Blind faith and search for the truth

I try to understand how the two can be compatible.
Some people here say that a Christian duty is to search for the truth and on the other hand religion is blind faith which means NO search is allow.
It just does not make any sense to me.:confused:
How can we search for the truth when we are confined inside a corral?

To learn more about the truth, to learn more about the faith (search for truth) does not conflict with having faith.

As it says in the Bible, ”A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thoughts to his steps.” (Proverbs 14:15)

We are not required to have "blind’’ faith. Our faith isn’t unseeing (blind), it is deepened and enriched by learning more about God’s truth in the Bible and in the Catechism

If we are not required to learn about God’s truths, why would Jesus bother teaching. If He expects just faith without any understanding, why this? :

‘’ But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them." John 8 verses 1-2

Rather than imprisoning you, the truth gives you freedom and depth of faith.

"So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8 verse 31

You haven’t got my message.
When i say that religion is blind faith i mean that religions do not allow the people who follow such a religion to believe in what is written in other books and marking them as heretics.
So only their book carry the truth, all the rest is sort of heretic.
From here i can understand that the truth according to religion is their truth and that is the end of the story.
In other words the options for a search are all gone.:frowning:

I don’t know any people here who advocate “blind faith,” which is believing without any underlying reasonable basis for belief. One of the major points of this site is to explain Catholicism, which is the exact opposite of “blind faith.”

What i think you may be seeing is boundaries to the teaching. This is very reasonable. It is reasonable to say that an atheist cannot be a Christian, since part of being a Christian is believing in God, right?

Churches have teachings, and if one disagrees with the teachings, one is not truly a member of that church. Having doubts is a different thing, doubts are merely lack of understanding. It is when one takes the doubt and solidifies it that one becomes either a stronger believer or someone who does not agree with the belief.

Now, to a Baptist, I would be a heretic, and to a Hindu I would be a heretic. But to a Catholic I would not be a heretic.

However, one has to consider that the nature of truth is that it is singular. Either there is a God or there is not. Either His nature is triune, or it is not. Either the Catholic Chirch has the authority of God to teach what He has revealed or it does not.

In the way, one can see that one can search for truth. One must look into the claims of various religions to see which is true, or at least most reasonable to believe.

I don’t think anyone can give you an easy answer to your question. Yes, all religion seems to be based on blind faith, but there are philosopher/theologians, such as Thomas Aquinas who stress that faith must be based on reason, and that there is truth to be found in all human thought. He based a lot of his defence of Christian beliefs using the philosophy of Aristotle, a pagan philosopher. Ultimately, any faith which demands blind faith is a cult. True religion, must respect the right of believers to question and must be able to explain the basis for its beliefs. Therefore, catholic apologetics is not just to defend the faith against outside attacks, it must also explain the faith to its believers.

Where does that leave you and your question? With a lot of work, if you’re interested in the answer. You must ultimately learn, test and prod many ideas to arrive at a set of beliefs with which you can agree. That does not mean that everyone else is totally wrong, they have just come to a different conclusion. That is why ecumenism is so important, especially in modern times where those of many faiths must learn to coexist. Ecumenism is an attempt for people of all faiths to discuss their similarities and differences in a rational, respectful manner.

For a catholic perspective on ecumenism, a good place to start is by reading the church document, DIRECTORY FOR THE APPLICATION OF PRINCIPLES AND NORMS ON ECUMENISM

To learn more about Aquinas you can begin by reading,

Sorry, no easy answer.

Even if we have “blind faith” we must search for the truth. The truth do differ from time to time. What was right 2000 years ago is maybe right today as well but to understand that we need to search for the truth that made it true 2000 years ago. It is not that simple. I sure hope it would be, but it is not. In fact, it should be simple. When we have one option we don’t need to choose, give us one option more and we need to think for a while. The Church know that time do go on and what was OK a long time ago isn’t anymore. The basics are always the same but the approach is different. The CCC tell us that it is wrong to drink and drive, 2000 years ago it was a thing nobody did think about. (And yes, I do know that someone will say that once again my example is stupid but I try to keep them simple.) So, even if we have blind faith it is important to keep on seeking. I can assure you that even at age 53 and having a faith that I did get long before I knew God is God I still search, if I stop I am lost. So don’t worry, there is nothing wrong is searching.

I’m a little confused by your second sentence. Are you saying that some people say religion is blind faith, or are you saying that you think it is?

The idea that religion is blind faith is nonsense. Of course many religious people have blind faith–many people within any paradigm don’t sit around questioning the paradigm. But faith is not, in principle, blind. The cultural/intellectual spiritual traditions which we call collectively “the great religions” grow and develop through a process of constant questioning and challenge, just as other intellectual traditions do.

Where did you get the idea that religion was blind faith?

Some books I have found helpful as I have worked through these issues:

Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (shows, to the chagrin of many scientists, that there’s a lot more “blind faith” involved in science than we commonly realize, and lays out an excellent model for how “paradigms” in general work)

William James, The Will to Believe (shows that perpetual indecision is itself a choice, and provides a more rigorous and reasonable version of “Pascal’s Wager”)

William Abraham, Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion (describes an approach to finding truth called “soft rationalism,” which I think describes how most thoughtful people make most important decisions, including religious ones); and

Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue and Three Rival Versions of Moral Inquiry (argues that the most satisfactory approach to moral questions in particular is one that is rooted in a tradition of inquiry)


What is important is Truth. The Catholic Church accepts truth wherever it is found and it accepts that truth as its own truth. At the same time it has a sacred duty to protect its beliefs from error, for the good of all of us. So you could not be more incorrect. The Church is not afraid of truth nor is it afraid of new ideas, as long as those ideas are consonant with Truth.

By the way. Just who is stopping anyone else for searching elsewhere if that that is what they wish to do?

You are laboring under a misconception here. The Catholic faith in no way limits it’s adherents from seeking the truth wherever it may be found. We believe that all faiths hold some of the truth–it’s what makes them attractive to their followers, after all–that they can relate to aspects of their faith that gives their lives meaning.

What the Church teaches is simply that all the truths that man needs to know for his salvation subsists within the Catholic faith. This is an important definition because it limits what we mean by faith and it tells us that all truth is open to us. All truth is open to us because nothing we might discover outside our faith, which might be true, can or would contradict the truths of our faith.

I hope that helps you. :slight_smile:

Obviously if you are going to accept a paradigm, you accept certain basic norms. But speaking just with regard to Catholicism, you certainly aren’t forbidden to learn from other books of other traditions. One of the greatest Catholic authors of the 20th century, Thomas Merton, learned a great deal from Buddhism. It’s true that some very conservative Catholics are nervous about this. You find ultra-conservative folks who don’t want to learn from other traditions. But that’s not true of Catholicism as a whole.

Insofar as traditions develop that kind of insular attitude, they are in deep trouble. At the same time, a tradition that has no borders and no norms is also in trouble. (Try telling most modern scientists that astrology, or even Intelligent Design, is a valid form of science, and you will run up against A healthy religious tradition has a boundary that is like a membrane rather than a stone wall.

So only their book carry the truth, all the rest is sort of heretic.
From here i can understand that the truth according to religion is their truth and that is the end of the story.
In other words the options for a search are all gone.:frowning:

Well, you are just wrong about this. What you are describing is a fundamentalist approach to religion, not religion itself (if there is such a thing as “religion itself,” which I doubt).

The Church Fathers drew on Platonic philosophy; Thomas Aquinas incorporated Aristotle and Augustine (MacIntyre is very good on this in Three Rival Versions). What your saying just doesn’t describe the actual history of Catholicism.


I found as I journeyed back to the faith from my atheism that my spiritual director encouraged me to asked questions and would point me in the general direction for answers. I had to research the answer for myself in order to appreciate the knowledge gathering process. However, I found that in my experience the Church was open to honest attempts at truth-seeking in a way that it was not hiding anything or telling me to accept it “just because.”

In many ways CAF is a good example of this as it is often found there is an incredible amount of accumulated Church history and wisdom that has been accumulated and “it takes a village” to be able to pour through it for answers.

You may be misinterpreting the idea to trust God as implicitly as a child should trust their parents.

God Bless

I think you are raising a valid point. This is where I personally find all religions restrictive in a way, because they all seem to have a set of rules, a hard cast belief system. As if they would only took you until a certain point on your path. Yes you are allowed/encouraged to question, investigate and reason, but only upto a certain point. Do I doubt the holy scriptures? No I don’t. But I feel that religions are interpretations of them, because the religions as much as they are divine, they are also human establishments.

What does one do who cannot pigeonhole into any one of them any more…does he let go completely…or does he stick with the one that nurtured him so far accepting the differences and the occasional ridicule…

I’m not a X-trian, but like with every realtionship, this, too, takes time and experience. The Torah for me is the truth, and this is where I search for situations that once happened and look how others managed situations. So I have to know the Torah well, but also the bible alltogether because, we have to translate situations from back in the day to current situations that relate to us, and here’s where Pirkei Avot, the ethnics of the fathers for instance, help, too. When I take the wisdom of the fathers and situations that have happened I search for the truth and so this truth is based on the Torah.

It takes time and experience to do the right thing. I still fail from time to time. Recently I got an opportunity that opened up quickly, and I wasn’t prepared, and so I was hesitating and asked questions. Afterwards I realized that it was blind faith that was required in that situation. Had I searched for the truth in the Torah I would have known this. There once was a situation, where Gd told Moshe “Shlach lecha!” Rashi and the Midrash say that “Lecha” in this context means: “If you want to, you can. If you don’t want to, you don’t. It’s up to you!” So they were about to enter Erez Yisrael, and Moshe sent spies to spy out the land of Kanaan. What was required of him, however, was faith in HaShem - they shouldn’t have sent spies but go into the land of Kanaan. Since they didn’t, they were punished and had to stay in the desert for another 40 years.
When this opportunity miraculously opened up for me, I hesitated, and asked questions, which is comparable to sending spies to spy out the situation and to get a better picture of what it means to go into the land of Kanaan / to jump into the cold water and to take the opportunity. I did the wrong thing. I, too, have to wait for another year now until this opportunity might open up once again. Had I searched in the Torah I could have known that faith in HaShem was required of me. It was something I had prayed for and that I had asked him for.

You seem not to understand what the Catholic Church teaches about the basis for Her teachings.

In the US it is very easy to miss this point because so much of our culture is Protestant or a reaction to Protestantism.

Many Protestant churches claim to be correct because they are based on the Bible. The Bible, however, was compiled by Catholics based on the teaching of Christ.

The train of reason for Catholics is this: Christ is God. God is all-good, and therefore unable to deceive. Thus, what Christ taught is the truth. (A side note: there is natural knowledge, which is what people can figure out for themselves, and then there is revealed knowledge, Revelation, which is what people can not figure out themselves, and which was taught to them by God. Here the knowledge I am talking about is revealed knowledge.)

Christ also promised that the Church as a whole would be protected by God in the person of the Holy Spirit from teaching error.

So Christ taught the Apostles, who taught their followers, who taught their followers, and so on. The body of knowledge which was not written in the Bible is known as Tradition.

From this body of knowledge, those entrusted with compiling the Bible, choosing which version of the Old Tetsament and the canon of the New, with the help of the Holy Spirit, were able to evaluate the writings they had on hand and deciding which were in line with what Christ had taught and which were not.

However, the writings from which the canon was put together were not comprehensive–they were just some of what Christ had taught. So we still have Tradition, and now we also have rhe Bible.

Remember I mentioned that Christ promised the protection of the Holy Spirit against the Chirch’s teaching error? That is the third source of Catholic Faith: the teaching authority given by Christ to the Church. This authority is called the Magisterium.

Everything the Chirch teaches must be uncontradicted by each of the three sources. The Chirch cannot suddenly teach something which is contradicted by Tradition; the Bible cannot be interpreted in a way which contradicts Tradition or the Magisterium, and so on.

As a result, the Catholic Faith consists of certain truths. They are like mathematical truths. I may say I totally don’t get the quadratic equation, but I need to believe that it is as true as 2+2=4. If A math professor were to decide to teach that 2+2=17, then other mathematicians would say that he was not teaching the truths of math, right? Would that be wrong of them? No.

In the same way, Catholics who believe something against the teaching of the Church are also going outside of truth. To teach, for example, the Christ was only a good man and not a Person of the Trinity, would violate Catholic teaching and put this person outside the realm of Catholic teaching just as much as the matatician who teaches that 2+2=17.

Thus, Catholicismis restrictive, but it is restrictive to the truth, just as math is restrictive to mathematical truths.

It is not wrong for an organization which has as its common organizing principles a set of beliefs to declare that there is something un-organizational about someone who believes something else; it is protective of the organization, which the organization has the right to do.

St Francis.
Yes, I am fully aware of the C. Church’s teachings on this, thanks for the reminder though.

That’s only true to a certain extent. Abrahamic faiths are probably the only religions that assert necessary worship and belief in no other god than their specific God (and a few other things). That is not to say that you have to worship this God in order to be pious, just that you not worship a false one. For example, Jews discourage gentiles to convert to Judaism, and instead recommend following the Noahide laws (seven key commandments), in which idolatry is forbidden (but worshipping Jehovah is not necessary), and in Catholicism, non-Catholics and non-Christians can be saved.

In many other major religions, namely the eastern and dharmic religions, idolatry is seldom problematic considering theism isn’t a prominent theme in them. The only major eastern religion that truly is theistic (let alone monotheistic) is Sikhism; even Hinduism, in the end, is atheistic, as creator deity Brahma really actually just “emanates” from Brahman, or Absolute, ultimate reality. All other gods in Hinduism (Shiva, Vishnu, Ganesha, Shakti, etc.) are manifestations of the same transcendent reality. In fact, eastern religions tend to be very open-minded to other religions, provided love and compassion are key elements to the faiths.

That said, you may follow any religious law you like that isn’t of your own religion, provided it doesn’t contradict your religion. For example, being a vegetarian because you believe in animal rights is not forbidden by the bible, but that same book doesn’t tell you you need to become one to be pious. However, if you’re a vegetarian because you abide to the animism of Jainism, you’re contradicting Christianity.

By the way, I think you don’t understand the definition of ‘heresy’. Heresy refers to teachings that divert from traditional ones offered by the church. However, it is only considered heresy according to the church itself. In other words, consubstantiation is a heresy in Catholicism (I would think so, anyway), but is commonplace in Lutheranism.

That said, by definition, what may be considered heretical to a church or religious body is not heretical to a completely unrelated or unaffiliated religious body or church. Karma, found within Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, isn’t heretical to traditional Christians as it is not an ‘offshoot’ of Christianity. Mainstream Christians believe karma to be false, but that doesn’t make it a heresy. What would make it a heresy is if someone, such as theologian John Hick, tried to reconcile the idea of karma with traditionally-taught beliefs in Christianity.

Christianity started off as a heretical sect in Judaism, for instance.

Although I’m not very familiar with his work, Soren Kierkegaard seems to have some interesting ideas regarding this. I also enjoy the fact that he looks at issues from every angle (religious, agnostic, atheistic) and, as a devout and staunch Catholic, had the humbleness to point out the flaws and controversies within Christendom and his local Church of Denmark. Self-criticism is a basis for a lot of my own philosophy.

He was a Lutheran.

So do all paradigms/traditions.

To what are you contrasting religions? To science?

Try telling a mainstream scientist that astrology, or even Intelligent Design, is a valid form of science.

As if they would only took you until a certain point on your path. Yes you are allowed/encouraged to question, investigate and reason, but only upto a certain point.

Beyond a certain point you will be outside the paradigm, indeed.

Do I doubt the holy scriptures? No I don’t. But I feel that religions are interpretations of them, because the religions as much as they are divine, they are also human establishments.

I don’t see why, on your principles, you wouldn’t doubt Scripture. We accept Scripture because it’s the holy book of the Christian religion. It doesn’t stand alone.

What does one do who cannot pigeonhole into any one of them any more…does he let go completely…or does he stick with the one that nurtured him so far accepting the differences and the occasional ridicule…

Alasdair MacIntyre says that a tradition is an argument extended through time.

What do you do if there’s part of your tradition you have problems with, or part of another tradition that you want to bring into your tradition? You engage in the argument. But to do that you have to have some understanding of how the argument has gone thus far.

It may be that in fact you will eventually be excluded (and/or will choose to exclude yourself) from the argument we call the Christian tradition, by accepting norms of discourse that are radically other than those of the Christian tradition. But you shouldn’t jump to that conclusion just because you don’t feel entirely comfortable with the tradition as it’s been taught to you.


I get that this is an analogy, but I’m not sure it’s the best one, because mathematical truth is accessible to analysis by all rational people in a way that many other kinds of truth, certainly including “religious” truth, are not. One of the problems in talking about other forms of truth (including much that we call “science”) is that we falsely equate it to mathematical truth, assuming that the same kinds of proof are possible.

I think science is a better example–although obviously still not a perfect one, since the basic data of science are those of nature, whereas the basic data of Christianity are given by revelation. But science as defined in the modern West has certain quite restrictive norms, without which meaningful discussion, not to say progress, would be impossible.

Another example would be political traditions. There are all kinds of disagreements within the political tradition that we call American democracy. But if you deny that human beings have certain fundamental rights, or if you deny the principle of representative government, then most Americans will quite legitimately exclude you from the tradition.


Ah, after some research on my behalf, it appears you are correct.

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