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Are Faith and Philosophy at odds?

 |  NCR Today

For more than 2500 years, philosophers have tried to settle the big question: can man prove God exits? A leading philosopher from Nore Dame says, no, we can't - and that's just fine.

Notre Dame philosophy professor Gary Gutting writes his striking account online in The New York Times. He describes debates with his students, seeking to answer life's main mysteries. Gutting says many of these arguments end with one student or another simply asking: what about faith? Can't we just take these things on faith?

For philosophers, Gutting writes, this is a source of exasperation. No, they say, we shouldn't take the big questions on faith. The job of a philosopher is to find the answers, to strip away the mystery.

But he admits, when it comes to God at least, philosophy hasn't done a good job. The real winners in those debate have been the agnostics - seeing little merit in arguments presented for or against God's existence.

Unless you factor in faith. Gutting says he came to realize that many of life's "basic truths" are things for which we have little empirical evidence: that the past is a reliable guide to the future, that our memories won't betray us, or that other people have strong inner lives. Such "truths," he says, arise simply from our own life experience - which is where faith often comes from, too. If we feel God's existence, we believe. We don't need some complex constuct to prove it.

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Gutting says philosophy and religion need to "talk" to each other more, to find out where one ends and the other begins.

He's started the conversation on a great note.

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September 12-25, 2014

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