Faith vs. Reason


Credit: Adam Richins

Alum Anna Bachiochi ’20 lectors at her year’s Baccalaureate Mass.

In our culture, it is often thought that science is incompatible with religion. Because religion focuses on the unseen and untestable, it is assumed that one must choose whether they believe in science or God. If this is true, then why are there so many faith-practicing scientists? There must be something more than what can be seen on the outside.

Religion is the belief in a superhuman controlling power, which requires a certain amount of faith. This Power is not obvious. It cannot be seen, heard, or felt, and so people who do place their trust in this Being rely on faith for their conviction. Faith is believing something is real or true without testing it or seeing it yourself. 

It is not only useful for practicing religion as we also use faith in our everyday life. When we check the weather before we go outside, we are putting our faith in the meteorologists who generated the forecast. Whenever we learn anything, we are using faith to trust that what our teachers say is true. We didn’t witness the American Revolution, and we haven’t examined all the primary source documents to form our opinion on the sequence of events. We just listened to what our teacher said and believed it. We had faith that what she said was true; what religious people do is basically the same thing. They haven’t experienced God for themselves, but they believe that He exists and has power based on what other people say.

In Fides and Ratio, Saint Pope John Paul II said: “Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth.” Even though our culture places them as two opposites that must compromise, they are in fact two sides of the same coin. Each is used to understand the world around us, and each must be put into practice to live fully. If one only relied on reason for their information, they wouldn’t be able to get very far, as each claim would need to be tested and every theory proven. Nothing would get done if we only reasoned our way to things because we would be too busy thinking and proving things. We wouldn’t be able to actually do anything. Like engineers. They don’t sleep. They work. 

On the other hand, we cannot rely only on faith either. Faith helps us believe things we haven’t seen for ourselves, but someone has to do the seeing and knowing. Sometimes people say things that aren’t true and aren’t qualified. To believe them would be wrong because what they are saying is simply not true. Like all the conspiracy theories out there. I’m sorry, but the earth is not flat, and to put your faith in that is not valid. 

Faith and reason are the tools that a human uses to approach and understand the world. Side by side, they aid the intellect to comprehend the complicated reality we exist in. Today as you stress to understand chemistry’s wily concepts, remember that you don’t have to know everything. You can rely on a little faith to help you understand why you are learning about unseeable particles that change nothing about your daily life. Mrs. Baker will thank you.

Theresa Marcucci ‘23 and Emma Judge ‘22, Faith Editor and Contributing Writer,