In today’s modern western society, it has become increasingly popular to not identify with any religion, namely Christianity. The outlook that people have today on the existence of God and the role that He plays in our world has changed drastically since the Enlightenment Period. Many look solely to the concept of reason, or the phenomenon that allows human beings to use their senses to draw conclusions about the world around them, to try and understand the environment that they live in. However, there are some that look to faith, or the concept of believing in a higher power as the reason for our existence. Being that this is a fundamental issue for humanity, there have been many attempts to explain what role each concept plays. It is my belief that faith and reason are both needed to gain knowledge for three reasons: first, both concepts coexist with one another; second, each deals with separate realms of reality, and third, one without the other can lead to cases of extremism.
There have been many Catholic thinkers who have addressed this topic, most notably John Paul II in his 1998 encyclical Fides et Ratio, or Faith and Reason in English. In it, he attempted to point out that faith and reason are not opposed to each other and that faith does not contradict reason. Rather, they actually complement each other. This is clear from the very beginning of the encyclical, which states: “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 the desire to know the truth — in a word, to know himself — so that by knowing and loving God, men and women can come to the fullness of the truth about themselves. (FR 1).” Truth is discovered through the interaction of faith and reason together. Both are necessary to know God, reason alone cannot result in the ultimate truth.
There are a few scholars that share the same view as John Paul II, and explore the different ways that God can be present on a scientific platform. As scholar Arthur Peacocke says, the history of theology shows that its development is intimately related to the understanding of the natural, including the human, world that has prevailed at different periods. From a theologian’s own perspective, God himself has given the world the kind of being it has and it must be in some respects, to be ascertained, revelatory of God’s nature and purposes. Therefore, theology should seek to coincide with scientific perspectives on the natural world. Corresponding to this, the sciences should not be surprised if their perspectives are seen to be partial and incomplete and to raise questions not able to be answered from within their own realm of understanding, because there are other realities that are not apparent by the sciences as such” (Peacocke).
The concepts of faith and reason occupy separate realms of reality and believers in one or the other should not attempt to have domain in the other discipline. This is where...