Faith and Reason
The argument is that faith understood properly and reason cannot contradict each other. William and William Clifford hold contrary opinions concerning their understanding of faith and reason. William supports faith implying that it is important in personal relations, morality, and faith. On the other hand, Clifford supports reason because according to him, no idea can be isolated. In this essay, I support William William’s argument that faith is necessary in social life, and it should be morally permissible in religious matters. Faith also is a societal practice that every succeeding generation inherits. The cycle continues, making faith to keep corrupting the society with untested knowledge. As such, faith can make the society lose the habit of testing things before accepting them to be the truth.
In trying to support his claims, William states that there are some questions that cannot wait for sensible proof. For instance, without faith, it could be impossible to live social lives. Religious principles are based on faith, often divided into Scienta or Sapientia. 1 Scienta refers to religious beliefs that can be demonstrable while Sapientia refers to a believer’s virtuous practices. The religious faith can be classified as evidence sensitive faith and evidence insensitive faith. In evidence-sensitive faith, faith is closely coordinated with demonstrable truths while the evidence-insensitive faith depends on only the will of the believer. Testimony and works of other believers comprise some of the evidence-sensitive faith. Additionally, Clifford admits that because not everyone in society is an expert in seeking knowledge, other people have reason to believe the findings of other people’s research.
Some people would just need to rely on the research of experts in various fields to come up with conclusions. Those that do not have the means or expertise will have little choice but to believe the findings of the researchers. William argues that people have a right to believe in some cases that have insufficient supporting evidence. For instance, when making moral decisions about something, the scientific reason proposed by Clifford cannot be helpful in such a case. Additionally, failing to make a decision is also a decision on its own. The decision not to make a choice has its consequences as well, and the decision does not require scientific evidence. According to William, religious belief is a forced or momentous option.
For example, one may decide to remain unmarried indefinitely to avoid a divorce but forfeits the good that marriage has to offer. In the same way, religious belief teaches ways that can bring good to the believer. Clifford shows concern towards the lives of the people from his arguments. This is a religious characteristic in itself. By showing concern for people’s lives, Clifford shows love and concern over other people, a concept that religion encourages. Therefore, in some way, Clifford unknowingly supports the concepts of religion despite his argument against belief. William also states that there is a philosophical and religious perspective of belief. William explores the issue of faith and reason with an open mind. He does not refute the importance of reason in the acquisition of knowledge and decision making.
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