On the non-conflict between faith and reason

Hypothesis: Understand the claim “faith and reason never contradict” as a case of the claim that a reconstructive model and the thing that it is modeling can never contradict. You become fascinated by clocks and, without being able to open one, you try to reconstruct one. A lot of physics and chemistry involves just this sort of modeling.

1.) They “never conflict” by definition. If your reconstruction doesn’t get the same outcomes as the thing you’re trying to explain you throw it out. So of course faith and reason never conflict if success of reasoning consists in coming to the same conclusions as the faith.

2.) They never conflict because one is the measure of the other. Faith is knowledge of God and men viewed as having attained the end of all human life, including its reasoning powers. The thing you are modeling is the measure of your whole attempt to reconstruct it. This is the reason why #1 is not purely arbitrary.

3.) Faith is idealized reason. The ideal reconstruction would involve the one thing impossible to open up the clock and look in, to squint down to the atomic level and just see what is really happening. But to do so destroys the point of reasoning as it exists now, and so it is only an ideal of the reasoning. There is a sense in which ideals and the things that look to them can never conflict. This too is why #1 is not purely arbitrary.

The value in the comparison is that it allows for a sense in which reasoning will necessarily never conflict with faith while explaining why theology might be ridiculously and permanently inadequate to the thing it is describing. The claim that they never conflict is not the apotheosis of reason, nor does it assume that reason conducts itself without cognizance of faith, as though it is supposed to look back to it and be surprised to see it has come to the same conclusion.

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