Are Faith and Reason Compatible and What about Doubt?
Some believe that a reasonable person cannot also have faith in God – reason and faith are thought to be enemies. I disagree. Personally, I came to faith by investigating the evidence and concluded that faith is not only reasonable, but that it actually takes more faith not to believe in God. I put aside Christian faith for over 20 years, believing just as many do that faith defies reason. I would have said during those 20 years that I believe there is a God or some force beyond us in the universe, but also thought that the Bible was full of myths and that Jesus was simply a good teacher and taught many good things. Looking back, I now realize that I was speaking out of ignorance, as I had read very little of the Bible and never studied it with any seriousness.
How I Overcame the Issue of Faith and Reason
On the invitation of a neighbor, I visited a church and began to really listen to the sermons. What I heard both resonated with me and reflected what I observed in the world around me. I began to study the Bible in a small group and read other books on faith as well.
Books that helped me overcome my skepticism were C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, several books by Josh McDowell, including More than a Carpenter, The Resurrection Factor and Answers to Tough Questions and books by other Christian authors as well. I also engaged Christians in conversations about faith and their reasons for believing. The evidence for the historical Jesus, the evidence for the resurrection of Christ, the evidence for the authenticity of the Bible, and the unity and authority of the Bible helped convince me about the truth of the Christian faith. And as I was doing this, God was working on my heart. I came to accept Jesus as my savior within 2 years of beginning my quest in a serious manner.
The Issue of Doubt
During this process, I also came to understand that faith allows for doubt. This was a major revelation for me. Before coming to faith, I had thought that one must dispel all doubt before accepting faith. Doubt, I realized, is essential to faith. Doubt causes further investigation and understanding.
Former Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, who is profiled on this Website, commented on the topics of faith, reason and doubt in her book, Condoleezza Rice: A Memoir of My Extraordinary, Ordinary Family and Me, Rice states:
From the time I was very young, I loved to engage in theological debates with my father… Because my father never made reason and faith enemies of each other, my religious conviction was strengthened. I am grateful for that because in the many intellectual environments in which I have found myself, I have never suffered the crisis of faith that so many do. I have always believed fully and completely.
At the 2012 Silicon Valley Prayer Breakfast, Rice said this about doubt:
My father was always one who allowed for the possibility of doubt in faith. . . He was a man of faith and he was my father, and so much of my life we talked about and debated and tried to understand the role of faith.
Doubt is Part of Our Spiritual Journey
We can never remove all doubt until we are in God’s presence in the life to follow. We are all on a journey of faith. Doubt is a key ingredient to deepen our faith when it leads to further investigation.
If you are skeptical about Christ or the Christian faith, I encourage you to use your power of reasoning and open your heart to the possibility of faith. I believe where we put our faith is the most important decision we make in life. If Christianity is true, where we put our faith affects our destiny. It is worth making the effort to examine what faith is and how it can become part of your life.
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