Question about teaching

36 "Our holy mother, the Church, holds and teaches that God, the first principle and last end of all things, can be known with certainty from the created world by the natural light of human reason."11 Without this capacity, man would not be able to welcome God’s revelation. Man has this capacity because he is created “in the image of God”.12

hello all, just wanting to deepen my faith and understanding, so what does it mean by

“God, the first principle and last end of all things, can be known with certainty from the created world by the natural light of human reason.”

especially the part about knowing God through the created world
thanks a lot :slight_smile:

That one does not have to already believe in revelation (scriptures) to know that God exists - it can be figured out from thinking and observation alone.

Of course, many things about God do require revelation. But somethings do not, otherwise there would be no reason for someone who didn’t already believe in revelation to ever come to do so.

Basically, if natural reason (what we can figure out without relying on revealed truth such as the bible) could not determine anything about God, then a person who was handed Christianity without already believing it to be true, and who was trying to determine whether it was from his perspective of not yet accepting it, would be completely incapable of making a determination - because at that point he has only natural reason to work with. And this is false, people can rationally come to the faith.

Examples of natural reason as applied to God can be found in Summa Theologica, by St. Thomas Aquinas, wherein he shows that many (not all) attributes of God can be deduced from reason alone.

Iron Donkey is correct.

It is (ironically enough ;)) a dogma of faith that the existence of God can be known through reason alone.

We can know certain things about God without Revelation. We can know He exists. We can know He is one. We can know He is the Creator of everything.

But then there are other things we can only know through Revelation, like the fact that God is a Trinity of Persons. The Trinity does not contradict reason. But there is no way we would have arrived at that teaching had God not revealed Himself to us in that way.

As Iron Donkey said, that gives us a starting point. Otherwise, Christianity would be a closed system of thought whose foundation would be more or less circular.

St. Paul discussed this in his letter to the Roman Christians.

The morality of the pagan Roman world could seem shocking when compared with the standards of the Jewish culture that Christianity had sprung from. The apostle explained that this was due in part to the fact that Gentile cultures had rejected the evidence that there was one true God who, had they just had the humility to worship him, could have enlightened and strengthened them via grace to live a more content and holy life.

Of course Paul does not state that the other nations had been offered the same type of covenant arrangement he had made with the children of Israel via Moses. On the contrary, the epistle to the Romans is quite clear that the Jews remain unique due to the special revelations entrusted to them that no other national group had ever had.–Romans 3:1-2; 9:4-5.

If such is the case, how could God judge the nations? Because, the apostle Paul wrote, the physical creation itself harbors enough clues that can make the fact of one true God a logical conclusion to the human mind:

For what can be known about God is evident to them [pagan Gentiles], because God made it evident to them. Ever since the creation of the world, his [God’s] invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made. As a result, they have no excuse; for although they knew God they did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks. Instead, they became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless minds were darkened. While claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for the likeness of an image of mortal man or of birds or of four-legged animals or of snakes. Therefore, God handed them over to impurity through the lusts of their hearts for the mutual degradation of their bodies. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and revered and worshiped the creature rather than the creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.–Romans 1:19-25.

Paul went on to add that while direct revelation via Jesus Christ was still necessary for both pagan Gentile and the Jewish worshiper, the fact the Gentiles lived in the physical world that testified to its Creator was enough to condemn those who chose to bow down to idols instead. As it is written in the Psalms:

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the firmament proclaims the work of his hands.
Day unto day conveys the message,
and night unto night imparts the knowledge.

No speech, no word, whose voice goes unheeded;
their sound goes forth through all the earth,
their message to the utmost bounds of the world.–Psalm 19:2-5.

As this teaching goes all the way back to the testimony of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Church concurs that the concept of one God can be grasped by human reason without the need for direct revelation.

While not all concepts about God can be learned this way due to the limits of our minds, the absence of witness from the Church and her members does not of itself excuse people from acknowledging or coming to the conclusion that there must be one Creator of all to whom we have an accounting.–Hebrews 4:13.

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