Essay The Compatibility of Faith and Reason

Essay The Compatibility of Faith and Reason

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In today’s modern western society, it has become increasingly popular to not identify with any religion, namely Christianity. The outlook that people have today on the existence of God and the role that He plays in our world has changed drastically since the Enlightenment Period. Many look solely to the concept of reason, or the phenomenon that allows human beings to use their senses to draw conclusions about the world around them, to try and understand the environment that they live in. However, there are some that look to faith, or the concept of believing in a higher power as the reason for our existence. Being that this is a fundamental issue for humanity, there have been many attempts to explain what role each concept plays. It is my belief that faith and reason are both needed to gain knowledge for three reasons: first, both concepts coexist with one another; second, each deals with separate realms of reality, and third, one without the other can lead to cases of extremism.
There have been many Catholic thinkers who have addressed this topic, most notably John Paul II in his 1998 encyclical Fides et Ratio, or Faith and Reason in English. In it, he attempted to point out that faith and reason are not opposed to each other and that faith does not contradict reason. Rather, they actually complement each other. This is clear from the very beginning of the encyclical, which states: “Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart the desire to know the truth — in a word, to know himself — so that by knowing and loving God, men and women can come to the fullness of the truth about themselves. (FR 1).” Truth is discovered through the interacti...

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...without the other can lead to cases of extremism, including scientific materialism and biblical materialism. As John Paul II says in his encyclical, Fides et Ratio, God has put the desire to know in our hearts, and in order to achieve full understanding, both faith and reason together are necessary.

Works Cited

Barbour, Ian G. Religion in an Age of Science. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1990. Print. (BL 240.2 .B368 1990)
Peacocke, A. R. Theology for a Scientific Age: Being and Becoming--natural and Divine. Oxford, OX, UK: B. Blackwell, 1990. Print. (BL 240.2 .P352 1990)
"Fides Et Ratio, Encyclical Letter, John Paul II, 14 September 1998." Fides Et Ratio, Encyclical Letter, John Paul II, 14 September 1998. Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1998. Web. 21 Nov. 2013
Holy Bible: Contemporary English Version. New York: American Bible Society, 1995. Print. (BS195 .C66 1995)

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