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  • Writer's pictureOmid Moludy

The Interplay of Faith and Reason: A Philosophical Exploration of God's Existence

The Interplay of Faith and Reason: A Philosophical Exploration of God's Existence


By Omid Moludy


Introduction

In the annals of human intellectual history, the concept of God has proven itself as a persistent and enigmatic subject of profound philosophical inquiry. This enduring notion has transcended temporal and cultural boundaries, leaving an indelible mark on the collective psyche of humanity. Despite the apparent ambiguity surrounding the concept, the belief in a divine existence, often referred to as "God," has remained deeply ingrained in the human consciousness. Remarkably, in the modern era, this belief continues to flourish, with many individuals grounding their convictions in deeply personal and experiential encounters. (Torrance, 2009, p 174)

Yet, it is when philosophers embark on a rigorous exploration of these ingrained beliefs as a foundational basis for delving into the supernatural that the discourse assumes a transformative character. This intellectual odyssey leads thinkers to pose questions of profound significance: What precisely is the rational significance of these innate and instinctive beliefs? Is it plausible to extract, through a rational lens, our fundamental concept of "God"? Can the assertion of God's existence attain the stature of a scientifically substantiated conclusion? These questions beckon us to explore the intricate interplay between faith and reason, demanding contemplation from individuals with a penchant for philosophical introspection.


At the heart of this discourse lies a critical inquiry: Does the question of God's existence fall within the domain of logically sound propositions, or does it persistently elude the grasp of human reason? Moreover, it is essential to recognise that the quest for the "proof of the existence of God" represents a meticulous and technically rigorous reevaluation of the veracity and validity of this proposition, achieved through rigorous philosophical argumentation.


The matter gains added significance in the context of theological discussions, exemplified by the works of luminaries like Thomas Aquinas in Sacred Theology. In this realm, theologians do not begin their work with uncertainty regarding God's existence. Rather, they assert that constructing a proof concerning God's existence is an intellectual challenge precisely because, in their perspective, God's existence has been directly revealed to humanity through divine intervention. Consequently, theologians approach this revelation with unwavering faith, seeking to align it with the rigors of philosophical inquiry.


In this intricate terrain, a delicate balance must be maintained, avoiding two extreme positions. One perspective asserts that God's existence is inherently a matter of faith, (Kerr, 2002, P60) incapable of being proven or justified through the tools of reason alone. According to this view, God exists beyond the realm of empirical evidence, accessible solely through the lens of faith—a domain that encompasses truths that transcend the purview of rational scrutiny. (Turner, 2008, p20)


In summary, the exploration of God's existence emerges as a profound philosophical odyssey, demanding an intricate understanding of the interplay between faith and reason. The existence of God defies facile categorisation as either a matter of pure faith or a straightforwardly demonstrable proposition. Instead, it occupies a unique realm that challenges the limits of human cognition and invites rigorous philosophical reflection.


Throughout the annals of human history, the notion of God has persisted, etched into the collective psyche of civilisations across epochs. This enduring concept has transcended cultural boundaries and epochs, thriving even in the absence of structured rational discourse. Its potency lies in the profound, albeit often ambiguous, belief held by countless individuals that "God" signifies a tangible existence. In contemporary times, this belief remains steadfast, with many basing their convictions solely on personal experiences. (Seeberg,1997, p257) Regardless of one's vantage point, be it within the realms of theology or on its fringes, this phenomenon constitutes an undeniable aspect of our human reality.


However, it is when a philosophical thinker embarks on a quest to utilize these deeply ingrained beliefs as a foundation for exploring the supernatural that the discourse takes on a transformative dimension. This journey prompts thinkers to pose questions of profound significance: What is the rational import of these innate and instinctive beliefs? Can we, in a justifiable manner, extract our inherent concept of "God" through the lens of reason? Is it conceivable for the assertion that God exists to take on the form and credibility of a scientifically substantiated conclusion? These queries are not to be lightly dismissed; they demand contemplation from every reflective individual. The vital issue at stake is whether the question of God's existence falls within the domain of logically sound propositions, or whether it remains elusive to the reach of human reason. Furthermore, it is imperative to acknowledge that what is referred to as the "proof of the existence of God" represents a meticulous and technical reevaluation of the veracity and validity of this proposition, achieved through rigorous philosophical argumentation.


This matter assumes particular significance in the context of theological discussions, such as those advanced in the writings of scholars like Thomas Aquinas in Sacred Theology. It is self-evident that no theologian can, at the outset of their work, claim to be uncertain about the existence of God. On the contrary, theologians posit that constructing a proof regarding God's existence is a formidable challenge precisely because God's existence has been disclosed to humanity by God Himself through divine revelation. (Rosental,2012, pp178-180) Consequently, one must embrace this revelation with unwavering faith.


It is crucial to recognize the inherent tension between knowledge and faith in human understanding. A human being cannot simultaneously lay claim to both knowledge and faith concerning a particular matter. Consequently, due to our innate belief in the proposition that "God exists," the existence of God remains impervious to rational construction.


In navigating this intricate territory, it is imperative to steer clear of two extreme positions. One stance contends that the existence of God is inherently a matter of faith and, as such, cannot be proven or justified through the tools of reason alone. According to this perspective, the existence of God is inextricably bound to faith, which deals with matters that transcend the realm of empirical evidence and can only be grasped through the lens of faith. Matters of faith encompass those facets of God's nature that lie beyond the scope of rational scrutiny. Essentially, matters of faith pertain to truths that are "undeniable" but can only be apprehended through the prism of faith. Therefore, when we encounter aspects of God's nature that are inherently undeniable, they fall within the purview of matters of faith. (Malebranche, 2010, p 14) Conversely, when multiple matters of faith converge upon a single facet of God's nature, and we can discern other concepts within this broader framework, only then does this facet become a matter of faith. This perspective enables matters of faith to harmonize within the framework of rational principles of knowledge. When a principle unfolds in terms of its implications, it evolves into a composite and faithful entity. For instance, the belief that God is susceptible to pain and suffering represents an undeniable matter that can only be embraced through faith. However, if we further embrace the belief that God has endured suffering, death, and burial, the belief in God's resurrection on the third day introduces a new undeniable facet. It cannot be subsumed within the previous matter of faith; instead, it appears to diverge from the earlier proposition. While believing in God's suffering, death, and burial constitutes one challenge, accepting God's resurrection after death renders the comprehension of the initial issue even more intricate. Hence, unequivocal aspects of God's nature are classified under distinct headings as matters of faith. Since the existence of God is susceptible to proof through reason itself and does not inherently elude apprehension, it cannot be categorised as a matter of faith, nor can it be subsumed under any matter of faith. According to St. Thomas Aquinas, particularly in his 'Summa Theologica,' some truths can be considered foundational to faith. These truths serve as the groundwork upon which belief in God and other theological concepts are built. After all, if an individual is unaware of God's involvement, how can they have faith in anything related to God?


In conclusion, the inquiry into the existence of God constitutes a profound philosophical odyssey that necessitates a nuanced comprehension of the intricate relationship between faith and reason. The existence of God eludes facile categorization as either a matter of pure faith or a matter of straightforward rational demonstration. Rather, it occupies a unique realm, one that challenges the boundaries of human comprehension and demands meticulous contemplation.


Certainly, let's delve deeper into Position 2, which contends that the existence of God is so readily comprehensible to human reason that it precludes the need for faith or belief. This perspective challenges the concept of "formal faith" in God's existence, asserting that, according to certain philosophers, it is a logical impossibility. Central to this viewpoint is the well-established theory attributed to Thomas Aquinas, positing that "Reason may be employed in two ways to establish a point: firstly, for the purpose of furnishing sufficient proof of some principle, as in natural science, where sufficient proof can be brought to show that the movement of the heavens is always of uniform velocity. Reason is employed in another way, not as furnishing a sufficient proof of a principle, but as confirming an already established principle, by showing the congruity of its results, as in astrology the theory of eccentrics and epicycles is considered as established, because thereby the sensible appearances of the heavenly movements can be explained; not, however, as if this proof were sufficient, forasmuch as some other theory might explain them." (Aquinas, 2018, p157)


However, this assertion pertains primarily to truths that can be substantiated through empirical evidence or reasoned argumentation. Yet, there exists a notable exception when an individual, due to various factors such as cognitive limitations or philosophical complexity, may struggle to grasp the rational arguments for God's existence. For instance, while the existence of God can be demonstrated through a range of philosophical arguments, there are individuals, including children and many adults, who may find these arguments intellectually challenging. For this segment of the population, belief in God becomes a matter of faith and conviction. In essence, what may be readily comprehensible to some becomes a matter of belief and faith for others. To this latter group, the existence of God does not fall into the category of something entirely unknowable; instead, it unmistakably resides within the domain of their faith and belief.


Here, the term "formal faith" is employed to denote faith in the sense of believing something that is provable or knowable through rational means.


While the core concept is clear, its implications can give rise to a host of complex and debatable questions. A more precise inquiry emerges: Is it categorically impossible for an individual to simultaneously possess knowledge of one aspect of a particular truth while also maintaining belief in another facet of that same truth? Specifically concerning the existence of God, it is indeed impossible to know, solely through rational argument, that an unmoved mover exists while simultaneously believing, on the basis of faith, that this unmoved mover serves as the first cause. Such a contradiction would inherently exist within the statement itself. Nevertheless, God transcends the confines of Aristotle's concept of the unmoved mover. If an unmoved mover does indeed exist, we identify it as God. However, while the statement "The unmoved mover is God" undeniably represents a truth, the reverse statement, "God is the unmoved mover," does not necessarily hold as an absolute and certain truth. Although this statement accurately characterises God, He has not revealed Himself to us solely as the unmoved mover. Even though He undoubtedly encompasses the attributes of an unmoved mover, He possesses infinitely more attributes, some of which may or may not be rationally knowable. We believe in all these attributes pertaining to Him through the same act of faith through which we believe in His existence and acknowledge Him as the God who truly exists. Belief in the existence of God extends far beyond the belief in a mere first mover, first cause, perfect being, or ultimate end. Belief in the existence of God signifies faith in someone who communicates with us—an aspect that remains absent in the nature of the unmoved mover, which remains silent in this regard. The God whose existence we can establish through philosophical argumentation represents merely a fraction of the God in whom we place our faith, rooted in His own divine communication. (Shields, 2016, pp106-109)


In summary, Position 2 posits that the accessibility of God's existence to human reason challenges the notion of formal faith. This perspective leads to profound philosophical inquiries regarding the interplay between knowledge and faith. While the existence of God may be demonstrable through rational means, the complete tapestry of belief in God encompasses attributes and qualities that transcend the boundaries of rational argumentation. Instead, it finds its foundation in the profound conviction born of faith and divine revelation, ultimately encapsulating a deeper, richer understanding of God's nature.


To further explore Position 2, it is vital to delve into the complexities surrounding the interplay between reason and faith in matters pertaining to the existence of God. While some philosophers argue that God's existence is readily comprehensible through rational means, it is essential to acknowledge the nuances that arise in this perspective.


The crux of this argument hinges on the idea that certain philosophical arguments can provide strong rational support for the existence of a divine being. For instance, the cosmological argument posits that the existence of the universe itself implies the existence of a necessary, uncaused cause, which is often identified as God. (Geisler, 2003, p 187) Similarly, the teleological argument suggests that the intricate order and complexity in the natural world point to a purposeful designer, again identified as God. These arguments, among others, seek to establish God's existence through reasoned analysis of the world around us.


However, it is crucial to recognise that the strength of these arguments can be a matter of philosophical debate. While they may persuade some individuals to accept the existence of God on rational grounds, others may find counterarguments or alternative explanations equally compelling. This divergence in interpretation underscores the complex relationship between reason and faith.


Furthermore, the concept of God is not static; it varies across different religious and philosophical traditions. Some individuals may adhere to a monotheistic understanding of God, while others may subscribe to a polytheistic or pantheistic worldview. The diversity of beliefs regarding the nature and attributes of God further complicates the question of whether God's existence can be entirely apprehended through reason alone.


In conclusion, while Position 2 asserts the accessibility of God's existence through human reason, it is essential to appreciate the multifaceted nature of this discourse. The interaction between reason and faith in matters of theology remains a dynamic and ongoing dialogue, inviting philosophers and theologians to navigate the intricate terrain of belief, knowledge, and philosophical inquiry.


Conclusion


In this philosophical expedition, we have navigated the intricate landscape of God's existence, a topic that has persisted as a cornerstone of human contemplation throughout history. Our journey has illuminated the complex interplay between faith and reason, shedding light on the profound questions that arise when humanity grapples with the concept of a divine being.


We began by acknowledging the enduring nature of belief in God, an idea that transcends the boundaries of culture and time. Whether rooted in personal experiences or philosophical inquiry, the belief in God remains an undeniable facet of our shared human reality.


Our exploration took a transformative turn when we delved into the profound questions raised by philosophers who sought to use these deeply ingrained beliefs as a springboard for understanding the supernatural. We contemplated whether the rational mind can apprehend the concept of God and whether scientific substantiation of God's existence is conceivable. This journey challenged us to scrutinize the rational import of our innate beliefs and ponder whether the question of God's existence belongs within the domain of logically sound propositions.


In the context of theological discussions, exemplified by the writings of figures like Thomas Aquinas, we recognized that theologians do not embark on their inquiries with uncertainty about God's existence. Instead, they assert that God's existence is evident through divine revelation, compelling them to embrace it with unwavering faith.


Our exploration also emphasized the inherent tension between knowledge and faith in human understanding. We contemplated the intricate relationship between faith and reason, recognizing that these realms often intersect and influence one another but rarely coexist seamlessly within the human psyche.


As we conclude this philosophical odyssey, it is clear that the question of God's existence defies facile categorization. It cannot be neatly placed in the realms of pure faith or straightforwardly demonstrable propositions. Instead, it occupies a unique and enigmatic domain that challenges the boundaries of human comprehension. The existence of God invites us to explore the profound interplay between belief and reason, demanding meticulous contemplation from those who seek to engage with this timeless inquiry.


In closing, the pursuit of God's existence remains a philosophical journey that continues to captivate the human intellect, inviting us to delve deeper into the intricate relationship between faith and reason, belief and knowledge, and ultimately, the mysteries of existence itself.



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Bibliography:

1. Molnar, Paul D. Thomas F. Torrance: Theologian of the Trinity (Great Theologians Series). 2009. 174.

2. Kerr, Fergus. After Aquinas: Versions of Thomism. 2002. 60.

3. Turner, Denys. Faith Reason Existence of God. 2008. 20.

4. Seeberg, Reinhold. Text-Book of the History of Doctrines. 1997. 257.

5. Rosental, Creighton. Lessons From Aquinas: A Resolution of the Problem of Faith and Reason. 2012. 178-180.

6. Malebranche, Thomas. Malebranche: The Search after Truth: With Elucidations of The Search after Truth (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy). 2010. 14.

7. Aquinas, St. Thomas. Summa Theologica: First Part. Devoted Publishing, 2018. 157.

8. Shields, Christopher. The Philosophy of Aquinas. May 2016. 106-109.

9. Geisler, Norman, and Winfried Corduan. Philosophy of Religion: Second Edition. 2003. 187.

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1 comentario


Peymansalar1988
11 dic 2023

Rev. Omid Moludy's exploration into the complex subject of God's existence is both profound and clear. The article adeptly balances philosophical inquiry with theological understanding, offering an enlightening and thought-provoking read. Rev. Moludy's nuanced examination of the interplay between faith and reason is commendable, respecting both the intellectual rigor of philosophical argumentation and the profound mystery intrinsic to faith. This contribution by Rev. Moludy is a significant addition to the ongoing scholarly dialogue on one of humanity's most enduring and profound questions.


Blessings;


Peyman Salar

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