Myths persist about the unreasonableness of religious belief — especially Christianity. Fashionable intellectuals pitch religion against science, saying rationality is the highest principle of the universe.
Overlooked is Christianity’s vital synthesis of the Greek philosophical tradition that gave rise precisely to the form of reason from which the intellectuals have attempted to divorce faith.
Far from being the enemy of reason, faith — as Greg Sheridan wrote last week — is the basis of reason. “Science tells us a great deal about how,” he said, “but nothing about why.”
For the discovery of truth to be more than a series of non-rational, subjective assumptions, we need to remember that religious faith needs to be a part of reasonable discourse.
Not only does Christian theology entail formal reasoning about God; the discipline of theology, as a form of reasoned enquiry, is foundational component of what we refer to as ‘the West’.
And emphasis on our minds’ ability to apprehend reality — including philosophical and religious truths — is woven into the very fabric of the West, says scholar of religion Samuel Gregg.
The concept of reason is broader than the limits of the empirically falsifiable, something emphasised by Pope Benedict XIV in his 2006 lecture delivered at Regensburg:
“The world’s profoundly religious cultures see this exclusion of the divine from the universality of reason as an attack on their more profound convictions,” Benedict said.
By the application of reason, human beings exercise the capacity both to comprehend and to shape their social reality, to exercise moral judgement, and to make reasonable choices.
In this way, human beings grow as reasonable people and so are able to build human communities which defend human dignity from the subversion of character and courage.
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