Faith And Reason Essay

2166 words - 9 pages

Faith and reason were two modes of belief that dominated the history of Western Civilization. Both faith and reason were popularized as tools to understand the universe in Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian eras. By conflicting with each other, these two modes of belief sparked a lot of controversy. Reason or rationality is belief based on concrete evidence and logic. The development of one’s reason relies heavily on observation and questioning. Greco-Roman philosophers believed in the power of the human mind to understand the world. So in order to find ultimate truth, Greco-Roman philosophers dedicated their lives to perfecting their reasoning skills and encouraged those around them to do the same. Contradictory to reason, faith is the strong conviction in someone or something without concrete proof. The development of one’s faith relies heavily on religious teachings and practices. The Hebrews believed that ultimate truth could only be found in God. So in order to find ultimate truth, the Hebrews occupied their time with learning about God and his ethical demands. Though faith and reason’s contradiction isolated them from each other, Christian thinkers sought to unify these two modes of belief.
The Greco-Roman approach to ultimate truth was through reason. In Plato’s Apology, Socrates was the embodiment of rational thought. He questioned, observed, and drew conclusions. Though his behavior ultimately led to his demise, he represented a rational way of acquiring knowledge. After he was sentenced to death, Socrates described his death as an opportunity to continue a life of searching. “Above all, I shall be able to continue my search into true and false knowledge; as the world, so also in that; I shall find out who is wise, who pretends to be wise, and is not.” This demonstrates Socrates’ belief of what true knowledge was. To Socrates, a person who was truly wise knew that he knew nothing. Socrates’ journey conveys an important aspect of living a life in accordance with reason: questioning. Questioning is a key aspect of reasoning because by doing so, one is challenging something that is commonly accepted. Socrates was against self-proclaimed wisdom. Though accused of corrupting the youth, Socrates wanted to dispel any misinterpretation of his intentions. Socrates wanted to emphasize the importance of questioning to acquire knowledge. Another example of reason in the Greco-Roman culture is Seneca’s Letters to Lucilius. In this letter, Seneca argued that the only way to live a truly happy life was through having perfect reason. “Now if we agreed on this point, it is natural that we shall be agreed on the following also—namely, that the happy life depends upon this and this alone: our attainment of perfect reason.” Letters to Lucilius demonstrates Greeks’ reliance on reason as a means to achieve true happiness. Not only was reason important to the Greeks because it helped them achieve happiness, but it was also important because it was a quality...

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