Faith beyond reason
Although nobody can prove the existence of God, many have developed a personal relationship with Him that moves them beyond any need for proof. In the end, we need to address any genuine rational doubts, but we also need to be on our guard against using a lightweight intellectual rejection of the Christian message as an excuse for avoiding the challenges that the message may make to the way we live.
The biggest atheist lie is that faith involves a suspension of reason. In reality, many of the greatest intellects, both past and present, have found themselves able to reconcile faith and reason with conviction and sincerity.
Professor Richard Dawkins, near the end of his chapter “Why there almost certainly is no God” in The God Delusion, claims that the nineteenth century was the last time that an “educated person” could admit without embarrassment to believing in miracles like the Virgin birth. In this, as elsewhere, he is wrong: the Catholic writer J R R Tolkien and the Anglican apologist C S Lewis were professors at Oxford and Cambridge respectively; G K Chesterton was described by Bernard Shaw (no mean intellect himself) as “a man of colossal genius”; our present Pope Benedict XVI is a former professor and an educated man by any standard; all four held or hold (without embarrassment) Christian views that would embrace a belief in the supernatural.
Believing in supernatural, miraculous happenings may indeed be embarrassing for some Christians (sadly including some Catholics who should know better) who want to pick and choose which bits of teaching they will deign to accept. But there are very many Catholics – plenty of them “educated” by any definition – for whom these miracles form part of the faith of the Catholic Church and when we embrace and truly seek to understand the full teaching of our Church we find it to be rational, beautiful, compassionate and full of deep wisdom and truth.
Reason can take us only so far, and faith and prayer and trust have their part to play as well. But there is no contradiction between faith and reason. Indeed, the more deeply one explores these matters the more closely the two converge. In his encyclical letter on Faith and Reason, John Paul II wrote of “a profound and indissoluble unity between the knowledge of reason and the knowledge of faith”.