Given from the Catholic Broadcasting Station 2SM Sydney Australia
Choose a topic from Vol 1:
If that is your idea of faith, no wonder you find difficulty. But that is not faith at all, and certainly not the faith required by the Catholic Church. By faith we believe things. Now people do not believe with their feelings and emotions. They believe with their minds. Belief is a mental conviction. If I tell a woman that her son has been killed, her faith in my knowledge and veracity will make her believe the truth that her son has actually been killed. From this knowledge emotion may follow as an effect. But an effect is not its cause. Faith, then, is not an emotion, nor is it of the senses. Faith is the intellectual admission that a certain thing is true because although we have not seen the reality ourselves, we reasonably admit that the one who has told us must be reliably informed and not intending to deceive us. Nor is faith involuntary. If I see an accident, I know that it occurred, and it is useless to tell myself that it did not occur. But if you tell me of an accident, and I did not see it myself, then I have no direct evidence. All my evidence is indirect, and I can choose to believe you, or not to do so. I can put my faith in what you tell me, or refuse. It should console you to know that the Catholic Church is just as opposed to the idea of faith you condemn as you yourself are opposed to it. In fact she has solemnly defined such a type of assent to be no faith at all, and forbids any priest to receive into the Church one who believes that such a caricature can do duty for the intellectual conviction known as faith.
True Christian faith cannot lead one into error. We prove that God has said a thing, and believe because He has said it. Doubt would be possible only could God be deceived, or deceive mankind. But He could not. He knows all things, and is Truth itself. Also He has given abundant external signs to confirm His revelation. We are certainly right because He must be right.
Highly intellectual men do accept the doctrines of Christianity as certain. Being highly intellectual, they have not done so without profound investigation of the reasonable grounds for their position. And knowing that such men are convinced, it is not highly intellectual conduct to reject as legends and fairy tales the doctrines they accept, without making a similar investigation.
I fully agree. Faith is a virtue, and a great gift of God. But it does not imply the burying of one's head in the sand. It teaches us a number of things which are above reason, for the revealed truths known only to God must be a little above ordinary human thought. But whilst faith teaches some truths so profound as to be above natural reason, it never teaches any single doctrine which is opposed to sound and rational principles. Prove any given doctrine to violate correct principles of reason, and I shall cease to believe in it at once.
Those who do not know the facts are not required to believe doctrines of which they are unaware. Those who do know the facts cannot be saved unless they believe, for refusal is to insult the God who has deigned to reveal the truth to men.
Is that so! Then even if you prove to demonstration that God has said a thing, you need not believe it! You may call God a liar, and if your doing so interferes with your happiness it is monstrous! Ingersoll was a wise man!
No one ever said that dependence upon reason, observation, and experience merits eternal punishment. Such an assertion proves that Ingersoll did not use reason, observation, or experience to find out the exact teachings of Christianity. He just wrote on, his prejudice supplying for reason in the construction of his nonsensical arguments.
We can prove historically that God certainly gave the Christian revelation, and right reason cannot refute the evidence. It has to admit the value of the Gospels as documentary sources. But reason alone cannot make a man accept the contents of that revelation as having binding value. Only the grace of God can do that, and the preparation best suited to the reception of the gift of faith is a good moral life, and earnest prayer for the help of God.
By reason alone any ordinary man can know that God exists, that He has given a revelation to man, and any ordinary man is capable of learning the fundamental teachings of Christianity. Yet the perception of the vital force and the sheer reality of the truths God has revealed, with consequent belief in them, requires grace from God. But one who has the goodwill to submit to God's authority, and to pray earnestly for the light to know God's will, can be certain that the necessary supernatural help will be offered to him.
You have ignored the element of grace, and have not implored the help of God. Merely human reasoning is not enough. Brains cannot be the condition of salvation. If so, the intellectual would have a better chance of salvation than the less intelligent. You must look round for another method of approach to the religious problem. Whilst no one asks you to go against right reason, yet you must be prepared to rise above it. St. Paul rightly says that the natural man does not perceive those things which are of the spirit of God.
Since God does not deny any man of really goodwill sufficient grace, the fault liesin your own will. You can believe, if you wish. If you have not examined the evidence for His divinity, you can do so. Until you have done so, your belief that He is not God is mere credulity. You should say, "I have no opinion on the subject. I have not studied the evidence." When you have studied the evidence carefully, you will have found at least three things: (1) The documentary evidence concerning Christ is perfectly sound. (2) Christ certainly claimed to be God. (3) He certainly did things for which God alone could be responsible. Whether, after this, you will accept what Christ taught or reject it will be a matter for your own choice.
They can, although they may not, once it has been sufficiently brought to their notice. You see, Christ taught certain doctrines, but did not offer any intrinsic demonstration of their truth. He demands that we accept them as a tribute to His knowledge and veracity. As, therefore, He did not do more than merely tell us these truths we are physically free to accept them because of our faith in Him, or to refuse them. To believe is to pay a tribute of confidence, and thus to merit His friendship and the rewards He promised. To refuse to believe deserves punishment because it insults so good and wise a being as Christ.
With the help of God's grace, which will not be refused if you desire it, you are able to believe that it is true. A classification of possible states of mind will clarify things for you. (1) After due study of a certain proposition, a man might see that its truth is intrinsically evident, as one knows for example that two and two make four. By intrinsic analysis the opposite is evidently false. In this case a man has not an opinion, nor a belief. He has knowledge by intrinsic evidence, and is not free to think differently. He does not merely incline to think so. (2) Another state of mind, however, is that of the willfully ignorant. One who adverts to the fact that there is a certain problem can refuse to study it, and freely choose to have no opinion on the subject. (3) Another stage is that of the willful doubter. He studies the question to a certain extent. After thinking it over somewhat inadequately he says, "I do not know. There seems to me to be six for, and half a dozen against. I am not inclined to accept one position rather than another. I am in doubt about the whole matter." Such a man can choose to let it go at that, or to continue his investigations until he solves his doubts one way or the other. (4) After due reflection, a man can come to the conclusion that there is intrinsic evidence neither for nor against a given doctrine. As far as he knows, it could be true, or it could be false. But he knows that some authoritative person has said it is true. There is nothing in the proposition itself to prevent his acceptance of it. All is a question of the credentials of his informant. He diverts his attention to the qualities of this authority. If he is satisfied that his authority must know and is truthful, he is free to accept the doctrine because of faith in his teacher, or he is free to disbelieve it on the score that it has not been intrinsically demonstrated to his personal satisfaction. Now you have studied Christian doctrine, seeking always intrinsic evidence of its truth. You have chosen to adopt the position that it will be false unless you find such intrinsic evidence. You are quite unable to prove it intrinsically false. In the circumstances you are perfectly free to divert your attention from the aspect you prescribe, study the credentials of Christ as a divine teacher, and, once convinced of their value, accept the doctrine upon His authority. If you do not do so, it will be because you do not choose to do so.
That is true, if God failed to do so. But He did not. Your reason tells you that Christianity teaches certain mysterious things. You ask on what authority it so teaches. You are told that Almighty God has revealed those doctrines. At once the fact that the doctrines are extraordinary becomes of no account. God must know, and is certainly supremely truthful. The only point is, did He reveal such doctrines. You are shown that they are contained in the Bible, and that the Catholic Church teaches them. Your duty is to make sure that the Bible is a reliable source of such information, and that the Catholic Church is an institution guaranteed by God as a safe and authentic teacher of men in religious matters. If these things have been reasonably verified, as they certainly can be, you reasonably and freely accept the doctrines thus guaranteed as being of God. Now God has not failed to endow you with sufficient reason to do this. If you refuse to use your reason, or if you misuse it, or if you refuse to believe all that you do not fully comprehend for yourself, despite your knowledge that God has revealed such doctrines, you are to blame. Remember that to refuse to believe because reason does not entirely comprehend a doctrine, is to say that human reason is the ultimate test of all truth. That is not true which human reason cannot demonstrate to its own satisfaction! In the light of the obvious limitation of human reason, and the history of human aberrations in thought, this is clearly an irrational position. The conclusion remains that Christ justified His claims to be the divinely sent Teacher of men; that He sent His Apostles and their legitimate successors to teach all nations; that He thereby laid upon all nations the obligation of being taught; and that, once His teaching has been sufficiently put before them, men are guilty if they presume to reject it. In the case of such men, acceptance of the Christian religion is necessary if they are to be saved.