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Author Topic: Reason  (Read 1696 times) Average Rating: 0
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hedley
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« on: April 13, 2007, 02:50:19 PM »

In this week's Spectator Magazine, Paul Johnson writes apropos Pope Benedict XVI :

"He believes as I do, that true religion is the exploration of metaphysics by the power of reason."

How do the Orthodox regard that ethos?
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« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2007, 12:35:23 PM »

I find this very disturbing. As a Catholic (and a pretty strict Thomist) I realize that there are some doctrines in our religion that cannot be reached through the use of reason alone. Rather, there are many things that require revelation and many things that are beyond human comprehension such as the Mystery of the Holy Trinity.
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PeterTheAleut
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« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2007, 02:08:03 AM »

In this week's Spectator Magazine, Paul Johnson writes apropos Pope Benedict XVI :

"He believes as I do, that true religion is the exploration of metaphysics by the power of reason."

How do the Orthodox regard that ethos?
I just finished reading Fr. Florovsky's work on The Eastern Fathers of the Fourth Century (Volume VII in The Collected Works of Georges Florovsky; Büchervertriebsanstalt, 1987) and found his presentation of St. Gregory of Nyssa very informative in this matter.  For instance, this quote: "Every idea which is developed through natural reasoning and supposition or which is comprehensible to the mind forms a divine idol and has no relation to God Himself." (p. 160)
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Theognosis
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« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2007, 02:40:29 AM »

"Every idea which is developed through natural reasoning and supposition or which is comprehensible to the mind forms a divine idol and has no relation to God Himself." (p. 160)

Yes, man's theories are mere abstractions.   They are illusory.
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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2007, 03:21:13 AM »

Chrysostom took a similar approach... leaving one with a very unstable epistemology, IMO.

"Let us then, knowing this, not enquire into things relating to God by reasoning, nor bring heavenly matters under the rule of earthly consequences, nor subject them to the necessity of nature; but let us think of all reverently, believing as the Scriptures have said; for the busy and curious person gains nothing, and besides not finding what he seeks, shall suffer extreme punishment. " - John Chrysostom, Homily 24 on John

"For many doubtful reasonings there are, which set the soul, as it were, on fire, many difficulties, many perplexities, but all of them faith sets entirely at rest; many things does the devil dart in, to inflame our soul and bring us into uncertainty" John Chrysostom, Homily 24 on Ephesians

"Let us put a curb upon our reasonings. Let us not transgress our bounds, nor the measures that have been assigned to our knowledge. For, 'If any man,' he says, 'thinketh that he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.'" - John Chrysostom, Homily 7 on First Thessalonians

"For where there is not faith, there is not knowledge; when anything springs from our reasonings, it is not knowledge." - John Chrysostom, Homily 18 on First Timothy

 "But, in short, when God doeth anything, reasonings are of no use; " - John Chrysostom, Homily 66 on John

"For nothing causes such dizziness as human reasoning, all whose words are of earth, and which cannot endure to be enlightened from above. Earthly reasonings are full of mud, and therefore need we streams from heaven, that when the mud has settled, the clearer portion may rise and mingle with the heavenly lessons; and this comes to pass, when we present an honest soul and an upright life." - John Chrysostom, Homily 24 on John

"Be then in nothing over-curious, nor demand reasonings. Our religion needs faith" - John Chrysostom, Homily 19 on Hebrews

"There is nothing worse than that man should measure and judge of divine things by human reasonings. For thus he will fall from that rock a vast distance, and be deprived of the light. For if he who wishes with human eyes to apprehend the rays of the sun will not only not apprehend them, but, besides this failure, will sustain great injury" - John Chrysostom, Homily 2 on Second Timothy

"Faith is all. If that establishes [it], the heart stands in security. It follows that Faith establishes: consequently reasonings shake. For Faith is contrary to reasoning." - John Chrysostom, Homily 33 on Hebrews

Here are some more...

John Chrysostom, Homily 24 on Matthew
John Chrysostom, Homilies 2, 7 and 25 on John
John Chrysostom, Homily 5 on Colossians
John Chrysostom, Homily 11 on Philippians
John Chrysostom, Homilies 1, 5, and 17 on First Timothy
John Chrysostom, Homilies 2, 15, and 22 on Hebrews

Maybe you're worshipping a devil and you just don't know it? How can you verify, beyond a subjective, vague, "faith" experience? You can't. A reasoned faith and an unconditional faith and a blind faith are only different in one way: how far you go in investigating before you decide to no longer ask criticial or skeptical questions. Yes, you can argue that atheists do this as well, that everyone does; that's not what is at issue. What is at issue is whether such a methodology is justifiable in this particular Biblical-God case. How can you ever trust God? What evidence is there to trust him? Is he all he is cracked up to be? But wait! Christianity says that if you have doubts, stop asking questions. Stop using that silly brain that God gave you, and just believe (unless you are muslim, hindu, buddhist, pagan, etc. etc., then keep reasoning and don't have faith in your beliefs). It's all a very nice little (closed) system. As long as you play by the Christian rules, you'll always remain a faithful Christian. But, maybe, if you were to question the actual rules of the game...

In any event, regarding the first post, one line doesn't seem to be enough to judge a man's beliefs on.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2007, 03:45:18 AM by Asteriktos » Logged

I'm not quite sure what to make of the common argument for Christianity that might be rephrased as: "Well, it's better than suicide, right?"
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« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2007, 04:57:50 AM »

But, maybe, if you were to question the actual rules of the game...

How about Inductive Reasoning?  Have you ever questioned its validity?
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PeterTheAleut
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« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2007, 05:24:27 AM »

Maybe you're worshipping a devil and you just don't know it? How can you verify, beyond a subjective, vague, "faith" experience? You can't. A reasoned faith and an unconditional faith and a blind faith are only different in one way: how far you go in investigating before you decide to no longer ask criticial or skeptical questions. Yes, you can argue that atheists do this as well, that everyone does; that's not what is at issue. What is at issue is whether such a methodology is justifiable in this particular Biblical-God case. How can you ever trust God? What evidence is there to trust him? Is he all he is cracked up to be? But wait! Christianity says that if you have doubts, stop asking questions. Stop using that silly brain that God gave you, and just believe (unless you are muslim, hindu, buddhist, pagan, etc. etc., then keep reasoning and don't have faith in your beliefs). It's all a very nice little (closed) system. As long as you play by the Christian rules, you'll always remain a faithful Christian. But, maybe, if you were to question the actual rules of the game...
I really think you're addressing a different type of reasoning than is addressed in the OP.  What I see in the OP is an inquiry into the Orthodox perspective on whether man has the power to explore the metaphysical essence of God via his own reasoning.  This is totally different from your assertion that Christianity discourages its adherents from using reason (i.e., their minds) to investigate the evidence we believe God has revealed to us that we should trust in Him for salvation.  In fact, Christ Himself even encouraged us to explore the evidence when He told the doubting Thomas to "touch Me and see that I am risen."
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« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2007, 09:54:14 AM »

The church fathers clearly used both the tools of reason and argumentation in expressing the central truths of Christianity in a way that people could understand, usually using the terminology and categories of thought they and the critics were familiar with (i.e. philosophy).  Justin Martyr and Clement of Alexandria are good examples, and they are very early church fathers.

Faith without reason doesn't make sense in ascertaining and understanding of the truth(to the level we as humans can), and reason alone will never arrive at the truth.

The late Pope John Paul the II wrote a great encyclical called Fides et Ratio, which he opens with the following words

Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves

Wonderfully said.

http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_15101998_fides-et-ratio_en.html
« Last Edit: April 30, 2007, 09:54:53 AM by welkodox » Logged
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« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2007, 08:43:41 PM »

The church fathers clearly used both the tools of reason and argumentation in expressing the central truths of Christianity in a way that people could understand, usually using the terminology and categories of thought they and the critics were familiar with (i.e. philosophy).  Justin Martyr and Clement of Alexandria are good examples, and they are very early church fathers.

Faith without reason doesn't make sense in ascertaining and understanding of the truth(to the level we as humans can), and reason alone will never arrive at the truth.

The late Pope John Paul the II wrote a great encyclical called Fides et Ratio, which he opens with the following words

Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves

Wonderfully said.

http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_15101998_fides-et-ratio_en.html
This is one of my favorite encyclicals of all time.
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