Fideism R Us

confusedThere is a funny sort of fideism around which is a popular form of a philosophical error.

Fideism holds that faith is superior to reason and special knowledge can be had by faith alone which is superior and maybe even contradictory to that knowledge arrived at by reason.

Pope St John Paul II knocked fideism and rationalism on the head with his brilliant encyclical Fides et Ratio. Nevertheless, the kind of popular fideism we see today is linked with a sort of dreamy sentimentalism.

The way it is expressed is “you have your truth and I have mine.” Along with this goes the relativism that says, “We can’t really know the truth, but we believe certain things to be true.”

In other words, “Believing makes it so.” This is what I have described elsewhere as Tinkerbell Catholicism.

Something is not true because you believe it. You believe it because it is true.

This twisted form of fideism is what stops many people from pursuing the truth of the Catholic faith. What they believe is what they think is true and they think it must be true simply because they believe it.

I have come across this same problem expressed in a different way, “I could not become a Catholic because I have different theological beliefs.”

Yes. Fine. But are those beliefs true? They are not necessarily true just because you believe them. Protestantism with its “faith alone”
dogma is especially prone to fideism. When it is combined with anti-intellectualism it is especially noxious. Thus some Protestant fundamentalists and Calvinists will hold to beliefs that any child with some common sense can show are simply untrue, but they hold to their beliefs thinking that believing makes it so.

Catholicism, on the other hand, is based on reality. Catholicism may confound common sense, but it never contradicts common sense.

We believe that a thing is true because it is true not because we happen to believe it to be true.

The sun is warm and yellow. This wine is red and good. I am alive and this is good and this is real.

This is the glory of Catholicism and it is why I believe my faith more strongly and more deeply than ever.

Because it is true and its truth doesn’t depend on me.

I depend on it.


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