A controversial but very fruitful relationship, with many child prodigies to display in their happy family, faith and reason comprise the full scope of our humanity. Being a complete human being means that you will need to seek both aspects of life.
The mind should be disciplined through the proofs of Euclid, but it also needs to cultivate a life of devotion and obedience to God in order to grow in the vision of faith. Christian faith does not provide a context that makes the life of reason unquestioned- but it does put limitations on it. Though these limitations make reason uneasy, they protectively circumscribe its existence in a fashion that keeps it from destroying itself.
Some try to reconcile faith and reason by relegating faith to that of a silent partner in the mutual contract of human concerns—given a place but politely asked to stay seated at the children's table while important matters are discussed. This view finds friends among those who see faith as a modern analogue to the drug-induced trance of the Delpic-oracle— sometimes mysteriously providing dark insights, but most of the time clearly not capable of coherent conversation, particularly if cocktails are involved. Yet, faith is propositional-- it makes claims to truth that are within the scope of human understanding and examination. Faith asks questions and can itself be verbally engaged through question and examination.
The friends of reason often attempt to claim that faith holds to its position rigidly and without examination, yet it does not take long in listening to their own positions to find that they also have particular positions that they will put forward with great fervor and little patience for examination or discussion. Each generation of rationalists seems to have their own collection of favorite positions. For example, in our own time, try questioning the fundamental validity of homosexuality as a cultural norm.
Even in understanding the more abstract concepts of Plato, anyone who accepts Christianity will understand Plato’s own attempt to grasp the divine much more sympathetically than one who holds that God's nature is completely obscure to any rational investigation. Plato deeply appreciated the obscure in human thinking, but nonetheless God was a being who could be discussed and his consequences on our existence were a reasonable topic for human consideration. It is very helpful to read Kant and Kierkegaard’s ideas regarding the limitation of the mind in being able to comprehend the nature of God, yet the bulk of Western history is written by those who assume that the rational investigation of God’s nature is highly profitable even if it is limited by the extent of reason’s capacity to see beyond the visible world.
Reading the great books has not been a very common approach in Christian circles and some even think such broad reading is not compatible with true Christian education; however, I find it is precisely the Christian who stands in the best position to grasp and learn from the ideas put forward in the great books. On the contrary, the strict atheist must find most of the reading so distant from his own positions as to make it quaint or even meaningless, even to the point of being a narrowly academic exercise.
Created with images by davidionut - "The Bodleian Library , University of Oxford,England,UK" • swisshippo - "Westminster abbey" • LALSSTOCK - "Hagia Sophia" • borisb17 - "Basilica of San Lorenzo, Florence, Italy" • Georgios Kollidas - "Blaise Pascal" • chrisdorney - "St. John's College in Cambridge" • Jbyard - "Westminster Abbey in London, England."