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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Strategic CSR - Faith

Welcome back to the Strategic CSR Newsletter!
The first newsletter of the Spring semester is below.
As always, your comments and ideas are welcome.
The article in the url below (published on Christmas Day), in broad terms, discusses the role of religious faith vs. scientific proof. In the process, the author (a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center) describes his own religious journey, but makes a number of points that are of value to believers and non-believers alike. First, he distinguishes the roles in our lives played by faith and reason, arguing that faith is essential because it relies on aspects of life that are beyond easy empirical demonstration, such as trust:
"Perhaps the key to understanding why faith is prized within the Christian tradition is that it involves trust that would not be needed if the existence of God were subject to a mathematical proof. … Every meaningful relationship — parent-child, spouse to spouse, friend to friend — involves some degree of trust. It is better and more vivifying to be the object of someone's trust rather than the last person standing after a series of logical deductions."
Although faith and reason are independent, they are also related – in other words, to accept faith is not to reject doubt:
"For many of us, shadows of doubt coexist with faith. To emphasize faith … is precisely to take doubt seriously, but also to understand the doubter more completely — not just as a reasoning mind but as a full person, possessed of a divine spark that lets us see, now and then, right through the walls we have built between faith and reason."
On a more practical level, the author makes the important point that to be a non-believer is just as much an article of faith as it is to believe:
"If it seems like that's asking too much — if you think leaps of faith are for children rather than adults — consider this: Materialists, rationalists and atheists ultimately place their trust in certain propositions that require faith. To say that truth is only intelligible through reason is itself a statement of faith. Denying the existence of God is as much a leap of faith as asserting it. As the pastor Tim Keller told me, 'Most of the things we most deeply believe in — for example, human rights and human equality — are not empirically provable.'"
Most important to the CSR debate, however, he highlights the complementary role that faith and reason play in making sense of life. Faith is important because it speaks to meaning and purpose in ways that reason cannot:
"Our most important forms of knowledge rarely come from logic or proof. … Faith can allow us to understand things in a different way than reason does. … [Reason] can analyze things like quantum physics and modern cosmology. But what faith can do is to put our lives in an unfolding narrative in ways reason cannot. It gives us a role in a gripping drama, … a drama that includes sin and betrayal, redemption and grace; and ultimately it gives purpose to our lives despite the brokenness and pain we experience."
Wishing everyone a happy and productive 2018!
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How Can I Possibly Believe That Faith Is Better Than Doubt?
By Peter Wehner
December 25, 2017
The New York Times