'Solved by sacrifice' : Austin Farrer, fideism, and the evidence of faith
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CHAPTER ONE: A perennial (if controversial) concern in both theology and philosophy of religion is whether religious belief is ‘reasonable’. Austin Farrer (1904-1968) is widely thought to affirm a positive answer to this concern. Chapter One surveys three interpretations of Farrer on ‘the believer’s reasons’ and thus sets the stage for our investigation into the development of his religious epistemology. CHAPTER TWO: The disputed question of whether Farrer became ‘a sort of fideist’ is complicated by the many definitions of fideism. Chapter Two thus sorts through these issues so that when ‘fideism’ appears in subsequent chapters a precise range of meanings can be given to it, and the ‘sort of fideist’ Farrer may have become can be determined more accurately. CHAPTER THREE: Although Farrer’s constant goal was to develop ‘a viable and sophisticated natural theology,’ an early moment of philosophical illumination involved recognising the limits of reason. Chapter Three begins with a sketch of Farrer’s life, looks at his undergraduate correspondence where some ‘fideistic’ themes are first articulated, and then focuses on his classic text of ‘rational theology,’ *Finite and Infinite* (1943). CHAPTER FOUR: In subsequent years, Farrer became increasingly open to placing a greater emphasis on faith. And yet, he continued to press the question: ‘Can reasonable minds still think theologically?’ Chapter Four argues that, stimulated by Diogenes Allen’s doctoral dissertation and citing it explicitly, Farrer’s *Faith and Speculation* (1967) attempts to blend Allen’s more fideistic position with a continuing concern for legitimate philosophical critique. CHAPTER FIVE: The fifth chapter evaluates the significance of Farrer’s final position in the context of contemporary religious epistemology and the current wide-spread interest in spirituality. In conclusion, Farrer finally seems to locate theistic evidence not primarily in nature or reason, but in holy lives and our own attempts to live by faith: ‘It is solved by sacrifice.’
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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