On Christian Philosophy

Anthony Kenny’s and Bertrand Russell on Aquinas’ Christian theism (in particular his Catholicism):

“There was,” writes Russell, “little of the true philosophical spirit in Aquinas : he could not, like Socrates, follow an argument wherever it might lead, since he knew the truth in advance, all declared in the Catholic Faith …

[But] it is not,” replies Kenny, “in fact a serious charge against a philosopher to say that he is looking for good reasons for what he already believes in. Descartes, sitting around his fire, wearing his dress gown, sought reasons for judging that that was what he was doing, and took a long time to find them. Russell himself spent much energy seeking proofs of what he already believed: ‘Principia Mathematica’ takes hundreds of pages to prove that 1 and 1 make 2 … We judge a philosopher by whether his reasonings are sound or unsound, not where he first lighted on his premises or how he first came to believe his conclusions. Hostility to Aquinas on the basis of his official position in Catholicism is thus unjustified, however understandable, even for secular philosophers.”

— Anthony Kenny, agnostic — “A New History of Western Philosophy Volume 2: Medieval Philosophy,” pg 76
In undergraduate classes, I’ve seen atheists discredit Christian philosophers simply because these philosophers seek out reasons to demonstrate the truth of their faith. This shouldn’t matter. If there are sound reasons for one’s belief, it shouldn’t matter that the person tries to seek reasons to hold their belief. If no reason can be found, then the next rational thing should be to let go of that belief.

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