Faith & Reason

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Reading St. John Paul II’s Fides et Ratio—Like a Mother

Pope St. John Paul II’s encyclical Fides et Ratio was given in 1998 to address the relationship between faith and reason. The purpose of reading an encyclical is, in my opinion, to work it into your life, and at this point, everything goes through my mommy-lens. If you struggle with philosophical language, as I do, try first reading the work straight through and writing a short summary of what struck you most after [...]

"Raising of Jairus' Daughter" (detail) by Ilya Repin"Raising of Jairus' Daughter" (detail) by Ilya Repin

Too Enlightened To Believe?

In the days when states of the United States were still “the colonies” and men wore powdered wigs, a new way of thinking captured the intelligentsia of the western world. “The miracle stories in the Bible and the lives of the saints may be quaint, entertaining, and even have symbolic meaning. But certainly we should not take them literally! Oh, [...]

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The Mindless Flapping Leaf

Every springtime when the leaves reappear, I remember something profound I once said. I was a doctoral candidate at Penn State University, and our research group was dining outside on pizza and Corona® at our Friday afternoon spot. I wondered aloud, “Do you think people know how dumb we really are?” Off-the-record, of course. One of our projects was to artificially simulate photosynthesis. The contrast [...]

"King David in Prayer" by Pieter de Grebber"King David in Prayer" by Pieter de Grebber

Lesson One in Prayer

Let’s get very, very basic and very, very practical about prayer. The single most important piece of advice I know about prayer is also the simplest: Just do it! How to do it is less important than just doing it. Less-than-perfect prayer is infinitely better than no prayer; more perfect prayer is only finitely better than less perfect prayer. Nancy Reagan was criticized [...]

Creation of Adam (detail) by MichaelangeloCreation of Adam (detail) by Michaelangelo

Can Human Free Will and Divine Predestination Both be True?

If God is not love but only knowledge, then it is difficult or impossible to see how human free will and divine predestination can both be true. But if God is love, there is a way. Freedom and predestination is one of the most frequently asked questions among my students—partly because of modern man’s great concern for freedom, but also, [...]

Creation of Adam (detail) by MichaelangeloCreation of Adam (detail) by Michaelangelo

Identity – What We Do Changes Who We Are

This thing about identity – there’s more here than meets the eye, more here than most psychologists talk about, more here than we can understand, and what I’m going to present is more questions than answers. But I think it’s a profound point, so I’ll say it. This point that our very selfhood is by nature unstable and in question, [...]

Fr. Robert BarronFr. Robert Barron

Why Faith is Indeed a Light

In “new” atheist and secularist circles today, faith is regularly ridiculed. It is presented as pre-scientific mumbo jumbo, Bronze Age credulity, the surrender of the intellect, unwarranted submission to authority, etc. Time and again, the late Christopher Hitchens, echoing Immanuel Kant, called on people to be intellectually responsible, to think for themselves, to dare to know. This coming of age would [...]

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But Don’t You Impose Your Morality on Me!

When teaching about virtues and the moral life, I often think of a discussion I had with a college friend. He was taking an ethics class with a professor who promoted moral relativism – the notion that there is no objective moral truth, no right or wrong. According to a relativist, all truth claims are subjective, merely reflecting one’s own [...]

Creation of Adam (detail) by MichaelangeloCreation of Adam (detail) by Michaelangelo

How can a loving God allow his beloved creature, made in his own image, to die?

God is Love! This is the most glorious and welcomed notion in all of Christian theology. Man must die! This is the most vexing and most unwelcomed realization in the domain of human existence. How can a loving God allow his beloved creature, made in his own image, to die? This is the central paradox of existential theology — and [...]