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What Is the Real Relationship Between ‘Faith and Reason’?

By: Kate O'Hare on May 21st, 2020

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What Is the Real Relationship Between ‘Faith and Reason’?

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We hear again and again that faith and reason are incompatible. But, just because people say it doesn’t make it so – or at least not in the way they think.


The Catholic Church requires you to check your brain and abandon all logic at the door, right? Actually, no. In “Catholic Central: Faith and Reason,” Kai and Libby break down the different tools that the Church uses for finding different kinds of truth, and where Faith comes in.

Diving Deeper

  1. How are faith (philosophy/theology) and reason (science) like different tools for finding out different kinds of truth? Do faith and reason share a similar purpose?

  2. When Pope Leo XIII said, “Truth cannot contradict truth,” what did he mean? Is it possible for faith and science to arrive at different conclusions and both be correct?

  3. Superstition occurs when someone uses faith without reason. What are some examples of superstition?

  4. In Fides et Ratio, St. Pope John Paul II lists fundamental questions asked by every culture in every time in search of meaning: “Why is there evil? What is there after this life?” What are some other questions that science alone cannot answer?


Choose a Catholic scientist who has contributed significantly to their field and learn a little more about them. How were they motivated by both faith and reason in their pursuit of knowledge? You might consider: Julius Nieuwland, Mary Kenneth Keller, Louis Pasteur, Gregor Mendel, Georges LeMaitre, Blaise Pascal, Claude Bernard, Maria Agnesi or Georgius Agricola, among many others.

Reflection by Father Vince Kuna, C.S.C.

Most people these days, it seems, can’t distinguish between the empirical and the theological. There is a simple exercise you can do to reinforce this distinction. Watch a film or TV show. What are some factual (empirical) things can you state about it – for example, the running time, actors’ names, crew positions? What are some truth (theology) claims that you could argue? i.e. a main character resembles Christ (or not); faith subtext: unintended or intended.

About Kate O'Hare

Based in Los Angeles, Kate O'Hare is a veteran entertainment journalist, social-media manager for Catholic production company Family Theater Productions, and a screenwriter.