Saturday, November 07, 2009

The difference between reason and faith?

I think there will always be some tension between faith and reason. Although both are a source of beliefs, they differ in the way beliefs are obtained.

I would define reason as believing in things that can be demonstrated through the five senses. Demonstration helps us to reach some agreement about what is 'true' and what is 'false' about the world around us. If any claim about human experience can be adequately demonstrated, then we are justified in placing some provisional confidence in that claim. Science, for example, uses reason a great deal to assist us in reaching defensible conclusions about how the universe works. In other words, reason provides us with justified (i.e., demonstrable) beliefs about the nature of existence.

I would define faith as believing in things for which we cannot demonstrate through the five senses. This is the opposite of reason. Thus, beliefs acquired through faith are not justified, in the sense that they cannot be adequately demonstrated. Thus, it is often difficult to test the validity of such beliefs. The validity of faith-based beliefs might not matter to an individual who uses faith simply as a source for finding meaning and purpose in life. But to someone like an atheist, who is concerned about adopting beliefs that are justified, faith is often regarded as an inadequate tool for determining what we should, and should not, believe about the world around us.

What do you think?