Jump to content
  • Part 4 of 5 (20/24)


    sysop - 01:30pm Jan 18, 1999 MST (#20 of 24)
    Rowland Network Communications
    A Sixth Test: Reunification of Science and Spirituality

    Throughout the centuries since the time of Christ, Christian churches have guided hundreds of millions of people along an evolving path of faith. The most prominent of Christian faiths, the Roman Catholic Church, has felt the teachings of numerous important theologians: St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, Popes Leo XIII and John XXIII among others, who have shaped the faith and thought of the Church.

    In the life span of the most recent generation, Pope John Paul II has been a powerful voice for Catholics worldwide calling for social justice in the capitalist system, the fall of communism and conformity in doctrinal matters. In late 1998, in perhaps his most powerful statement to date, Fides et Ratio, Pope John Paul II calls for reconciliation between faith and reason to promote a rebirth of humanity as we head into the third millennium.

    "Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth - in a word, to know himself - so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves" (cf. Ex 33:18; Ps 27:8-9; 63:2-3; Jn 14:8; 1 Jn 3:2).

    "This is why I have felt both the need and the duty to address this theme so that, on the threshold of the third millennium of the Christian era, humanity may come to a clearer sense of the great resources with which it has been endowed and may commit itself with renewed courage to implement the plan of salvation of which its history is part."

    A constant theme of Christianity, every moment is a time to rejoice in the love of Christ and not for despair and nihilism. Yet, as we stand at a time of greater change than ever before, society seems unable to articulate a vision for the future, which can give meaning to today's youth and provide the foundation for tomorrow.

    I too believe it is through the detachment of faith and reason that society and culture have lost the universal truths which give meaning to life.

    "One of the most significant aspects of our current situation, it should be noted, is the 'crisis of meaning'. Perspectives on life and the world, often of a scientific temper, have so proliferated that we face an increasing fragmentation of knowledge. This makes the search for meaning difficult and often fruitless. Indeed, still more dramatically, in this maelstrom of data and facts in which we live and which seem to comprise the very fabric of life, many people wonder whether it still makes sense to ask about meaning. The array of theories which vie to give an answer, and the different ways of viewing and of interpreting the world and human life, serve only to aggravate this radical doubt, which can easily lead to skepticism, indifference or to various forms of nihilism."

    "These considerations prompt a first conclusion: the truth made known to us by Revelation is neither the product nor the consummation of an argument devised by human reason. It appears instead as something gratuitous, which itself stirs thought and seeks acceptance as an expression of love. This revealed truth is set within our history as an anticipation of that ultimate and definitive vision of God which is reserved for those who believe in him and seek him with a sincere heart. The ultimate purpose of personal existence, then, is the theme of philosophy and theology alike. For all their difference of method and content, both disciplines point to that "path of life" (Ps 16:11) which, as faith tells us, leads in the end to the full and lasting joy of the contemplation of the Triune God."

    The search for truth is intrinsic in every man, woman, child, society, science, culture and religion. It is through this common pursuit that we arrive at meaning in our lives. Reason gives order to thought and to man's understanding of existence. With the Pope's statement, the Church has officially recognized this and moves to support rationality alongside faith.

    "On her part, the Church cannot but set great value upon reason's drive to attain goals which render people's lives ever more worthy. She sees in philosophy the way to come to know fundamental truths about human life. At the same time, the Church considers philosophy an indispensable help for a deeper understanding of faith and for communicating the truth of the Gospel to those who do not yet know."

    Reason allows humans to discuss matters of faith in the context of universal truths, which, if the hypothesis of this book is true, can unite countless major cultures and religions. Without reason, we have little common ground to discuss and agree upon the universal truths that shape human consciousness.

    "Philosophy's powerful influence on the formation and development of the cultures of the West should not obscure the influence it has also had upon the ways of understanding existence found in the East. Every people has its own native and seminal wisdom which, as a true cultural treasure, tends to find voice and develop in forms which are genuinely philosophical. One example of this is the basic form of philosophical knowledge which is evident to this day in the postulates which inspire national and international legal systems in regulating the life."

    Reason alone, however, cannot answer all of the mysteries of life. It is more commonly intuition that allows us to pierce the veil of truth into meaning. As has always been the case for the humble and true Christian, it is through living love and freely returning that love that we begin to know more deeply the mysteries of life.

    "This means that they acknowledge fully and integrally the truth of what is revealed because it is God himself who is the guarantor of that truth. They can make no claim upon this truth which comes to them as gift and which, set within the context of interpersonal communication, urges reason to be open to it and to embrace its profound meaning. This is why the Church has always considered the act of entrusting oneself to God to be a moment of fundamental decision which engages the whole person. In that act, the intellect and the will display their spiritual nature, enabling the subject to act in a way which realizes personal freedom to the full."

    Thus, it is through faith that we realize the potential in our free will, and reach meaning in the truth we understand.

    "Men and women can accomplish no more important act in their lives than the act of faith; it is here that freedom reaches the certainty of truth and chooses to live in that truth."

    One without the other can result in an equally disturbing emptiness. Reason without faith brings nihilism, while faith without reason is mythology. The Church is now recognizing that through the union of the two, the mysteries of life are more fully appreciated and resonate more clearly in our lives.

    "Faith sharpens the inner eye, opening the mind to discover in the flux of events the workings of Providence. Here the words of the Book of Proverbs are pertinent: "The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps" (16:9). This is to say that with the light of reason human beings can know which path to take, but they can follow that path to its end, quickly and unhindered, only if with a rightly tuned spirit they search for it within the horizon of faith. Therefore, reason and faith cannot be separated without diminishing the capacity of men and women to know themselves, the world and God in an appropriate way."

    Thus, reason contributes to the theological method to substantiate proper moral conduct and discourse, while faith brings us closer to the mysteries and love of God. Therefore, Christian philosophers must pursue intellectual discourse, but ground it in the faith of God's love.

    It is through precisely this kind of union that we ultimately arrive closer not only to God by to our fellow man. It is through love and respect, faith and reason that we can begin the renewal of humanity in the third millennium.

    "Reflecting in the light of reason and in keeping with its rules, and guided always by the deeper understanding given them by the word of God, Christian philosophers can develop a reflection which will be both comprehensible and appealing to those who do not yet grasp the full truth which divine Revelation declares. Such a ground for understanding and dialogue is all the more vital nowadays, since the most pressing issues facing humanity - ecology, peace and the co- existence of different races and cultures, for instance - may possibly find a solution if there is a clear and honest collaboration between Christians and the followers of other religions and all those who, while not sharing a religious belief, have at heart the renewal of humanity. "

    Ancient religious scriptures represent knowledge passed down to us from our ancestors. The very fact that these books have moved people to form and destroy entire empires across the millennia is astoundingly obvious confirmation that the history they recount records generally authentic events, however imperfectly recorded and passed down.

    These most sacred books represent the imperfect retelling of the most sacred memories of our fathers and mothers. In the case of the New Testament, the events related therein are less than 100 human generations old.

    In this time of great moment, more and more of us are turning again to these books for guidance. But from a scientific point of view, if any one of the great books of scripture truthfully retells of human interaction with great beings from above, then at least a few other such books are almost surely grounded in history as well.

    If the hypothesis of this work is true -- that both religion and science are grounded in historical fact -- then the Pope is not only right, but is providing to the Christian faithful one of the most profound instructions of the legacy of the ministry of Jesus Christ. Humanity then faces its most important test: will the faiths of human religions and the disciplines of human sciences pause to teach among each other the purest of their truths, apologize for their crimes against each other, settle down in peace, and enjoy each other's company?

    Within this hypothesis, that is what faith now compels us to do. Those who have offended must apologize to those who were injured. We're all in need of giving and receiving apologies derived from our endemic short-sightedness.

    The best way to apologize is to ACT. I do not hold hope for those who cannot see the simple and profound logic in making these kinds of statements of apology and repentance to those who our societies have harmed.

    As we consider the profundity of recent discoveries of science, and consider the real possibility that we may face teachers involved in the history of our faiths someday soon, every one of us will seek predictions for the future. What will these miracles do to civilization? To governments, and our economies? To our churches and our families? To us as individual people?

    I am as anxious to know as you.

    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    There are no comments to display.

    Please sign in to comment

    You will be able to leave a comment after signing in

    Sign In Now

  • Create New...