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Aren’t faith and reason incompatible?

Full Question

Christianity seems ludicrous to me. I can’t buy having to check your brains at the door in order to accept incomprehensible mysteries. How can I be asked to accept what I can’t understand? “Faith” as you called it (I call it superstition) is irreconcilable with reason.

Answer

You have a mistaken notion of the Catholic term mystery. A mystery is not something about which can’t know anything, but something about which we can’t know everything.

God gave us brains and expects us to use them to understand the mysteries of faith, to the extent such understanding is possible. That total comprehension isn’t possible doesn’t mean you have to “check your brains at the door” anymore than failure to entirely g.asp quantum physics does.

There’s no real opposition between truths of reason and truths of faith, only an apparent one. When scientists propose as fact what is only an unproven hypothesis, or when theologians mistake their personal opinions for articles of divine revelation, the impression is left there’s a conflict between the two realms, but this isn’t the case. It only appears to be so because someone has erred.

Faith tell us more than we could know by reason alone, but it can’t contradict reason. Furthermore, we can use our reason to better understand our faith. In fact, that’s a classic definition of theology: Faith seeking understanding.









4 comments

  1. John R Reply

    “That total comprehension isn’t possible doesn’t mean you have to “check your brains at the door” anymore than failure to entirely [grasp] quantum physics does.”

    This is where you’re wrong. It is *possible* to fully grasp Quantum Physics, but it’s not possible to fully grasp religion/God. And that’s where reason is, in fact, checked at the door. Because eventually you’re told “you can’t understand ever” rather than “we don’t *yet* understand”

    1. Mario Simonelli Reply

      God Is kind and generous, He does not require that we understand Him, nor He requires from us that we be scholars of His word. All we have to do is believe in Him through the testimony of creation, For we read in Romans 1:19-20, “Because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” So, it follows that if you know that His character is holy; He automatically prompts you to be like Him. In Matthew 22:37-39, “And He said to him “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” If you read carefully the above verses, these two commandments is actually one commandment, because He said “The second is like It” in other words “The second is like the first” Therefore if you do not love your neighbour you cannot love God. As you can see there is no difficulty, nor much to understand. True Christianity is not a religion: it is a way of life.

  2. Karen Beth Reply

    I have always said this .. God will never see us in SIN for not understanding what we cannot fully “SEE” .. unless God himself goes before us to show which religion, which faith, which belief, which version the bible is HIS version, HIS words (not mans interpretation) I dont think he will ever find us in sin for not being 100% over the thousands of versions put before us .. I believe God expects us to seek understanding, but never will he sin us for not fully understanding what we don’t see right in front of us. That is MY belief

  3. Mario Simonelli Reply

    Karen, It is written somewhere “my people are destroyed for the lack of knowledge” It is also written “Seek and you shall find, ask and you shall receive” Therefore,God doesn’t reward laziness. Seek the baptism of the Holy Spirit and He will guide you to the Father.

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