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Faith and Reason

Their Roles in Religious and Secular Life

Donald A. Crosby

Publication Year: 2011

Explores the mutually dependent relationship of faith and reason in human life and human knowledge. Few words are as widely misconceived as the word “faith.” Faith is often set in stark opposition to reason, considered antithetical to scientific thought, and heavily identified with religion. Donald Crosby’s revealing book provides a more complex picture, discussing faith and its connection to the whole of human life and human knowledge. Crosby writes about that existential faith that underlies, shapes, and supports a person’s life and its sense of purpose and direction. Such faith does not make a person religious and being secular does not mean one rejects all forms of faith. Throughout the book Crosby makes the case that faith is fundamentally involved in all processes of reasoning and that reason is an essential part of all dependable forms of faith. Crosby elaborates the major components of faith and goes on to look at the mutually dependent relationships between faith and knowledge, faith and scientific knowledge, and faith and morality. The work’s final chapters examine crises of faith among several noted thinkers as well as the author’s own journey of faith from plans for the ministry to pastor to secular philosopher and religious naturalist.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title Page

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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xi

What is faith? What are its roles in human life? What are some different conceptions of it? How does faith relate to knowledge, reason, and experience? Do faith, on the one hand, and scientific methods and claims to knowledge, on the other, necessarily conflict with one another? Are there such things as secular forms of faith? Are all types of faith obsolete and superstitious in our modern age? What are the relative roles of discursive...

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pp. 1-12

The term faith has many uses in our language. I can speak of having faith that my brother will pick me up each Thursday morning for our regular breakfast together. I can talk of having faith that the salad I am eating for lunch will not make me sick. I can ponder the faith it requires to drive with confidence in a blinding rain—what my dad called a “gully washer”—when the streets are slick and slippery and one can hardly see the traffic lines on...

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pp. 13-35

There is no such thing as a simple faith. All forms of existential faith, religious or secular, are complex and multifaceted. Although it is true that some forms are, by their adherents and by the traditions in which they may stand, brought to fuller, more intricate, and more explicit levels of development than others, none can be said to be simple. In this chapter I indicate and analyze six critical aspects of faith in order not only to show how complex...

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pp. 37-60

In this chapter I inquire in more detail into the intimate relations of existential faith and knowledge. I take strong issue here, as I have in previous chapters, with the view that faith and knowledge should be viewed as incompatible with or opposed to one another. In that view, to possess knowledge is by implication to have dispensed with faith or any need for faith, and to profess faith is implicitly to admit to an absence of knowledge or even to...

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pp. 61-78

Ours is a scientific age. This is perhaps still truer for some places on our planet than for others. But it is unquestionably true that scientific ideas, theories, technologies, approaches, and the like are reaching across cultural differences and having decisive impacts throughout the world. The historical development we now routinely label globalization has its roots not only in such things as the intricacies of worldwide economic interdependence and...

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pp. 79-92

Faith and morality are not one and the same. And neither is reducible to the other. Nevertheless, the two are intimately related, as I attempt to show in this chapter. Iris Murdoch, in the chapter’s epigraph, distinguishes between duty and good, on the basis that duty is intermittent and allows for time off because it concerns only particular transient situations of daily life, while the demand of good allows for no time off. What she here calls...

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pp. 93-105

As much as I admire and assent to the statement of Wilfred Cantwell Smith in the epigraph to this chapter, I must dissent from his inference that the statement brands every human being as homo religious (Smith 1987: 138). I do not think that all humans are religious even though I think that the vast majority if not all of them have some sort of existential faith. There is such...

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pp. 107-130

As seen in Chapter 2, doubt is one of the six facets of a healthy and enduring faith. It keeps faith responsive, alert, and alive, saving it from stultification and atrophy. The doubt facet of existential faith is what spurs a faith to grow and mature throughout one’s life, and it is what helps to impart an aspect of continuing and developing reasonableness to it. Doubt is a necessary part...

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pp. 131-156

My present stance of faith is that of what I call “Religion of Nature.” I have described and defended it in a number of recent writings (see esp. Crosby 2002, 2008). It is a version of a recently re-emerging movement of thought, especially in the United States, called religious naturalism.2 Bart D. Ehrman’s journey of faith, sketched in the previous chapter, wrenched him away from the supernatural focus and assurances of Christianity and brought him to an...


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pp. 157-163


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pp. 165-169


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pp. 171-176

E-ISBN-13: 9781438436159
E-ISBN-10: 1438436157
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438436135
Print-ISBN-10: 1438436130

Page Count: 188
Publication Year: 2011

Edition: 1