Wednesday, April 09, 2003


Mark, at Minute Particulars, (commenting on a post by Steven at Flos Carmeli) makes two statements that I would like to take at least minor exeception to.

The first is a statement that he actually (properly) refutes in the rest of his post. The only reason I call attention to the statement is that I make a plea for care in the use of terms, especially the word truth. The reason I am concerned about this is that I think we are all affected by the perception abroad in the world today that truth is relative, the "your truth is not my truth" syndrome. The part of his post that I take exception to is as follows:

"But even if his suggestion really does boil down to a double-truth claim: a truth revealed by faith contradicting a truth from reason alone, or vice versa. . ."

I hope it is evident to everyone that truth 1) cannot be "double-truth", and 2) cannot be contradicted. If something is true, it is true. A truth revealed by faith may not seem to correspond to anything we know by reason or science, but if it is true it will never be contradicted by reason or science, it is true.

The second statement is as follows:

"When folks say that they will continue to believe in something that reason has demonstrated to be impossible, they are being foolish, or rather, they aren't really saying anything intelligible because they are in essence saying "A is A and A is not A at the same time in the same respect." They might as well say 'blambo forstine inblims abadaba.'"

Here is another case in which some care might be exercised. It seems to me that if I say I believe in the Resurrection I am saying I believe in something that my reason tells me is certainly out of the ordinary, if not impossible. If I say that I believe that Jesus ascended physically into Heaven, I am saying I believe in something my reason tells me no one could ever do. If I say I believe that Jesus is present in the Eucharist, body, blood, soul and divinity, I am saying that I believe in something that my reason tells me is impossible. My reason has demonstrated to me that a person who was crucified 2,000 years ago could not possibly be entirely present in every Host in every Tabernacle in every Church everywhere in the world, at the same time no less.

We do believe in things that our reason tells us are impossible, but not unreasonable, and these things are called miracles.

I guess my point is that our reason, being finite, does not serve as the ultimate arbiter of what is true or not true, what we are to believe or not believe, at least not when it is used in the scientific way. In fact, I might go so far as to say that it would be very hard for us to know any truth solely by reason due to the fact that our minds are so finite when faced with the reality of God.

Back to the main point of Mark's post, which, by the way, is covered in an excellent way in our Holy Father's encyclical Fides et Ratio, truth revealed by faith may be known by us in a different way than one revealed through reason, but it is no less true.