Reason without the Search for Faith is Insanity
Faith is reasonable but ultimately beyond the reach of human reason. Faith is a supernatural virtue helping us by grace to accept Revelation because of the authority of God Himself, Who can neither deceive nor be deceived (cf. Vatican I, 3.2)
Many suggest that the elimination of faith liberates human reason to overcome personal and social problems, unencumbered by religious superstition. But the rejection of Christian belief is a demonstrable bitter failure. The repudiation has suppressed the proper exercise of reason and has compounded human misery.
Even apart from the horrible clichés of the godless tyrannies of the 20th century, the separation of faith from reason is easy to document. We increasingly reject the beauty of creation and its logical consequences. My evidence? For years, from the shores of the Shenandoah River, I could observe young and old with canoes and kayaks floating down the river. That’s gone. Canoes rarely make an appearance. Most people likely stay home connected to wi-fi with video games, surfing the internet, and ignoring God’s beauty.
Our fixation with technology—including the discovery of nuclear power—leaves a false impression of human dominance over nature that ultimately leaves us with a sense of futility and alienation. (The hubris of the climate-change hysteria adds to the despair.)
God’s Beauty: Reason can bring us to acceptance of Revelation.
Beauty provides reasonable evidence of the one God Who created the heavens and the earth. Pondering the beauty of creation prompts reason to consider the content of faith. How did beauty arise? Who is the author of such magnificence? We reasonably conclude that God creates. We are His creation, and we have intelligence and freedom. Why would He abandon His handiwork in ignorance? A distant God—an absentee landlord or a “divine watchmaker” god—is unreasonable.
God reveals Himself to us, but He does not reveal Himself as a superman, disrespecting the work of His own hands. Gradually, methodically, and respectfully throughout history, He discloses Who He is to His people. In the first Book of the Bible—Genesis—God explains the source of all sin and confusion through the poetry of His sacred writer. The first parents committed Original Sin introducing suffering and death into the world. Their sin—and every personal sin—calls for a Redeemer to save us from our sins.
The Old Testament distills unto a single message: Worship the One God. The Gospels reveal the Redeemer. Jesus is the Word made Flesh, the God-Man, Who reveals God to man and man to himself. Jesus demonstrates His authority and overcomes much suffering with His many miracles. He confronts death with His terrible Crucifixion and overcomes death for all time by His mighty Resurrection, opening the doors of heaven to us.
“Jesus is risen!” is our faith in a nutshell.
The Apostles’ Creed: Authentic faith spurs the response of reason.
Faith in the Resurrection provides human reason with a boomerang effect. We logically review the words, deeds, and texts of God’s Revelation. We discover the unity of the Scriptures, God’s creative love, His justice and mercy, and His promise of eternal life. We see how the Exodus rescues God’s Chosen People and prefigures the Cross and Resurrection. The manna in the desert prefigures Holy Communion, and the multiplication of the loaves anticipates the first Mass on Holy Thursday.
Human reason reinforces these insights and bolsters our faith in Revelation. Human reason helps us connect the dots of belief, helping us to assemble an intelligible picture of God’s plan for our redemption and salvation: the Apostles’ Creed!
The Old Testament explains what happens when we lose faith. Every sin is unreasonable. Cain murders Abel in a perplexing act of evil and self-destruction. The false prophets of Baal offer children to appease the demon Moloch by tossing them into the fires of Gehenna. Solomon—once known for his wisdom—shatters the kingdom of Israel with his apostasy. God withdraws his grace, faith flounders, and injustices multiply. God sends His prophets to indict injustice and restore God’s peace.
Our times also demonstrate the consequences when we reject Christianity. Human reason breaks down. The world has become an insane and ugly kindergarten playpen. Officials with their capacity to reason wildly distorted by evil are now running the culture, large portions of the Church, and most of our institutions. Many of our medical facilities have become houses of horror. The absurdities leave us speechless, unable to engage in reasonable debate. A widespread loss of faith does not mean we will rediscover reason. The rejection means we will lose our minds.
The Sign of the Cross: Supernatural faith must be first.
St. Paul traveled to Athens to proclaim Christ. The Greeks had a primitive faith in various gods. Some were even moving in the right direction to worship one God. He appealed to reason before he appealed to faith. Noticing an altar labeled: “To an unknown god” (Acts 17:23), St. Paul reasonably explains the God unknown is Jesus. His eloquence fails. So he reverts to the proclamation of faith in Jesus: “We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1 Cor. 1:23)
The Sign of the Cross is distinctly Catholic and proclaims our faith in Christ. The shocking sacrifice of Jesus demands a reasonable response, either worldly derision or questions inflamed by God’s grace. The Cross is not a dead end of despair. The Crucifixion—and every form of human suffering—finds meaning in the beauty of the Resurrection. The Resurrection validates God’s Word made Flesh. The Word teaches us the reasonableness of morality and the ugly absurdity of evil (cf. John 15:10-11), indeed, the meaning of words. Faith makes sense of life and heals an unreasonable and mentally unbalanced culture.
Our bitter contemporary trials remind us that reason without the search for faith is insanity. Let’s rediscover the Sign of the Cross, the Apostles’ Creed, and God’s beauty.
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