What is the Relationship Between Faith and Reason?

  • Most people have incorrectly come to say that faith is accepting something blindly, without evidence, or even contrary to evidence.
  • However, faith is defined differently; faith means to take something by authority, as contrasted to by empirical evidence. For example, if I test something via demonstration in a repeatable experiment, this is empirical testing, it is not faith. But if an expert tells me that something is true, and I accept this fact, then I have accepted the fact from faith. It is faith because I am believing it without having seen a demonstration.
  • Faith is built upon belief that the source is credible. No one believes something for no reason whatsoever. Rather, they believe based on the credibility of the source. Everyone who believed anything did so due to belief that it was a logical, reasonable thing to do.
  • Faith is not an excuse for ignorance or a blind faith.
  • Therefore faith is built upon reason. Christianity presents us with credible evidence, then asks us to take the next step of faith.
  • Further, virtually no statement of reason is without some degree of faith. Anything we believe about the world is based upon some faith, such as being able to know cause and effect, that we can trust our senses, etc.
  • As Christians, we have a reasonable faith. No one ever believed Christianity because they thought it was absurd or illogical.

 In Christianity, faith and reason come together in the following ways:

  • Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11;6).
  • Reason can show us that God exists, but not produce faith in God, because faith involves an act of the will. 
  • Reason cannot force the will to believe.
  • Some truths cannot be discovered by reason, but must be revealed. However, these truths can be shown to be logical and reasonable once they have been revealed to us.
  • Because God is the author of both reason and faith, there need not be a conflict between them.
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About humblesmith

Christian Apologist & Philosopher
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12 Responses to What is the Relationship Between Faith and Reason?

  1. portal001 says:

    Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

    Hebrews 11:1

    But what separates one faith from another, evidence and reason?

    Why is it that our understanding of God seems to come from (1) books and (2) what other people say about Him?

    Who are we accepting on faith then? God?

    Or what other people have said and have wrote about God?

    • humblesmith says:

      The verse you quoted shows that faith is substance and based on evidence. It is not vapor or blind.

      What separates one faith from another is the amount of reasonableness it has and the validity of the authority that gave us the message. Christianity is based on the apostles, who were eyewitnesses, and had messages revealed to them by God. The miracles that they performed testify to the validity of their message.
      We accept God’s message given to us by God’s messenger, and do so through evidence and reason, not by demonstration.

  2. portal001 says:

    So where is the evidence? I read plenty of logical defenses, but does it go beyond words?

  3. portal001 says:

    unless faith is the evidence?

  4. portal001 says:

    One of the problems with logic is that even if someone begins with a false premise, their case can still appear logically sound, for example:

    If the streets are wet, it has rained recently. (premise)
    The streets are wet. (premise)
    Therefore it has rained recently. (conclusion)

    This argument is logically valid, but quite demonstrably wrong, because its first premise is false – one could hose down the streets, the local river could have flooded ect.

    I took this example off Wikipedia,

    The point is that even if this is what a person’s syllogism is based on, then it is very hard to refute. If the premise cannot be refuted, (eg. God did it) then a person’s case can still appear to be logically sound, without necessarily being true. The complexity with asserting such a premise is that you could assert any creator as the beginning cause.

    So do we have any verification that goes beyond words? Rather than faith (trust)?

  5. portal001 says:

    I wasn’t refuting logic, sorry if I came off that way. I was just pointing out that there are problems when using logic to convince people that God exists, since it seems that the first premise cannot be proven. I think it primarily rests on faith, not logic, since God cannot be measured or tested.
    I really wish you wouldn’t be so dismissive sometimes in responding to questions. Where did I state that syllogisms are not a good way to figure things out? My point was that there are limitations on building a case for God based on syllogisms, since the first premise is then based on faith and not necessarily observation – Which personally I think is ok, since God asks us to trust Him, which is faith based. Thank you for the links :)

  6. portal001 says:

    From a theist perspective, I think it’s ok to rest in faith. Christianity seems to teach that right belief is primary, and right action is the fruits of right belief.

    These beliefs are accepted on trust rather than just observation of the world around us. If the starting point is then belief (since right belief is primary) then Christians start with their beliefs first, and then see the outside world through these primary beliefs. However, There are some core beliefs no Christian can diverge from. For the Christian, it seems that the starting point is trust in right belief.

  7. portal001 says:

    And by saying that God is asking us to trust Him, that also involves the writers of the text, asking us to trust them, and also those people who interpreted and translated the texts to also trust them.

    We’re not just asked to trust God, but to trust the whole process that gave us this written account about God, and the people involved in that process.

  8. portal001 says:

    All logic, reason and apologetics follow from what is considered to be right belief, not the other way around.

    For many Christians, it seems the starting point is their orthodoxy. All cases of logic and reason stem from this right belief, which cannot be changed. Now if the premise cannot be changed, since some people believe these right beliefs are necessary for our very salvation, then how could a Christian respond in any other way? Observations of the outside world are then seen through right belief, rather than belief being based solely through observation of the outside world. Cases are then built from right belief, rather than primarily the observation of the outside world. This doesn’t discount the value or validity of orthodoxy in any way. It’s just an observation.

    Kind regards, Ryan

  9. portal001 says:

    Typo: right action are* the fruits of right belief

  10. portal001 says:

    If the most important emphasis is the right belief, How could a Christian respond in any other wa,y but to build cases to defend what they consider to be right belief?

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