Religion in the age of reason: faith and the apostasy of humanism

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Ever since the Enlightenment, it has become a genuine question whether or not belief in the God of the ethical monotheistic tradition is either intellectually defensible or morally necessary. It is often said that recent advances in scientific and rational thought have exposed much of the monotheistic tradition to be making embarrassingly fantastic and barely credible if not wholly false and incoherent claims. In this dissertation, of Christian conviction examine several defences of the rationality in the modern world begin with fideism which, in effect, holds that Christianity does not set out to be rational and hence cannot be convicted of irrationality. There are, in the writings of orthodox and neo-orthodox thinkers, both philosophical and theological objections to the use of reason in determining the true status and proper content of theology. I argue that the claims of the Christian religion cannot escape rational scrutiny and that Christian theology is not an autonomous discipline. A significant concern of twentieth century Christian thought has been the attempt to identify the essence of the faith by separating the central or essential elements from the extraneous or peripheral ones. Several modern philosophical positions on the status of Christian religious belief incorporate the claim that what is essentiaI to the Christian faith remains intact despite secular critique. I examine three such positions in this thesis. Of these, two of them are examined briefly. Both have, for different reasons, been labelled "reductionist" on the ground that, in different ways, both fail to preserve the propositional character of religious belief. I have very little new to say about them and my discussion of them is, consequently, perfunctory. I do argue, however, while examining them, that the tradition of Christian theism sets identifiable Iimits to the secularization of Christianity and that it has a normative significance for Christian theology. The third is a position I label "theological revisionism" and this is examined at great length. It is a position much in vogue among secularized religious thinkers who reject theological reductionism. Theological revisionists endorse the autonomy of secular reason; religious claims must, if necessary, be attenuated, we are told, in the face of current scientific and rational philosophical challenge. contend that theological revisionism is a deeply problematic position which faiIs to provide an adequate defence of the rationality of Christian conviction in our secularized age. Finally, I offer some suggestions for a defence of religion in the modern world. Different religious traditions must, naturally, develop their own projects for protecting their respective belief-systems against the corrosive influences of modernity. All the monotheistic religions would, however, benefit from the provision of a successful natural theology. And in order to obtain that, we should, I suggest, set ourselves the artistic task of reviving a religious vision of the world the task par excellence for a theology of the future.
Bibliography: p. 249-257.
Akhtar, S. (1985). Religion in the age of reason: faith and the apostasy of humanism (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from doi:10.11575/PRISM/16855