The Compatibility Of Faith And Essay Research

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The Compatibility Of Faith And Essay, Research Paper The Compatibility of Faith and Reason When comparing the two selections by W.K. Clifford and William James on the compatibility of faith and reason, I feel that both arguments make very valid points. However I do think, after careful reading and based on my own experience, that William James has the stronger argument. William James The Will to Believe claims that Our passional nature not only lawfully may, but must, decide an option between propositions, whenever it is a genuine option that cannot by it s nature be decided on intellectual grounds. James contention is that under certain circumstances, it is perfectly legal for a person to go ahead and believe something for which scientific evidence is lacking. To do so is

not unreasonable. This argument makes itself useful in the religious hypothesis for the existence of God. James, himself, believed that there is a Greater Consciousness than that of human beings to which we are connected. Among other things, this Greater Consciousness cares about and preserves many of the things that we hold dear to us like love, truth, and justice. This is done so that the values possessed by these things continue to exist in the world rather than perishing with us when we die. James contention in this regard was that his beliefs on this matter were perfectly legal even though there is currently no scientific evidence for the existence of a Greater Consciousness. He claimed that If we had an infallible intellect with it s objective certitudes then going ahead

and believing something without scientific evidence would not be legal. However that is certainly not the case, so it is our intellectual duty to regulate what we believe through science, according to James. Going back to the argument for the existence of God, because the existence of God is not a matter of scientific fact why should we suspend our belief in God? James believed that modern science is a sort of organized nervousness. The tests that we put theories through before accepting them as the truth serve one sort of human interest our fear of being mistaken, or being taken by surprise by the course of events. Another way of avoiding that is through our constant hope of discovering new things. According to James, by reason of these different sets of interests, we are under

no obligation to suspend belief in God just because to date, God s existence has not been proven by modern science. It is a matter of which set of interests we choose to take priority of concerning the hypothesis that God exists: (a) out of our fear of being mistaken or out of (b) our hope of being right. The person who conforms to their hope of God s existence is just as reasonable as the person who gives in to their fear that there may not be a God at all. Some of James argument has been used recently by Pope John Paul II. In his Reflections on Fides et Ratio, the Pope claims that humans are seekers of truth. And during that quest, reason cannot sustain one alone. Whether it is a question of the truths of immediate experience or of scientific truth, of carefully developed

philosophical thought or of an existentially lived idea, the search for truth is always accompanied by an act of faith. In fact, as social beings, humans are incapable of verifying and ascertaining everything alone; at every level one must put enlightened trust in the testimony of others and in one s cultural tradition. As a seeker of truth, man is, by that very reason, the one who lives by belief. However, having said that, knowledge through belief – without personal evidence of truth, seems to be imperfect knowledge. But in other respects, what knowledge is ascertained through self-sufficient means? Do we not put our trust in interpersonal relationships and believe, without much evidence, certain things and take them to be the truth? Especially when it is a question of the