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To What Extent Is Faith A Legitimate Basis For Knowledge Claims, In Religion And Different Areas Of Knowledge?

1574 words - 6 pages

Let us take all knowledge systems to be a vast intricate structure. Faith is the foundation of this structure, because certain fundamental assumptions are made on which all knowledge systems are based. We use reason to continuously build upon this foundation the beautiful and complex structure of knowledge. Without these fundamental assumptions or axioms which cannot be justified nor refuted by reason, the structure of knowledge would collapse and there would be no way to construct any sort of knowledge system. My purpose in this essay is to establish the validity of this assertion and to demonstrate that not only is faith a legitimate basis for knowledge claims in religion, but also in all areas of knowledge.To start with, in order to effectively answer a question concerning "religious beliefs", we must first define the term. Obviously, there are many different religions, each with different beliefs. However to take anything which is proclaimed to be religious belief by any people into account would over-complicate the issue. It is difficult to say exactly what should be classified as religious belief and what should not. Where I live in China, some believe that life ends at physical death while others see reincarnation as the very foundation of religious beliefs, while my Iranian cultural background tells me that it is no more than ignorant superstition. In Islam, it is believed that after death, at an appointed time, all would rise from their sepultures and in the view of the good deeds or sins they committed during their earthly lives, would accordingly be sent to heaven or hell. However, my Baha'i belief claims that after the death of the body, the soul continues it's existence and its efforts to advance will persist after death. It is thus very important we be aware of the complexity of making a statement defining religious belief that is cross-cultural, transnational and acceptable to all religions. In order to answer the question posed, we will not take into account those religious beliefs which can be easily disproved by reason, as they might fall under the category of blind superstition or tradition. Instead, we must take religious beliefs to be those which are upheld by and are fundamental to all major religions. Such as the existence of an Unknowable Essence, the human soul, justice, metaphysical worlds etc... These can neither be easily justified nor refuted by reason.Now we can discuss how all knowledge is equally based on faith. All beliefs in different systems of knowledge have certain fundamental axioms which are not subject to justification by reason and can be said to have been established by faith.For example, in math - viewed as the most reason-based area of knowledge - one fundamental axiom is that only one straight line can be drawn past two given points. Thus far this has not been justified or refuted by reason and yet it is the basis for all knowledge claims within this field of knowledge and is generally accepted as...

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