Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος.
In the beginning was Reason*, and Reason was with God, and Reason was God. (John 1:1)
I post this correct translation of the verse because I have had some odd runs ins with atheists and fanatical Christians lately (and in one really bizarre case someone who seemed to be both at the same time, yes I think that person was just a bit mentally unhinged) who seems to think that reason and faith in God somehow completely incompatible.
This is silly.
This is an embrace of the preposterous ancient concept of “I believe because it absurd .” That faith, and by extension God, are opposed to and not limited by reason.
Now while there may be some people who feel this way, no sane religion I can think of takes this position. From St. Thomas Aquinas in Summa Contra Gentiles to Krishna in the Bhagavad –Gita to even being implicit in the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle, and obviously in the quote above, faith and reason are not portrayed as opposing ideas but rather as ideas that fit together perfectly.
Yes there are points where reason due to lack of knowledge and information can’t go beyond and that is why we need faith to go beyond it. And there are places where reason might suggest a certain conclusion, but because our faith disagrees with this point we are forced to revisit the line of logic to find that we missed something. And there must be times when reason commands that we put away some foolish ideas we previously held on faith. But correct faith and reason always point to the Truth and are never truly opposed. And anyone who thinks that they are by nature opposed doesn’t know anything.
Granted if faith says one thing and reason another you do need to find out if your reason is bad or if you misunderstand the point of faith, but never should they be opposed when both done correctly.
But God is ultimate reason, there is no possible reason why God, and the faith that believes in him, should conflict with reason. And he gave you a brain and the free will to use it…I doubt that was simply to submit to illogic. Faith may be needed to buffer us through some of the hard parts, but it doesn’t conflict with reason. And reason doesn’t conflict with faith when they both point to the truth.
So for the next couple of weeks I would like you to consider what you believe because of reason and because of faith. Find the contradictions, work through them. And if you simply want a mantra to begin and end these meditations with may I suggest:
*Some will likely dispute this translation…but if you translated any other philosophical work from the time period λόγος (logos) would be translated as Reason or Logic. Now in the NeoPlatonic belief system this word is jammed full of a lot of meaning and quite a bit of mysticism, but first and foremost it does mean Reason.