Is Faith Reasonable?: Being Receptive to All Reality
Humans are truth seeking creatures (“Is Faith Reasonable?”). We are always asking questions that reason alone cannot answer. Questions such as: How did the universe come to be? There is a loving relationship that humans also yearn for, but they often do not know where to look for it. Before faith can grow in a person, s/he must know that there is a God cares about him/her, and there is extensive natural proof of God’s existence. After a person has gotten over this hurdle, his/her next move is to embark on the steps to grow in faith.
How can we even be sure there is a God to have faith in? Well, how did the universe come to be if there is not a God? There is “considerable amount of evidence” that there is a God (“Open Forum for Atheists”). There are philosophical proofs that are logically based, cosmological arguments, also known as a proof from philosophy of mathematics, that use mathematics to show that “the infinity of past time is a contradiction and it can’t occur”, near death experiences, and the Borde-Vilenkin-Guth Proof is very empirically-based in physics (“Open Forum for Atheists”).
There had to be a beginning. There had to be a period before the universe started, a period before the “big bang” happened and matter was thrown every which way. There has to be a beginning from a physics point of view (“Open Forum for Atheists”). Before there was “physical reality” there was nothing, and all nothing can do is nothing (“Open Forum for Atheists”). Nothing cannot move itself from nothing to something because all nothing can do is nothing (“Open Forum for Atheists”). There needs to be a “transcendent creative entity which is outside of our physical time, outside of our physical space, outside of physical reality itself that must cause or create the universe from nothing at that point. It’s the point at which the universe came into existence, and that’s the quirky part about beginnings in physics” (“Open Forum for Atheists”).
Lee Ann Womack’s song “There is a God” seems to work off of natural theology. Womack encourages the listener to take in nature (CaitlinsGuitar95). In the refrain, Womack tells the listener that “There is a God/How much proof do you need?” (CaitlinsGuitar95). In the third verse, Womack despairingly sings “Science says it’s all just circumstance/Like this whole world is just an accident” (CaitlinsGuitar95).
I learned in my high school astronomy class that the fact that the earth is even around and supporting life is a miracle. The earth is at the perfect distance from the sun so life can be sustained, the moon’s pull on the earth’s tides is necessary for life, and Jupiter’s presence is very essential because the giant planet changes the trajectory of asteroids that would otherwise destroy the earth.
Those three factors cannot just be a coincidence—Someone had to have planned it. The paragraphs above that discuss the need for a transcendent creative entity to move nothing into something just help to prove it even more. However, Saint Thomas Aquinas said natural theology can only reveal God to a few people over a long period of time (ST I-II, Q.1, Art. 1).
Faith is reasonable (“Is Faith Reasonable?”). Faith can be simply defined as “belief in God”, but even that definition still raises numerous questions about what faith is (Olson). The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines faith as “Both a gift of God and a human act by which the believer gives personal adherence to God who invites his response, and freely assents to the whole truth that God has revealed…Faith is both a theological virtue given by God as a grace, and an obligation which flows from the first commandment of God” (CCC Glossary). The modern accepted definition of reason “is science”, but the Catholic Church defines reason as “receptivity toall reality” (“Is Faith Reasonable?”).
The Church’s broader definition of reason gives a person “a lot more to work with in our search for Truth” (“Is Faith Reasonable?”). The Church uses faith and reason together because they work together like two wings of a bird (“Is Faith Reasonable?”). Why? Because it is through both faith’s assistance to reason that humans can know the answers to questions such as why we are on this earth and how the universe came to be (“Is Faith Reasonable?”). A person cannot answer those questions using reason alone, and a person who relies only on reason ends up exaggerating what a human person can do (Olson, “Is Faith Reasonable?”).
On the other hand, if a person relies on faith alone that person would not think for him/herself (“Is Faith Reasonable?”). But together, faith assists reason by answering questions about the ultimate end or goal of human existence (“Is Faith Reasonable?”). Former Bishop Sheen said, “Reason is to faith what the naked eye is to a telescope” because “faith magnifies the activity of reason in various ways” (“Is Faith Reasonable?”).
Mother Angelica describes faith in a very unique way but in a way that people can relate. She says, “faith, for me, is like having one foot in the air, one foot on the ground, and a very queasy feeling in my stomach. Faith requires that you live your life in darkness, that you follow Someone Whom you cannot see and love Someone Whom you cannot touch” (Angelica 25). And because faith is a gift from God, a person needs to be inspired by Him with a desire for Him, for Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day” (Angelica 26, John 6:44).
There are three steps to accepting God’s call to faith (“Is Faith Reasonable?”). The first step is for a person to hear the testimony of a witness who found Christ and Love (“Is Faith Reasonable?”). Saint Paul says in Romans 10:17 that “faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ.” A perfect example of this in Scripture is after the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles gathered in the upper room, and the Apostles went out and spoke to people of various languages (Acts 2). The Apostles were telling the people gathered in Jerusalem their testimony about Christ (Acts 2). Throughout the whole of the New Testament there are stories of people finding Jesus—including Saint Paul’s conversion story.
The second step is the invitation to put faith in Christ (“Is Faith Reasonable?”). Before, during, or after a person hears a witness’s testimony, a person will be filled with a “hunger to know God” (Is Faith reasonable?”). During this call, it is possible that the person is unaware that s/he truly needs to satisfy this need is God and will try to appease the hunger with material goods (Angelica 28). However, a kind of restlessness will overcome this person and s/he will become so restless that s/he will have to consider “the awesome possibility that there might be something or Someone Who is greater than anything or anyone else [s/he had] known, that there might be a way to make sense out of it all, after all” (Angelica 29). And God is that Someone.
Mother Angelica gives the example of a man by the name of Richard who had the perfect life. He had a good job, a family, hobbies, he traveled, and more money than he needed, but he was not happy with all of it (Angelica 27-28). Richard invested in “the ‘real world’—but the ‘real world’ never gave back anything of lasting value” (Angelica 28). What Richard needed was to seek out God’s Love.
The third step is to say yes to Christ (“Is Faith Reasonable?”). This submission of will is an “intensely personal” act and wholly dependent on God’s grace (Olson). A person giving him/herself completely to God can be a scary thought. Most people think God wants their material possessions; this is what a woman named Rebecca thought when she talked to Mother Angelica (Angelica 41-42). Rebecca had “her own highly respectable law practice and all the trappings of success: a new home, a late-model car, beautiful clothes” (Angelica 42). When Mother made it clear to Rebecca that God did not want her material goods, she relaxed (Angelica 42). What God really wants, Mother Angelica writes, is us (Angelica 43).
Why? It is because God loves us so dearly, and He desires to share that love with us so much that He will keep giving us the opportunity to accept it until the day we die (Angelica 45). God wants us to make Him our first and last resort, and only by saying yes to Christ can we accomplish that (Angelica 45). It is amazing what God will help us accomplish when we put our faith in Him. It was and is through faith in God that Mother Angelica’s monastery in Alabama and the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) thrive as they do today (Angelica 15-20).
It is through knowing God and having faith that humans can find answers to questions that reason brings us to, if we put our faith in God, who knows what He will lead us to do.
Angelica. “The Beginning.” Introduction. Mother Angelica’s Answers, Not Promises. San Francisco: Ignatius, 1996. 13-22. Print.
– – -. “Why Is It So Hard to Believe?” Mother Angelica’s Answers, Not Promises. San Francisco: Ignatius, 1996. 25-46. Print.
CaitlinsGuitar95. There Is a God- Lee Ann Womack. You Tube. N.p., 29 Nov. 2009. Web. 31 Oct. 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5XkwJJW0lB4>.
Catechism of the Catholic Church. Second ed. Washington D.C.: Liberia Editrice Vaticana, 1997. Print.
The Holy Bible: Revised Standard Version. Catholic ed. San Francisco: Ignatius, 1966. Print.
“Is Faith Reasonable?” Catholic Answers Live. Catholic Answers, 12 Oct. 2009. Web. 31 Oct. 2012. <http://www.catholic.com/radio/shows/is-faith-reasonable-4237>.
Olson, Carl. “Why Believe?” Catholic Answers Magazine: n. pag. Catholic Answers. Web. 27 Oct. 2012. <http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/why-believe>.
“Open Forum for Atheists.” Catholic Answers Live. Catholic Answers, 24 Sept. 2012. Web. 31 Oct. 2012. <http://www.catholic.com/radio/shows/open-forum-for-atheists-7538>.
Summa Theologica. EWTN, 1 Apr. 1996. Web. 31 Oct. 2012. <http://www.ewtn.com/library/SOURCES/1FP36.TXT>.
By Fierce Queen