epistemalogically speaking what are hope an faith?


I know from our basic perspective, it is belief in something without reason, proof, or evidence. And hope is anticipation for something not yet received or known. However, I noticed that we typically become more distrusting and skeptical the older we get, and start to understand evil, like how we experience betrayal, or disappointment. So I can see why we would not want to expect and trust blindly.

Yet, skepticism, rationality, intellect, personal experience, logic and scientific data are not so certain on their own. Basically any intellectual assumption can be challenged. Like Scientific assumptions are not above challenge, and a truly scientific attitude is always open minded and skeptical of assumptions. With the debate of atheism and theism, there are arguments on both sides, none of which are above challenge, on either side.

Now Faith and Hope are often treated as wishful thinking. Which essentially theories on wishful thinking have been used as proof of something greater, with many mythologists have theorized that these desires and wishes are something imputed through a divine being. Like Lewis argument for desire.

The question is over how faith and hope can be certain, if most of our understanding about the world is based on uncertainty. Sometimes when it seems like wishful thinking and blind trust. And both often work out miserably.


Scientific thought, and faith and hope, just don’t mix or belong together, in my thought process.

For me, reason and faith do not agree. Reason is of the flesh, and faith and hope are of the Spirit.

As Martin Luther said:
“Reason is a whore, the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but more frequently than not struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God.”

Luther was a very outspoken person, and though I would not have said it his way, I do agree with the sentiment.

Put another way:

1 Corinthians 1:18-31
For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

So, as the saying goes, we shouldn’t mix apples and bananas. The way of this world does not really have a place in our world of the Spirit, and faith.

We must see by faith, not by sight. I believe many difficulties could be avoided,if the world learned to distinguish these.



And what are you using other than reason in order to justify that opinion or even to just state it in the first place?


What theological position is correct? Can reason tell us? The Pope, Gregory McDonald, the Baptist convention leaders, the Eastern Orthodox bishops, TV evangelists, academics from various theological university programs, etc., can all give valid theological and philosophical arguments, to support their position. Same goes for those advocating atheism, agnosticism, existentialism, some non-Christian religion like Islam, the flat earth position, the existence of alien civilizations, etc. It boils down to faith and hope. But reason can be used to give us “common sense”.


Logic is good in areas like math, science, and day to day life but when it comes to Ultimate Reality it’s limited. he reason why is Ultimate Reality is paradox. Paradoxes are both/and not the rational mind of either/or. For me it’s about coming into a faith union with Christ whose very essence is love and beauty. Hope is the same thing as union. We can acquire faith in many ways. One of them is through meditation. According to the Sufi mystic Vaughan - Lee in his book “Love is a Fire”:


I have questioned the matter of certainty, and what we really want with certainty is certainty in the good, or the defeat of evil. Like how one wants certainty that they will go to heaven, or at least not go to hell. Yet, I find that there is no certainty in any intellectual assumptions. Pretty much all our reasoning stems from intuitions, which we dont really have any intellectual knowledge of where they come from. Yet, we have no more certainty that intuitions are random, flawed, in conflict with reality, or a shadow of some super or divine intelligence or consciousness. I think it was Pascal who said that the heart has its reasons the reason knows not. Yet, from the intellectual point of view, that is nothing more than one possible theories to explain intuition.

So does faith even come down to accepting some intellectual statements? It seems like the intellect is very limited, in only being able to understand something that can be expressed through words and human language. It seems like the mind wants to look down on something if it cannot be clearly defined. Like treating religion in a subjective way as being inferior to science, since religion tolerates mystery, and does not need explanations.


I suppose, for you and I, the line where the Spiritual begins and the earthly world ends, is not the same boundary.

Have you heard of St.Augustine’s City of God/City of Man theory? Martin Luther, an Augustinian Monk, originally, used St. Augustine’s model, to develop one of his own. I am a Lutheran and have a fair working knowledge of his theory.

This is a tiny summary of what he believed:

Luther would explain that God ruled the invisible kingdom with His Word through faith and that God’s realm was not comprehensible through human reason. Moreover, in the worldly kingdom, Luther later distinguished three orders of rule comprised of human institutions: the orders of daily life (home and livlihood), the state, and the church. William J. Wright

So, if you would like to understand my concept of faith and reason, then I suggest you familiarize yourself with Luther’s concept of the 2 kingdoms. It is more complicated than can be explained here. Here is a link to the article where I got the quote from above, if you would like to read it.

wedgewords.wordpress.com/2010/0 … chapter-4/

Here is another link, to a LCMS Lutheran website, regarding this concept:


There is more info. on the LCMS website, under concepts of faith.

Basically God’s Word and the elements that are taught through His Word, cannot be understood in this world’s way of thinking. There are other rules…God’s rules…not Man’s …that define that realm. And, it is God’s rules, or ‘living in the Spirit’ that must dictate our decisions, actions, and understanding, in that realm.

John 3:

3Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again. ”

4“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

5Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

9“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.

10“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.e 14Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,f 15that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”g

16For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

I hope this helped, a bit.



The problem for me is treating reason as antithetic to faith. Saying that reason is the greatest enemy that faith has, as Luther argues, is not only massively self contradictory (he’s having to use reason to even state it let alone believe it) it’s also quite a poor witness. Saying to people that they shouldn’t use reason but should just have faith is to reason with them by telling them they shouldn’t have reason! It’s complete nonsense. That’s not even mentioning the times where the Bible exhorts people to use their reason.

Having said that, I don’t believe that faith is primarily a thing of the intellect but rather a thing of the will and I think this is where there needs to be a distinction between faith and reason (which maybe could even fit in to the ‘Two Kingdoms’ idea!). Faith isn’t against reason - it’s on the side of reason - but it’s not something that is primarily ‘to do’ with reason, if that makes sense. Just to illustrate that, I saw a video online the other day where an atheist was addressing religious people, asking why faith was a better ‘tool’ for knowing and finding out about the universe than reason. Fundamentally, the problem with that is that faith itself is not a methodology for making intellectual discoveries. It’s about a union with Christ, being connected to the source of all life, trusting in Him, obeying Him, conforming to His will, being faithful to Him. I think there’s an element of mystery about faith but that’s how I understand it to be.

That’s why Paul can say that everything not of faith is sin - he doesn’t mean everything not done by ‘blind trust’ is sin or that anything you use your reason for is sin. That would be daft.


God gave us the faculty of reason, and I think that we should employ it in our faith as well. If not, we may be duped into following any false notion that comes down the pike. Believing in something just because, having no real reason for our belief, wouldn’t be a very strong faith. Or just believing something because someone else says it’s what we should believe can get us into trouble.


If you wish to know about reason and its limitations, there is no finer work then The Critique of Pure Reason. But beware - it’s not an easy read. Here’s an outline someone did on Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason and here is a chapter outline. If you can read and comprehend The Critic of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant in philosophy and Ulysses by James Joyce in literature, then I’ll take notes on what you say regarding faith, hope and reason. That’s a promise on my part. Here are some short, easy videos to explain Kant’s work.


I’ve been reading the COPR for a month or so now. I’ve studied Kant previously and understand his philosophy pretty well - but reading him directly, sequentially is a tough slog, though exhilarating intellectually. Some philosophers, such as Plato, are easier to read than those that write about them, and for those philosophers I say: go to the sources. But once we get into Kant and post-Kant, it’s good to read a synopsis beforehand. For example, I picked up a copy of Spinoza’s Ethics when I was about 14 and thought I was reading Martian. And Hegel and Marx? :open_mouth: :open_mouth: :open_mouth: Gadzooks.
I agree with Randy that the COPR is an excellent source for the questions brought up here.


I don’t think that IS our basic perspective. What you are describing is sometimes called “blind faith.” Perhaps a mother places blind faith in her son. She believes that her son would never steal, even in face of evidence to the contrary. Those who saw him steal are believed by the mother to be lying. Genuine faith, on the other hand, is not blind. It is BASED on evidence and past experience.

We cannot live a day of our life without faith. For example, we sit down in a chair, having faith in the chair that it will support us. It doesn’t HAVE to support us. I once saw a man sit in a chair which then collapsed under him. Or we get into our car to drive it, having faith that it will start. But sometimes a car will NOT start. The faith we have in cars and chairs may be called “experiential faith.” This faith is based on past experience. Every day, we constantly place experiential faith in many different things, including people. If a friend has supported you in various ways in the past, you don’t expect him to let you down now.

Another kind of faith may be called “experimental faith.” An airplane pilot tries out a new plane that has never been flown. He has faith that the plane will fly properly. His faith is not without reason or evidence. For he is aware that the plane was manufactured by a reputable company, and so he is able to trust the plane (“faith” and “trust” are much the same in meaning). Once he has flown the plane, the pilot then has experiential faith in the plane as well.

Faith in God is much the same. When a person trusts God for the first time, he places experimental faith in God. When he finds out that God indeed works in his life, he then continues to trust God with experiential faith.


I dont know if anyone has heard of or knows about Eckhart Tolle. He is a spiritual teacher and author of “The power of Now” and “A New Earth”. The premise of his teaching is that thought and intellect are not the highest form of consciousness, and how our minds often times are a great obstacle to reaching enlightenment. From his story, he was always seeking out spiritual knowledge through philosophy, and intellectual grasping, until one night he was anxious, depressed and worn, and thought to himself that he could not live with himself, and came to a realization that “You are not your mind”. His technique to stop obsessive thinking is to become fully present in the Now. He refers to the false sense of self as the ego, which are identifications with finite things, or to find our identity in idols according to Judeo-Christian terminology.

The application of faith I question is whether our ultimate faith and hope is in something that the mind cannot understand. Like a kind of superconsciousness that transcends words, definitions, thought, feelings, measurability, or experience. I think this is confirmed in Scriptures with "but just as it is written, “THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.” 1 Corinthians 2:9.


Actually, I have heard of him. Eckhart Tolle likes to popularize - which is needed sometimes. But you will find the same ideas with Christian mystic Meister Eckhart or Eastern mystic Ramana Maharshi.


You will also find the same ideas in the Catholic Franciscan Friar priest’s (Richard Rohr) “The Naked Now: Learning To See As The Mystics See”



Again, I believe your boundaries of where one begins and the other ends is not the same as I understand it, through my own life and through my readings and exposure to the gospel and various authors.

Obviously we need reason to do some things related to faith. Perhaps thinking of it in the sense of the story of Nicodemus is a better way to go for some. We cannot use the material, worldly thinking, IMO, when it comes to matters of faith. It is the proverbial ‘oil and vinegar’ scenario.

For example, reason says do not give your money away…save it…one never knows what will happen to us, and when or how we will need it. Faith says, be generous, give to those around you who need; the widow’s mite; the good Samaritan; when Jesus told the rich, young man, give all you have to the poor and follow me, and so on. Reason of this world does not tell us to do that. Nor does reason say, keep loving when you are rejected; keep giving when you are not thanked; keep trying when all seems against you; do good when no one else is; be kind to evil people, and on and on. This is what I and, if I may be so presumptuous to say, Luther and Augustine were saying, too.

If you look at what I highlighted above, I would change that to, not the problem of faith, but the beauty of it, is that we don’t use it for the practical aspect of this world, but for the Spiritual.

I don’t think faith can be understood with reason…it can only be seen through faith, itself.



Dandelion, I see what you are saying. Yet I think that reason is still a factor. The fruit of the Spirit is proof of our faith and gives us reason to believe. We continue to believe when all else seems to the contrary because somewhere along the line, it has been testified to. Romans 1:19-20 says “because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made.” According to this, we have no excuse because we have been given evidence of God’s existence. He also gave us intellect and reason to figure things out. Sometimes it may be reason that helps to motive our actions. For example, if we see someone broken down along the road we may stop to help this person not because we love them, or because we think that we will be repaid someday, although we have faith that it will come back to us. But reason gives us cause to think to ourselves, what if this person happens to be someone we love or perhaps even ourselves, wouldn’t we want someone to do the same for us?


Dandelion said:

"If you look at what I highlighted above, I would change that to, not the problem of faith, but the beauty of it, is that we don’t use it for the practical aspect of this world, but for the Spiritual.

I don’t think faith can be understood with reason…it can only be seen through faith, itself. "

I might tend to agree with this, though isn’t it possible, that intellect and reason may shift to something different when we receive faith and hope? When we are born again, does that not spiritually represent a new creature, and that the spiritual will cause change to the flesh? (Just a thought- excuse me if someone else already pointed this out!)