Faith and Reason

by Christopher Mark Van Allsburg (Chapter Director of Ratio Christi Lenoir-Rhyne University*)

We’ve seen that the faith the Bible commends toward those who believe in Jesus Christ is never a faith without reasons or evidences. However, some contend that to have faith in the message of the Bible requires blind faith, because we are not in the first century as eyewitnesses of the life and ministry of Jesus and the Apostles. “If,” we say, “we could only transport ourselves back in time and see Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead, we would believe. But until then, all we have is a book, and while we believe it, we simply have to have a faith without good reasons. We have to have a blind faith.”

The notion that faith is belief in something without evidence comes from many sources, most notably among current critics of Christianity is atheist Richard Dawkins. However, the notion of blind faith is attributed (wrongly, according to some) to Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard reacted to the Enlightenment thinking that pure reason

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and evidence were all man needed in order to build a house of knowledge. Many philosophers have since repudiated this idea, but the notion still runs deep in Western society: faith is irrational, illogical, without reason, and devoid of evidence, while reason and evidence, by contrast, are the tools which we use to prove things beyond a shadow of a doubt. We have certainty of the things we wish to know by using these tools, and faith is left to things “unprovable,” such as belief in God, miracles, the resurrection of Jesus, and so on.

For example, when we think of archeology, biology, math, architecture, engineering, or whether or not there is a package of crackers in the pantry, we think of a principle by which we can verify the facts: check the evidence. Measure, experiment, hypothesize, draw conclusions. When we think of things like the Bible, belief in God, the life and ministry of Jesus, or even the nature of love, for example, we categorize these items under the “faith” category…

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RC*Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, North Carolina is our newest chapter to receive official status from the host university. The Chapter Director is Chris Van Allsburg. Ratio Christi, a Christian apologetics ministry at Lenoir-Rhyne, has as its primary goal to offer Christian students a chance to learn how to think through intellectual issues that challenge the classic, orthodox, Christian message (like that found in The Apostle’s Creed). Students thinking through these issues are confronted with such questions as rationality and the existence of God, the exclusivity of the gospel, the problem of evil, the authority of Scripture, human sexuality, faith and works, and the nature of faith (is it blind, absent of knowledge, or is it evidential?). We have hosted speakers on a whole range of topics from abortion, atheism, postmodernism & free speech, women’s rights, violence in the OT, and archaeology and the OT.