Faith and reason are in harmony and are not in competition, Cardinal Peter Turkson has said at a lecture in Oxford

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.