Faith and Reason | Catholic Central

KAI: You know, Libby, thanks
to science and reason, we know there are about
a billion trillion stars in the Universe. (owl hooting) LIBBY: And thanks to faith,
we have a sense of awe and wonder at our
place in all that. Even though we can only see
like seven stars here in L.A. (traffic noises)
(dog barking) I didn’t get a permit. (traffic noises)
(dog barking) (upbeat music) KAI: Welcome to Catholic
Central, I’m Kai. LIBBY: And I’m Libby. Today we’re talking
about the relationship between faith and reason. KAI: Now, you might be
thinking, “Reason? Even with all the seemingly
illogical and irrational things Catholics believe?” LIBBY: Or that Catholics have
to check their brains at the church door? KAI: Not true. Although, it’s too bad. It would make church committee
meetings a lot easier. LIBBY: The truth is that Catholics
love science and reason but believe that we
need more answers than what they can give us. KAI: Since faith and
reason both try to connect people to truth, we should first get clear
on what we mean by truth. LIBBY: Catholics believe
in objective truth. Meaning that truth is a reality
that exists independently of whether anyone believes it. KAI: This is the opposite
of moral relativism, the view that multiple,
contradictory views about right and wrong can
all be true at the same time. LIBBY: Catholics believe that
humans have a natural urge to seek the truth. We’re curious to figure
it out and don’t like it when people lie. KAI: But reason alone isn’t
enough to figure out everything that’s true in the Universe. LIBBY: In fact, virtually
every belief system has some element of faith,
of trust in something that can’t be absolutely proven. KAI: Even people with no
religious beliefs have to trust that any of us actually even
have the ability to reason. As G.K. Chesterton says,
“Reason is itself a matter of faith. “It is an act of faith to
assert that our thoughts “have any relation
to reality it all.” LIBBY: We talk about a few
different kinds of truth, based on how we figure it out. KAI: Sometimes we find
truth by pure logic. LIBBY: Like two plus two equals four, or that you can’t
have a square circle. KAI: Philosophers call this
necessary or a priori truth from the Latin for from before. Because it’s possible to
figure these things out without going into the
world and testing anything. LIBBY: You could lock a mathematician
in a windowless room with nothing but Red Bull,
chalk, and a blackboard … KAI: Not that we recommend that. … and theoretically, they
could prove all of mathematics all over again from scratch. KAI: But you would only
know they were actually on a crazy,
caffeine-fueled math bender if you or someone you trusted
actually saw them do it. LIBBY: Right, which would be an example
of empirical truth. These are things that
you can’t just figure out by thinking about them. Instead, it takes
observation or experiment. So how does this relate
to faith and reason? KAI: We need different
kinds of tools for figuring out
different kinds of truth. As Pope Saint John Paul II
put it, “Faith and reason “are like two wings on
which the human spirit rises “in contemplation of truth.” LIBBY: Science is necessary
for figuring out how the physical world works. KAI: But no scientific experiment
can tell us our purpose. What it means to
live a good life. What happens after we die
or whether there’s a God, and what He, she or
it might be like. LIBBY: Or even whether deliberately
killing an innocent person is wrong. KAI: For that stuff,
we need philosophy. LIBBY: From the Greek
for love of wisdom. KAI: And theology. LIBBY: From the Greek study of God. KAI: And faith. LIBBY: From the Gr… We figure out moral
and philosophical truth by a combination of a priori
thinking, life experience, and reflections on human
nature written by wise people. KAI: And, yes, we mean figure out, not just take God’s word for. LIBBY: So, you can read
about God in the Bible. KAI: You can observe the
natural world He created to get to know more about Him. LIBBY: And you can also make
philosophical arguments for an eternal, transcendent
creator who is the First Cause of all things. KAI: But, Catholics also recognize
that some ideas are so huge that we as humans can’t fully
wrap our minds around them. LIBBY: How long is eternity? What does it mean for
God to become human? Can God make a YouTube
video so boring even He can’t sit through it? – [Crowd] Huh? KAI: Don’t worry, we’re not trying to test that out.
– [Crowd] Ahhh. LIBBY: When reason and philosophy
come up just a little short, it takes a certain
leap of faith realizing that we can’t know
something fully, coming to accept
that uncertainty, and eventually embracing it. KAI: Catholics recognize that
some things remain mysteries. Beyond our ability
to fully understand. And we trust in God to guide us through scripture
and the Church. LIBBY: This isn’t just
about religion, though. All the biggest things we as
humans do take a leap of faith. KAI: When you marry someone. Have a child. Or chose life as
a priest or nun. You’re signing up for
a commitment far beyond what you can
imagine on your own. LIBBY: Catholics believe that when
we take that leap of faith and trust God, God
helps us along the way. KAI: But we should be clear. Although Catholicism at
its best promotes a healthy cooperation between
faith and reason, not everyone lives
that out perfectly. LIBBY: Superstition is
where people use faith when it’s not the right
tool for finding truth. Like believing you got sick
because you didn’t comment amen on your aunt’s
Facebook post about Jesus. KAI: It’s probably ’cause
of an ancient curse. LIBBY: It’s also superstition
to focus on a precise form of religious practice instead
of interior disposition, basically what’s in your heart. KAI: So, if you say 100 prayers
but you don’t mean them, just saying the words
won’t do you any good. LIBBYl But if you mess up the
words to the Our Father, that doesn’t cancel it out. KAI: It’s this superstitious
thinking that has sometimes caused Christians
throughout the centuries to feel threatened by science. LIBBY: But the Catholic
Church actually has a Pontifical
Academy of Sciences and encourages us to
use faith and reason to complement each other, seeking truth in whatever
forms we can find it. KAI: Because in doing so,
we can know God better and better understand
the world we live in. LIBBY: As Pope Leo XIII said
back in 1893, “Truth cannot “contradict truth.” And as Jesus tells us, “The
truth will set you free.” KAI: Rather than check
our brains at the door, Catholics believe
that asking questions of all perceived truth
is actually a good thing because it’s a sign of a
healthy, active, curious faith. LIBBY: And in case you’re questioning whether we should
still be talking? The answer is no. For Catholic Central, I’m Libby. KAI: And I’m Kai. Thanks for watching. LIBBY: For more on the Church’s
relationship to science, check out our episode on
“Creation and Evolution,” and be sure to hit subscribe. KAI: And for more resources,
check out our website, (upbeat music)


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