Since today is the feast day commemorating St. Benedicta of the Cross, I’d like to post a short piece on her thoughts about faith and reason (it’s taken from Essay 2, “How We Believe; How Science Works,” from my web-book, “Truth Cannot Contradict Truth”—and please forgive the shameless self-promotion).
St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) explored the relationship between philosophy and theology, or equivalently, between faith and reason. In her work, Finite and Eternal Being, she proposed a hierarchy, that faith went beyond rational knowledge:
“Since the ultimate ground of all existence [alles Seienden] is unfathomable, everything which is seen in this ultimate perspective moves into that ‘dark light’ of faith, and everything intelligible is placed in a setting with an incomprehensible background.”
–St. Teresa Benedicta, “Finite and Eternal Being,” p.25
I’ll put this another way: the fundamental question we ask is “Why are we here?” Science might be able to say how our physical bodies came to be here, but science can’t answer the question: “Why did we come to be. Science would respond: “that question is meaningless, can’t be answered by scientific methods.” Only faith can give a satisfactory answer to that why question.
And thus the kibosh is put on the rational quest for faith. Grace prevails!
The priest in the homily today (9 August, the Feast Day commemorating St. Benedicta of the Cross) talked about her. An important point was her suffering and her name: in suffering we are each called to offer our suffering to participates with Christ’s.