Understanding faith and religion

Some see faith as being persuaded or convinced that something is true. Theologian Thomas Aquinas did not hold that faith is mere opinion:

Understanding faith and religion

Religious Belief and its Place in Society Published: August 15, Stephen R.

Faith and Understanding (Reason & Religion)

Reviewed by David Basinger, Roberts Wesleyan College This book is advertised as a philosophical discussion of religious belief and its place in society. For the most part this description is accurate. However, at times Clark strays.

For example, his discussion of the sense in which animals can be our friends chapter 5 is primarily a very interesting philosophical analysis of "friendship," with only cursory acknowledgement of the conceptualizations of animals in religious and general societal thought.

And while Clark's lengthy, detailed comparative discussion of the status of objective values in Platonic, Stoic, and Epicurean thought chapter 4 is of inherent interest, the discussion seems excessive and tangential, given the book's stated focus.

Understanding faith and religion

Occasionally, the discussion centers on Clark's own analysis of aspects of this faith-society relationship. For example, chapter 10 is a very interesting, nuanced presentation of his views on faith-based education and the appropriate role of religious values in our societal understanding of sex and war.

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The book is not, though, primarily a sustained explication of Clark's own understanding of faith and its place in society. By his own admission, the impetus for this book was Clark's exasperation with what he labels militant atheism.

Casual atheists, we are told, are those who have merely "lost interest in the thought of gods.

Understanding faith and religion

They routinely identify religious believers as bigots and are "like missionaries in thinking … that their own state of mind is obviously right" 6. Clark's primary goal in this book is to counter-attack such atheists.

That is, while we do learn much about Clark's own views on faith and its place in society, Clark's primary purpose is to defend religious belief and the acknowledged desire of religious believers to retain religious values in societal activity from militant atheistic criticism.

Probably most troubling to Clark is the fundamental assumption he believes undergirds all that militant atheists say and do: But this is simply "silly," we are told All truth claims, whether "scientific" or "religious," are based on metaphysical and ethical assumptions about the nature of reality that cannot themselves be "proved" in a non-question-begging manner and thus, in a very real sense, all truth claims are based on faith -- i.

Clark also repeatedly argues that militant atheists don't don't want to? Sophisticated believers have long realized that religious "scriptures need to be interpreted as a whole, and within an appropriate oral tradition" 62 and, accordingly, that what they are intended to learn may be true "even if 'historical' inferences that have sometimes been drawn from its record are -- sometimes -- inaccurate" or the literal language not self-consistent Another example of this type of doctrinal misrepresentation, from Clark's perspective, is the misguided assumption by militant atheists that religion is anti-evolutionary.

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There are, Clark points out, actually three related but distinct evolutionary claims about life on our planet: The first two are seen as rather uncontroversially true.

For example, it is nearly universally held by educated believers, Clark maintains, that "God may as easily create the world by evolutionary stages as by discrete, creative actions" However, he sees the third claim in a different light.

But the further contention that natural selection and random variation must alone be responsible is not a confirmed hypothesis but rather a naturalistic assumption based on the question-begging metaphysical belief that there can be no supernatural reality Yet another example of such doctrinal misrepresentation, as Clark sees it, is the confused assumption by militant atheists and many analytic philosophers of religion that to believe in God is to affirm a certain set of properties, as this abstracts God from the common understanding and practice of believers Once we realize that the stories about God told in sacred texts need not be taken to tell us straightforward truths, we are in a better position to understand what is really being said about God.

For example, we are told, the question of what it means for God to be omnipotent has nothing to do with such questions as whether God can create a stone that God cannot lift. To say that God is omnipotent is to say with the author of Romans that "nothing in all creation … can separate us from the love of God" And to say God is omniscient is not to make a claim about God's infallible knowledge of all future events.

It is to say that "nothing is hidden from God" Another key focus of Clark's critique of militant atheists is what he sees as the very dubious normative foundation on which their attacks on religion are based and the unintended and normally unacknowledged consequences of this normative position.

The fact that militant atheists can feel such rage, Clark points out, is homage to the fact that they believe there to be real, objective values against which they can judge religion and find it wanting.

However, if militant atheists are correct in assuming that we exist in a closed, evolved natural system, he continues, then there can be no transcendent values -- no real, objective values -- on which we can make objective normative judgments.

The basis for judgment, rather, is reduced to personal taste or private whims ; But if this is so, then mercy and justice, for example, are not the objective values militant atheists assume them to be so these atheists can't justifiably use these concepts to make the critique of religion that they believe should be persuasive to all open-mined, rational individuals Faith in the religious sphere means that we trust the teaching of a religion: these teachings can include a god concept or not.

• Religion is the means by which people universally exhibit their faith. Paul Helm closely examines the stance, 'faith seeking understanding', looking at examples of philosophical work on one or other article of the Christian faith, or on some crucial underpinning of it. It is true that scientists take certain things on faith.

Religion | Psychology Today

It is also true that religious narratives might speak to human needs that scientific theories can’t hope to satisfy. NEWMAN Faith, Spirituality, and Religion: A Model for Understanding the Differences Leanne Lewis Newman * The terms faith, spirituality, and religion are often used interchangeably.

Without understanding, there cannot be true faith, and that understanding is built on the foundation of the community of believers, the scriptures and traditions and on the personal experiences of the believer.

Faith and Understanding is the first book-length study of the "faith seeking understanding" program and the central issues that arise from it—the relation between faith and reason, the claims of natural theology, and the pursuit of the vision of God.4/5(1).

God, Our Father: Understanding Faith, Belief, and Reason | Religious Studies Center