The secondary aim of this article is to address myself to fellow Christians and non-Christians over disparities that were growing and are still germinating in our faith. After the celebration of the Uganda Martyrs in our country, most people criticized the spirit of the faith pilgrims had using reason.
Faith is the belief in the truth of something that does not require any evidence and may not be provable by any empirical or rational means. Reason is the faculty of the mind through which we can logically come to rational conclusions. Faith and reason are both sources of authority upon which beliefs can rest. We should not forget that reason aims at empirical truth; religion aims at divine truth. Thus, no rivalry exists between them.
The primary aim of this article is to offer an interpretation of the encyclical Fides et Ratio1 as it relates to the idea of “meaning” as an answer to the ultimate questions of man. The force of the metaphor used by St. John Paul II of the two wings of faith and reason (Introduction) lies in the picture of the human spirit attaining truth only by the simultaneous efforts of faith and reason.
As a bird cannot fly with only one wing, so the spirit needs both faith and reason to arrive at truth. It is the union of faith and reason which provides us with the boldness (parrhesia) and condense necessary to access the truth.
After an analysis of man’s “quest for meaning,” a goal only achieved by reaching the absolute, we will investigate the two means available to us to reach that goal: faith and reason. We will then present the implications of the organic unity of faith and reason and their climax in the synthesis of Aquinas. Finally, we will examine the drama of their separation which has led to the present crisis of meaning.
In order to overcome this crisis, the encyclical offers us a triple remedy: a recovery of the “sapiential dimension” of philosophy as a unifying explanation; second, a varication of the human capacity for truth, with an expose of the modern philosophy that, “not daring to rise to the truth of being” and “abandoning the investigation of being.
There is a long tradition of philosophy in human history stretching back to the ancients. The rest absolute certain truth in every person’s life (other than the fact that we exist) is the certainty of death.
This fact has led all people to ponder their existence and purpose. The Church also has a long history of participating in the realm of philosophy since discovering the ultimate truth – Jesus Christ.
John Paul II begins by noting the primacy of revelation in the Church’s quest for truth. Faith is necessary to discover the full truth; reason alone is not sufficient because its central weakness is its susceptibility to sin.
Christianity did not immediately embrace philosophy, but gradually individuals like Saints Justin and Augustine played central roles in the development of Christian thought. Later, St. Thomas Aquinas recognized that “nature, philosophy’s proper concern, could contribute to the understanding of divine Revelation.” (Paragraph 43) He also noted that faith builds about and perfects reason.
There is in man an inclination to good according to the nature of his reason, which nature is proper to him. Thus man has a natural tendency to know the truth about God, and to live in society; in this respect, whatever pertains to this inclination belongs to natural law (emphasis mine).
Aquinas further observes that to know that God exists in a general and confused way is implanted in us by nature in as much as God is man’s beatitude, for man naturally desires happiness, and what is naturally desired by man must be naturally known by him.
Sem. Robert Bigabwarugaba
Katigondo National Seminary
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