Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Faith, reason not opposites; complements

Faith, reason not opposites; complements:
"A common assumption today is that religious faith and critical reason are opposites. In 10 years of teaching religious studies at the college level, I've heard many variations of this assumption. Some students hesitate to ask critical questions, since they fear questioning might result in losing their faith. Others assume that a person must either accept either a scientific or a religious view of the world, since science and religion contradict one another.

Since I teach at a Catholic college in a largely Christian society, the discussion usually focuses on the relationship between Christian faith and reason. But the same types of questions arise in other religious traditions.

In Christianity, though, this perceived dichotomy between faith and reason is actually a rather recent development. I try to show students that the mainstream Christian teaching has always been that faith and reason are not opposites, but rather complement one another. The God who gives the gift of faith is the same God who gives us the gift of reason. There is only one truth; religion and science simply reveal different aspects of that truth. ..."

Martin Albi teaches religious studies at Presentation College in Aberdeen, South Dakota, and provides an interesting perspective on the issues of science and faith.

He notes that logos was the word that the ancient Greeks used to describe the "rational power that holds the universe together" -- somewhat analogous to what we might call the laws of nature. He raises the interesting question as to whether John, in writing his gospel, used logos deliberately to underscore the point that God, through His Son, used rational power to bring the universe into being.

He points to Thomas Aquinas, who was not afraid to use secular philosophers to support his writing. The "conflict" between science and faith was not an issue for Aquinas, although a few centuries later it became an issue for Galileo and the Church of that time. In the 1990's Pope John-Paul II formed a commission to discuss the tensions between science and faith, the results of which included an acknowledgement that the Church erred in assuming that the Bible was a literal scientific document and forcing Galileo to recant views that were at odds with such literal interpretations.

Albi closes with this:
"...So why not follow the example of some of the great Christian thinkers, and allow your religious, spiritual feelings to have a conversation with your rational, critical mind? You may just find that they have a lot in common."
This seems quite reasonable...

Technorati tags: , , ,

No comments: