Letter to David Gordon

Dear Professor Gordon:

In your review of Atheism, Ayn Rand, and Other Heresies you write that Rand might argue against faith in this manner: "Reason is the key tool to man's survival. If one uses some other means than reason to arrive at one's beliefs, one is acting against reason. Such conduct is anti-human, since it impedes survival."

I was wondering if it might be possible to object as follows:

Reason is not the only tool to man's survival. As Thomas Aquinas writes, "to faith those things in themselves belong, the sight of which we shall enjoy in eternal life, and by which we are brought to eternal life." To a believer, then, faith is at least as important a "tool" as reason in assuring his own survival or salvation. Pascal's wager, it seems to me, is precisely that -- an admonition to an unbeliever to acknowledge at the very least the practical utility of faith and hope that in time genuine faith will emerge.

Further, also according to St. Thomas, faith, being the free assent of the intellect to the "unseen" knowledge of God, must first be "infused" into man by the grace of God. If true, then the "Clifford principle" is wrong, because there are other ways of gaining knowledge than argument or evidence.

Thank you,

Dmitry Chernikov

December 15, 2001

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