Faith and Reason

Authored by Stratford Caldecott in Issue #33.1 of The Sower

A common view is that the acceptance of religious doctrine not only inhibits but even destroys the life of intelligence. The Christian faith involves undoubting belief in certain assertions for which reason cannot provide conclusive proof, but which are nevertheless taken as ruling principles of thought and action. A Catholic educational setting, as one that submits itself in this way to Catholic dogma and the teaching of the Church, is held to have exchanged the freedom of the mind for the security of unquestioned authority. Catholic education is sometimes thought therefore to be less free and the teaching offered of an inferior quality. This pervasive assumption is here challenged by Stratford Caldecot, who shows that it rests upon a faulty understanding of both faith and reason.

The Catholic faith is sometimes regarded by outsiders – and even by insiders! – as a kind of ideology, a system of ideas imposed and controlled by the clerical ‘thought-police’ in Rome. If this were true, if our faith or our Church were opposed to freedom and reason, then our places of Catholic education could be nothing more than indoctrination centres.

Of course, human nature being what it is since the Fall, we all have a tendency to turn faith into ideology. However, faith as understood by St. Augustine, St. Thomas, Blessed John Henry Newman, and the Second Vatican Council is not an ideology. Far from opposing, it actually fosters the development of reason and personal conscience.

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