Posted on March 1st, 2012
In the Washington Post for Feb. 28, Lawrence M. Krauss criticizes presidential candidate Rick Santorum for saying that college is damaging to many people’s “faith commitment.” He writes,
As a faculty member at an institution of higher education, and as a scientist, however, I question the basic premise that loss of faith is a bad thing. If it is true that those who are more educated have a greater tendency to question their religious faith, shouldn’t we consider that this might be telling us more about religious faith than about how harmful getting a college degree can be?
Why do we so readily accept in our society the claim that blind religious faith is a virtue, and the lack of faith as a defect?
Did you see the move he made there? Suddenly “faith” became “blind.” Whether willful or not, Krauss entirely misunderstands the nature of faith, at least Christian faith.
Faith is neither blind nor irrational. The classical aspects of faith are knowledge, assent, and trust.
Faith is neither blind nor irrational. The classical aspects of faith are knowledge, assent, and trust. Let’s take the heart of Christianity, the death and resurrection of Jesus. We hold that Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate, died, was buried, and rose again from the dead because of the eyewitness testimony of witnesses such as Matthew, John, and Paul. One must make a judgment about the reliability of these witnesses. For myself, I judge them as completely credible. There’s no “blind faith” involved in this, anymore than I have faith that the sun rises in the east or George Washington was a general in the Revolutionary War.
Assent is, to continue this example, to agree that I need this death because I am a sinner, that I need this resurrection because I am dying. Trust is believing His Word that He has pardoned my sins and will do for me what He has promised on the last day.
I could also say that I trust my wife when she says she will pick up what I need at the store on Friday. I trust her not blindly, but on the basis of discovering that she never lies to me and always keeps her word.
If people such as Krauss don’t like Rick Santorum, or religion in general, that is their right. But men who claim to be well educated really should make an effort to learn the very basics of the religions they criticize. Otherwise, those of us who have experienced the disinformation and logical fallacies that prevail in the lectures at secular universities will continue to have little faith in their abilities to make a person truly educated.