Reconciling Reason and Faith

Reconciling Reason and Faith October 20, 2017

In Truth and Tolerance, Benedict XVI argues that the Western world is in a crisis that can only be solved if “reason and religion . . . come together again, without merging into each other” (144).

He insists this isn’t a matter of protecting the interests of religion, Rather, “it is for the sake of man and the world. And neither of them, it is clear, can be saved unless God reappears in a convincing fashion. No one can claim to be sure of the way to deal with this emergency. That is impossible, if only because in a free society truth can find no other way to prevail, and should seek no other way, than simply by the power of persuasion; yet persuasion can only be achieved with difficulty amid the multitude of pressures and demands to which people are subjected. We must venture an attempt to find the way, however, so as to make plausible once more, through various converging indications, something that for the most part lies far beyond the horizon of our own interests” (144).

I’d want to say that reason and religion are more intimately entwined than Benedict suggests. Reason functions only within traditions that have religious commitments of one sort or another. True reason depends on adherence to eternal reason, which is the eternal Logos, the Son of the heavenly Father.

Still, this is a rare combination: Realism about the depth of the cultural crisis that Europe faces, combined with confidence in the possibilities of persuasion and a forthright declaration that everything depends on God’s parousia.

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