I have always thought that Christianity was special among religions, as it seems most in tune with “Natural Law,” the clear Truths of nature discoverable to us by our own observations and deductions. Christianity, to me, could always be argued by reason, up to the point where the Christian Mysteries defy our understanding, and the “Leap of Faith” must be made.
Recently, I read Pierre Bayle’s “Pyrrho” in which he completely rips apart any attempt to support Christian Faith through Reason, arguing from the point of view of the ancient skeptics, who suspended all judgement, and believed that nothing could be known for certain–that the Truth lies wholly hidden from us. Bayle argues that reason is useless, and mentions that Christian revelation proves this. For example, the basic axiom that if A is like B, and B is like C, than A is like C and A=B=C. Nowhere in reality are Personality, Nature, and Individual separate. Yet the mystery of the Trinity completely defies this. One God, one Nature, but three Persons!!! If this basic, “self-evident” Truth is not in fact True (as the Trinity reveals), how can we understand anything?
Secondly, Bayle holds up Transubstantiation as a Truth-defying revelation. If the substance of the bread is changed into Christ, with the accident remaining, how do we know that a substance is truly a substance of anything, and not just its accident? How do we know Peter is really Peter, and not just the likeness of Peter? If Christ is fully present in the bread, that means that matter is penetrable, (refuting another “self-evident truth” that it is not penetrable to an indivisible point) and therefore erasing the definition of matter entirely, and all substance–spirit or matter–contain merely accidental qualities. When Christ physically becomes the bread He is condensing His body, something which matter–physical reality–can nowhere do. This destroys the distinction between spirit and matter.
Locke (who was in fact a proponent of reason to support faith) argued that Transubstantiation is impossible because it defies one of the most self-evident Truths of reality: that a body cannot be in two places at once. Yet if Christ can do this (as is revealed in the Eucharist), than God is revealing to us something which destroys all our understanding and renders our intellect null and void.
Basically, Bayle argued that we must forget reason and accept Christianity based on Faith. Ok, good. BUT, as Locke argued, this means that there is no way to argue against any other religion, and if reason is useless, than we have no right to claim that we hold the Truth, and other extravagant religions–no matter how apparently superstitious–do not. Since everything can be said to be “a matter of Faith” in which our natural reason is useless.
If anyone is still with me here, I’m basically asking this: How do we defend Christianity with reasonable arguments, when the fundamentals of our religion destroy our reasoning? Is there a good apologetic to both of Locke and Bayle’s viewpoints?
Thanks and God Bless!