Brittany Shoots-Reinhard, PhD, is Foundation Beyond Belief’s Beyond Belief Network coordinator. She’s been having an ongoing discussion with her Catholic sister-in-law, Sarah Reinhard, about belief and nonbelief, and about their common ground. In this installment, Brittany and Sarah explore the concepts “faith” and “reason”:
Brittany: For many nonbelievers, “faith” is the conversation-ender in discussions or arguments about belief. So it’s not surprising that faith has a bad rap around freethought circles. Atheists hold up reason as a virtue; the process that puts them in an unassailably superior position in an argument. Reason gives you the right answer or at the very least, reasons why you’re right. It’s certainty with reasons.
But faith can also be thought of as trust, which is absolutely essential in relationships. We could also argue that faith is what we place in experts: scientists, teachers, doctors. We trust them to tell the truth, to have knowledge and skills we don’t have. “Ah,” you’re thinking, “but we have reasons to trust experts.” And if you’re a believer, you have reasons for your faith, even if you can’t or don’t want to articulate them in an argument. So faith needs reason.