Philosophy and Theology

Volume 10, Issue 1, 1997

Avery Dulles
Pages 19-31

The Cognitive Basis of Faith

This article indicates the light that an epistemology like Newman’s, with its stress on the convergence of probabilities, the experience of conscience, and the presence of grace, can shed on the problem of faith and reason. The longstanding controversy over this problem between evidentialists and fideists has found new echoes in recent disputes between foundationalists and nonfoundationalists. It is necessary to distinguish between different aspects of the approach to faith—-the metaphysical, the historical, the religious, and the theological—-each with its own logic and distinct style of epistemology. Examination of these aspects indicates that neither evidentialism nor fideism, neither foundationalism nor nonfoundationalism, does justice to the complexity of the matter. Faith arises out of a process in which human reason, in a large and comprehensive sense, is involved at every step of the way. Faith is not above or beyond reason, even though it depends for its origin and existence upon the grace of God.