| For well over a thousand years, western theologians understood the link between faith and reason. In the fourth century Augustine explained, “Faith goes before; understanding follows after.” In the 11th century Anselm said, “My faith seeks understanding.” In the 1200s, Thomas Aquinas refuted the notion that faith and reason were two independent truths. Aquinas explained that faith and reason intertwine.*
Then came the Enlightenment. In the 1700s, Enlightenment philosophers wanted to divorce reason from faith, assuming human reason to be autonomous and faith blind. In 1843 Karl Marx called religion the “opium of the people.” He did not merely criticize some religions; he got out his broad brush and painted all religion as an illusion.
I realize that people have used religion as a security blanket to protect themselves from having to think, and others have used it for evil purposes. However, it does not help to define religion according to people’s failures and abuses.
Religion is an attempt to define ultimate truth. This applies to everyone. Those that do not believe in God will look to some other authoritative standard of ultimate truth. Everyone trusts in something, and whatever we hold with the utmost honor leads to acts of praise and worship. Atheists have stated, “Man is incurably religious.”
I wonder if we do more harm than good when we categorize people as religious and non-religious. The Bible doesn’t acknowledge religiously neutral people. It speaks of those that trust in the Lord and those that follow other gods.
Consider what we mean when we label people “non-religious.” Non-religious people might not go to church or pray or do other religious activities on a regular basis. Yet, non-religious people do have some system of belief that governs their lives.
Sometimes the word “faith” can be more useful than religion. Before you finish this book you will know what kind of faith you have. Start with this question, what is at the center of your life?
|* Some argue that Aquinas was not consistent about it, but that's beside the point.|