Faith and Reason

Promoting the Grandeur of Reason

"The main issue now is to promote rather than to humble reason.  Religious thought will not so much have to defend itself against philosophical (critical) reason, as at the time of the Enlightenment, as it will have to defend philosophical (ontological) reason both against sheer irrationalism or a metaphysics of despair and such ultimate fruits of rationalism as pseudo-scientific positivism and dialectical materialism."

-- Jacques Maritain, "A New Approach to God" (The Range of Reason, p.94)

Don't Use a Broken Instrument

F. X. Maquart, "De la causalité du signe: Réflexions sur la valeur philosophique d'une explication théologique."  Revue Thomiste 32 (1927): 40-60.  (My translation.)

"Divine in its principles, sacred theology remains human in its methods.  It makes use of reasoning just as the exclusively natural sciences do.  It even uses these latter sciences as instruments.  In particular, metaphysics is its normal servant—it has its place marked on each one of theology's pages.  Indeed, theology is addressed to men, and it therefore must speak to them in a human manner.  With the assistance of this instrument, made to its measure, our mind endeavors to penetrate (however little that it can, in a manner that is wholly deficient and analogical) into the inner mystery of dogmas, which will ever evade being fully understood while we live in this world.

Still, it is the case that these theological explanations, however imperfect one may suppose them to be, cannot be just anything whatsoever.  It is necessary that they have a solid base, and only a true philosophy can give them such a solid base.  Given that a theological explanation has its value only by the rational principles upon which it is based, the examination of this value must therefore look fully into the explanation's philosophical supports."  (40)