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2011-17384
Dela Cruz Alexis
Sir. Franco
Medieval Philosophy

Moral Implications of Faith

Medieval period was the rise of Christianity, hence the philosophy that prevailed
during this era was those of which attempts to reason out and even provide evidences, to
prove the existence of a higher being, which is God. There were efforts in reconciling
Theology and Philosophy; some prominent thinkers during this time even claimed that
they are one and the same. Theology and philosophy strives towards knowledge; however,
some might argue that theology appeals solely to faith while the latter solely appeals to
reason. Philosophers would argue such as Kierkegaard and Lock, which served better
epistemic function. Nonetheless, philosophers from the medieval period prioritize faith
over rationality, although some does not necessarily dichotomize the two. Generally
however, faith is still what prevails in their philosophy. What I meant by faith here is that
of, hope and trust for a preposition to be true.
Our human faculties restrict us from knowing more than we could. As what Agustine
would say, we cannot expect from our senses, what it cannot give us. (Enoch Stumpf
2001) It is the same with reason, there are things in this world that we are incapable to
comprehend because of that we rely on our faith for the things that our reasoning cannot
cover. Furthermore, their concept of God was something that we cannot have a direct
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knowledge of; hence, we can only derive our knowledge of him indirectly. Another way of
arriving to our knowledge of God is through divine revelation. Divine revelation pertains to
the disclosing of some truth or knowledge through the communication to some deity or
supernatural being. For the medieval philosophers, divine revelation is an important aspect
of knowledge because without it, we cannot have any knowledge of God. Philosophers
would give different importance to divine revelation such as for example, St. Agustine and
St Thomas Aquinas saw divine revelation as what would elucidate us to God (Enoch Stumpf
2001). Duns Scotus on the other hand saw this as a way to know not only god but also
morality. Since, he believed that it is through Gods will that we know what is good and bad
and it is through divine revelation that we know Gods will. Either way, divine revelation is
important for these philosophers because it is what would give us knowledge to God and it
is important to know God because this is the path for salvation. (Enoch Stumpf 2001) For
Aquinas, it is what would make us happy even, we can only be happy if we understand the
essence of the first cause, which is God. (Age of Belief) Divine revelation, unlike reasoning,
which can be abstracted from our intellectual faculty, is something that we can only hope
for that would come to us. It is something that could only sprung out of faith. Meaning, no
matter how much we try to reason it out it is only through Gods will that divine revelation
could come to us. If that is the case then, we cannot justify our knowledge of divine
revelation because any attempt to justify it would be absurd because its not really
something that our intellect could grasp. However, what does that imply to our obligations
to our knowledge if we could hold knowledge on the basis of unjustified knowledge?
There is nothing wrong in faith in itself. It is true that there are limitations to our
sensory and intellectual capacity and that there are things that we cannot understand,
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hence we can rely on faith, and we are justified and it might be a better choice to do so.
Imagine a man who was stranded in an island and his only way to escape was his small
boat. He could stay in the island, he has enough food rations and could start a life there but
he would be living a life devoid of social interactions. If he leave the island, however, he
does not know if the boat can take the big waves and he has no way of finding out how far
is the next island. He has no sufficient evidence to know whether he and the ship would
survive the ocean but even so, would you throw away a chance for a quality life because of
fear to fail? If he put faith and traveled, he has the chance to be able to live a better life. If he
got to his destination then what made him get there was faith if he failed and died, as how
Fitz James Stephen would romantically put it, we cannot meet death better. On cases, such
as religion, are those, which really need faith to believe their propositions since what they
talk about are knowledge we cannot come directly.
Then again, we could rely on our faith, as long as it does not inflict harm on other.
For example, killing a non-believer because your religion says so. Now if you are killing
innocent people on the basis of faith on a belief, then there must be something wrong with
your belief, or at least it needs further evaluation. There must be a limit in accepting a
premise out of faith for it may cause harm to other people. As much as we are aware of the
fact that we cannot justify all of our beliefs we must be responsible for it. We should put a
great value to finding out truth but fear of dupery and to impede the rights of other people
must serve as traffic to our beliefs and actions. We must acknowledge that faith is
important, particularly in religion but we also have to admit that some premises that
sprung out of faith could bring us to a wrong judgment and history had taught us that we
are capable of arriving at a wrong judgment because of an irresponsible faith. For example,
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there was an uproar about Copernicuss heliocentric theory because it goes against what
the bible taught. We condemned people for going against the teachings of the bible because
we have faith that the premises of the bible are true. Even now we still do it, for example
the RH bill, some supporters of the church condemn others as demonic because its evil
and go against what the bible teaches. If we feel that the proposition that we put our faith
on turns out to be false after all then we have a duty to correct it. We also have to be aware
of the people who take advantage of others faith. They take advantage of the faith of the
people to gain power, wealth or to make people do what they want. That is why it is
important that we just dont go into blind faith, even if it is faith we still have the duty to
examine it.
Recently, there was a documentary that I watched; it features a town that idolizes a
corpse, which is said to make miracles. The corpse has not decomposed for more than
eighty years already, hence the people in that town thought that the corpse must be
miraculous. The devotees would drink the water that was used to wash the cadaver and
they even claimed that it cured them from illness. One of the corpses relative, has been
featured to be possessed by that spirit of the corpse every Sunday to preach and bless the
people. Of course, for us it is a dead hypothesis, but for the people of that town they believe
in the miraculous powers of the corpse. They have no way of really proving its truth but
then again they hold it as true and claim that it heals them. I see no problem in their faith to
the extent that they do not really harm other people and it works for them. It gives them a
sense of security and I cannot really prove that it is not true either even if I can never
believe in it. However, some of their practices might harm them, such as drinking the water
that was used to wash the cadaver it might be contaminated. We are free to believe or to
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have faith however; we must still carefully examine it. Blind faith sometimes causes us
harm, not just for ourselves but also to other people. Imagine the time of the Nazis, they
believed that they are the superior race and put it in action hence, the result was genocide.
That might be the extreme case but still we must always choose carefully where we put our
faith, not just for ourselves but also for others. Nonetheless, we are not exempt from our
duty to reexamine our beliefs. If in anyway our belief defies our duty to mankind, then we
have the obligation to reexamine our beliefs. We as humans are bound to a social contract;
our beliefs are only justifiable to the extent of the weight of our evidences (objective or
subjective) and that which our social contract allows.
To conclude, faith is an important source of knowledge especially to those that we
cannot have direct evidences of, specifically, religion. Then again, we have to be weary of
the responsibility that goes along with it for our epistemic obligations are most of the time
our moral obligations as well.










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Sources:

A History of Philosophy from Pre-Socratic to Sartre. Samuel Enoch Stumpf. Cambridge.
2001. Print.

The Age of Belief. Print.