Atheists often say that ‘reason’ has proven that God does not exist. By saying this they mean that they believe it is unreasonable to believe in God. They say that to have ‘faith’ one must turn one’s brain off. They insinuate that one cannot believe in God and be a person of deep intellectual thought. They tell us that ‘faith’ is the opposite of ‘reason’.
Is this true? Is there room for both ‘faith’ and ‘reason’ in our lives? Can the two work together to lead us to the truth?
Merriam Webster’s Online Dictionary defines “Reason”, when used as a verb, as, “to use the faculty of reason so as to arrive at conclusions”. Many revere reason so much that it becomes a personal confidence in one’s own thinking process as being the validator of truth. This definition makes truth to be whatever the person believes. However, whenever ‘reason’ supplants the Word of God; it becomes an idol and keeps us separated from God. We must not allow the worship of “reason” to blind us to the truth of God.
‘Faith’ is putting your trust in someone or something. It is not merely, “Believing what you know ain’t there” or “Believing something for which you have no evidence.” Christian ‘faith’ is putting your trust in God, who has provided us with ample evidence for His “…invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature…” (Romans 1:20 NASB).
Consider this example of ‘faith’: When you come to a bridge spanning a deep crevice, faith is required to step onto that bridge. You have to trust that bridge to hold you up. It will be the only thing keeping you from falling to your death. If you don’t trust the bridge, you won’t walk out onto it. It won’t be a question of whether or not the bridge exists, but whether you will trust it. Will you put you life in its hands?
This is the same sort of faith exercised in biblical Christianity. It is a trust in God, and Jesus’ saving work on the cross. The Bible tells us that enough evidence has been given us by God so that no one has an excuse for not knowing He exists. The question is whether we will trust Him or not.
‘Having faith’ does not mean believing in something you have fabricated in your imagination. God has provided the Bible in order that we may know His character, His love for us, and the way to be forgiven of our sins, so that we might enjoy a personal relationship with Him.
“Reasoning”, as defined by Webster, is “the drawing of inferences or conclusions through the use of reason”. It is the act of thinking about a subject in such a way as to understand it. Reasoning helps you understand what you believe, and why. In the biblical context, it is the act of pondering the truths of the Bible and coming to a cohesive worldview based on God’s Word. We are to ponder His word and be changed by it (Romans 12).
Biblical faith is not merely mental assent. It is not merely knowing the facts about God. The Bible says that the demons believe that God exists, but they are still demons; they aren’t saved (James 2:19). We must exercise biblical ‘faith’. That is, trusting Him and surrendering our will and our life to the One who created and sustains us.
There is no conflict between ‘faith’ and ‘reason’ if our reasoning leads us to God. If it causes us to turn away from God and trust in ourselves, reason has become our god and we have become idolaters.