Faith and reason

(Believe and know) - When athletes are preparing to for 200 metre race, they are very precise about placing their feet well; starting on the wrong foot means certain defeat. So it is with life, and it also happens to Augustine: faith and reason are the two feet he needed: in his youth, he relied on reason and rejected faith, which confined the religious; the result was the humiliating experience of scepticism (= desperation to find the truth). Those who embark on a course, a path, always start from a point and then reach the finish; so it is with seeking. The starting point is that the truth exists, in fact, it is true that you exist, it is true that things exist. All that is true is true for Truth.

Some truths can be seen, touched, can be verified; others not, like the thought, ideas, love; still others are beyond us (God, the Trinity, the Incarnation). All the truths which cannot be dealt with by sensory experience are the subject of FAITH. Reason is not only excluded, but serves to discover the reasons that lead you to believe, because faith is an act of intelligence. Does the love that you have for a friend, your woman, your man not seem reasonable? Faith is at the base of history, of social, civil and family life; without mutual trust every relationship between husband and wife, between parents and children, between friends, fails. We all know how tiring it is to tread the path of faith. The Fathers of the Church called it "path in the evening", "evening knowledge".

A provocative question: why do I believe? I believe because I feel the need; because I cannot think that because of many innocent deaths it is all over; because for the oppressed of the infernal economic machine business there cannot be a glimpse of hope that nourishes their hunger for justice.

Modern culture has done everything possible to remove the space for Christian faith, and, with all in agreement, has denied God. "God has become a ‘useless hypothesis’ for the positivists (= those who claim that there exists only what can be touched, verified); is transformed into the ‘opium of the people’ for Marxists, into meaningless terms for the neo-positivists (only that which I can verify scientifically has sense)” (D. Antiseri). History has proved all these philosophers wrong: they wanted to save man, but they pushed and drowned him. Only God can save humanity. This hope is alive in man, who is always stretching upwards. It is the power of faith and hope which, like coal under the ashes, remains lit, ready to flare up. Faith is courage, risk, adventure, gift. To believe is to give one’s heart, to trust in someone without reserve.

Faith is important, but equally important is REASON. It is false to say that Augustine consider faith more than reason, or vice versa. Both are necessary for seeking the truth. “He loves your intelligence so much”, he wrote to Cansenzio in Letter 120 (3: 13); and for different reasons: first of all because reason belongs to man and distinguishes him from all other beings; then because faith has absolute need of reason to be a human and intelligent act; a third reason lies in the fact that, in the beatific vision, in heaven, faith will disappear because we will have the vision: intelligence will be elevated to the contemplation of God.

Faith and reason need each other and, together, they seek to find the truth, which is God, and enjoy it in the happy possession of eternal bliss. The theme of the relationship between faith and reason is very timely. If you want to know more, read the fine book by Zichichi: Perché io credo in colui che ha fatto il mondo – tra scienza e fede (Because I believe in who created ??the world - between science and faith), Ed. Il Saggiatore, 1999.

back