ET. Also please make sure to respond to at least two posts of your classmates and/or the instructor by Sunday 11:59pm ET. To earn full credit for this discussion assignment you need to make three substantive posts (see Discussion Guidelines under Course Home). Make sure to include references to the course materials in your responses.
(1) The view that religious belief is based exclusively on faith rather than reason or evidence has a specific name: fideism. An early Church Father by the name of Tertullian in his work entitled De Carne Christi is often quoted out of context as having said, “I believe because it is absurd” (Latin: credo quia absurdum). However, what Tertullian actually said was “it is certain, because impossible” (Latin: certum est, quia impossibile) and this comment was made in specific reference to the resurrection of Christ from the dead (not to every aspect of religious belief in general). Either way, it is understandable why Tertullian’s name is often associated with the fideist perspective. Can you think of any problems or difficulties that might arise if religious belief is not somehow connected to reason or with rational principles? Should not a person have “reasons” for their beliefs, including religious beliefs? Why or why not? Make sure to support your answer with references to the assigned readings.
(2) The question of whether religious belief is based on reason or faith is certainly an interesting question to consider. Philosophers have taken different sides on this issue. Some argue that religious belief is not something that requires evidence (or at least not scientific evidence). Others argue that all types of beliefs, including religious belief, must be grounded on (or justified by) either reason and/or evidence. W.K. Clifford makes an interesting argument about the relationship between religious belief and morality. In his essay, “The Ethics of Belief,” Clifford argues that our “beliefs influence actions, that our actions may affect others for good or ill, and that believing on weak grounds leads to thoughtless actions that may harm those who rely on us to be conscientious about what we say and do. To stifle doubts and believe more firmly than the available evidence supports is a form of dishonesty that weakens our character by undermining concern for truth” (Cahn 2012). In other words, Clifford’s argument seems to imply that a religious belief that is not based on proper reason and evidence is a form of intellectual and ethical dishonesty. What do you think? Make sure to support your answer with references to the assigned readings.
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