There is a story about a certain cardinal
du Perron, who lived in France
during the seventeenth century AD
. Once his majesty
invited the good cardinal to his own table during a formal dinner
. Ever anxious to entertain the king, du Perron started to present logical argument
s against atheism
, based on his own arguments, which proved the existence of God
. The king was pleased with the cardinal's speech
and gave it much praise
Flustered - and probably more than a little giddy - du Perron got carried away and said: "Tomorrow, if it please your majesty, I should like to prove with equally good arguments that there is no God." The king got wroth, the cardinal was thrown out of the palace and logic was officially banned in the realm.
Ok, maybe I made some of it up. There really was cardinal du Perron though, and he seems to have been a fideist.
Cardinal du Perron of the story didn't think that he could have accurate information about the existence of God. Arguments on both sides were simply all valid. Thus, human understanding is too weak to solve such a question.
However, according to our cardinal, faith should not need logical arguments to exist. If a Christian truly believes in God, no argument can - or should - shatter that faith. Obviously the king wasn't so well versed in matters of philosophy. The King did not think it possible that a Christian could amuse himself by trying to prove scientifically that there is no God. For the cardinal, however, there was no clash.
Du Perron's way of understanding true Christianity is called fideism (from Greek fides, 'faith'). He thought that faith and knowledge are separate entities and do not necessarily have to have anything to do with each other. Matters of personal belief should not be appraised by rational means. During the twentieth century, this view of faith and information has been shared by many Christian philosopher, the most famous of them being Ludwig Wittgenstein.