Why faith makes sense : on Graham Ward’s unbelievable

Delport, Khegan Marcel (2017)

CITATION: Delport, K. M. 2017. Why faith makes sense : on Graham Ward’s unbelievable. Stellenbosch Theological Journal, 3(1):515-545, doi:10.17570/stj.2015.v1n1.r01.

The original publication is available at http://ojs.reformedjournals.co.za/index.php/stj


Ward’s recent volume on the entwining of belief and perception, while not being an explicitly theological monograph, nonetheless evinces a subtle texture that displays his continuing fidelity to certain aspects of Radical Orthodoxy’s vision. (Ward, Graham 2013. Unbelievable: Why We Believe and Why We Don’t. London and New York: I. B. Tauris; ISBN: 971780767352) This can be seen in its interdisciplinary focus and its rejection of dualistic philosophies (including the supposed divisions between the sacred and the secular, nature and grace, transcendence and immanence, visibility and invisibility). He argues for the ultimate ‘fittingness’ between mind and world, thereby rejecting any representationalist account of this relation. Viewing the practices of belief within a re-telling of evolutionary history and phenomenological accounts of perception, Ward seeks to show the pervasiveness of dispositional beliefs within all worldly interactions. Consequentially, ‘belief’ cannot therefore be relegated to an epiphenomenal or lesser form of knowing, since all seeing is a seeing-as, with the result being that it is imbued with the valences of affect and valuation. Religious faith then is simply a deepening of the logic that is already present within ordinary modes of finite engagement, and therefore should not be seen as an ‘unnatural’ intervention within the realm of human culture. Overall then, this work can be summarized as an apologetic for the rationality of belief in our ‘secularized’ societies, and furthermore, for the constitutive role of belief and faith for sensibility as such.

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