The Nature And Roles Of Faith And Reason In The Life Of A Christian

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There are many problems that weigh on the life of man and very often man goes in search of the truth that lies behind these problems. Traditionally, faith and reason have been considered to be sources of justification for religious belief. Because both purportedly serve this same epistemic function, it has been a matter of much interest to philosophers and theologians how the two are related and thus how the rational agent should treat claims derived from either source.

Some have held that there can be no conflict between the two- that reason properly employed and faith properly understood will never produce competing claims, where others have maintained that faith and reason can (or even must) be in genuine contention over certain propositions or methodologies. Those who have taken the latter view disagree as to whether faith or reason ought to prevail when the two are in conflict. Kierkegaard for instance, prioritizes faith even to the point that it becomes positively irrational, while Locke emphasizes the reasonableness of faith to such an extent that a religious doctrine’s irrationality- conflict with itself or with known facts- is a sign that it is unsound. Other thinkers have theorized that faith and reason can govern their own separate domains, such that cases of apparent conflict are resolved on the side of faith when the claim in question is, say, a religious or theological claim, but resolved on the side of reason when the disputed claim is, for example, empirical or logical. Some relatively recent philosophers, most notably the logical positivists, have denied that there is a domain of thought or human existence rightly governed by faith, asserting instead that all meaningful statements and ideas are accessible to thorough rational examination. This has presented a challenge to religious thinkers to explain how an admittedly non-rational or translational form of language can hold meaningful cognitive content. It is based on these that the philosophy of Saint Augustine of Hippo has become a veritable ground to attempt to quench this controversy and problem of faith and reason. Faith and reason are like two wings on which the spirit rises to the contemplation of truth. There is no incompatibility between the two, but rather an ultimate harmony. Faith is not opposed to reason; rather it requires the full development of reason. And reason itself requires faith in order to strengthen and guide it.


The key philosophical issue regarding the problem of faith and reason is to work out how the authority of faith and the authority of reason interrelate in the process by which a religious belief is justified or established as true. The questions raised are: How shall we Christians deal with apparent conflicts between faith and reason, between teaching of the bible and the teachings of science? As a special case, how shall we deal with apparent conflicts between what the Bible initially seems to tell us about the origin and development of life, and what contemporary science seems to tell us about it? We have two principles in operation, reason on the one side, and faith leaning on authority on the other; and if the one should be at discord with the other, how are the respective claims of each to be settled? Throughout this work the principle is affirmed and reaffirmed that faith and reason are really complementary, and neither should be sacrificed for the other.


The purpose of this work is to expose the nature and roles of faith and reason in our lives, how they influence and have need of one another in the attainment of truth. Also it is aimed at bringing faith and reason within the grasp of many lay readers. And it is expected that at the end of this paper that Christians will take delight in understanding and contemplating that which they believe, and that they might be prepared to give satisfactory answers to those who ask them for the reason for that hope which lies within them.


The researcher adopted the phenomenological method: critical exposition and textual analysis of relevant materials. Both books written by Saint Augustine and works written by various scholars that have proven to be of great relevance to the given literature, and then commentaries, articles, encyclopedia and other richly endowed documentaries and publications, library were used.


The research centers on the philosophy of Saint Augustine of Hippo, with special focus on the interdependence or philosophical relationship that lies between faith and reason in the attainment of truth and how the two are to be treated in our lives.


What do I care about knowledge? What can a Christian and a non- Christian gain from this work? Is it of any usefulness to human life and salvation? Yes. This work is written for the general reader who wants to know more about these questions: Is Christian belief rational? What is the best way of helping other people see the reasonableness of Christian faith? Can faith and reason still be thought as incompatible? Can a man of faith be a man of reason as well? Does reason confuse and lead the man of faith into unbelief? Can faith still be viewed as an arbitrary influence upon human intellect? This work can serve as a useful tool to them who lacking conscience attack God with pure reason, also to enquirers of rationalism and revelation. It will also strive to correct the notion of the layman, scientists, psychologists, religious fanatics and Christian believers. It intensifies the need for every faith to be based on reason and every reason to be likewise based on faith. This is because, as faith is the logical foundation for all reasoning, so also, reason is a necessary condition for a well meaning and grounded faith.


1. Platinga Alvin, When Faith and Reason Clash: Evolution and Bible (University of Notre Dame- Christian scholars’ Review XXI: 1, September 1991) 1.

2. Donald A. Crosby, Faith and Reason: Their Roles in Religious and Secular Life (New York: State University of New York Press, 2011) X.

3. Mircea Eliade (ed), the Encyclopedia of Religion (Macmilan and Free Press, 1987) Vol. 1 (520- 526).

4. “Faith and reason,” Internet encyclopedia of philosophy (IEP).

5. George Galloway, Faith and Reason in Religion (London: Nisbet & Co. Ltd., 1927) 9- 17.

6. John E. Fagan, Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason), from the Teachings of Pope John Paul II: Summaries of Papal Documents (New York: Scepter Publishers, 2005) 64- 71.

7. John Paul II, “Chapter VI: Encyclical Letter, Fides et Ratio of the Supreme Pontiff to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Relationship Between Faith and Reason”.

8. Dick Sztanyo, Faith and Reason (Apologetics Press Inc., 1996) 1.

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  1. okafor innocent a October 4, 2017

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