Reason is superior to faith

God is Reason itself, the logos of the universe, pure knowledge and being, etc etc. You cannot approach God without knowing him. If you dont know of God, how could you even begin to raise your spirit to him?

It seems that reason or knowledge (gnosis) is the only proper way to “commune” with God. Faith (ie belief in what you do not know) seems like it would be insulting to God, who is knowledge itself. Wisdom and virtue all come from knowledge of the Good.

Why is faith considered the highest virtue then? Why should Knowledge cherish ignorance? Faith doesnt seem like it should even be a virtue. It seems insulting to God. Where is my thinking wrong on this?

1 Like

Rather, it is an equal - a balance, a moderating influence. As I have learned it: Reason without faith can lead to Marxist communism. Faith without reason can lead to Islamic terror.

Faith and reason are the left and right hands of human cognition. The definition of reason striking me as rather, well, rational and pedestian, I prefer the finest encapsulation of faith ever recorded:

What is faith? It is that which gives substance to our hopes, which convinces us of things we cannot see.
Hebrews 11:1 Knox Translation

3 Likes

This isnt true. Reason can only lead one to the Good, which is God. Marxism, ie an ideology colored by atheist hegelianism, is fundamentally incoherent in its worldview and as such cannot be arrived at through reason.

This however is true. Faith without reason is a dead thing.

One correction to begin with, charity is considered the highest virtue not faith.

As for knowledge of God, obviously we need some knowledge to approach him but certainly not full as this is impossible to any creature. The initial amount is possible to obtain using natural reason thus at this level you do not need faith, however those truths (such as God exist) are also truths of faith, so people unable to reach them can still bealieve in them. However at some point we have truths which are inaccesible in our fallen state using reasoning, those truths have to be accesed through faith.
As far as I understand you are saying that God should not accept such state of affairs.

However taking truths of faith “on faith” is not ignorance (at most ignorance of the way of the approach), we are granted supernatural knowledge of truths. This is not so different from relying on the authority of for example scientists. We do not describe as ignorants peaple who, despite lack of understanding of all the mathematical proofs and experimental tests have general knowledge of advances of sciences. On the other hand we tend to call that ones who discard this knowledge becouse they distrust methods used by specialists to obtain it.

Thus I think you are overstating gravity of the problem. Of course in a sense you can say that it is not an ideal situation, that we need to recourse to faith due to weakness of our minds, but we are in general in situation which is far from ideal. Presumably in the unfallen state this gap would not appear. In beatific vision the distinction between natural reasoning and supernatural poured knowledge disappears altogether - I guess.

Furthermore I think that there are many things which are more detestable to God in ourselves than lack of knowledge (lack of charity to begin with).

One more thing. Faith as a virtue is not considered only in the moment when we understand some truths in its light but even more when we have to guard those truths (or even other ones obtained by reasoning) while we are tempted to dissent from them. So properly understood faith in everyday struggles do not appear as faith vs. reason but rather as faith and reason vs. world, flesh and devil.

2 Likes

This is an awkward phrase. Most Western folks today are going to understand reason to be a power of cognition. It is a tool that we use to move our minds from the known to the unknown. All men are mortal. Socrates is a man. Therefore…

That is to say, powers of reason extend our knowledge. But there are other epistemic categories (outside of reason) for how we come to know things. At a minimum, these would be perception, introspection and testimony. All of these serve as sources of knowledge. For example, whenever I claim to know anything about an event that I didn’t perceive, such knowledge would be grounded in testimony.

The tradition of St Thomas Aquinas identifies God with existence itself. That is, in the Being of God, existence and essence are one and the same—they are united in a way that no other being could claim. For all beings that exist in the universe, it is not of their very essences that they exist. They could exist. They could not exist. They come in to being. They cease to be…

Quite right. This is the mystery that Plato spoke eloquently of—that knowledge may be properly thought of as some form of recollection. That is, it would seem to be the case that one must have a latent idea of a thing before one’s mind could properly identify with any new thing that one encounters.

Why not beauty or goodness as proper avenues of communing with the Divine? What makes truth a higher transcendental than the good or the beautiful?

Another fairly awkward phrase, I hope you’ll forgive me for saying so. But what religious person defines faith in this way? Surely, you are aware that saints Augustine, Anselm, Thomas Aquinas and Bonaventure all affirmed that one can know quite a bit about God via reason (Including that He exists and exists in a certain way). How about theologian Paul Tillich’s definition of faith—“the state of being ultimately concerned“? That’s probably a more accurate working definition than the one you’ve suggested.

But there seems to be a larger point here. And it is that there is an element of faith in pretty much everything that you would claim to know because of the possibility and pervasiveness of human error. The list of truths which are actually undeniable is a very short list. Philosophers and theologians would differ on how long that list is, but it is definitely short. It’s not easy to pin down just how it is that a belief becomes knowledge for us. We all hold very many beliefs. And we all think that we know quite a bit as well. But much of our knowledge is grounded in testimony, which inherently has an element of trust within it.

The gift of God is necessary first. Grace surpasses the being, powers, and claims of created nature and enlightens the mind or strengthens the will to perform supernatural actions.

Matthew 11

25 At that time Jesus answered and said: I confess to thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to the little ones. 26 Yea, Father; for so hath it seemed good in thy sight. 27 All things are delivered to me by my Father. And no one knoweth the Son, but the Father: neither doth any one know the Father, but the Son, and he to whom it shall please the Son to reveal him.

Hebrews 11

1 Now faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not. 2 For by this the ancients obtained a testimony.

It is different. Assuming you’re talking about mechanical processes and not wacky new physics cosmologies, the evidence of the truth is there for anyone who cares to see it. Catholic faith is belief in what you cannot know. Also, blind trust in “specialists” is just stupid, you shouldn’t get in the habit of it.

How do you know that? Only through faith, I think.

1 Like

Its all the same thing. Beauty is Truth, etc.

Talk about an “awkward phrase”. My definition is more accurate, no matter how embarassing it may be for modern theologians.

I reject the idea that one ultimately cant know anything. this is poisonous thinking, and I think catholics wiggle into this position in bad faith.

We can know quite a solid bit of information aftually. We can know the existence of Transcendent Being, the Good, the forms, the immortality of the soul, the world as creation, the virtuous life, etc. None of this requires faith.

Does arithmetic require faith? Knowledge of transcendent being is on the same level.

No, it isn’t.

2 Likes

Meh, only within the Being of God could they be thought of as the same. But for our purposes here, the concepts of truth, goodness and beauty are not univocal concepts. So we do not mean the same things by those concepts. Plato did not. And you and I do not.

The definition that I offered came from a renowned and prominent theologian. Where did your definition of faith come from?

I have no idea what you’re talking about here. I never made such a claim. What I was implying is that faith is intrinsic to testimonially-grounded beliefs, which are the types of beliefs that form the great majority of everything that you think you know about history or science or current events.

Looks like you are conflating your various beliefs with knowledge. None of what you mention above is actually undeniable. Atheists exist, so obviously the existence of the transcendent being is deniable. Aquinas argued that there is a distinction between that which is self evident in itself and that which is self evident to us. One could claim that the existence of God is self evident in itself though not to us. It may be a very well justified belief, but it remains a belief.

Platonists are not in full agreement on the list of the forms. They are also not in full agreement with each other on what is “the good.” To say nothing of going beyond platonists and looking for concurrence among all humans in these categories. Fundamentally, you are describing beliefs and merely asserting them as knowledge.

1 Like

:roll_eyes: “wrong people exist, therefore how could anyone be right? Blind people exist, how could anyone see?” If you think that transcendent being can be rationallly denied or that atheism isnt obviously and utterly incoherent, we really can’t discuss anything.

These are beliefs, which are lower than actual knowledge. Why would the church couch the foundation of its relationship with God on a lower form of “truth” (if you can call it that)?

Certainly arithmetic does require faith, as every mathematician knows. Arithmetic is based on Peano axioms, and axioms are undemonstrable and somehow accepted “by faith” (according to your definition of “faith”, which is not the meaning I give to the word faith). Without Peano axioms you cannot prove the basic properties of arithmetic.
You are overvaluing reason.
Certainly reason can prove the reasonableness of the truths of faith, but it cannot replace faith, which represents our inner acceptance of the Truth and our absolute commitment to the Truth.

Most importantly, reason can know only concepts, and God is not a concept; God is a living Being and we can know Him only meeting Him. The god of philosophers is only a concept and it’s not the true God.
By the way, reason can neither allow to know a human being, because a person is not reducible to a concept.

The possible follows from the actual, necessarily. Not a few professional philosophers have written books on atheism in the 20th century. And most theists who try to contend with these works do not argue that their atheological positions are “obviously and utterly incoherent.” I think the reasons for belief in God far outstrip the reasons for lack of belief. But, as already noted, there is a distinction between something being self evident in itself and self evident to everyone.

That-something-exists is self evident to everyone. That-thinking-is-occurring is self evident to everyone. Beyond those two propositions, you are going to be hard-pressed to find 100% unanimity among the human race.

So far you have merely asserted that the above counts as knowledge (and not mere belief). Feel free to offer arguments that move your beliefs in these things into the area of knowledge. Unless you do so, the rest of us will remain perfectly justified in ascribing to you these various things (the forms, immortality…) as your own beliefs.

So disingenuous.

God is not a being; God is not any thing. God is pure actuality, and to think of him as an emotive or changeable person is blasphemous.

Lol, if you give credence to any philosophical system from nominalism on, you might not have the capacity to discuss actual reason.

I didn’t make this thread to teach metaphysics 101, read about it on your own.

What?

I never meant anything like that.

God’s existence can be known by reason alone, but Divine Revelation requires faith. Not all things given by God can be reasoned to, but it can be reasonable to have faith in them. One should seek a reasonable faith.

How do you know (not believe) what is divine revelation? Again, such blind faith seems insulting to God who is logos.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.