Thursday, August 19, 2010
Reflections on Newman's thought on Faith and Reason.
Hence a lot of it is based on what Newman said. For more information on Newman and his importance to me, see this blog.
Reason linearly shows us the truth as a beam of light and Faith, through Grace helps us to experience, internalize and personalize the truth. Because our sight is blurred from sin, light helps us to see, but we can not see it fully, merely that it is there. We must approach the Truth in Faith and experience it. On the other hand, if we experience Truth in the dark, without Reason, it becomes superstition, something sensual. It is something we can close our eyes and still experience as fully as with our eyes open. We can easily become attached to it. Putting the light of human reason blurs the Truth slightly, because our reason is itself dimmed. With the Grace of God, our reason is brightened and Truth becomes more clear. Furthermore, the closer we are to the truth in our journey called Faith, the better we can see the truth. With both a grace filled reason and a faith enervated with Grace, we will discover the Truth as well as we can on earth. How does the objectivity of Truth relate to this? I appeal to the old parable of the blind men and the elephant. We call all see Truth, but it is always a little bit different view for each even though it is one thing. One aspect is much different than another, but it is the same Truth. Especially when we see with reason, these beams of light will illuminate different parts of the Truth. Only if we can find some source of information about the full Truth will we be able to see more. One way is inference. In this way, we can take what we see illuminated and infer what is right next to that part of the Truth. Another way is for other people to tell us what they see. Of course in our Catholic Understanding, God is infinite and in fact Truth itself, thus He will know the Truth better than anyone. If He tells us, it bound to be right. This is where revelation comes in. If god tells us something, we’d better listen and then we’ll be able to know the parts of Truth we aren’t able to see clearly or see at all. As long as we see enough of the Truth to see that God exists and knows the Truth, we will be able to listen to him to find out the rest. Of course the knowledge of God’s existence and His Infiniteness is only possible through this discovery of the truth through faith and reason in His Grace. One way His Grace works is through other people. Because they see a different part of His Truth, they will be able to get us a bigger picture. This is one reason why a faithful and reasonable education is essential. Our parents as our first teachers help us to see Truth for the first time. Then other teacher, friends etc. How then can we learn the whole Truth? One common suggestion is to seek out different cultures and see and understand their take on the truth. Good and well, especially if it is the context of objective and not subjective Truth. Cultural Relativism only breaks our faith and reason if we try to embrace all cultural “truths” and it limits them if we only embrace one cultural “truth”. The correct way to understand different cultures is to see them as illuminating different parts of One United Truth. Now this seeking out of different cultures and perspectives is good, but we must not let it become a “spotted” understanding of the Truth. If we can not connect the two perspectives of Truth, we are merely dividing Truth, maybe to the point of contradiction. The unification of Truth is only possible through some sort of authority. There needs to be some sort of standard on which to base this unity. Thus we not only need a set of standards or law, but we need authority. Thirdly we need some place where God gives us the Truth. Here we have the basis for Scripture and Tradition (God’s Word, written and oral), The Magisterium (the teaching authority of the church), and The Ten Commandments, Canon Law, and Dogmatic Teachings (Set of standards). Thus if we are looking for Truth, this is where we should look. Not only does the Church have the structure needed for an inquiry into Truth, but it also teaches the co-operation of Faith and Reason as well as the objectivity of Truth.
I’m pretty sure there was a reason that Christ established a Church.
Posted by Nate at 4:33 AM