Clearly this perceived tension between faith and reason is a common and widespread misunderstanding. Many it seems, believe that "faith" and "reasoned, rational thought" are mutually exclusive. That one must "believe" in spite of what reason or evidence tells you. Or as some suggest, when going to church, check your brains at the door. By extension, many believe that faith and science are also at odds - that you can not be a good scientist if you have faith in God; and that true believers in the Christian faith are necessarily antagonistic toward properly applied science.   All of these are incorrect and to understand why, we must go back to goal, the point of faith and reason.

What is goal of reason?  And of Faith?  The goal of reason is to identify truth. D. Q. McInerny, author of Being Logical states

 "The whole purpose of reasoning, of logic, is to arrive at the truth of things."4 

What is the goal of faith, speaking specifically of the Christian faith? The Christian faith is all about knowledge of the truth. Jesus says he came to testify about the truth (John 18.37), that he in fact is truth (John 14.6); that the truth will set you free (John 8.32); and that knowledge of the true God, and Jesus (who is truth) leads to eternal life (John 17.3).  So in other words, the point of the Christian faith is to identify and know the truth - ultimate truth; and according to Jesus once you properly identify and properly respond to that truth (by believing), God is pleased to grant you eternal life.  But don't be distracted by the promise of eternal life. The point I'm making is that the goal of reason and faith are the same: to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. (And in passing, the goal of science is also to arrive at truth5 - but that's a discussion for another time.)

If the goal is the same, why is it then, that so many think that faith and reason are at odds? If  reason and faith are both striving for the same goal - truth - those following either discipline should arrive at the same destination - at least in the areas to which both disciplines address themselves - such as ultimate truth.  And that is precisely my point and my firm belief, and one of the motivating factors behind this blog - to show that both faith and reason, properly understood, guide you to the same place - the true God, creator of the universe, the God of  the souls of all mankind.

Thus my main problem with the statement above from Wikipedia and all others who see varying degrees of conflict or incompatibility between faith and reason is that such an understanding mistakenly casts the two as opposites in an either / or proposition.  In that light, you either have reason OR you have faith - not both. Atheists like Richard Dawkins try to drive that point home. This blog is to demonstrate that those who think rationally not only have good reason to trust in rational thought, but also have good reason to trust in the Christian Faith - because it is a faith based on evidences and confirmed by reason, and so it is a wholly rational faith (no pun intended).

This leaves us with a lot of questions such as: If Science and Faith have the same goal - truth - why do many see them as being at odds? Are there different types of truth? Do science and faith lead to the same kind of "truth"? If the Christian faith is so rational, why are so many scientists atheists? If Christianity is "rational" and "reasonable", why does so much of what Christians believe seem to be in conflict with what scientists and the world at large believes? All good questions but too much for one blog post. So we'll have to return to these issues in the days to come. For now, let me answer the initial question of what rational faith is not with this summary:

  1. Rational Faith (or faith properly understood) is  not in conflict with reason; they are not contradictory - they are complementary
  2. Faith and reason are not mutually exclusive
  3. Faith and reason are not an either / or proposition; they are a both / and proposition; they work together; not against each other
  4. Faith is not reliant solely on "authority" or "revelation"; it is strongly based in evidences of various types

Now we've seen what rational faith is not. Next we'll see what rational faith is.

Duane Caldwell  |  posted 3-2-2014 | Part 2


1 10 Days that Unexpectedly Changed America Episode 7: Scopes: The Battle Over America's Soul TV series Documentary, 2006
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2 Dawkins, Richard Enemies of Reason Documentary, 2007
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3 First written at any rate, though I wound up electing to post select pieces of evidences ahead of this post so they would be available for my atheists acquaintances on their first visit.
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4 McInerny, D.Q.  Being Logical, A Guide to Good Thinking  New York: Random House 2005, p. 19
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5 That science is ultimately concerned with truth is a point rarely discussed, but is acknowledged when necessary, as in this response from a writer for Scientific America who states:

"Letís understand one thing loud and clear; science is concerned with the truth. It really is."
 Ashutosh Jogalekar "Creationists are wrong. Science is actually concerned with the truth" 7/19/13  "The Curious Wavefunction" blog on Scientific American

The Institute for Creation Research (ICR) takes it a step further stating the point of science is to measure theories against absolute truth; implying the goal is to discover elements of truth that are not known.

ICR "The Foundation of Science Is Absolute Truth" accessed 1/28/14