Faith and Reason (Part 2): The Relationship Between Faith and Reason | Quadrivium
The following essay, published here for the first time, was written by Donald Keefe in . The truly historical treatment of the relations between reason and faith . Free Essay: Faith and Reason Faith and reason can be viewed as opposites. Faith Of the many classical writers whose works were available to the medieval . The following essay will examine each of the previously stated philosopher's viewpoints on faith and reason, and will essentially try to determine whether or not.
Such an intellectual rigor and discipline would lead one to further understanding. Scholastics did not only study theology using dialectic, though. Many such as Abelard were skilled logicians or grammarians, and dabbled in metaphysics, ethics, ontology, legal and political philosophy as well. One of the most discussed and heavily debated questions amongst these two religious orders was something contemporary philosophers might call moral psychology or philosophy of mind.
The debate was in regards to whether the will was determined by the intellect in terms of choice. The Dominicans to which Aquinas belonged believed that the intellect was dominate and did determine the will. This meant that in moral deliberation if one truly knew what was right what was good then the will would carry said action out. The Franciscans were representative, generally, of what is called voluntarism. This view is more or less opposite of the intellectualist position.
It holds that the intellect could supply the will with the right option, but that the will could simply refuse to carry out what it knows, or even believes to be, is good. Because the printing press had yet to be developed, books had to be copied by hand--monks were primarily responsible for doing so due to their extended amount of free time as opposed to farmers, merchants, or knights who were burdened by intense physical labor and their knowledge of grammar that was deemed necessary for participation in liturgical life.
Indeed, many monasteries had libraries that served as archives for local records and contained a vast collection of invaluable manuscripts that were carefully preserved for scholars and clerics to study. Learning was considered a form of devotion to God and a necessary component of loving God in body, mind, and spirit. In addition it is also known that some convents even engaged in the copying of manuscripts and provided intellectual avenues for learned albeit aristocratic women to pursue the scholarly life.
Scott describes, the university in the Western World was a creation of the Middle Ages. As European societies became increasingly complex and new forms of specialized education were in need, the university extended as a natural outgrowth of these cathedral schools. For instance, the University of Paris est. Oxford too, the oldest university in the English speaking world, is known to have had strong ties with the Dominicans, Franciscans, Augustinians and Carmelites as early as the thirteenth century.
In his "Mystical Theology" Pseudo-Dionysius describes how the soul's destiny is to be fully united with the ineffable and absolutely transcendent God.
The Medieval Period Much of the importance of this period stems from its retrieval of Greek thinking, particularly that of Aristotle. At the beginning of the period Arab translators set to work translating and distributing many works of Greek philosophy, making them available to Jewish, Islamic, and Christian philosophers and theologians alike.
For the most part, medieval theologians adopted an epistemological distinction the Greeks had developed: An established claim in theology, confirmed by either scienta or opinio, demanded the believer's assent. Yet despite this possibility of scientia in matters of faith, medieval philosophers and theologians believed that it could be realized only in a limited sense.
They were all too aware of St. Paul's caveat that faith is a matter of "seeing in a mirror dimly" 1 Cor 1: In the Proslogion, he argues that "the smoke of our wrongdoing" will prohibit us from this knowledge. Anselm is most noted, however, for his ontological argument, presented in his Proslogion. He claimed that it is possible for reason to affirm that God exists from inferences made from what the understanding can conceive within its own confines.
As such he was a gifted natural theologian. Like Augustine, Anselm held that the natural theologian seeks not to understand in order to believe, but to believe in order to understand. This is the basis for his principle intellectus fidei. Under this conception, reason is not asked to pass judgment on the content of faith, but to find its meaning and to discover explanations that enable others to understand its content. But when reason confronts what is incomprehensible, it remains unshaken since it is guided by faith's affirmation of the truth of its own incomprehensible claims.
Peter Lombard Lombard was an important precursor to Aquinas. Following Augustine, he argued that pagans can know about much about truths of the one God simply by their possession of reason e. But in addition, pagans can affirm basic truths about the Trinity from these same affirmations, inasmuch as all things mirror three attributes associated with the Trinity: Islamic Philosophers Islamic philosophers in the tenth and eleventh centuries were also heavily influenced by the reintroduction of Aristotle into their intellectual culture.
Avicenna Ibn Sina held that as long as religion is properly construed it comprises an area of truth no different than that of philosophy. He built this theory of strong compatibilism on the basis of his philosophical study of Aristotle and Plotinus and his theological study of his native Islam. He held that philosophy reveals that Islam is the highest form of life. He defended the Islamic belief in the immortality of individual souls on the grounds that, although as Aristotle taught the agent intellect was one in all persons, the unique potential intellect of each person, illuminated by the agent intellect, survives death.
Averroes Ibn Rushdthough also a scholar of Aristotle's works, was less sympathetic to compatibilism than his predecessor Avicenna. But in his Incoherence of Incoherence, he attacked Algazel's criticisms of rationalism in theology. For example, he developed a form of natural theology in which the task of proving the existence of God is possible. He held, however, that it could be proven only from the physical fact of motion.
Nonetheless Averroes did not think that philosophy could prove all Islamic beliefs, such as that of individual immortality. Following Aristotle in De Anima, Averroes argued for a separation between the active and passive intellects, even though they enter into a temporary connection with individual humans.
This position entails the conclusion that no individuated intellect survives death. Yet Averroes held firmly to the contrary opinion by faith alone. Jewish Philosophy Moses Maimonides, a Jewish philosopher, allowed for a significant role of reason in critically interpreting the Scriptures. But he is probably best known for his development of negative theology.
Following Avicenna's affirmation of a real distinction between essence and existence, Maimonides concluded that no positive essential attributes may be predicated of God.
God does not possess anything superadded to his essence, and his essence includes all his perfections. The attributes we do have are derived from the Pentateuch and the Prophets.
Yet even these positive attributes, such as wisdom and power, would imply defects in God if applied to Him in the same sense they are applied to us. Since God is simple, it is impossible that we should know one part, or predication, of Him and not another.
He argues that when one proves the negation of a thing believed to exist in God, one becomes more perfect and closer to knowledge of God.
He quotes Psalm 4: Those who do otherwise commit profanity and blasphemy. It is not certain, however, whether Maimonides rejected the possibility of positive knowledge of the accidental attributes of God's action. Thomas Aquinas Unlike Augustine, who made little distinction between explaining the meaning of a theological proposition and giving an argument for it, Aquinas worked out a highly articulated theory of theological reasoning. Bonaventure, an immediate precursor to Aquinas, had argued that no one could attain to truth unless he philosophizes in the light of faith.
Thomas held that our faith in eternal salvation shows that we have theological truths that exceed human reason. But he also claimed that one could attain truths about religious claims without faith, though such truths are incomplete. In the Summa Contra Gentiles he called this a "a two fold truth" about religious claims, "one to which the inquiry of reason can reach, the other which surpasses the whole ability of the human reason. However, something can be true for faith and false or inconclusive in philosophy, though not the other way around.
This entails that a non-believer can attain to truth, though not to the higher truths of faith. A puzzling question naturally arises: Isn't one truth enough? Moreover, if God were indeed the object of rational inquiry in this supernatural way, why would faith be required at all?
In De Veritate 14,9 Thomas responds to this question by claiming that one cannot believe by faith and know by rational demonstration the very same truth since this would make one or the other kind of knowledge superfluous. On the basis of this two-fold theory of truth, Aquinas thus distinguished between revealed dogmatic theology and rational philosophical theology.
The former is a genuine science, even though it is not based on natural experience and reason. Revealed theology is a single speculative science concerned with knowledge of God. Because of its greater certitude and higher dignity of subject matter, it is nobler than any other science. Philosophical theology, though, can make demonstrations using the articles of faith as its principles. Moreover, it can apologetically refute objections raised against the faith even if no articles of faith are presupposed.
But unlike revealed theology, it can err. Aquinas claimed that the act of faith consists essentially in knowledge. Faith is an intellectual act whose object is truth. Thus it has both a subjective and objective aspect.
From the side of the subject, it is the mind's assent to what is not seen: Moreover, this assent, as an act of will, can be meritorious for the believer, even though it also always involves the assistance of God's grace.
Moreover, faith can be a virtue, since it is a good habit, productive of good works. However, when we assent to truth in faith, we do so on the accepted testimony of another. From the side of what is believed, the objective aspect, Aquinas clearly distinguished between "preambles of faith," which can be established by philosophical principles, and "articles of faith" that rest on divine testimony alone.
A proof of God's existence is an example of a preamble of faith. Faith alone can grasp, on the other hand, the article of faith that the world was created in time Summa Theologiae I, q. Aquinas argued that the world considered in itself offers no grounds for demonstrating that it was once all new. Demonstration is always about definitions, and definitions, as universal, abstract from "the here and now.
Of course this would extend to any argument about origination of the first of any species in a chain of efficient causes. Here Thomas sounds a lot like Kant will in his antinomies. Yet by faith we believe he world had a beginning. However, one rational consideration that suggests, though not definitively, a beginning to the world is that the passage from one term to another includes only a limited number of intermediate points between them.
Aquinas thus characterizes the articles of faith as first truths that stand in a "mean between science and opinion. Though he agrees with Augustine that no created intellect can comprehend God as an object, the intellect can grasp his existence indirectly.
The more a cause is grasped, the more of its effects can be seen in it; and since God is the ultimate cause of all other reality, the more perfectly an intellect understands God, the greater will be its knowledge of the things God does or can do.
So although we cannot know the divine essence as an object, we can know whether He exists and on the basis of analogical knowledge what must necessarily belong to Him. Aquinas maintains, however, that some objects of faith, such as the Trinity or the Incarnation, lie entirely beyond our capacity to understand them in this life. Aquinas also elucidates the relationship between faith and reason on the basis of a distinction between higher and lower orders of creation.
Aquinas criticizes the form of naturalism that holds that the goodness of any reality "is whatever belongs to it in keeping with its own nature" without need for faith II-IIae, q. Yet, from reason itself we know that every ordered pattern of nature has two factors that concur in its full development: The example is water: In the realm of our concrete knowledge of things, a lower pattern grasps only particulars, while a higher pattern grasps universals.
Given this distinction of orders, Thomas shows how the lower can indeed point to the higher. His arguments for God's existence indicate this possibility. From this conviction he develops a highly nuanced natural theology regarding the proofs of God's existence.
The first of his famous five ways is the argument from motion. Borrowing from Aristotle, Aquinas holds to the claim that, since every physical mover is a moved mover, the experience of any physical motion indicates a first unmoved mover. Otherwise one would have to affirm an infinite chain of movers, which he shows is not rationally possible. Aquinas then proceeds to arguments from the lower orders of efficient causation, contingency, imperfection, and teleology to affirm the existence of a unitary all-powerful being.
He concludes that these conclusions compel belief in the Judeo-Christian God. Conversely, it is also possible to move from the higher to the lower orders. Rational beings can know "the meaning of the good as such" since goodness has an immediate order to the higher pattern of the universal source of being II-IIae q.
The final good considered by the theologian differs, however, from that considered by the philosopher: Both forms of the ultimate good have important ramifications, since they ground not only the moral distinction between natural and supernatural virtues, but also the political distinction between ecclesial and secular power. Aquinas concludes that we come to know completely the truths of faith only through the virtue of wisdom sapientia.
Moreover, faith and charity are prerequisites for the achievement of this wisdom. Thomas's two-fold theory of truth develops a strong compatibilism between faith and reason. But it can be argued that after his time what was intended as a mutual autonomy soon became an expanding separation.
While the Dominicans tended to affirm the possibility of rational demonstrability of certain preambles of faith, the Franciscans tended more toward a more restricted theological science, based solely on empirical and logical analysis of beliefs.
Scotus first restricts the scope of Aquinas's rational theology by refuting its ability to provide arguments that stop infinite regresses. In fact he is wary of the attempts of natural theology to prove anything about higher orders from lower orders.
On this basis, he rejects the argument from motion to prove God's existence. He admits that lower beings move and as such they require a first mover; but he maintains that one cannot prove something definitive about higher beings from even the most noble of lower beings.
Instead, Scotus thinks that reason can be employed only to elucidate a concept. In the realm of theology, the key concept to elucidate is that of infinite being. So in his discussion of God's existence, he takes a metaphysical view of efficiency, arguing that there must be not a first mover, but an actually self-existent being which makes all possibles possible.
In moving towards this restricted form of conceptualist analysis, he thus gives renewed emphasis to negative theology. Ockham then radicalized Scotus's restrictions of our knowledge of God. He claimed that the Greek metaphysics of the 13th century, holding to the necessity of causal connections, contaminated the purity of the Christian faith.
He argued instead that we cannot know God as a deduction from necessary principles. In fact, he rejected the possibility that any science can verify any necessity, since nothing in the world is necessary: So science can demonstrate only the implications of terms, premises, and definitions.
It keeps within the purely conceptual sphere. Like Scotus he argued held that any necessity in an empirical proposition comes from the divine order. He concluded that we know the existence of God, his attributes, the immortality of the soul, and freedom only by faith. His desire to preserve divine freedom and omnipotence thus led in the direction of a voluntaristic form of fideism.
The Renaissance and Enlightenment Periods Ockham's denial of the necessity in the scope of scientific findings perhaps surprisingly heralded the beginnings of a significant movement towards the autonomy of empirical science. But with this increased autonomy came also a growing incompatibility between the claims of science and those of religious authorities. Thus the tension between faith and reason now became set squarely for the first time in the conflict between science and religion.
This influx of scientific thinking undermined the hitherto reign of Scholasticism. By the seventeenth century, what had begun as a criticism of the authority of the Church evolved into a full-blown skepticism regarding the possibility of any rational defense of fundamental Christian beliefs.
The Protestant Reformers shifted their emphasis from the medieval conception of faith as a fides belief that to fiducia faith in. Thus attitude and commitment of the believer took on more importance. The Reformation brought in its wake a remarkable new focus on the importance of the study of Scripture as a warrant for one's personal beliefs. The Renaissance also witnessed the development of a renewed emphasis on Greek humanism.
In the early part of this period, Nicholas of Cusa and others took a renewed interest in Platonism. The Galileo Controversy In the seventeenth century, Galileo understood "reason" as scientific inference based and experiment and demonstration.
Moreover, experimentation was not a matter simply of observation, it also involved measurement, quantification, and formulization of the properties of the objects observed. Though he was not the first to do attempt this systematization -- Archimedes had done the same centuries before - Galileo developed it to such an extent that he overthrew the foundations of Aristotelian physics.
He rejected, for example, Aristotle's claim that every moving had a mover whose force had to be continually applied. In fact it was possible to have more than one force operating on the same body at the same time.
Without the principle of a singular moved mover, it was also conceivable that God could have "started" the world, then left it to move on its own. The finding of his that sparked the great controversy with the Catholic Church was, however, Galileo's defense of Copernicus's rejection of the Ptolemaic geocentric universe.
Galileo used a telescope he had designed to confirm the hypothesis of the heliocentric system. He also hypothesized that the universe might be indefinitely large. Realizing that such conclusions were at variance with Church teaching, he followed Augustine's rule than an interpretation of Scripture should be revised when it confronts properly scientific knowledge. The officials of the Catholic Church - with some exceptions -- strongly resisted these conclusions and continued to champion a pre-Copernican conception of the cosmos.
The Church formally condemned Galileo's findings for on several grounds. First, the Church tended to hold to a rather literal interpretation of Scripture, particularly of the account of creation in the book of Genesis.
Such interpretations did not square with the new scientific views of the cosmos such as the claim that the universe is infinitely large. Second, the Church was wary of those aspects of the "new science" Galileo represented that still mixed with magic and astrology. Third, these scientific findings upset much of the hitherto view of the cosmos that had undergirded the socio-political order the Church endorsed.
Moreover, the new scientific views supported Calvinist views of determinism against the Catholic notion of free will. It took centuries before the Church officially rescinded its condemnation of Galileo. Erasmus Inspired by Greek humanism, Desiderius Erasmus placed a strong emphasis on the autonomy of human reason and the importance of moral precepts.
As a Christian, he distinguished among three forms of law: Paul had argued, laws of works, and laws of faith. He was convinced that philosophers, who study laws of nature, could also produce moral precepts akin to those in Christianity.
But Christian justification still comes ultimately only from the grace that can reveal and give a person the ability to follow the law of faith. As such, "faith cures reason, which has been wounded by sin. The Protestant Reformers Martin Luther restricted the power of reason to illuminate faith. Like many reformers, he considered the human being alone unable to free itself from sin.
In The Bondage of the Will, he makes a strict separation between what man has dominion over his dealings with the lower creatures and what God has dominion over the affairs of His kingdom and thus of salvation. Reason is often very foolish: But by its reflections on the nature of words and our use of language, it can help us to grasp our own spiritual impotence. Luther thus rejected the doctrine of analogy, developed by Aquinas and others, as an example of the false power of reason.
In his Heidelberg Disputation Luther claims that a theologian must look only "on the visible rearward parts of God as seen in suffering and the cross. Thus faith is primarily an act of trust in God's grace. Luther thus stresses the gratuitousness of salvation. In a traditional sense, Roman Catholics generally held that faith is meritorious, and thus that salvation involves good works.
Protestant reformers like Luther, on the other hand, held that indeed faith is pure gift. He thus tended to make the hitherto Catholic emphasis on works look voluntaristic. Like Luther, John Calvin appealed to the radical necessity of grace for salvation. This was embodied in his doctrine of election. But unlike Luther, Calvin gave a more measured response to the power of human reason to illuminate faith.
In his Institutes of the Christian Religion, he argued that the human mind possesses, by natural instinct, an "awareness of divinity. Even idolatry can contain as aspect of this. So religion is not merely arbitrary superstition. And yet, the law of creation makes necessary that we direct every thought and action to this goal of knowing God.
Despite this fundamental divine orientation, Calvin denied that a believer could build up a firm faith in Scripture through argument and disputation. He appealed instead to the testimony of Spirit embodied gained through a life of religious piety. Only through this testimony is certainty about one's beliefs obtained.
We attain a conviction without reasons, but only through "nothing other than what each believer experiences within himself--though my words fall far beneath a just explanation of the matter. Calvin is thus an incompatibilist of the transrational type: But he expanded the power of reason to grasp firmly the preambles of faith.
In his Meditations, he claimed to have provided what amounted to be the most certain proofs of God possible. God becomes explicated by means of the foundation of subjective self-certainty. His proofs hinged upon his conviction that God cannot be a deceiver. Little room is left for faith. Descartes's thinking prepared Gottfried Leibniz to develop his doctrine of sufficient reason. Leibniz first argued that all truths are reducible to identities.
From this it follows that a complete or perfect concept of an individual substance involves all its predicates, whether past, present, or future. From this he constructed his principle of sufficient reason: He uses this not only to provide a rigorous cosmological proof for God's existence from the fact of motion, but also to defend the cogency of both the ontological argument and the argument from design.
What was the relationship between faith and reason in the Middle Ages? - misjon.info
In his Theodicy Leibniz responded to Pierre Bayle, a French philosophe, who gave a skeptical critique of rationalism and support of fideism. First, Leibniz held that all truths are complementary, and cannot be mutually inconsistent.
He argued that there are two general types of truth: God can dispense only with the latter laws, such as the law of our mortality. A doctrine of faith can never violate something of the first type; but it can be in tension with truths of the second sort. Thus though no article of faith can be self-contradictory, reason may not be able to fully comprehend it.
Mysteries, such as that of the Trinity, are simply "above reason. We must weigh these decisions by taking into account the existence and nature of God and the universal harmony by which the world is providentially created and ordered. Leibniz insisted that one must respect the differences among the three distinct functions of reason: However, one sees vestiges of the first two as well, since an inquiry into truths of faith employs proofs of the infinite whose strength or weakness the reasoner can comprehend.
Baruch Spinozaa Dutch philosopher, brought a distinctly Jewish perspective to his rigorously rationalistic analysis of faith. Noticing that religious persons showed no particular penchant to virtuous life, he decided to read the Scriptures afresh without any presuppositions.
He found that Old Testament prophecy, for example, concerned not speculative but primarily practical matters. Obedience to God was one. He took this to entail that whatever remains effective in religion applies only to moral matters. He then claimed that the Scriptures do not conflict with natural reason, leaving it free reign.
No revelation is needed for morality. Moreover, he was led to claim that though the various religions have very different doctrines, they are very similar to one another in their moral pronouncements. Instead he focused on the way that we should act given this ambiguity.
He argued that since the negative consequences of believing are few diminution of the passions, some pious actions but the gain of believing is infinite eternal lifeit is more rational to believe than to disbelieve in God's existence.
This assumes, of course, both that God would not grant eternal life to a non-believer and that sincerity in one's belief in God is not a requirement for salvation.
As such, Pascal introduced an original form of rational voluntarism into the analysis of faith. Empiricism John Locke lived at a time when the traditional medieval view of a unified body of articulate wisdom no longer seemed plausible. Yet he still held to the basic medieval idea that faith is assent to specific propositions on the basis of God's authority. Yet unlike Aquinas, he argued that faith is not a state between knowledge and opinion, but a form of opinion doxa.
But he developed a kind of apology for Christianity: His aim was to demonstrate the "reasonableness of Christianity. Faith cannot convince us of what contradicts, or is contrary, to our knowledge. We cannot assent to a revealed proposition if it be contradictory to our clear intuitive knowledge. But propositions of faith are, nonetheless, understood to be "above reason.
The truth of original revelation cannot be contrary to reason. But traditional revelation is even more dependent on reason, since if an original revelation is to be communicated, it cannot be understood unless those who receive it have already received a correlate idea through sensation or reflection and understood the empirical signs through which it is communicated. For Locke, reason justifies beliefs, and assigns them varying degrees of probability based on the power of the evidence.
But faith requires the even less certain evidence of the testimony of others. In the final analysis, faith's assent is made not by a deduction from reason, but by the "credit of the proposer, as coming from God, in some extraordinary way of communication. Locke also developed a version of natural theology.
In An Essay Concerning Human Understanding he claims that the complex ideas we have of God are made of up ideas of reflection. For example, we take the ideas of existence, duration, pleasure, happiness, knowledge, and power and "enlarge every one of these with our idea of Infinity; and so putting them together, make our complex idea of God.
David Humelike Locke, rejected rationalism, but developed a more radical kind of empiricism than Locke had. He argued that concrete experience is "our only guide in reasoning concerning matters of fact. He supported this conclusion on two grounds.
First, natural theology requires certain inferences from everyday experience. The argument from design infers that we can infer a single designer from our experience of the world. Though Hume agrees that we have experiences of the world as an artifact, he claims that we cannot make any probable inference from this fact to quality, power, or number of the artisans. Second, Hume argues that miracles are not only often unreliable grounds as evidence for belief, but in fact are apriori impossible.
A miracle by definition is a transgression of a law of nature, and yet by their very nature these laws admit of no exceptions. Thus we cannot even call it a law of nature that has been violated. He concludes that reason and experience fail to establish divine infinity, God's moral attributes, or any specification of the ongoing relationship between the Deity and man.
But rather than concluding that his stance towards religious beliefs was one of atheism or even a mere Deism, Hume argued that he was a genuine Theist. He believed that we have a genuine natural sentiment by which we long for heaven. The one who is aware of the inability of reason to affirm these truths in fact is the person who can grasp revealed truth with the greatest avidity.
German Idealism Immanuel Kant was heavily influenced by Descartes's anthropomorphism and Spinoza 's and Jean Jacques Rousseau 's restriction of the scope of religion to ethical matters. Moreover, he wanted a view that was consistent with Newton's discoveries about the strict natural laws that govern the empirical world.
To accomplish this, he steered the scope of reason away from metaphysical, natural, and religious speculation altogether. Kant's claim that theoretical reason was unable to grasp truths about God effectively continued the contraction of the authority of scienta in matters of faith that had been occurring since the late medieval period. He rejected, then, the timeless and spaceless God of revelation characteristic of the Augustinian tradition as beyond human ken. This is most evident in his critique of the cosmological proof for the existence of God in The Critique of Pure Reason.
This move left Kant immune from the threat of unresolvable paradoxes. Nonetheless he did allow the concept of God as well as the ideas of immortality and the soul to become not a constitutive but a regulative ideal of reason. God's existence remains a necessary postulate specifically for the moral law. God functions as the sources for the summum bonum. Only God can guarantee an ideal conformity of virtue and happiness, which is required to fulfill the principle that "ought implies can.
Rational faith involves reliance neither upon God's word nor the person of Christ, but only upon the recognition of God as the source of how we subjectively realize our duties.
God is cause of our moral purposes as rational beings in nature. Yet faith is "free belief": Like Spinoza, Kant makes all theology moral theology. Since faith transcends the world of experience, it is neither doubtful nor merely probable.
Thus Kant's view of faith is complex: He provided a religion grounded without revelation or grace. It ushered in new immanentism in rational views of belief. Hegel, at the peak of German Idealismtook up Kant's immanentism but moved it in a more radical direction.
He claimed that in Kant, "philosophy has made itself the handmaid of a faith once more" though one not externally imposed but autonomously constituted. Hegel approved of the way Kant helped to modify the Enlightenment's dogmatic emphasis on the empirical world, particularly as evidenced in the way Locke turned philosophy into empirical psychology.
But though Kant held to an "idealism of the finite," Hegel thought that Kant did not extend his idealism far enough. Kant's regulative view of reason was doomed to regard faith and knowledge as irrevocably opposed.
Hegel argued that a further development of idealism shows have faith and knowledge are related and synthesized in the Absolute. Hegel reinterpreted the traditional proofs for God's existence, rejected by Kant, as authentic expressions of the need of finite spirit to elevate itself to oneness with God. In religion this attempt to identify with God is accomplished through feeling. Feelings are, however, subject to conflict and opposition. But they are not merely subjective.
The content of God enters feeling such that the feeling derives its determination from this content. Thus faith, implanted in one's heart, can be defended by the testimony of the indwelling spirit of truth. Hegel's thoroughgoing rationalism ultimate yields a form of panentheism in which all finite beings, though distinct from natural necessity, have no existence independent from it.
Thus faith is merely an expression of a finitude comprehensible only from the rational perspective of the infinite. Faith is merely a moment in our transition to absolute knowledge. The Nineteenth Century Physics and astronomy were the primary scientific concerns for theologians in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. But in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the sciences of geology, sociology, psychology, and biology became more pronounced.
Faith and Reason
Kant's understanding of God as a postulate of practical reason - and his dismissal of metaphysical and empirical support for religion -- soon led to the idea that God could be a mere projection of practical feeling or psychological impulse. Such an idea echoed Hobbes's claim that religion arises from fear and superstition.
Sigmund Freud claimed, for example, that religious beliefs were the result of the projection of a protective father figure onto our life situations. Although such claims about projection seem immune from falsification, the Freudian could count such an attempt to falsify itself simply as rationalization: The nineteenth century biological development most significant for theology was Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection.
It explained all human development on the basis simply of progressive adaptation or organisms to their physical environment. No reference to a mind or rational will was required to explain any human endeavor. Darwin himself once had believed in God and the immortality of the soul. But later he found that these could not count as evidence for the existence of God. He ended up an agnostic. On the one hand he felt compelled to affirm a First Cause of such an immense and wonderful universe and to reject blind chance or necessity, but on the other hand he remained skeptical of the capacities of humans "developed from a mind as low as that possessed by the lowest animals.
Not all nineteenth century scientific thinking, however, yielded skeptical conclusions. He concluded that the cultic practices of religion have the non-illusory quality of producing measurable good consequences in their adherents.
Moreover, he theorized that the fundamental categories of thought, and even of science, have religious origins. Almost all the great social institutions were born of religion. He was lead to claim that "the idea of society is the soul of religion": In the context of these various scientific developments, philosophical arguments about faith and reason developed in several remarkable directions in the nineteenth century.
Romanticism Friedrich Schleiermacher was a liberal theologian who was quite interested in problems of biblical interpretation. He claimed that religion constituted its own sphere of experience, unrelated to scientific knowledge. Thus religious meaning is independent of scientific fact. His Romantic fideism would have a profound influence on Kierkegaard. Socialism Karl Marx is well known as an atheist who had strong criticisms of all religious practice.
Much of his critique of religion had been derived from Ludwig Feuerbach, who claimed that God is merely a psychological projection meant to compensate for the suffering people feel. Rejecting wholesale the validity of such wishful thinking, Marx claimed not only that all sufferings are the result of economic class struggle but that they could be alleviated by means of a Communist revolution that would eliminate economic classes altogether.
Moreover, Marx claimed that religion was a fundamental obstacle to such a revolution, since it was an "opiate" that kept the masses quiescent. Religious beliefs thus arise from a cognitive malfunction: He came up with an unequivocal view of faith and reason much like Tertullian's strong incompatibilism. If Kant argued for religion within the limits of reason alone, Kierkegaard called for reason with the limits of religion alone.
Faith requires a leap. All arguments that reason derives for a proof of God are in fact viciously circular: Hegel tried to claim that faith could be elevated to the status of objective certainty. Seeking such certainly, moreover, Kierkegaard considered a trap: The radical trust of faith is the highest virtue one can reach. Kierkegaard claimed that all essential knowledge intrinsically relates to an existing individual. The aesthetic is the life that seeks pleasure. The ethical is that which stresses the fulfillment of duties.
Neither of these attains to the true individuality of human existence. But in the ethico-religious sphere, truth emerges in the authenticity of the relationship between a person and the object of his attention. With authenticity, the importance is on the "how," not the "what," of knowledge. It attains to a subjective truth, in which the sincerity and intensity of the commitment is key. This authenticity is equivalent to faith understood as "an objective uncertainty held fast in an appropriation-process of the most passionate inwardness.
Kierkegaard makes a similarly paradoxical claim in holding that "nothing historical can become infinitely certain for me except the fact of my own existence which again cannot become infinitely certain for any other individual, who has infinite certainty only of his own existence and this is not something historical.
Faith involves a submission of the intellect. It is not only hostile to but also completely beyond the grasp of reason. Though he never read Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche came up with remarkable parallels to his thought. Both stressed the centrality of the individual, a certain disdain for public life, and a hatred of personal weakness and anonymity. They also both attacked certain hypocrisies in Christendom and the overstated praise for reason in Kant and Hegel.
But Nietzsche had no part of Kierkegaard's new Christian individual, and instead defended the aesthetic life disdained by Kierkegaard against both morality and Christianity. So he critique religion not from Kierkegaard's epistemological perspective, but from a highly original moral perspective.
Nietzsche claimed that religion breeds hostility to life, understood broadly as will to power. Religion produces two types of character: In The Joyful Wisdom Nietzsche proclaims that God as a protector of the weak, though once alive, is now dead, and that we have rightly killed him.
Now, instead, he claims that we instead need to grasp the will to power that is part of all things and guides them to their full development completely within the natural world. For humans Nietzsche casts the will to power as a force of artistic and creative energy. Catholic Apologists Roman Catholics traditionally claimed that the task of reason was to make faith intelligible.
In the later part of the nineteenth century, John Cardinal Newman worked to defend the power of reason against those intellectuals of his day who challenged its efficacy in matters of faith. Though maintaining the importance of reason in matters of faith, he reduces its ability to arrive at absolute certainties.
In his Grammar of Assent, Newman argued that one assents to God on the basis of one's experience and principles. And one can do this by means of a kind of rational demonstration. And yet this demonstration is not actually reproducible by others; each of us has a unique domain of experience and expertise. Some are just given the capacity and opportunities to make this assent to what is demonstrated others are not.