Written by Paul Lucas
Editor’s Note: Over the next several weeks, Paul Lucas will be sharing journal articles that he wrote regarding St. Augustine’s Confessions. Each entry will contain a slightly different aspect from his reading of the work, but will be centered around the balance of Faith and Reason.
The issue of Faith and Reason has been an integral part of my thoughts and discussions since becoming a Christian. In fact, even prior to my conversion, one of the main issues keeping me away from religion in general was the idea that one had to believe in things they cannot outright prove. For many years, this aspect was a difficult pill for me to swallow.
For better or for worse, for me to accept Christianity, I had to be convinced that there were rational reasons to believe their God. This process needed to start, I presumed, by finding rational people who believed in God, and ask them honest questions. Thankfully, I stumbled upon Liberty University’s philosophy department. I was a senior in high school, and I sat in on one of Dr. Martin’s classes. For some odd (rather, divinely inspired) reason, his class was discussing the basics of epistemology. Of course, he described “knowledge” as the common “justified true belief”. Soon, we began discussing “justification”. That is, how is a person “justified” in believing something? My initial instincts were simple: “whatever one can verify with evidence.”
To my surprise, he mentioned that position and began to ask questions about it—questions which I had never thought to ask. I had always thought that “evidence” and “verification” were the deepest points of human conception. I had always been taught to question everything, but I had never been taught to question the very faculties by which I question. In other words, instead of asking “what evidence is there for God?”, the real question was “what is evidence?” Up to this point, every person I had ever spoken to, atheist and religious, had adopted a common understanding of “evidence” (or so I thought). However, Dr. Martin revealed that these definitions were far from universal. I realized after this day that I had just simply accepted science and scientific reasoning as objectively true, and all other beliefs had to be proportioned to the conclusions derived by the scientific method.
That belief suddenly seemed less rational.