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There is no competition between faith and reason, says cardinal

By on Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Cardinal Turkson at Blackfriars, Oxford, after delivering the Cardinal John Henry Newman lecture. Photo: Br Lawrence Lew, OP

Cardinal Turkson at Blackfriars, Oxford, after delivering the Cardinal John Henry Newman lecture. Photo: Br Lawrence Lew, OP

Faith and reason are in harmony and are not in competition, Cardinal Peter Turkson has said at the annual Cardinal John Henry Newman Lecture at St John’s College, Oxford.

Speaking at the event, which was sponsored by The Catholic Herald, Cardinal Turkson, the head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, cited Tony Blair’s statement that “we cannot try to run the world without understanding what touches people’s hearts”.

“Man has made progress in the technical sciences. Man has had noteworthy success in the domain of the material world,” he said. “A being who asks questions and searches for the truth also lives by faith. The fact that human reason cannot grasp every reality does not imply the non-existence of such a reality. It would be absurd for a physicist to deny the existence of psychic phenomena, just because they could not be observed by the methodology of physics. Observing this requires a different methodology.

“The truth of faith cannot be opposed to the truth of reason, but neither can truth be arrived at by reason alone. Faith and reason are attracted to each other. There is a harmony between the two. There is therefore no competition between reason and faith. The service of faith and reason in public life is the establishment of truth.”

The cardinal also spoke about the need for religion, saying: “A coercive external system is not enough for the creation of a good society. There needs to be an internalisation.”

The cardinal, who was recently in the Ivory Coast brokering peace, also paid tribute to the crowds who came to see Pope Benedict XVI in Britain last September, and praised the Hyde Park crowd for its support for the Church’s anti-poverty pledge.

  • In Our Times

    Except that many behaviours performed in the name of Faith, (capital F) by the “Faithful”, appear beyond Reason & contradict logic completely. One of the many benefits of relativism is that many people have faithful conviction that Catholicism is simply “getting it wrong” & their rationale is perfectly sound. 

  • In Our Times

    Also, “Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace” & “Tony Blair” in the same sentence? It’s a wind-up surely. I’m just being gullible, obviously. D’oh.

  • Parasum

    “Faith and reason are in harmony and are not in competition, Cardinal
    Peter Turkson has said at the annual Cardinal John Henry Newman Lecture
    at St John’s College, Oxford.”

    Depends what he means. St.Paul, who was no mean theologian, might not agree: “The wisdom of this world/age is foolishness with God”. The Apologists have great fun knocking the stuffing out of pre-Christian philosophy – not that that was difficult. St.Peter was very “reasonable” in trying to persuade Jesus not to be crucified – only to be called “Satan” for his pains.

  • patrick

    I don’t think the cardinal said that every action performed by a faithful person was reasonable or logical.

    Yes, relativism is convenient in that you can simply believe whatever you want to, since it’s all relative anyway. It’s more difficult to attempt to establish something objectively, and requires some faith.

  • In Our Times

    Indeed. But when establishing something objectively (for instance, hammering out what might constitute a “just war”) the consequences/ramifications can be enormous & involve great suffering & destruction. Sometimes it’s too easy to hide behind the particular belief systems of individual “faiths” or religions.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not sure what you mean by “hide behind.” How is believing something hiding? In my view, it’s quite the opposite, faith is taking responsibility, and accepting the fact that ideas have consequences. Often it’s necessary to make decisions without having completely conclusive scientific knowledge of the situation, although that is certainly helpful and welcome.

    It is the relativists who hide behind words like “tolerance” and “diversity” in order to impose their stunted epistemology on everyone else.

  • Michelle Eves

     One only needs to understand the difference between the Anglican and Catholic Orthodox church as opposed to the roman church perceptions of it’s role in the justification of science and nature as simply power hugging.

    The Anglican and Orthodox church understanding of God’s world exhibits a much clearer and consistent understanding.

    The Anglican and Orthodox church understanding of God’s world exhibits a much clearer and consistent understanding.

     

  • In Our Times

    I guess it depends on what you believe precisely & how that belief affects your rational decision making processes. (Men are the makers of doctrine & dogma. “Papal infallibility” is an obvious case where individual moral decisions may have to be made, contrary to what one might believe). Faith can be blind. Accountability & responsibility are of course to be applauded across the board. ALL epistemology is limited & finite however. Anyone who pretends otherwise is quite simply lying & claiming to truths they cannot prove. Objective histories show clearly that ‘morality’ evolves also, within many systems & societies. 

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think the bishop was advocating blind faith, but rather what St. Augustine called “faith seeking understanding.” It’s true that some people’s faith is misplaced (particularly in political matters), however I don’t think that faith in God is of that type. On the other hand, some people it seems decide on a materialist worldview a priori. That is another form of faith, which is in my opinion blind, as well.

    It’s true that morality evolves, but so does science. We are always refining our understanding, and the best way to do that is to remain open to things that, given our limited viewpoint, may seem impossible at times.

  • RJ

    What exactly is “the” Anglican understanding? Is there one specific view? That seems unlikely.

  • sclerotic

    My human reason cannot grasp the notion of mermaids as I cannot see how they would procreate – so do I accept the existence of mermaids – or is the learned cardinal just arguing for the existence of poltergeist?

  • In Our Times

    I wouldn’t single out politics particularly. I personally find the ‘medicalised reduction’ of the human condition equally as worrying as the delicately interwoven hatred I find within documents of the Vatican. Both religion & science playing the part of God as Man. 
    I do understand completely what the bishop meant, but one look at some of the comments on this site will show you a vast range of contexts for the word ‘faith’.    
     
    I persoanlly have an absolute & unending faith in God & I would go as far as to say that I may not have survived thus far without it.  But this is in a God which is present within (& without) every being regardless of ideological position.  I have no reason however, to have absolute & unending faith in any middle-men, in any domain; other than on a case by case basis. To me, with my varied & sometimes extreme life experience (& with objective evidence before me); this is faith & reason working in harmony. I daresay, someone else will look at this approach & see inadequacies, which is fine.
     
    I do agree with the Cardinal that external systems are not enough to create a good society & that there needs to be an internalisation. But all the Catholic church can offer is a Catholic internalisation along with its specific theologies & archetypes, which is clearly an inadequate solution at present, for our multi-cultural/faith society as a whole.
     
    As the separation of church from state becomes an increasingly likely reality, it seems to me a great pity, that the likes of Francis William Newman et all, (John Henry Newman’s excellent younger brother, who took the Unitarian path); were not taken more seriously by the established church. And still to this day, it is common to belittle & cast-out Unitarians by the ‘Christian authorities’ simply because they are non-Trinitarian. The small Sunday services I attend, serve Free-Christians, Atheists, Buddhists & New Age therapists all in one ‘go’ & none of them are required to sacrifice their ‘identities’. Most are happy to use the word God.

    It’s a challenge for the Reverend to be sure, but it is optimistic, hopeful & ever flexible. To me this feels like a faithful & reasoned response to the very real facts of our fragmented & pluralistic society. Yes, of course we are always refining our understanding; however open-mindedness is a challenge that some people, across all platforms, are clearly just not up to.
     
    Soren Kierkegaard “Faith is the highest passion in a human being. Many in every generation may not come that far, but none comes further….”

    Thanks for the conversation. God Bless.

  • Thomas Poovathinkal

    HI MR. IN OUR TIMES,

    YOU SEEM TO BE SAYING  SOMETHING DIFFERENT, AND SOME OF THEM LOOK MEANINGFUL AND WORTH LISTENING. BUT THEN WHY ARE YOU HIDING YOUR FACE (NAME) LIKE A COWARD AS MANY OTHERS DO?

    THOMAS POOVATHINKAL

  • Anonymous

    IF ONE’S REASON (REASONING) AND LIFE ARE TRUTH-BASED, THEN IT  IS O.K.; SUCH A PERSON  OR GROUP OF PERSONS WILL SEEK OUT THE TRUE FAITH AND LIVE IT. AND THIS TRUE FAITH IS PRACTICALLY REVEALED IN THE “FRUITS” IT PRODUCES. OTHERWISE, IT IS ALL TALKS, RULES, REGULATIONS,  ARGUMENTS, DOGMAS AND RITUALS  BEING ACTED OUT TO KEEP THE PEOPLE OCCUPIED. SUCH PROVISIONS OF “THE LEARNED AND THE CLEVER” WILL NOT LAST LONG FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD AND ESPECIALLY THE YOUNG  WILL MAKE IT OUT FOR WHAT IT IS ALL WORTH.

  • Awakening

    There will be another crusade, one last holy war. The evil of faith, or the light of
    reason. Slumber, or awaken. Remain in the darkness, or lead a new dawn.

    When the time comes you’ll need to choose. You can remain a slave to the deranged torture gods, hastening the demise of humanity. Or you can end the ancient regime of the damned, beckoning humanity into a new age of enlightenment and benevolence. There can be no peaceful co-existence between faith and reason. Christianity in particularly has always been in direct conflict with rationalism. So, what do you want? To continue the dark age of oppression, or lead a new age of enlightenment? Will you let them to continue to masquerade the most abhorrent evils as the most benevolent good?

    Divinity may very well exist, reason acknowledges this. We don’t know for sure, and we don’t pretend to. We will continue searching for the actual truth. Christianity seems to think because reason cannot prove the existence of divinity at this instant that the claims made by the religion should be considered factual by default. The burden of proof lies with those who declared not those who denied; you want your fairytale to be considered real you better damn well prove it. The faithful refuse to accept the burden of proof, that should be enough to dismiss them entirely. Reason can’t understand divinity yet, but religion is an entirely different beast. Every mythology, religion, fairytale has been proven to be man-made fallacies. RELIGION IS NOT NECESSARY FOR GOD. Time for all to recognize this simple truth.

    The ability religion has to abuse, corrupt, and manipulate has been misused for far too long. The evil being imposed upon the whole of humanity has gone unquestioned too long. They’ve proven countless times such power has no place in their control. The danger of religion needs to be disarmed. Let them keep their ritualistic worship, but take away the privilege they have regarding the credibility of their claims. Religion is mythology, and mythology is fiction. It’s time to treat it so. After the last of the religious arsenal has been diffused the dark-ages can finally end.

    Reason is about understanding the true nature of existence. Faith is
    about substituting the truth with whatever they see fit. As Nietzsche
    said “Faith: not wanting to know what’s true.”

    Why do the religious condemn reason and advocate faith?
    1). Brainwashing. Innocent children are indoctrinated into the cult at birth, before they’re even old enough to think for themselves. Their malleable minds are warped into grotesque abominations. The belief system tortures them into following blindly, or burning in eternal hellfire. To question the cult leads to ridicule and even exile from the family.
    2). Ignorance. The faithful have no real understanding of their cult’s teachings. They know nothing of history, or choose to ignore it. They find it incomprehensible that their religion is capable of propagating evil. They are blind to the evils that faith advocates in society and individuals. They fear reason and science, making no attempt to truly understand it. They believe the most god-like virtue is irrationality and ignorance.

    Remain in the darkness, or lead a new dawn. The day of reckoning is inevitable. Judgement shall be passed, and damned be the guilty.

    ONLY THE WEAK WILL SUCCUMB, ONLY THE WEAK WILL ALLOW THEMSELVES TO BE
    DECEIVED. BREAK FREE FROM THE CHAINS THAT SHACKLE YOU TO THE DAMNED.