By: Hendrik van der Breggen
For some people, the relationship between faith and reason is like oil and water—they don’t mix. On this view, religious beliefs cannot and should not be subject to rational evaluation.
I disagree with this view.
To defend my disagreement, I will look at some objections to the use of reason when it comes to matters having to do with God, then I will set out some replies.
Objections to the use of reason
Objection 1. At the core of a religious belief system are some fundamental assumptions about the world, and these cannot be tested by reason.
Objection 2. Rational inquiry is open ended: on an ongoing basis we need to consider newly turned up bits of relevant evidence, so a proof is never had, and so a reason-based decision about God must be put off indefinitely—hence reason is of no help.
Objection 3. When it comes to God, we must make a leap of faith. Faith involves risk and commitment, and faith is purely subjective—these are different from reason.
Objection 4. God is “wholly other” (utterly transcendent) and thus beyond the capacity of reason to grasp.
Objection 5. Using reason makes reason one’s God, placing reason above God—and thereby one commits idolatry.