In the Service of Human Life
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In the Service of Human Life

The Interplay of Faith and Reason

As we enter into the next decade of human civilization, our society’s attitudes towards faith is drastically different from the prevailing opinions of even just half a century ago. What was once a cornerstone of communal life is now met with suspicion and derision. The radical orthodoxy of modern rationalism has supplanted faith’s role in the town square.

This confused attitude towards the relationship between faith and reason is relatively new, even in a country as academically liberal as the United States. Institutions of higher learning were established as institutions of religious instruction. Even into the late 1800s, Yale University was focused on the education of clergy.

The Catholic Church established the first university at Bologna in 1088. At a time where only the aristocracy had the benefit of education, the Church boldly codified the right of all peoples to knowledge. Over the centuries, that institutional principle continued to roll out in the establishment of primary and secondary schools.

Rather than try to subjugate the faithful, the Church recognized the importance of education in one’s journey to know God. The Church doesn’t seek mindless followers. The Church relishes in its strong intellectual tradition, formed by thinkers, writers, and scientists throughout the centuries. It’s a tradition that continues to be built to this day, and one only possible by applying the faith of the Catholic Church to the reason of the human person.

Faith and reason rely on one another for the fulfillment and empowerment of the human person. Nurturing our spirituality enables us to live healthier, more balanced lives. Developing and enhancing our sense of reason opens up our minds and propels humanity forwards. As our reason is strengthened, our interaction with the Divine is enhanced. It’s through reason that we understand the world that we live in, and see the beauty and genius of God’s design. It’s through reason that we come to know ourselves better, and interact with the dignity of the human person present in all of us.

Faith provides reason with healthy boundaries. It orients reason by giving it a moral code to direct its work. It gives reason it’s “why,” insisting that the power and resources of reason be used to aim for the higher goods of man. Faith teaches us to cast off the labels and divisions that sociology places on us. We are no longer black or white, Christian or Jew, American or Asian, we are children of God and members of His family. With this groundwork firmly established, reason can help us to see the truth that all of us are truly equal, sharing in the weaknesses of humanity, and striving to live a good life.

To reject either faith or reason is to reject essential components of humanity. They are connected in their essence, building upon one another to the benefit of humanity.