Random Thoughts on Faith and Reason

[The role of mere rationality in Christian spirituality. The limitations of human reason to understand reality in its fullness. How faith helps us to know God’s reality the way God has revealed it.]

All realities have at least two sides—human and divine. We perceive reality as it appears to us through our senses and intellectual reasoning. But we will be able to grasp the divine side of reality the way he reveals to us. We see this facet of reality only if we are open to divine revelation by faith. This is beyond human reason which is limited.

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Human ability to reason varies from individual to individual depending on the age. Years ago, the renowned psychologist Jean Piaget (1896-1980), using the “Three Mountain Experiment” proved that young children are “ego-centric” in their thinking. In this experiment a child and examiner sit at the opposite side of a table that has a clay model of three mountains with animals, trees, and other objects. The child is given a 360-degree view of the object on the table first. When the examiner asked what he saw, the child described the scene from its side. It describes the world as it sees, being unable to include the possibility of another perspective, in this case that of the examiner.

Human beings cannot perceive the realities from God’s perspective. But God graciously offers faith so that we can arrive at a complete picture of the reality that includes its human and the divine facets.

Faith is not a substitute to reason, we need both. There are things that we perceive and experience by reason. When we feel hot, reason suggests that we are near fire, or standing under midday sun. That is a deduction we make using our reason. It is not blind faith.

At the same time reason is not a substitute to faith since it is limited to understand from the divine perspective. It is limited by human experience. However, there is aspect of reason that takes us beyond itself to generate faith. Reason that does not lead to faith to grasp the fuller reality is faulty reason.

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