The glory of God and his handiwork can be well shown by the creation of the heavens and the firmament thus the divine revelation. However, this can also include the human personality since human beings are also God’s creatures. Thus the creation works and the light of creation do manifest the goodness, the wisdom and the power of God. Nevertheless, man is not sufficient and cannot give the knowledge and the will which is necessary for salvation.
The two terms i.e. reason and revelation appear to be contradictory to many people. Reason can be seen to be opposing the faith pronounced by most religions and their miraculous healings. However, some religious persons do welcome reason as god’s gift that should be fully utilized. However, the truth is that Christians have divided opinions on the relationship between human revelation and reason. In these different views, some people do detach the two, others do lean on one side more than the other while others give both equal treatment. Hence, there are several perceptions on these two i.e. revelation only, reason above revelation, reason only and revelation and reason (Popkin, 76)
Human reason can be defined as self-consciousness which seizes the individualities identity i.e. mutability as well as the immutability i.e. the infinite and the finite and the subjectivity and the objectivity. Reason can also be defined as the innate ability of people’s minds to realize and practice the truth. On the other hand, divine revelation can be defined as the supernatural way of disclosing the truth by god which in one way or the other could not be discovered unaided by human reason alone (Graham, 276)
Hegel says that reason can be seen in several stages. First, he says that there is theoretical reason which he defines as the observing reason. In the theoretical reason, Hegel says that this reason do reveal the rationality by observation of nature. He says that this reason do differentiate the aspects and the non-aspects of something. Thus, theoretical human reasoning attempts to reveal the truth by describing something as it appears naturally. This reasoning therefore works on the basis of investigating the laws of nature. However, Hegel says that theoretical reasoning in itself cannot totally convert all natural observable facts into rational concepts. So, as the theoretical reason investigates the laws of nature, it stumbles into the stalemate in organic nature. He argues that human beings can reason out by seeing an organism but when its driving force is shut, the human theoretical reasoning will call for an inner intellect. In itself, theoretical reason is used in observing self consciousness. It also observes the existing relationship between self consciousness and the immediate reality. So, this reason interprets what exists inwardly by what exists externally.
Hegel says that for theoretical reason cannot find its own reasons, it thus moves to the discovery. This way, human understanding must seeks for actualization of the facts that are beyond it. This is what Hegel refers to as practical reason or as he also puts it actualizing of consciously thoughts through itself. Hegel says that practical reasoning and theoretical reasoning relates just as the conscious and the self conscious. Though this relationship exists between theoretical and practical human understanding, Hegel says that practical reasoning comes forth just actualize by incorporation of theoretical reasoning within itself. This opposes the theoretical and thus creates a necessity which will actualize the demands of the hearts (people’s happiness in this world). Then, practical reasoning pursues its own happiness in the society. However, this collides with the conventions of the ordinary society which is not automatically virtuous. And, since the society is divorced with the actualized reality, there is no way reality can be realized. However, the actualized reality tries to find actualization in actual reality hence concrete individuality. This means that people’s reasoning and understanding will is all about the people’s synthesis of their observation and actions. Thus the truth is sought from the ethical aspect which is the spirit. This is beyond the rational consciousness. Hence when reason is the reality as per the ethical substance, it gets elevation to be the spirit (Popkin, 265).
In his perception therefore, Hegel concurs with David Hume who believes that the revelation of the reality is based on the people’s experiences. This empiricists’ view however, does not recognize the practical aspect of reasoning.
In expounding on human reason and divine revelations, David Hume firstly differentiates impressions from ideas. He says that through our emotions, senses plus other phenomena of the mind, we are able to get impressions but ideas are born of thoughts, memories or beliefs which we connect with our impressions. As a result, we people construct their ideas from their impressions by contiguity, cause and effect as well as by resemblance. Hume also differentiates relating ideas and facts. He says that matters of facts are just the truths leant by experience and can only be understood by causation in a manner that experiences of one event leads to assumptions of unobserved causes. However, he says that these assumptions are not necessarily true.
On human reasoning, David Hume says that human reasoning is all about mitigated skepticism. He says that people do understand the world differently and there is no need reasoning in justifying their own perceptions. Hume says that people don’t have any good reason to base their beliefs about the world rather it is nature that guides and helps the people’s functioning in ways that reasoning cannot work out. Hume however accepts the limitation to faith in regards to things that are from beyond our understanding. These, he says are from the sole source. Thus they are revealed to us. This is how divine revelation comes in Hume’s philosophy (Popkin, 282).
Hume refutes claims of the practical reasoning by saying that if our past experiences are unable to teach us then the reasoning cannot be pragmatic. This is because, without causation, we wouldn’t be able to work it out for we will be acting as if causation exists not. He maintains that with or without the connections existing between two more events, this should not be argued about. Thus he thinks we should preserve our energy and time rather than asking questions whether god exists or not, whether the soul is mortal or immortal and what the soul is. He maintains that because the human mind is not meant to assist in discovering and defining the truth, there will be no rational and definite conclusions on non-figurative matters (Popkin, 179)
However, Hume is very skeptical and does not give explanations why people can’t connect two events. He simply says that it is not possible predicting the future by relying on our experiences of the past. He just give an explanation that there is no solid reason in order to believe that it is impossible. He rather admits that should an event be observed severally repeatedly following another then it becomes natural and thus, people do make assumptions that such events always will be occurring in same manner. Hume also says that if people really want to live their lives, the, they should be in positions to make assumptions like these. He says that these assumptions are very useful and practical though not reliable to provide proof. Thus people are not right in justifying beliefs by claiming that they are supported by reason or claiming that we can totally know that one event can cause the other (Graham, 176).
In Hume view therefore, there is no practicality in reasoning. This means that he sharply disagrees with Hegel and partially welcomes Immanuel Kant’s idea of not totally depending on human reasoning as the source of revelation. However,, Both Hume and Hegel do not believe in the divine revelation from above for man to understand his environment.
On his part, Immanuel Kant accepts the idea of pure reasoning for understanding but rejects the idea that pure reasoning can reveal to us anything, even in the same things. He also accepts the idea of experiential knowledge, practical revelation and says that knowledge by experience is essential knowledge too. However, he rejects the idea that knowledge by experience can be used to make inferences about universal truths and unnecessary truths. In claiming so, Immanuel Kant concurs with David Hume. Based on this argument, he rejects the metaphysical claims of the rationalists which to him is not attainable. However, he maintains the perception that attempts to answer some questions of the inevitable which occur in the external world. In doing so, he limits create some distinctive boundaries in the metaphysical speculations thus maintains the empirical approach to knowledge in regard to the external world (Popkin, 206).
Kant’s perception comes from his philosophical perception of the synthetic a priori. However, this has been criticized by Hume who says that there is no distinction between the a priori- a posteriori relationship and the synthetic a priori-relationship since most if not all the synthetic information is used in the posteriori knowledge. Therefore on this, David Hume says that due to the fact that a priori facts do posses the qualities of being universally recognized and are necessary, it seems therefore these reality facts are against some observations which fall under a priori category. Based on this, should there be some limitations to people’s a priori knowledge, then the justification of Hume that knowledge justified by necessary and universal truths are not possible. However, Immanuel Kant comes in to defend this saying that some synthetic knowledge can as well be a priori and claims that scientific principles neither be a posteriori nor analytic. He argues that it is our minds that direct our experiences.
Kant also says that only reasoning can be deceptive. He claims that should it be that pure reasoning can discern, then it cannot discriminate the knowledge on reality. He refutes the claim that some realists believed had of coming up with satisfactory answerers based on pure reasoning. He says that those claiming so, do not give clear explanations on the metaphysical happenings. To him, how thinks that these rationalists claim so simply because, they are assuming causation, space, time and things of the sort are the only content of the reality in the external world which the mind has to reach and seize. He says that people can seize nature of space, time as well as causation due to the fact that reason gives some insight into our mental faculties but not it is not due to the claim that pure reason leads into the reality of nature (Popkin, 197).
Immanuel Kant is somehow in concurrence with the view of empirical revelation by Hegel but disagrees sharply with him for there is no substantial proof to the metaphysical questions from their claims. In fact Kant says all evidences are against this claim.
Martin Heidegger on the metaphysical questions and the relationship with God says that God is a being beyond Being. This means that God is a being beyond the creations of the human mind of what he can be. He says that the perception created by language of philosophers especially on the metaphysical understanding sometimes can be very subjective but the preconceptions and the attitudes of people squarely lie with theologians, speakers and biblical writers who greatly understand how biblical issues should be handled. Thus, Heidegger detaches philosophical matters from theological issues (Graham, 149).
Heidegger says that divine revelations is whereby God speaks to man and thus, man remains a passive party in the understanding of the being. He says that the understanding of the external environment, which is above him, is a gift from God. This gift of understanding is from outside man and is only revealed to man. In this divine revelation therefore, Heidegger disagrees with David Hume who maintains that if truly there is divine revelation, then, this would not only reveal to man about God, but also about man too. This is because, he claims, learning and identity go hand in hand. He says that man’s understanding is based on his own experiences in the world. Thus, Hume says that the baseline of human understanding is just within his cognitive understanding where experience can be used to give directions for further understanding. By claiming that God is beyond human understanding and the metaphysical understanding should not be philosophized, Heidegger disagrees with his fellow philosophers (Graham, 16).
God can reason and thus made us in his own image and perhaps He intended that we use the reasoning He give us to establish truths that are still hidden from us. However, there are many truths that can only be accessed via revelation. Thus, in a Christian’s life, revelation cannot be separated from reasoning. We cannot detach from reason in favoring revelation only due to this analysis proves clearly that people who totally believe in divine revelation alone have to logically and reasonably argue. On the other side too, people cannot do away with revelation simply because not all knowledge/truth can be proved. Hence, the two, human reasoning/understanding and divine revelation must coexist for full understanding of the reality. (Popkin, 213)
It is also evidenced that human reasoning is connected to divine revelation by the fact that people are called upon to reason out the true revelation and the false one (1st John 4:1-2). How therefore can people judge true revelation from false revelation without reasoning? This cannot take place even if it means reasoning from the Biblical perspectives. However, this should not be mistakenly used; there is determining from the bible what is revealed to us and reasoning to reveal what is a revelation. Thus people will be foolish if they apply everything without putting into use their reasoning skills.
However, the rift between revelation and reason is resolvable by looking at the two from different perspectives i.e. ontologically and epistemologically. Ontologically, people will want to know how they know while epistemologically will evaluate what people know. There is a distinction between how people know and what exactly people know. Hence, if truth is from the top, then it means that God is the source but if it is from the bottom-up, then people should establish whether the existence of God (Graham, 206).
Reason and revelation do go hand in hand. God do bestow our faith together with people’s understanding. There is no need of crucifying our reason for purposes of believing. However, though faith sometimes may go beyond the people’s ability to know something, faith is irrational. To some people, healings will seem illogical however, from the Scripture, we know that God heals.
In conclusion, it is prudent to say that both human reasoning and divine revelation are two inseparable gifts from God. These gifts are intentionally from God to make man understand and know the truth and definitely know the source of all truth-God. If by any chance we reject reason or revelation, or underrate one, then, we will be will be discarding Gods’ given gift and equipment for our own understanding(Graham, 207)
Graham B. The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.
Popkin, R. Columbia History of Western Philosophy. NY: Columbia UP, 1999.