Philosophy Reason and Faith the Place Term Paper

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Reason and Faith

The place that the faculty of reason should hold in ministry has been a debatable question for a long time. It is generally believed that faith and reason are antagonists that cannot coexist in the human spirit. Man has always had a propensity for philosophical and scientific inquiry, and faith is said to oppose this natural inclination. The text of Fides et Ratio emphasizes that both reason and faith should coexist and be used together as a means of acceding to the ultimate truth. As the opening lines of the text punctuate, reason and faith are and should remain bound together as two wings that help man soar above his limited circumstance, to the truth.

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First of all, the use of reason is absolutely necessary for man, as the thing that most distinguishes him from the rest of the creation. As Fides et Ratio stresses, if man would cease to wonder he would slip into a totally impersonal and fruitless life: "Without wonder, men and women would lapse into deadening routine and little by little would become incapable of a life which is genuinely personal."(4) Throughout the centuries, the philosophers and thinkers have always asked ultimate questions and have highlighted the importance of knowledge. The imperative "Know thyself" is sometimes considered as the first step towards true knowledge. However, reason is often misused and it may lead to blindness instead of illumination. One such instance is the "philosophical pride' which seeks to present its own partial and imperfect view as the complete reading of all reality."(4) the philosophy which vainly attempts to comprise everything there is in one exhaustive and perfect system is obviously wrong. By overvaluing its own instruments, a certain philosophy may mistakenly assume that its own principles are the truth itself and thus become intolerant and blind.

Term Paper on Philosophy Reason and Faith the Place That Assignment

Therefore, to avoid philosophical pride, one should restate "the primacy of philosophical enquiry"(4) over the endeavor to find an exact and definite answer. It is not the answer that is so important, but the wonder that brings man closer to truth. Truth is necessarily beyond the immediate reality accessible to man, and hence it cannot be comprised all at once: "Reason [...] seems to have forgotten that men and women are always called to direct their steps toward a truth which transcends them."(5)

The other mistake that man is liable to in his search for truth is the opposite claim that nothing can be known and no truth can be reached and therefore people should content themselves only with safe questions and provisional truths: "With a false modesty, people rest content with partial and provisional truths, no longer seeking to ask radical questions about the meaning and ultimate foundation of human, personal and social existence."(5) This is the case with modern man who has abandoned the search for truth and even the belief in the existence of an ultimate truth. Many of the radical and overwhelming questions about the origins of the universe and of man, about life and death, have been relinquished under the claim of a false modesty which supposes that these are impossible to know.

Thus, to serve as an instrument for truth reason has to be employed in the right way. It is evident that faith and reason are two different modes of knowledge, seemingly opposed at first sight: "Philosophy and the sciences function within the order of natural reason; while faith, enlightened and guided by the Spirit, recognizes in the message of salvation the 'fullness of grace and truth'."(6) Reason can only work with the natural, and draw its conclusions from experience and observation. Faith however is rooted in the spirit and can recognize messages that will not be decoded through mere logic or reason.

Fides et Ratio stresses that truth is a transcendental reality but that, through God's work, it is also immersed in history and time, and therefore it should be sought there: "The truth about himself and his life which God has entrusted to humanity is immersed therefore in time and history, and it was declared once and for all in the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth."(11) Nevertheless, this truth is scattered for man, and it is only through faith that it can be made complete and understood in its fullness: "Our vision of the face of God is always fragmentary and impaired by the limits of our understanding. Faith alone makes it possible to penetrate the mystery in a way that allows us to understand it coherently."(12) the joined force of reason and faith is thus necessary to reach the ultimate truth. Even if reason cannot conceive of an answer to any of the ultimate questions, this can arrive by faith. Moreover, it is with the aid of faith that man understands that, despite the obstacles, he does have access to truth. If man were doomed to live in complete darkness and not to be able to resolve any question, life itself would be meaningless: "The thirst for truth is so rooted in the human heart that to be obliged to ignore it would cast our existence into jeopardy."(29) Thus, as the scientist proceeds to his work with the conviction that he will reach an answer eventually, so should man think that the answers to the greatest mysteries of the universe are in front of him.

The Scriptures also contain a wealth of examples related to man's compulsive desire for knowledge. In the Bible this is translated many times by the wish to know God's face directly. Seeing God is the equivalent of being able to have a more palpable answer to the ultimate mysteries. By this act only of seeing God's face a whole revelation would come and the truth would finally be grasped. In the Psalms, David prays that he might seek God's face: "When You said, 'Seek My face,' / My heart said to You, 'Your face, LORD, I will seek.' / Do not hide Your face from me; / Do not turn Your servant away in anger; / You have been my help; / Do not leave me nor forsake me, / O God of my salvation." (Ps 27:8-9) God's face represents truth itself. Although it would seem obvious that all men are desirous of truth, it is nevertheless obvious that many people mistake the nature of the truth they are looking for. In another Psalm, the psalmist again voices his secret desire to see God and his endeavor to find Him in the sanctuary: "So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, / to see Your power and Your glory. / Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, / My lips shall praise You."(Ps. 63:2-3) Once more, the desire of seeing God is the desire for revelation. God is the truth and by seeking God we seek the truth. The hope of seeing God is also a wish for a confirmation to one's abstract beliefs. When Moses hears the voice of God, he feels the need to see also his glory and thus take in the whole of the truth at once: "And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory." (Ex 33:18) it is interesting that this desire to see God may be considered as both a gratification of reason and of faith at the same time. The reason requires proof in the face of God and faith wants to experience revelation in its absolute form. Thus, seeing God is by all means the absolute or sufficient revelation of truth: "Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us." (in 14:8)

Another important aspect of the relationship between faith and reason is the fact that faith can satisfy another important need of humanity. If belief alone seems to be insufficient because it comes from foreign… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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Philosophy Reason and Faith the Place.  (2008, February 20).  Retrieved April 2, 2020, from

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"Philosophy Reason and Faith the Place."  February 20, 2008.  Accessed April 2, 2020.