Compare and Contrast Essay: Religous Faith vs Skepticism

Faith and reason are both sources of authority upon which beliefs can rest. Reason generally is understood as the principles for a methodological inquiry, whether intellectual, moral, aesthetic, or religious. Thus is it not simply the rules of logical inference or the embodied wisdom of a tradition or authority. Faith, on the other hand, involves a stance toward some claim that is not, at least presently, demonstrable by reason. Thus faith is a kind of attitude of trust or assent. As such, it is ordinarily understood to involve an act of will or a commitment on the part of the believer. Religious faith involves a belief that makes some kind of either an implicit or explicit reference to a transcendent source??? (Swindal). Skepticism is something that involves doubt and goes against both faith and reason. Many scholars have debated upon the relevancy of these three issues in religion and our society. These have included the likes of St. Thomas Aquinas, who talks about faith when he makes his first statement, which is that there is some conditioned being that exists. This takes in account the faith of the person, who should be able to believe that there does, in fact, exists an entity that is conditioned. The last line is about reason. The line says that in lieu of the second statement, it should be reasoned that the only entity that can exist in combination with the two statements is in fact God. Thus, even though faith, reason, and skepticism may appear to be opposites of each other and tend to undermine each other's premise, it is extremely important to have a belief and understanding of all three in one's life in order for a healthy outlook.

Such are the notions of the subordination-of-reason-to-faith and William James concept of ???the will to believe.??? This is compared to Skepticism by the author here and it simply states ???a proposition is true if it works, that is, if it is profitable or expedient (either intellectually or practically) to believe it.??? This sort of an option is described as living and can be used to describe both theism and atheism (or agnosticism) as it commends itself to us as real possibilities and not just blind faith. It does not need too much reason either, since it is very plausible and we can almost always see it happening.

The basic impetus for the problem of faith and reason comes from the fact that the revelation or set of revelations on which most religions are based is usually described and interpreted in sacred pronouncements, either in an oral tradition or canonical writings, backed by some kind of divine authority. These writings or oral traditions are usually presented in the literary forms of narrative, parable, or discourse. As such, they are in some measure immune from rational critique and evaluation. In fact even the attempt to verify religious beliefs rationally can be seen as a kind of category mistake. Yet most religious traditions allow and even encourage some kind of rational examination of their beliefs. Many scholars have discussed the belief of God as being a properly basic belief. The argument is that there is no evidence of the existence of God and this is the reason a person should have faith and it is exactly this lack of evidence that gives birth to Skepticism as well. There is no evidence of the existence of God, yet the belief in him is not based on any evidence. It would be important to discus some ideas relating to evidentailism and foundationalism in order to better understand our argument for faith, reason, and skepticism.

Foundationlism is defined as ???that proposition that is accepted as true either on the basis of some other proposition that is accepted as true or because it just seem to be true immediately.??? The basic of the proposition is then defined as being either self-evident, incorrigible, or one that expresses an immediate deliverance of sense or the obvious (Stanford Encyclopedia). Other people, such as Calvin and Plantinga, have discussed this issue and regard the belief in God to be on any grounds other than rational and promotes them as true believers of faith. It is important that faith and reason go together in order for the believer to find assurance in their religion, either by faith, reason or both of them together.

Skepticism, as they say is the enemy of faith. Skepticism ethics basically deal with four important virtues of wisdom, courage, justice, and temperance. Aurelius was also an advocate of going through continuous meditation and exercises in order to keep the mind and the body in a state of togetherness. In Meditations, Book II, part 1, Aurelius writes: ???Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All of these things have come upon them through ignorance of real good and ill... I can neither be harmed by any of them, for no man will involve me in wrong, nor can I be angry with my kinsman or hate him; for we have come into the world to work together...??? (Wikipedia).This is not just him making a statement; rather it is giving the reader a practical technique of reminding oneself every day, repeatedly, of the problems that the person might face, and how they can be solved. This is somewhat reminiscence of what later became to be known as the 'self-fulfilling prophecy'.

Even though many people tend to agree with Aurelius's views on keeping a reminder for oneself about the problems that one is expected to face in the world and also keep working on hw these problems can be solved, many do not agree with Skepticism. It is an opponent of faith as it instills doubt. The first step in solving a problem is realizing that a problem does in fact exists. Pondering upon the problem and talking about it is the next step. This is exactly what Aurelius is teaching in his Skeptic way of life, which is a good thing. The only problem is the Skeptic way of life itself.

Although it would be great for people to keep certain faiths in certain things, there is no way that any reason can explain the faith in God. Similarly, skepticism only works to relieve that believe in God and this is something that would be considered to be a sin in almost all major religions of the world. If a person is able to control his/her fear, then he/she will not be afraid of anything and this can lead to many problems. A person might face some danger and he/she might control his/her fear and this can be problematic because sometimes fear is needed in order to bring out the flight or fight mechanism of the brain. Similarly, love and hate are emotions that the humans have written so much about and made songs and artwork from. Suppressing these feelings would take the humanity out of us. We shall no more be susceptible to bouts of passion that would spur great movements in art, poetry, music, and literature. Though it might be important for some of the humans to be able to contain some of their emotions at some of the times, it is not that all humans should become devoid of all of their emotions. This would be a disaster for humanity. This is why it is important for people to have faith in God in order to allay many of the problems that are faced by us all every day.

People should be in continuous exercise and to be able to find the problems and solutions from within by constant thought. This involves a perfect mixture of faith, reason, and skepticism. A person should not blindly have faith that everything will be alright, even though he/she does not work for it. At the same time, one should have enough faith in one's own ability to be able to complete the task. Similarly, a person should be able to use reason in order to depict his/her own capacities so as to not have any false hopes. This would involve having just a little bit of skepticism in one's life. A healthy mixture of all three is required for a person to make a rational decision.

Work Cited

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. ???Foundationalist Theories of Epistemic Justification.??? Online.

Swindal, James. ???Faith and Reason.??? Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Wikipedia, ???Marcus Aurelius,??? Online,