A nephew was recently visiting here in the Northwest, up from California. He is an atheist in a public junior high school with students who are mostly Catholics and Evangelical Christians. His skeptical and anti-religious views have not been warmly received by other students. So, he was asking me for some ammunition to take back to California for anticipated debates and discussions with Christian students next school year.
I didn’t want to overwhelm him with dozens of issues and arguments and a large stack of books, so I decided to focus in on just one topic, for now. Epistemology seemed like the most logical place to start, specifically the topic of faith vs. reason. There is no point in arguing about God, Jesus, the Bible, or creationism, if the people you are talking to have no interest in being rational, and care nothing about facts, logic, evidence, scholarship, and objectivity. A good first move is to talk about faith and reason, and about how beliefs should be evaluated.
A quick skim of some books on atheism produced a number of articles that dealt with the concept of faith and how it relates to reason. I found three brief discussions that were helpful:
“Does It Matter Whether Theism is Reasonable?” by Wallace Matson
(The Existence of God, 1965, Cornell University Press, p.242-244)
“God and Faith” by B.C. Johnson
(The Atheist Debater’s Handbook, 1981, Prometheus Books, p.95-97)
“God and Reason” by Michael Scriven
(Critiques of God, edited by Peter Angeles, 1976, Prometheus Books, p. 100-105)
Four longer discussions of this topic also appeared to be useful:
“Religion and Reason” by Richard Robinson
(Critiques of God, edited by Peter Angeles, 1976, Prometheus Books, p. 120-124)
“What’s Wrong with Believing on Faith?” by Douglas Krueger
(What is Atheism?, 1998, Prometheus Books, p.207-218)
“Reason Versus Faith” by George Smith
(ATHEISM: The Case Against God, 1979, Prometheus Books, p.95-124)
“The Establishment of Dogma” by John McTaggart
(Faith, edited by Terence Penelhum, 1989, Macmillan Publishing Company, p.155-165)
I plan to dig deeper into books and websites on Christian apologetics, to see what I can find from a Christian viewpoint on this topic, and to see whether the above skeptical discussions of faith and reason are adequate to deal with what Christian apologists have to say on this subject.
Does anyone have a recommendation for articles (internet or otherwise) on faith and reason?
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