Skip to main contentAccessibility feedback

Dear catholic.com visitors: This website from Catholic Answers, with all its many resources, is the world's largest source of explanations for Catholic beliefs and practices. A fully independent, lay-run, 501(c)(3) ministry that receives no funding from the institutional Church, we rely entirely on the generosity of everyday people like you to keep this website going with trustworthy , fresh, and relevant content. If everyone visiting this month gave just $1, catholic.com would be fully funded for an entire year. Do you find catholic.com helpful? Please make a gift today. SPECIAL PROMOTION FOR NEW MONTHLY DONATIONS! Thank you and God bless.

Dear catholic.com visitors: This website from Catholic Answers, with all its many resources, is the world's largest source of explanations for Catholic beliefs and practices. A fully independent, lay-run, 501(c)(3) ministry that receives no funding from the institutional Church, we rely entirely on the generosity of everyday people like you to keep this website going with trustworthy , fresh, and relevant content. If everyone visiting this month gave just $1, catholic.com would be fully funded for an entire year. Do you find catholic.com helpful? Please make a gift today. SPECIAL PROMOTION FOR NEW MONTHLY DONATIONS! Thank you and God bless.

Background Image

Aren’t faith and reason incompatible?

Question:

Christianity seems ludicrous to me. I can't buy having to check your brains at the door in order to accept incomprehensible mysteries. How can I be asked to accept what I can't understand? "Faith," as you called it (I call it superstition) is irreconcilable with reason.

Answer:

You have a mistaken notion of the Catholic term “mystery.” A mystery is not something about which we can’t know anything, but something about which we can’t know everything.

God gave us brains and expects us to use them to understand the mysteries of faith, to the extent such understanding is possible. That total comprehension isn’t possible doesn’t mean you have to “check your brains at the door” anymore than failure to entirely grasp quantum physics does.

There’s no real opposition between truths of reason and truths of faith, only an apparent one. When scientists propose as fact what is only an unproven hypothesis, or when theologians mistake their personal opinions for articles of divine revelation, the impression is left there’s a conflict between the two realms, but this isn’t the case. It only appears to be so because someone has erred.

Faith tell us more than we could know by reason alone, but it can’t contradict reason. Furthermore, we can use our reason to better understand our faith. In fact, that’s a classic definition of theology: Faith seeking understanding.

Did you like this content? Please help keep us ad-free
Enjoying this content?  Please support our mission!Donatewww.catholic.com/support-us