Saturday, July 19, 2008

Fides et Ratio: Part I

The questions boils down to this: Is all belief mere opinion? Even more basic: Is there Truth?

It would be telling to see how Catholic and Protestant laity would answer the question. In a secular society that has only two holy words - Ego and Tolerance - 'Yes' is an incredulous and an audacious answer. Such an answer is blasphemy agaist the two holy words.

Truth for the Ego is enveloped and limited to the experiential - there is nothing past the phenomenological. Or in another way: there can be no metaphysics because there is nothing 'beyond' or 'past' physics. Personal experience is the irrefutable grounds of knowledge. So, meaning is made, not destined.

Tolerance is the natural disposition that follows from such a construction of Truth. It is atomized to the point that it is individualized. Universalism is only in particularity. The vicissitudes of life and myriad of cultures necessarily force each person to live a unique life. As each experience is different than so too is each conception of Truth. Overtime, people accept that Truth is nothing more than personal experience. Truth is amber-hardened opinion. The great motto of society becomes: We can agree to disagree.

This current malaise of secular culture that sees Truth as either dangerous, irrelevant, or relative is something to be regretted.

Though not all see Truth in such sinister and cynical ways. Radical Orthodoxy and Catholicism are both more than happy to say with conviction that the Word is Truth.

Pope John Paul II's Encyclical, "Fides and Ratio" (Faith and Reason) tried so show how the theological tradition of Scholasticism can correct current Christian relativism and cynicism. It opens with a beautiful line:
Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves (cf. Ex 33:18; Ps 27:8-9; 63:2-3; Jn 14:8; 1 Jn 3:2).

In my next post I'll discuss how the encyclical and Aquinas can help re-invigorate Christian belief, evangelism, and community, and most importantly move the Body of Christ past the debilitating stance that Truth is relative.

1 comment:

beninpalestine said...

So, would you agree with Dante that non-christian philosophers end up in limbo (or the first layer of hell), because although they know a part of the truth through their reason, they did not have the appropriate faith?