The reasonableness of Catholic teachings (Edited title)

Hi!
I have been told that Catholic teachings are very much philosophical (being reasonable). One often hear that human reason (ratio id the Latin term) can prove that all the Catholic teachings on morality are true. Now, if this is true we must have dumb people who does not understand human reason (they’re being non-rational). And I don’t think people are dumb. So how do you prove that the Catholic teachings are reasonable?

Some teachings, such as on the Trinity and salvation, are revealed by God and not attainable by reason alone. The teachings on morality are attainable, in theory, by reason alone because the right course of action, to do good and to avoid doing evil, is always reasonable. But fallen sinners have difficulty discerning good from evil in every circumstance. So we need Divine Revelation and the guidance of the Church to understand right from wrong more clearly and with greater certitude.

I don’t think this is true. Our conscience is not properly formed, our intellect is darkened, and we are weak in matters of faith.

All Catholic Doctrine and Dogma comes directly from God. Jesus said He would send the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth, and He did.

John 16:13
"I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13"But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14"He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.…

But most people will be tempted by their improperly formed conscience, that the Devil does know about, to commit the sin of heresy. If we use our own reason, and don’t trust in God and what He revealed to His Church, our conclusions will be evil. Such as “I believe everything the Church teaches except a couple of things…” is a common statement. Most of those people are completely unaware that they are committing a grave sin called heresy because politically correct people want to ban us from keeping the 1st Commandment and calling it heresy.

From the Catechism on the first Commandment:
2087 Our moral life has its source in faith in God who reveals his love to us. St. Paul speaks of the "obedience of faith"9 as our first obligation. **He shows that “ignorance of God” is the principle and explanation of all moral deviations.**10 Our duty toward God is to believe in him and to bear witness to him.

2088 The first commandment requires us to nourish and protect our faith with prudence and vigilance, and to reject everything that is opposed to it. There are various ways of sinning against faith:

Voluntary doubt about the faith disregards or refuses to hold as true what God has revealed and the Church proposes for belief. Involuntary doubt refers to hesitation in believing, difficulty in overcoming objections connected with the faith, or also anxiety aroused by its obscurity. If deliberately cultivated doubt can lead to spiritual blindness.

2089 Incredulity is the neglect of revealed truth or the willful refusal to assent to it. "Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him."11

If human reason were able to attain moral truth in itself, apart from God’s grace, God’s Word would have said the opposite of what it does say:

Hosea 4:6
6My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. 7The more they multiplied, the more they sinned against Me; I will change their glory into shame.…

I think this passage should be taught every day from the first day of seminary.

We need our priests to teach the masses what God taught His Church, instead of compromising with the world and trying to be politically correct and not “offend” people. Why? They are trying to attain moral truth without God. They need to humble themselves and acknowledge that this is impossible without God if they are to be saved. They are offended not because they should be, no one sinned against them, but instead because they are proud.

It is Catholic doctrine that the whole moral law is accessible to reason alone, without Divine Revelation:

CCC 1954 ff: The natural law expresses the original moral sense which enables man to discern by reason the good and the evil, the truth and the lie. The natural law is written and engraved in the soul of each and every man, because it is human reason ordaining him to do good and forbidding him to sin . . .

Humani Generis 2-3: For though, absolutely speaking, human reason by its own natural force and light can arrive at a true and certain knowledge of the one personal God, Who by His providence watches over and governs the world, and also of the natural law, which the Creator has written in our hearts, still there are not a few obstacles to prevent reason from making efficient and fruitful use of its natural ability.

The Church also teaches that we can know that God exists by the light of human reason alone (Vatican I, Dei Filius)

I was wrong. I’m not very smart. Please help me with this.

I was thinking that the consequences of the Fall caused us to have an improperly formed conscience apart from God’s grace. He did write His Law into all of our hearts, but if you look at ANYONE outside of the Church - their conscience is corrupted. Their conscience tells them that things that are good are evil and things that are evil are good.

Someone help. This doesn’t make sense.

So from my understanding, it is possible for someone to have a properly formed conscience apart from God’s grace, using the use of their own ability to reason.

You know what I think I might know the answer. Is this correct? It is sin. If we never sinned we could have a properly formed conscience apart from God’s grace using reason alone. But sin corrupts our conscience and distorts our ability to reason? So while the ability to use reason to come to the correct answers is there, it doesn’t happen because of sin and we need grace from God to overcome the sin and have a properly formed conscience?

I think there is something I am missing. Does anyone know the answer?

I have another question.

Is it possible to use reason to come to knowledge of moral truth, and then still have a corrupt conscience because of sin at the same time? Like someone’s pride overrides their reason and they believe the lie intentionally, and any time someone argues against it they make arguments for it out of pride? So they had full knowledge of the moral truth and then rejected it because of pride.

But pride is a sin itself. If pride causes that, and pride can not be overcome without God’s grace… Wait it is possible for someone to humble themselves apart from God’s grace though, isn’t it? Yes I think it is.

Can someone help me with this?

Can someone humble themselves apart from God’s grace?

St. Thomas taught that Adam and Eve, before the Fall, could not be mistaken in their use of reason. Since their minds and hearts were unaffected by original sin, concupiscence, personal sins, a sinful society, they had full use of right reason. So they would be capable of understanding the whole moral law without error.

Conscience is not a separate faculty. It is nothing other than the use of free will and reason to seek and find moral truths and apply them in one’s life. Conscience is not per se corrupted. But since we are fallen sinners, our use of free will and reason is at best imperfect.

Adam and Eve needed grace even before the Fall. So sin is not the sole cause of our need for grace. We would need grace even if we were unfallen, like Mary.

How can we find moral truth, despite being fallen sinners? By Divine Revelation (Tradition and Scripture) and guided by the Magisterium. By cooperation with grace through prayer, self-denial, works of mercy, and the Sacraments.

It is possible to err in a moral matter with invincible ignorance. A person can sincerely use reason and free will to seek moral truth, and err to some extent without sin, because our fallen nature has difficulty finding moral truth.

“Wait it is possible for someone to humble themselves apart from God’s grace though, isn’t it? Yes I think it is.”
No, absolutely not. Humility is found in cooperation with grace. You should also read up on the difference between prevenient grace and subsequent grace. God gives us grace prior to any possibility of cooperation (prevenient), and then subsequently we may cooperate with other graces.

Like Ron said, it’s not that people are dumb, it is that we are fallen. Original sin and concupiscence affects our rational soul and often makes it clouded by our disordered passions and appetites.

Live a life of peace and joy.

People will be attracted to you like moths to a flame, and will ask how you do it. Then you can reply, “I have Jesus and the sacraments.”

-Tim-

Perhaps this paragraph from Gaudium et Spes will help.16. In the depths of his conscience, man detects a law which he does not impose upon himself, but which holds him to obedience. **Always summoning him to love good and avoid evil, the voice of conscience when necessary speaks to his heart: do this, shun that. **For man has in his heart a law written by God; to obey it is the very dignity of man; according to it he will be judged.(9) Conscience is the most secret core and sanctuary of a man. There he is alone with God, Whose voice echoes in his depths. In a wonderful manner conscience reveals that law which is fulfilled by love of God and neighbor. In fidelity to conscience, Christians are joined with the rest of men in the search for truth, and for the genuine solution to the numerous problems which arise in the life of individuals from social relationships. Hence the more right conscience holds sway, the more persons and groups turn aside from blind choice and strive to be guided by the objective norms of morality. Conscience frequently errs from invincible ignorance without losing its dignity. The same cannot be said for a man who cares but little for truth and goodness, or for a conscience which by degrees grows practically sightless as a result of habitual sin.
vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19651207_gaudium-et-spes_en.html See also the Catechism section on "Moral Conscience #1776-1802
vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P5Y.HTM

So from my understanding, it is possible for someone to have a properly formed conscience apart from God’s grace, using the use of their own ability to reason.

Well, not quite. It would be God’s grace working in our intellect that helps us reason correctly.
(All that is good comes from God’s grace. It is only through God’s grace that we exist and continue to exist at each moment.)

You know what I think I might know the answer. Is this correct? It is sin. If we never sinned we could have a properly formed conscience apart from God’s grace using reason alone. But sin corrupts our conscience and distorts our ability to reason? So while the ability to use reason to come to the correct answers is there, it doesn’t happen because of sin and we need grace from God to overcome the sin and have a properly formed conscience?

I think there is something I am missing. Does anyone know the answer?

Conscience is more the law or desire to “do good and avoid evil” - which God places in all souls. But to do that, we need to know which acts are good and which are evil. That’s where the intellect comes in. Unfortunately, due to the effects of original sin, our intellects/reasoning can err. (“Man’s capacity to know the truth is also darkened, and his will to submit to it is weakened.”
*Veritatis Splendor *by Pope John Paul II)
Thus we need the help of Scripture and Church teaching to learn/know which acts are good and which are evil. Then our conscience can apply this knowledge in particular situations so our will can choose the proper course of action.

Really?

What is your answer, then, to things like this:

https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSBdssNQ1bfeDSGpectQcsSb82Pg2yFE9qRQn30SJ9jdsyQwWecBg

These folks looked at the evidence too.

I agree with most replies already. People are not dumb. They are often prejudiced and bigoted however. They have first principles that preclude the possibility of giving the teachings of the Catholic Church a fair hearing.

Because people are going to accept or reject a given argument based on their first principles, there is no way to “prove” the reasonableness of Catholic teachings. Instead, it is necessary to discern what first principles are at work with someone who rejects Catholic teachings. Then it becomes necessary to question those first principles. Keep in mind that A first principle is a basic, foundational proposition or assumption that cannot be deduced from any other proposition or assumption. Therefore it come down to a pure basic assumption. E.g.: the Catholic Church is the anti-Christ. Therefore everything she says is a lie.

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