Letter to the Editor: Phantasmal Rift Between Religion and Reason
Religion and rationality are not the same, but neither are they separate. Many great scientists, philosophers and others of their kind recognize this. Even if they don’t, religious teachings are present in their words under a different name. Many religions have been accused of inhibiting personal freedom, but the early Christian church pioneered this concept.
Emperor Constantine, Tertullian of Carthage, Lactantius, Augustine of Hippo, Pope Gregory the Great, Thomas Aquinas and many others recognized the need for people to retain their free will because, according to Tertullian, “it is a human law and a natural right”. While new ideas are accepted with caution, religious groups have frequently used scientific evidence, and yes, reason, to explain the beliefs of the faith.
A phantasmal rift between reason and faith has been created in our society. In order for civilization to function properly the two must coexist. The faithful should be allowed to act according to their conscience. To suggest that religion should exist in its own corner of society without touching or being touched by any other element of that society is like suggesting that a scientist hypothesize, experiment and draw a conclusion, but then not share that conclusion with anyone else.
This is not what a reasonable and rational person would call “reasonable and rational.” A common misconception is that this is a bad thing. While it is undeniable that atrocities have been committed in the name of religion, atrocities have also been committed in the name of medicine (organ harvesting), nationalism (Nazi), greed (slavery) and countless other ideals. Claiming that rationalism can support morality is true, but saying that it is the best way is a fallacy. Evil is the perversion of the good. Think about it. Destroying the good to prevent evil is self-defeating.
Teresa Fenn is a student at the University of Mary Washington.