‘.
Everything that we know and learn is based on us trusting who ever is giving us the information. Trust appears at many levels and in some way we trust ourselves as well- we believe in our own perception. At first reason, although seems like an exception to the fact that our knowledge is based on beliefs. However, the Princeton dictionary3 defines reason as:A rational motive for a belief or actionWe see that in some way reason is underlying in belief, but what exactly is a ‘rational motive.’ How do people determine what is rational and what is not? I found an interesting definition of the word rational on the Ludwig von Mises Institute website4:Arrived at by the use of the peculiarly human mental processes by which man strives to connect his ideas as consciously, coherently and purposively as possible in order to plan the attainment of ends sought. In view of the human fallibility in selecting the best possible reasoning for attaining the ends sought, there is no implication as to the correctness or incorrectness of the reasoning. Consequently, all conscious human actions, whether or not appropriate for the ends sought, are rational.This definition emphasizes the similarities between the human ‘belief’ in reason and their faith.
Just like a certain ‘loyalty’ to religious ideas, moral and values, the strict dependability on reason offers no implications. So why is it that reason is not argued and religious beliefs are bases of very controversial debates and discussions? The answer is that it is impossible to argue reason because we use reason to argue against itself. Since reason is such a vague notion, it engulfs most of the decisions we make and our everyday values.I believe that one cannot speak of the differences between reason and faith because they are two different levels, if you will, of knowledge.
Reason is a way of knowing and thus a fundamental part of faith; to call faith a way of knowing is false. Thus, reason pertains to the different areas of knowledge whereas faith somewhat of a subcategory rather than the opposite of reason. For example, a scientist, probably one of the people with the most reasoning involved in their profession, have faith in their theories and the information that they have learned throughout their careers- faith is the main building block of their knowledge. That being said, how is it possible to argue that faith is an illegitimate basis for knowledge claims? Unless one would ‘know’ something only if they have seen or found it out themselves (without using anyone else theories or ‘facts’), there is no true way of being ‘faithless’.Often times, however, faith does create diverging opinions on many topics. Instead of pointlessly arguing by using the premise “reason vs. faith” people need to learn to accept other opinions besides their own. People who believe in God are just as happy as those who don’t believe in God.
The unhappy people take extremist points of view which has negative results on our society. There have been many instances in history where religion has been inserted without any negative consequences. Even if we accept the argument that the bible was just written to limit the chaos in the world, there is not motivation for ‘opening up the eyes’ of religious people because it never results in anything positive. I think that faith has neither a negative nor a positive effect on our Areas of Knowledge. Thus, faith is a legitimate basis for knowledge claims- however, when these knowledge claims are used to argue reason, the whole point of the argument is lost.1 Once again we come across a situation where a distinction between faith and belief is appropriate- even though the Christian believes in what is said in the bible, he has faith in God or whichever saint is represented on the picture.
Faith in something holy saving his life and keeping him safe throughout his journeys is a strong one; this faith is something beyond the group of beliefs that is commonly accepted in Christianity.