Where to Start?

 

    Before we set forth what we will do in this section (see below), we wish to say some things by way of introduction.  We have suggested that defining terms like “faith” and “reason” are important to parsing out potential conflicts and harmonies between the two notions.  We are not going to do that just yet, because we want to come at the issue after thinking about general parlance--and putative beliefs that are thought to define this subject. 


    There are a number of ways we hear this subject linguistically broached in both the academic and non-academic setting.  One hears things like, “faith and reason are like oil and water, they don’t mix.”  “Faith” is sometimes described in terms of believing and “reason” is spoken of in terms of knowing.  Some atheists say that faith is believing what you know to be false.  Other, slightly more charitable atheists say it is believing without any evidence and still more charitably, some say, it is believing without GOOD evidence.  And there is stream among some Christian theists called fideists who would go along with some of that--perhaps Tertulian would fit into that category.  However, there are other Christians like Augustine who have thought about the relationship in terms of having “faith seeking understanding.”  Here the idea “seeking understanding” is reminiscent of C.S. Lewis when he said, “I believe in Christianity as I believe the sun is risen; not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”


    Still others that say that the Christian and the naturalist (brand) of atheism are in similar epistemic boats--to get things off the ground they have to believe certain things without buttressing arguments.  All starting points are alleged to require some epistemic circularity and thus all need “faith” to get things off the ground.  But we think you can see that all definitional characterizations along those lines are potentially tendentious.  Further, the conversation is rife with definitional ambiguities because those terms can mean several things besides an explicit technical definition use.


     There are two groups of Christians who have problems with understanding the term “faith” merely as gratuitous believing.  There are many Christians theists who think their faith is grounded in good evidence or at least on the preponderance of evidence.  There is also a very distinguished and sophisticated band of Christian philosophers who hold that theism is rational without propositional arguments!  They do not, however, hold that theistic belief is arbitrary or gratuitous (as apparently the fideists do) because they also claim there needs to be sufficient (non-propositional) grounding that occurs in certain situations.  Thus they refuse the label of fideists.   The second case makes a weaker claim than the former.  The latter alleges that it is within her epistemic rights (rational) to believe based on how her beliefs were formed (by a properly functioning brain in a environment conducive to forming true beliefs) and the former more strongly claims that all rational people should be persuaded by her propositional evidence (arguments). 


    So it is useful to note and remember besides the fideist Christians there is always these two big streams (broad categories) in Christian apologetics: the evidentialists and the presuppositionalists with regard to getting knowledge off the ground.  Both of these groups hold that theism is rational, but have different grounds for thinking it to be so and different understandings to what degree they are rational.


    Each of these two big streams also have within those broad streams certain individualized nuanced views and close cousins.  For example, among the evidentialists there are those apologists who distinguish various means and kinds of arguments to provide support for Christianity that differ from others in the stream.  The same is true for the presuppositional stream; that is, there are those who think of themselves as entitled to hold whatever presuppositions they choose because it is alleged no one can argue TO their starting assumptions, only FROM them.  And there are others within that particular stream (mentioned above) who think holding “properly basic beliefs” or “warranted Christian beliefs” needs certain grounding situations that are necessary for holding the starting point belief as justified.  So an important thing to see is that these two main schools of thought also have nuanced differences within their streams.


    Still even with these details and distinctions it is challenging to try to unpack this disputation in completely apologetically neutral terms, so it may be helpful to get some sense of the received tradition and from there see where we might want to agree or depart.  We shouldn’t be too surprised that this discussion about faith and reason emerged or was at least sharpened in focus as far back as when the medieval consensus began to break down due in part to the impact of the Renaissance and especially spurred on by the Enlightenment’s emerging influence. 


    We’re not intending in this introduction to identify where exactly all this started.  What we wish to do is understand the received tradition with enough clarity to be sure we understand what it is saying, to determine if what it is saying is credible and then, if so, to what degree.  Our experience and intuitions going into the quest is that developments in the period of modern philosophy, along with the advancements of modern science beginning in the late 16th century put Christian faith on the defensive.  But were these developments always understood properly and could mistakes have been made in our Western tradition? 


    We think so, especially in places where it came to be believed that only “science” (understood as the scientific method or the results of that method) were the ONLY things that were worth discussing in terms as being either true or false.  The error of excluding the non-empirical from the discussion regarding truth was extended when it was also thought that what science said on any topic or domain was to be the authoritative explanation--a position that is known as “scientism.”


    We think it is proper and that it is NOT anti-science to call into question these positivistic strains of thought, but before we get into that and get ahead of ourselves we want to explore how these ideas came to be a part of the received tradition.


    Having said that by way of introduction, here’s what we wish to do in this section:  1) one of the ways we think the received tradition went astray was to accept a logical positivist approach to knowledge.  In Part A we will sketch some of the proximate roots of that movement in the history of ideas.  In Part B we will move from a discussion of the roots of logical positivism to some of its subsequent shoots (influences) in the sciences and humanities.  This will include 1) discussing what is typically called “scientism”--the attempt to universalize the scientific method for all domains of knowledge, 2) discussing the contemporary tendency to naturalize all explanations of phenomena and why that can be problematic and 3) some discussion of a couple forms of post-modernism.  In the summary we will pull together the main ideas to take away from of our assessment.  We think our assessment can be of value for Christian scholars who wish to do Christian scholarship, and especially for Christian apologists who wish to defend our faith in the academic setting.


    All this will prepare us for the next section where we will look at what Christian scholars and Christian apologists might do to take the next steps.


Part A - An Influential Moment: The Roots and Rise of Logical Positivism


    So let’s begin by trying to get a sense of what has been meant about the term “reason.”  Entering the conversation at the beginning of the modern period in philosophy--a period that eschewed the authorities from the ancient world and urged people to think for themselves--were people like Descartes, Locke, Hume and especially Kant to name a few.  This period overlaps some of the Renaissance but it mainly played a determinative role in shaping the Enlightenment period. 


    We also think the development of the received tradition was significantly affected by the rise of modern science, through the thought and achievements of people like Francis Bacon, Galileo, Newton, Faraday,  and Einstein.  It is an influence that continues to shape the dialogue about this up to today.  Thus it is helpful to see that the two developments (philosophers eschewing traditional authorities--especially Aristotle’s science and the Church’s adoption of it--along with the progress and success of modern science), not completely independent of each other, were major factors working to affect the outcome of the conversation up to the present.


    As you might imagine there are a great number of details to this narrative, too many to  enumerate and enter into here, but we need to make a gesture or at least a sketch in that direction that can be filled in through the many resources we provide and intend to provide.  (Some of that is provided in the last tab in the section “Resources and Statements on Faith & Reason,”  including more detailed analysis of the thinking of the philosophers described below.)


    For instance, Descartes--widely considered the first modern philosopher because he attempted to separate himself from tradition and establish his systematic thinking on reason alone--was interested in getting to the bottom how we know what we claim to know and he thought such an explanation might resemble in important ways what the model of mathematical knowledge was thought to be like.  That is, we would begin with something we obviously know (in mathematics they are called axioms) and build deductively from there.   Descartes wanted to find such “axioms” through reasoning and by that method arrive at what he called “clear and distinct ideas” from which he could build.


    Descartes thought he discovered such a clear and distinct idea: his skeptical reasoning led him to the conclusion he was not able to deny his own existence...he felt he couldn’t be wrong about that because even if he thought he was wrong about that, there would still be a “him” that was making the mistake!  He wanted to begin with that certainty and see what he could build upon that by means of deduction.  You will likely recognize this was a common strategy of the “rationalist” school of thought; it is an epistemic program that held that we know things by thinking about things rather than through fallible means of our experience.  Innate ideas played a major explanatory role for getting things off the ground.


    On the other hand, epistemic representatives of the empirical school of thought, like Locke and Hume, held that what we know through self-evident definitions was very little at all...logical entailments and maybe our own existence, but not even the nature of our existence.  Instead they thought one should develop a knowledge of the world through the probable means of our experience and reflection on that experience.  They generally eschewed, for various reasons, confidence in innate ideas.


    However, the analysis of l’enfant terrible David Hume, even though he leaned toward a nuanced empiricist understanding in many ways, may have undercut the theoretical underpinnings of both schools of thought,.  His kernel idea that impacts our discussion was roughly that while rationalism and strict empiricism succumbed to skepticism, at least the empirical world practically impinged on us in a greater way--and we were forced to pay more attention to that


    Hume built upon this to suggest that what we know (if we know anything) is the empirical world and thus things like religion and morality were to be considered subjective, prejudicial and not knowledge.  The philosopher Immanuel Kant said that he was “awakened from his dogmatic slumber” by Hume’s analysis and subsequently began to develop a rather complicated pragmatic or instrumental understanding of empirical knowledge where we would not know the things of reality in themselves, but only know the things as they appeared to us.


    This distinction between knowing the phenomena (the thing to me) and not knowing the nature of the noumena (the reality of the thing in itself) has had an enormous influence on the evolution of thinking about these issues of “faith” and “knowledge.”  Roughly in this period, the perceived successes of the empirical sciences--Galilean and Newtonian science, for example--lent gravitas to the empiricist intuitions.  At the same time as science was advancing, conflicts between the literal readings of the Bible (not necessarily all construals of  theism, but a version of theism) and the purported deliverances of science began to surface.  Especially crucial in this narrative is the impact of Darwin’s theory of non-guided evolution and the literal reading of the Biblical’s special creation account in Genesis.


    (This general narrative is even more complicated because some philosophers of this time construed what we knew as being merely being “inside of our head” and not necessarily connected to an external world.  We could know what our mind held, but the external world was another thing.  However, this philosophic “idealism” (everything is merely an idea) was left behind and doesn’t muster much contemporary enthusiasm (though arguably it was not rigorously refuted); and at least through mainly the influence of John Locke’s analysis, many have tended to view experience in terms of a common sense apprehension of an external world to us.  This is a sort of common sense realist picture of knowledge, which engendered  either a naive realism or a critical realism view remains today as a “man in the street” view of things.)


    The difficulty focused in on by Kant was in determining how much of the ideas we held in our minds were of our mind’s construction (or “wiring”) through which we “knew” the world and how much of it was of the external world as it was.  That was a difficult speculative problem which he worked on in some detail; but he held that the degree of coherence of our experience allowed for a practical “knowledge” of this world as it appeared to us.  This was despite the fact that even though we could not compare those appearances to the things in themselves without begging the question (assuming what was to be proved), we could still treat it as “knowledge.”


    The “workability” of Kant’s analysis, in spite of its profound agnosticism of the nature of things we experience led to a radical departure from the common sense knowledge of an external world, to a view whose gravitas depended on our common experience that fortunately in practice had a great deal of coherence.  (Here we use the term “workability” describing Kant’s analysis because it was an instrumental form of knowing.) 


    It was just difficult to explain whether the coherence that we find among the experience of individuals was due to our common “wiring” or programing (presumably a result of guided or unguided evolution) through which we accessed the world or due to the coherence of the external world in itself.  Nonetheless, the presence of enough coherence for whatever reason and the scientific success of this instrumental knowing allowed for a workable solution to the problem of “knowledge.”


    Implicit in Kant’s analysis of pure and practical reason is a pragmatic, instrumental view of knowledge that “worked” in the sense that it enabled us to predict to a very precise degree where planets would show up in the future, make useful gadgets  and the like of that.  As a matter of historical fact the basic Kantian linguistic legacy that we can know the phenomena (the thing to me) but not the noumena, remains today deeply imbedded in the way we speak and think about what constitutes “reason.”  However, implicit in this language is a pragmatic and instrumental knowledge of the empirical world, which not to make too fine a point of it, is a non-realist view.


    That was Kant’s view, but there are quite a few latter day dissenters to this interpretation of the Kantian picture, who hold that the extent of coherence that science gives us, along with the ability to predict things to a very high of accuracy, provides sufficient justification for thinking that our knowledge of the phenomenal world is closing in on the truth--the truth of the nounenal world.  Despite this ubiquitous intuition shared by many bench scientists, the philosophical received tradition concedes that the coherence found among many of our experiences provides insufficient justification for concluding that; but instead it holds that it merely provides justification for calling this instrumental knowledge--a kind of fallible knowledge. 


    This is not a Cartesian vision of indubitable knowledge derived from even more basic indubitables, but rather a vision of a fallible and correctable knowledge that isn’t necessarily giving us a knowledge of the real world as it is independent of our minds.  Its claim to fame was that its coherence could be improved when inconsistencies were identified within theories of our experiences by either falsifying the old theory, or suggesting and then verifying new theories by repeatable empirical experiments.


    So herein lies part of the problem of parsing out the terms of “faith” and “reason.”  There is a somewhat torturous and complicated narrative to understand how it has come to mean what it has come to mean today.  But an important thing to see was the trend to take the systematic study of the empirical with all of its phenomenal warts seriously to the extent it has authority and is a main constituent of “reason” and to eschew (and we think unjustifiably eschew) morality and religion.  Why were they excluded?  Its because they were thought not to be derived from any emprical experience--the line of demarcation--and thus in their eyes only had an appearance of truth and authority. 


    The historical trajectory of this way of thinking was to try and identify a criteria of meaningfulness that put what they considered idle speculation where it belonged--committed to the flames or at least the dust bin of philosophical ideas.  Thus, through the ideas of Hume and Kant, which were picked up by the Vienna Circle of philosophers and perhaps best expressed by 20th century philosopher A.J. Ayer, emerged a position that has come to be known as “logical positivism.”  In the next part of this series we will explicitly discuss the decisive arguments against positivism.  Its collapse is certainly the most important philosophical development of the 20th century.  The short story is that the dreaded principle of verification when clarified failed to pass its own test for meaningfulness--it was unhappily hoisted on its own petard. 


    We think this ill fated “move” (either implicitly or explicitly employed in academe) to embrace positivism was a huge philosophical mistake of the first order and it had enormous negative affects on the development of the university that lingers to this day.  Its results were to encourage a logical positivist view where only what empirical science had to say qualified as either true or false, the rest was literally nonsense.  It also encouraged a hubristic “scientism” where it was alleged that the scientific method had universal application to all domains.  We hold both of these moves are demonstrably false conclusions and Christian apologists need to master the deconstructive arguments against both.  We also hold that in critiquing this we are not anti-science, but rather critical of some of exclusivists claims made by some philosophers and scientists about science.


Part B - Methodological Conventions, Naturalizing Tendencies and Justification for Metaphysics


     Another serious part of this “modern” legacy of “thinking for ourselves” without the benefit taking into account the existence of God (metaphysics) in our knowing (epistemology) was that the methodology adopted in academic inquiry produced a “naturalizing” tendency in our explanations of the world.  That way of thinking was eventually thought to have no need and left no place for the metaphysics of theism.  That is, whether one thinks as a metaphysical naturalist or uses the convention of methodological naturalism, the results seem to focus our attention only on the possibility of empirical causes such that there is no room for any theistic activity in our world.  Plus the scientific success of this project came to be seen a means for increasing confidence that its results provided succor for the philosophical naturalist and undermined metaphysical theism


    We do think that some naturalizing tendencies are good and have had good consequences--for instance, we check maps for directions and see doctors for cures to illnesses we have been fortunate enough to find a cure for.  However, we think this naturalizing tendency can and has gone too far.  Despite Hume and his followers, there are no good reasons to think that all causes in nature are natural; and at the same time there are good reasons to think it is possible for things (actually persons like God) outside of physical nature that have the capacity to cause things in the world to be or to change.  That is to say the maxim that nature is a causally closed system is false or at least is widely held in a self-referentially incoherent way by many naturalistic atheists.


    The scientific convention of methodological naturalism assumes that nature is a closed system of empirical causes and effects, and we recognize that conventional assumption has “worked” rather spectacularly.  In fact, it worked to the degree that it seemed plausible to think that gaps in our knowledge would eventually be filled in, leaving no room for theistic activity in the world.  The success of science at finding solutions to these gaps suggested there was only this empirical world, which was thought to support metaphysical naturalism.   But does that success of that CONVENTION tell us anything as to whether God can act in the world?  We think not. 


     The supposed support for naturalism that has been inferred from this convention remains subject to a Kantian criticism.  He argued that strictly speaking it is a category error to reason from the phenomena to the noumena--presenting an especially difficult problem for those who think there was no “intelligent designer” who wished us to also know things as they are.  How do you compare what appears to us to the way things are, without knowing the way things are to begin with?  (For further discussion of the Christian scholarship aspects of these developments--as opposed to the apologetic implications that we are looking at in this apologetic section, use this link to access the introduction to our Christian scholarship website.)


    As apologists for Christian theism our job is to continue to parse out the details of this narrative and the implications of this state of affairs in the history of ideas, providing nuances where it is justified.  For instance, we can ask is it possible to rigorously justify the claim that nature is a closed system and that no external causes can act upon her? 


    Do the results of science provide decisive support for metaphysical naturalism?  We think not, because coherence is only a necessary condition, but is not a sufficient condition for knowledge.  Is Hume’s skepticism of rationalism and empiricism defendable?  Strictly speaking, on the one hand, in a metaphysical naturalist world-view we think there are serious epistemic defeaters (really undefeated defeaters) for trusting our cognitive faculties.  On the other hand, we think theism has the metaphysical resources to overcome this doubt.  So we think an apt conclusion to draw from this is that our metaphysics (and sometimes our methodological conventions) influence the epistemic explanations we form.  Thus our epistemology is only as good as our metaphysics (or lack thereof). 


    Christian apologists need to look closely at both the theoretical and de facto metaphysics and epistemology of our colleagues and even of our own inquiries.  We need to ask are there  problems--internal and external--with doing business the way our received tradition says we properly should. If one takes the metaphysical naturalism as assumed or as properly basic, we think there remains looming undefeated defeaters. 


    For example, if metaphysical naturalism is held in conjunction with unguided evolution, there are good reasons to be skeptical of the reliability of our cognitive faculties--that they are reliable in forming mostly true beliefs.  That’s because unguided evolution if it is “aimed” at all is aimed at getting our genetic material into the next generation and not necessarily at forming true beliefs.  Unfortunately for the metaphysical naturalist, there are many false beliefs that are adaptive and will still allow us to be genetically successful--but this should at least leave us in doubt our faculties are producing mostly true beliefs. That’s a serious epistemic problem for the metaphysical naturalist.  Then we need to take those carefully crafted analyses to the intellectual public square and get into the conversation.  See Alvin Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism.


    In summary we think 1) methodological naturalism is a convention whose results does not and cannot confirm metaphysical naturalism--even if a large number of intelligent people fail to see why and incorrectly thinks it does.  2) Logical positivism flourishes in the academy except where it is exposed.  It is important for Christian apologists to understand the roots and shoots of positivism and make use of decisive arguments wherever this approach raises its ugly head.  Scientism flourishes in the academy largely because of the “success” of science where it works in the domain of empirical things--and then attempting to extrapolate the success of that project to other domains for which the methodology is not properly fitted.  That, too, needs to be exposed.  And finally, we also think Christian apologists should engage in uncovering “bad” science where it occurred and occurs--for example, broad generalizations from too little data and the like of that.


Part C - The Science (and Humanities) Critique of Christianity


    What we’ve talked about above regarding the development of the received tradition led, we believe uncritically led us, to the general impression that Christianity--Christian theism and theism, in general--is somehow intellectually subpar and below epistemic standards for any minimally self-respecting academic institution or discipline.  As a consequence it became a secular project and duty to expose any influence Christian theism has on academe to be sure that influence is done away with.  It is alleged the basic ideas of theism come into conflict with academic sensibilities, not because theism holds that there is an empirical world independent of minds (as it typically does), but because it doesn’t limit itself only to that empirical and natural world and its properties as the all in all. 


    But theists and Christians theists in particular hold that not only is there something beyond and transcendent to the physical world, but that this something (really someone) interferes or has the power to interfere with the physical world and its processes if it so chooses.  This someone we are talking about is also thought to have an essential nature such that there are objective moral requirements and obligations for human beings that flow from it.  This does not fit well with the claims of the logical positivists who held such talk to be nonsensical, prejudiced and unworthy of the authority that comes with the term “knowledge.”  We think this claim is easily defeated, but is it enough to merely run through its problems when we think about the university as a whole?  There is also the humanities part of the university.


    The humanities in various ways has made use of the skepticism engendered by the Humean/Kantian critique that we do not know the noumena and the skepticism of the positivists to maintain the implicit view that “man is the measure of all thing.”  This autonomy and subjectivism is rife in the humanities so much so that it is fashionable today for part of it to think of itself as post-modern.  That is, many prominent in the humanities think of their domain as free from the antiquated constraints of a quest for an ahistorical truth of essences and especially the truth claims in religion.  


    The most skeptical brands of postmodernism holds that science itself is not immune to skepticism, that is it is not without the subjective influence of one’s culture and time and thus its results are not ahistorical or without some prejudice.  This sort of epistemic skepticism, however, is sometimes extended to a metaphysical skepticism where it is held that we not only construct the words and symbols in an attempt to give a representative view of the world, but that our words and symbols construct the entirety of reality.  This latter view, we think, is a much more virulent post-modern strain and is not sustainable if it claims (as we think it does) that this PM analysis is not itself biased, not historically conditioned and at the same time, not an attempt to grab power. 


    There was another important problem lurking in the nearby bushes that also lends itself to confusing things.  Assertions of some religious folk that the Bible should be read as literal everywhere (or nearly everywhere) have in light of what is thought as strongly supported science led to serious contradictions.  As more and more of these contradictions between a literal reading of parts of the Bible and strongly supported science appeared it began to foster a sense that religion and science were in serious conflict. 


    The creation narrative and the flood narrative in the book of Genesis seemed more and more unlikely given widely supported scientific discovery--or in the case of the universal flood because of the lack evidence thereof where one would expect it.  Instead of the earth being a few thousand years old, empirical evidence suggested it was on the order of billions of years old.  As revelation and the scientific evidence conflicted it seemed more and more that the claims of revelation were being rolled back.  What’s an Christian apologist to do about that?


    Perhaps it can help to consider that in much earlier times some Biblical literalists took it for granted the earth was flat and that Aristotle’s view that the earth was at the center of the heavens were what amounted to as scientific facts.  It turns out both were false.  Did we all give up our faith as a result?  Perhaps some did, but others began to rethink how they were reading parts of the Bible and wondered if it was possible they had read it wrong earlier.  Is it possible that stubborn, pretty easily identified facts can change our minds about how to read certain parts of the Bible?  We think there are precious few (if any) Biblical literalists who today hold the earth is flat or would deny heliocentricity. 


    (We do want to make clear that we think that vast portions of the Bible can be read and believed literally--but some ways we decide as to whether or not this should be done has to do with the literary genre of the book of the Bible, what the author most likely meant to communicate to the audience to whom he was writing and, in some cases, when chastened by strongly supported scientific observations wonder if maybe the author wasn’t teaching what we thought he was teaching.  This can’t always be done no matter the problem because one of Christianity’s virtues is that it, parts of it and especially our conceptions of it can in principle be falsified.)   


    So scientific discovery has given some plenary Biblical literalists (to be distinguished from a plenary Biblical inspiration view) a very hard time, and from that there was a tendency then to think (uncritically) that the whole of Christian theism and science were deeply and fundamentally at odds with one another.  But is this the case? 


    The Christian philosopher Alvin Plantinga has argued strenuously that this view is mistaken and just the opposite.  That is, he has argued that there is a deep and fundamental compatibility with Christian theism and science and only a superficial (but mistaken) compatibility between metaphysical naturalism and science.  We refer you to his extended argument for that with this link, but in short he argues that historically modern science has progressed in the Christian west where it hasn’t elsewhere, encouraged as it was that the world God created was rational and understandable, while at the same time, when one considers unguided evolution and metaphysical naturalism together, they subtly (and perhaps sadly) undercut each other.  That is, if unguided Darwinian evolution is true, there is good reason to think or cognitive faculties were not designed by anybody, much less designed for or aimed at obtaining truth.  That’s because if unguided evolution is aimed at anything it is not aimed at truth, per se, but rather at adaptability to the environment.  


    And, unfortunately, there is a huge number of beliefs, perhaps the large majority of beliefs we hold that could be false but be adaptable.  Further, if evolution is blind to the content of our beliefs (as it is in materialist reductionism) and only “pays attention” to our behavior, we have a further reason to not think that the content of our beliefs (if there is such a thing in this view) contributes to truth conduciveness.  This state of affairs presents an epistemic defeater for the truth content of all the beliefs we might form in that scenario, including the beliefs we might form about the truth of metaphysical naturalism. 


Summary


    In summary, it is important to see that these developments in the history of ideas led to increasing skepticism as to what we could properly claim to know by faith--Hume thought that such “faith” claims should be confined to the flames and that view seemed to carry the day in academe in the nineteenth and early twentieth century.  Instead, what was preferred was the way of knowing through our common experience of what could only be grounded in nature and derived from our experience of it. 


    The non-empirical--ethics, value judgments and religion--was without that grounding and amounted to merely subjective prejudices.  This bifurcation would lead the nineteenth century intelligentsia and eventually the universities at the time to want to distance themselves from religious (and moral) claims to knowledge.  That development eventually would produce a real crisis of authority for Christian faith and their relation to the academic disciplines.  Additionally the drum beat of new empirical findings that seemed to contradict and undermine the credibility of a literal reading of scripture--especially Genesis--led to the sense that science and religion were at war with each other and religion to understate things a bit, wasn’t doing well.  The record about that needs to be set straight.


For resources on the philosophers cited in this article, use this link to go to the final tab in this Faith and Reason discussion.


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