By: Paul Murano – October, 2013
There are two basic ways through which we have certitude about anything: faith and reason. In short, reason trusts the mind and faith trusts the word of another. While reason is the natural ability of all human beings to understand and discern the truth, faith trusts an authority as the medium to the truth — a parent, a teacher, a book, the media, etc. Both faith and reason can soar beyond sensual experience to grasp transcendent immaterial truths. Each complements and purifies the other as avenues to the same truth.
What we have seen in modern times attests to the hypothesis that faith and reason are intrinsically linked: The more that faith is rejected the more we lose the ability to reason. The more faith is devalued, the more doubt is raised that we can know anything, for one must have faith in the senses as well as the mind. The scientific method is grounded in this presumption. If the light of faith does not shine on reason, however, it becomes untrusting and inoperable.
For example, without trust in our human faculties Cartesian doubt makes sense, which is the radical doubt about the existence of anything except, perhaps, “I” since “I think therefore I am.” Post-modernism is marked by this kind of doubt. After all, on what solid basis can we trust that our five physical senses and limited human minds can know anything at all? Why should we trust them?
Only a trust in the primary Cause of our being could enable us to trust that our own faculties can attain truth. In other words, the ability to trust our innate human faculties has to be grounded on the fact that the primary Cause that grounds all being, which most people call God, would have to be both reasonable and good.
Otherwise, there is no objective reason to trust these faculties created within us as being trustworthy. This initial act of faith transcends our faculties. And therein lies the dilemma. We must go beyond our natural faculties in order to be able to trust in them: Without faith in a God whose eternal nature is Truth (Jn 1:1, 14:6) and Love (1 Jn 1:4:8), there is no rationale for any faith in ourselves, our minds or our senses.
Take away this supernatural premise and we are left with a post-modern skepticism and cynicism that leads to nihilism (i.e. a culture of death). If there is no foundational basis for believing we can discover truth, we fall into a cultural relativism that seeks power rather than truth – and power for the sake of promoting selfish desire rather than the common good. In democracies, power comes in numbers. Consensus becomes power and might makes right. This hollow message of secular humanism is what the two culture-molding establishments, the media and academia, have been preaching for over a generation.
This maxim is manifest in our society today. It seems to be clear that losing faith in God means losing the ability to reason. Without the light of faith, reason can only be followed to the point where perceived self-interest is located, and no further. Without the light of reason self-interest necessarily means disordered desire, since “order” is something discerned by reason. All truth-claims of any depth are then rejected as “intolerant”, “judgmental”, or “mean-spirited”, and this is accompanied by attacking and ridiculing the messenger of uncomfortable truths. In such a culture of denial there can be no alternative to the manipulation of minds and the attacking of persons. Dialogue on the level of ideas, therefore, becomes impossible, the ability to communicate beyond the shallowest of levels is discouraged, vice and addiction become commonplace, and all sanity is lost. The rupture and dissipation of faith and reason results in the sane becoming outcasts, suffering considerably, and eventually becoming recognized as heroes and saints.