Religion is one of the important aspects of human life, so each decision, associated with spirituality and religion is a result of hard mental work. To find out whether decisions regarding religion are made based on faith or reason, it is important to study ancient scriptures of various religions as well as the works of theologians and other scientists who reflected upon religious issues.
First and foremost, it important to understand that religion appeared and developed as a result of human effort to explain natural phenomena like rain and thunder, so human reason and imagination were contributed substantially to the formation of pre-historic and ancient religions like paganism. Faith acted as a means of transmitting the sacred knowledge from generation to generation and enriching it, because it motivated individuals to research and make attempts to explain and describe more phenomena, including both natural and social. In the world’s greatest religions, decision-making is based upon both faith and reason, which supplement and reinforce one another.
For instance, Buddhism, one of the oldest Eastern religions, pays great attention to the person’s experience and lets the individual find answers to their questions through exploring various issues and phenomena and reflecting upon them. Meditation, observation, and watching inside one’s inner world are viewed as the practices which allow getting rid of selfish desires and achieving the state of nirvana, or supreme enlightenment (Moore & Bruder, 2005, p.499).
In this sense, reason allows concluding based on experience, processing, and analyzing all information the person receives so that it turns into helpful knowledge. Moreover, the reason is also associated with mechanisms that turn this knowledge into skills and behaviors of which the Eightfold Path is composed. On the other hand, the follower of Buddhism is also motivated by their faith, or belief in the plausibility of eternal delight, willingness to accomplish the goals, and feeling of joy, associated with belief and determination. So the absence of the corresponding emotion-based convictions is the condition under which the person will not be able to fully comply with the principles of Buddhism. Faith is actually what drives the follower to continue their spiritual search and keep adherent to the practices like meditation. Therefore, both reason and faith (weak or strong) contribute to the decisions concerning religions.
Christianity, another widespread philosophical and religious system, requires constant devotion and faith. Faith is what makes the person resistible and helps them endure earthly suffering. However, it is barely possible to develop faith without the knowledge of the Bible and other sacred texts attributed to Christianity; for this reason, the early Christians were working so hard to spread God’s word and inform people about the new system of beliefs and values.
In Christianity, the progress of faith is closely preceded by the development of understanding and confidence in the existence of God. In this sense, several philosophical works were created to strengthen faith and support it with logical arguments, related to the reason (Moore & Bruder, 2005, p.402). Thus faith is a complex set of emotions and feelings that include trust, confidence, and obedience, which can grow strong enough only if the person is persuaded or convinced and their reason accepts the possibility of developing faith. Faith, in turn, is the drive that encourages individuals to defend their religious views and greatly influences the process of making decisions, associated with religion, as it refers to the sense of trust for and emotional acceptance of religion-related views and principles.
Moore, B. N. & Bruder, K. (2005). Philosophy: The power of ideas (6th ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.
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