Settling the faith vs. reason debate, once and for all

July 16, 2007 | 7 comments

Throughout the ages, scholars and theologians have debated the place of faith in the rational man’s mind. Why, some say, would one ever put faith before reason? Can reason alone not provide us with everything we need to make informed decisions about our actions and the world around us?

Well, I hereby announce that after hundreds (perhaps thousands) of years of debate, the question can finally be put to rest. Should the intelligent man set silly concepts like faith aside and rely on sound reason alone to guide his life? No. Not unless he wants to look like a total fool, anyway. And here is my witness to this profound truth:

The Vigil Mass this weekend was absolutely beautiful. It was one of those days where you could just feel the Holy Spirit all throughout the service. I actually did a fair job of keeping my mind from wandering (no small feat!), and remained prayerful for the majority of the time. Afterwards I felt particularly peaceful and in tune with God.

Out in the narthex I ran into a man who’s very involved in the parish whose dedication to doing God’s work I’ve always admired. I’ll call him “Paul” (not his real name — you’ll see why I’m not using his real name later, when this nice story derails into a train wreck of a “Jen moment”). Anyway, he’s one of those people who just radiates the love and peace of Christ. As we chit-chatted it came out that another lady whom I’ve often admired, a nun who visits our parish occasionally, is actually his sister. And he has a brother who’s a much-admired priest. When Paul told me all this I joked, “I don’t want to talk to you anymore! The person I need to be talking to is your mother — I want to know her secret!”

With a warm smile and a laugh he motioned to a group of ladies by the exit, saying that his mother is actually here today. She was seated on a little bench, smiling at someone’s baby, and had a lovely, peaceful beauty about her.

After we were done chatting my husband and I headed out to the car. The exit we were planning to use would take us right past the group of women. Feeling all warm and fuzzy from such a nice day at Mass, I decided that I should stop and tell his mother how much I admired her.

Yet, something seemed to be holding me back — and not just my introverted nature. Something else seemed to be guiding me away from talking to her. It really felt like the Holy Spirit…but yet, that wouldn’t make any sense. What reason could there possibly be for not spreading good cheer? My intellect told me that everyone likes to receive a compliment, and nothing bad could possibly come of brightening a nice old lady’s day by telling her how much I admired her son Paul and his siblings. I must set any erroneous perceptions of “guidance” from the “Holy Spirit” aside and do as my good reason dictates!

But, alas, I was feeling all prayerful and decided to just go straight to my car, on the off chance that that’s what the Holy Spirit was leading me to do. I was grumbling to myself that I was probably just being unreasonable and superstitious as I walked past the ladies. My thoughts were sharply interrupted, however, when I took a closer look and heard some snippets of conversation that indicated that the woman whom I had identified as Paul’s mother was not actually his mother. She was his wife.

And there you have it. I believe that the whole faith vs. reason debate is now settled once and for all.


  1. Melora

    Wow! That was a close one. Bet you’ll be pretty open to guidance by the Holy Spirit for a while!

  2. Arkanabar T'verrick Ilarsadin

    That just tickled me to no end.
    Faith should not require us at any time to reject reason, as God created reason for our good. But it will at times require us to surpass it. Faith addresses those truths which are beyond reason’s purview.

  3. Christine

    lol. What a funny story. Incidentally though, it is important to note that faith is required even for us to reason effectively. Reasoning requires first principles that we have to assume in order to construct an argument and we have to accept our first principles as a matter of faith. It is an act of faith to assume that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all. G.K. Chesterton has a great passage on it in Orthodoxy which is a great read. Love the site.

  4. beez

    This is also why I never ask a woman “when are you due?” Unless I see the baby crowning! Just my luck and the woman I go up to will say, “I’m not pregnant, I’m a dude!”

  5. Sarahndipity

    LOL, what a funny story!

    I actually did a fair job of keeping my mind from wandering (no small feat!), and remained prayerful for the majority of the time. Afterwards I felt particularly peaceful and in tune with God

    I would love to hear how you managed to do this with a couple of kids along (or were your kids not with you that day?)

  6. knit_tgz


  7. Jennifer F.

    Sarahndipity –

    Oh…hahahahahah hahahah! Sorry, that was me laughing at the notion that I might have given someone the impression that my children are quiet little churchmice during Mass.

    They were at my mom’s house since we were on our way to a friend’s going away party that wasn’t a kid-friendly event. If they had been there it would have been a religious experience in a different sense of the word. 🙂

Connect With Me On Social Media or Explore My Site



The "THIS IS JEN" podcast is on Facebook & all podcast apps


- Subscribe on iTunes or Google Play (audio)

- Get weekly bonus episodes on Patreon

- Sign up for my email list to be the first
to know about new tour dates