Posted on 10 October 2010.
Recently a Catholic reader said this about my dismissal of theists as blind believers, lemmings, and unthinking purveyors of mindless platitudes: “… we Catholics are also against fideism.”
For those not familiar with the term:
– exclusive reliance in religious matters upon faith, with consequent rejection of appeals to science or philosophy.
– a philosophical view extolling theological faith by making it the ultimate criterion of truth and minimizing the power of reason to know religious truths.
In short when it comes to religious matters fideism implys all you need is faith, reason need not apply.
So, while the Catholic Church has been willing to allow a certain degree of reason to be mixed with it’s blind faith such as finally accepting evolutionary theory (with certain caveats) and ultimately rejecting the geocentric model of the universe– it is hardly anti-fideist . They may be perceived as more progressive than some other denominations of Christianity, and certainly Islam; but I wouldn’t call anything about Catholicism “reasoned.”
Since the existence of god or the supernatural has never been demonstrated by objective reasoning, in spite of the failed attempts by Aquinas, to continue to maintain that reason can prove god’s existence is plain Catholic self delusion. Reason that is reduced to subjective absurdity, distorted by the infusion of faith (i.e. “the proof of god is all around you.”) is not “reason” anymore so than calling astrology a science or calling a faith healer a medical professional.
Unless and until theistic philosophies / belief systems retain the fundamental precepts of religion that are good and not rooted in supernatural, and abandon those things that are in diametric opposition to reason, then reason will always be the enemy of faith, as Martin Luther said.
What kind of things? For starters things like saying condoms spread AIDS and their use is in opposition to some god’s will; masturbation is a “sin” ; homosexuality is a choice and a “sin”; dead things reanimate; the “trinity” is real; proffering that a man committing suicide repays the trespasses or takes away the imaginary sins of others; that life after death is real; that torture for an eternity for non-belief is genuine; that nonbelievers are immoral at face; that man is here for a greater “purpose” than are any other species of plant or animal life; trans-substantiation … indeed any belief in/reliance on the supernatural.
None of those things permit reason to displace the illogic and fantasy necessary to retain ones religious belief or a religion’s dogma. All of them reject scientific proofs, objective reasoning, history, zoology, cumulative secular knowledge, advances in morality, prima fascia statistical and observable evidence and common sense.
To suggest that any religion, including Catholicism, promotes reason as equal to or even approaching par with faith is simple self delusion. It’s an attempt to co-opt reason as a way to justify their blind following of myth, to establish Catholicism as a higher order of Christianity versus Protestantism. If Catholics read the bible in its entirety (which the majority do not), and without Catholic apologetic sites to reinterpret and thus smooth its obscene and unreasoned acts in an effort to transform them, make their “context” seem reasoned and palatable — their reason would overwhelm their faith. Catholicism would dissolve even faster than it is now in the industrialized world.
No, sorry — saying Catholicism opposes fideism is simply ignoring the facts of what superstitious belief demands of its adherents. The Catholic Church HAS to discredit reason in order to stay viable, just like any other religion, sect, or cult… that they pay reason lip service in their doctrine of pure faith is simply a shell game to get believers to accept they aren’t mindless unthinking zombies. But, they are.