The bulk of my reading this summer has been to revisit previous readings that address the relationship of religious faith and philosophical reason, a subject that has challenged me for some time. Saint Augustine said that we must believe before we can understand and I have over the years sought out sources that can expand for me that relationship, for I admit that my natural inclination has been in the opposite direction–I tend to want to understand in order to believe. But I also appreciate that there is a relationship between faith or belief and reason or understanding that is fundamental.
For me, the place to start is with the 1998 encyclical letter Fides et Ratio on the relationship between faith and reason addressed to the Bishops of the Catholic Church by Pope John Paul II, which I re-read as the most instructive resource on the subject, for John Paul was not only a brilliant theologian, but also a master of philosophy, which he definitively believed has a complementary role to play in the development of the faith. In fact, as his successor Benedict XVI said, the rigor of philosophical reason purifies religion because it prevents religious faith from succumbing to superstition, and I might add anti-intellectualism.
If you have further interest in this subject, I recommend these additional readings that elaborate on various aspects of faith and reason studies:
- God, Philosophy, Universities: A Selective History of the Catholic Philosophical Tradition, by Alasdair MacIntyre
- The Regensburg Lecture, by James V. Schall, including the famous 2006 lecture by Pope Benedict XVI and analysis.
- Faith, Reason, and the War Against Jihadism, by George Weigel
- Leo Strauss and the Theologico-Political Problem, by Heinrich Meier
- Reason in Religion, Vol. Three of “The Life of Reason”, by George Santayana