I am looking for books on the discussion of terms and concepts like reason, faith, instinct, evidence, confidence, justification, etc. But especially reason versus faith. I not looking for science versus religion type books. I would like to see discussions like whether pure reason without faith/instinct is possible without falling into circular reasoning; or whether reason is an objective, reliable way of knowing and such. If possible, I prefer books where the author does not get lost in jargon.

What choices do I have?

2 Answers 2


I know the problem : you either get books on the science vs faith theme or you find books trying to vindicate the rationality of (usually Christian) faith. Something less polemical or 'apologetic' and more conceptual is required. Try any or all of these :

Basil Mitchell : How to Play Theological Ping-Pong: And Other Essays on Faith and Reason Published by Eerdmans Pub Co ISBN 10: 0802805442 ISBN 13: 9780802805447

Paul Helm :Faith and Understanding (Reason & Religion) (Reason and Religion) ISBN 10: 0748609229 / ISBN 13: 9780748609222 Published by Edinburgh University Press 01/07/1997, 1997

J. Webber : Philosophy of Religion 3: Faith and Reason ISBN 10: 1898653097 / ISBN 13: 9781898653097 Published by Abacus Educational Services, 1995

Roger Trigg : RATIONALITY & RELIGION: Does Faith Need Reason? ISBN 10: 0631197486 / ISBN 13: 9780631197485 Published by John Wiley & Sons, 1998

Ninian Smart :Reasons and Faiths (International Library of Psychology) ISBN 10: 0710031556 / ISBN 13: 9780710031556 Published by Routledge & Kegan Paul PLC, London, 1958

C. Michalson : The Rationality of Faith: An Historical Critique of Theological Reason Published by SCM (1964)

John A Hutchison : Faith, Reason and Existence Published by Oxford University Press, New York USA (1956)

I don't think there is an ideal book but you should find something of what you want in at least one or some of these.

  • Thank you. I am surprised that despite thousands of philosophy books on everything from the philosophy of suicide to the philosophy of you-name-it, this vital subject is not discussed adequately.
    – blackened
    Commented Mar 10, 2018 at 15:48
  • I agree : it is puzzling. Perhaps your reading will throw light on the matter ! All the best : GT
    – Geoffrey Thomas
    Commented Mar 10, 2018 at 16:07
  • I'm not sure how directly it treats on your topic but it's faith vs. reason is a major component in Robert Stern's amazon.com/…
    – virmaior
    Commented Mar 10, 2018 at 18:36

Faith and Reason

I've never found a text that comprehensively deals with these questions. The best discussions I've come across have been found in the Wisdom literature. Part of the problem is that the terms have so many possible meanings. Here is an extract from 'A Course of Love', a text that talks at length about these issues.

“Being fully aware that you have life everlasting is totally different than having faith in an afterlife. Faith is based upon the unknown. If the unknown were not unknown faith would not be necessary. Faith will become unnecessary, as life everlasting becomes known to you.” (ACOL, T4:4.13)

For experiential or esoteric religion faith is regarded as a method, not a goal, and the sooner one loses the need for it the better. I'm not sure I'd recommend the above text since faith is just one of many issues discussed and it's long and hard work and requires some enthusiasm but the body literature it belongs to is full of discussions of faith and its role, limits and dangers. Here's another comment.

“According to the Dharma there are three different kinds of faith. The first can be described as a longing or a wish that what you hope and believe to be true actually is true. The second is described as a lucid faith in which you conclude that what you believe to be true actually is true. The third kind of faith is unshakable faith, which is total conviction.” (Lama Suryadas Awakening the Budha Within)

I realise this doesn't answer your question. I'm not able to recommend a non-esoteric discussion of faith and reason, or not one that deals properly with the subtleties you raise with the question, but I expect there are some.

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