The Relationship between Faith and Reason in Christian Philosophy

The Relationship between Faith and Reason in Christian Philosophy

June 28, 2021 Off By Felso

Changes are observed in the judgments put forward in Christian philosophy regarding the relationship between faith and reason. Although there are changes in judgments, the relationship between faith and reason is more in the center of belief for Christian philosophy thinkers. Reason exists to understand belief. Believing comes before the act of knowing. This situation affected all fields of knowledge such as physics, chemistry, astronomy and medicine.

At the beginning of the Patristic Period, Tertullian said, “I believe it because it is unbelievable (nonsense).” makes a comparison between reason and belief by making judgments. He opposes both Greek philosophy and the views that try to explain Christianity on a logical level. He states that there is a limit to the mind, that some things cannot be understood with the mind, so he believes.

Clemens, “I believe in order to understand.” He criticized Tertullian with his judgment. He emphasizes that what is believed must be confirmed by reason. Augustine also tried to ground belief with reason and said that belief comes before reason, “I believe in order to understand.” joined the judiciary. This judgment points to belief as the first condition in the process of knowing. In the Scholastic Period, with the influence of Aristotle, the importance of the mind increased compared to the first period in the relationship between faith and reason, and the knowledge of the Christian religion was tried to be taught systematically. In this respect, reason has been used to ground the belief and teach it systematically. In addition, towards the end of the Scholastic Period, there are opinions that reason and belief are separate fields. The prominent philosophers of this period are Anselmus, Thomas of Aquino, and William of Ockham.

Early in the Scholastic Period, Anselmus said, “I believe in order to understand.” participates in his judgment and tries to justify the belief with reason. He tries not to prove belief with reason, but to explain the knowledge brought by believing with reason. Thomas of Aquino, “I believe in order to understand.” His judgment is “I know so that I can believe.” turns it into judgment. With this, he explains that belief and mind belong to two separate fields of knowledge, but this does not mean that there is no relationship between them, and that it is difficult to know some knowledge of the field of mind and belief.

William of Ockham argued that belief and reason are two separate fields that are independent of each other and opposed the intervention of belief into reason and reason into belief. The emergence of philosophers who think like this on the stage of history is towards the Renaissance at the end of the Scholastic Period. Because the existence of a field of knowledge without belief is seen as an insult to the Christian religion during this period.

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook, MEB Philosophy Textbook