Friday, January 12, 2007

The God of Reason

Christians, and particularly Catholics, believe in a God of reason, as opposed to a God of pure will without reason. We are to submit ourselves to God's will, but his will and reason are perfectly aligned. This doctrine is very beneficial to our religion as a whole, because it allows for thing such as justice and peace on Earth. In this short essay, I will briefly describe why this is the case.

As Catholics, we believe there are two sources of information from which a person can live his life. The first is natural law, or reason, which is within all people. The other is revealed truth, which is truth given to us by God, in various forms, including the Bible, the Church, the teachers of the church or Magisterium, which includes the Pope, Bishops, etc., as well as information obtained from ecumenical councils, and similar meetings.

Revealed truths cannot necessarily be ascertained through reason alone. It is important to understand also that revealed truth does not contradict reason, for they both contain truth.

Believing God to be the God of reason is important in how we live our lives. Believing that we can know things through our own minds is very important. This allows us to explore nature and discover scientific information and come to conclusions about nature. It allows us to know whether something is just or unjust, as well as how to treat one another. Many horrible things have been done in the name of religion, and sometimes these things have been done by people who have rejected reason. They do things in the "name of religion", as if religion was commanding them to behave in a certain way, despite how they personally felt about it. They may say they were opposed to it personally, but had to become somehow God had commanded them to do this. This is sort of like suicide bombers. Obviously, it goes against reason to be a suicide bomber for two reasons. First of all, we should not desire to kill ourselves, and secondly because we should not desire to kill others, especially innocent people. Reason would caution us against doing such a thing, whereas someone might look in the Bible or other holy book and based on their own personal interpretation think that God requires this action from us, even though it makes no moral sense. God is ultimately just, and would not want us to commit an unjust and immoral act, such as killing innocent people.

As an example of the negative impact of denying reason, we can look to Muslim Extremists, who promote such things as suicide bombings, etc. They reject reason, saying the only thing they can really know is God's pure will, which they say is impossible to understand, therefore should not be questioned at all or even understood. This position can lead to some very dangerous acts. People stop questioning whether something is right or wrong and instead rely on others to tell them what to do. They blindly commit crimes against humanity, without listening to their own reason. This point of view has lead to many problems, especially in the Muslim world. Around a thousand years ago, the Muslim world was flourishing with many discovers in science, the arts, mathematics, and other areas. This was possible because God was viewed as the essence of reason, and it was believed that humanity could possess reason as well. This knew that humans could know things such as science, math, arts, etc. In fact, Muslims, in many ways, especially the sciences were more advanced than Christianity. St. Mark's Cathedral was constructed mostly by Muslims nearly 1,000 years ago in Venice. I will discuss this in another blog posting.

This opinion and way of life however was conquered by Muslims who felt that we as humans could know nothing except the will of God, which might seem pleasant or scary for humans, but which only made sense to God. By abandoning reason, they essentially abandoned God's gift of understanding and violence took over.

Many evils in the world could be prevented if people used the reason God gave them. Deep down, I believe everyone knows that killing unborn children is wrong, for example. I will discuss this topic further in another blog, but I think people have abandoned their reason on this topic, and their own human ability to understand good from evil. We must all be careful to use reason when making decisions. Pray that God may impart true reason and love into our minds and hearts so that we may always do what the God of Reason and Loves wants of us.

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