VERITATIS SPLENDOR & FIDES ET RATIO
by Richard Salbato
Pope John Paul II in Fides et Ratio, saw not only a decline in right thinking throughout the world but even open enemies of right thinking. Even within the Church he saw people placing a wall of separation between faith and reason. And new "Philosophers" or so-called because they are not lovers of truth and wisdom but are creating doubt that truth and wisdom could even exist or that it was universal.
All the great thinkers of the past from Confucius to the founders of the French Revolution sought universal truths and even when they did not find it, they knew that there had to be universal truths that were true for all peoples and for all time.
To show the errors of modern thinking [from just before the French Revolution], John Paul II goes back to the Garden of Eden and shows that the true sin of Adam and Eve, was to attempt for themselves to be the arbitrators of good and evil, but when they attempted to decide for themselves the higher truth, it destroyed them and this has been true of every society since.
He points out that these new teachers of life (not lovers of truth) have abandoned the investigation of being (who am I, why am I here, where am I going) for the investigation of knowing things, all except universal truths.
Knowing is not always truth. It is just knowledge. I know the laws of communism like I know a virus, but this is not a good but a bad, nonetheless, knowledge of virus is knowledge but that knowledge should teach us what is bad and what to avoid.
Exaggerated rationalism created a mistrust of reason and canonized skeptical and agnostic thinking. This led to nihilism where sensations and experiences are gods and commitment to good is evil. From this came agnosticism and relativism or their true definition - skepticism.
To me the heart and soul of these two Encyclical Letters is to show that these new thinkers destroy truth, logic and wisdom, by promoting the false idea that all positions are equally valid. In other words, if you believe in falsehood, it is true for you, because they hold to no universal truths. For them everything is true. This let to what Bishop Sheen called the sin of the twentieth Century, the denial of sin. This is not just a denial, but it goes farther than that, it made each person his own arbitrator of what is sin.
There are universal truths
It is only common sense when in Fides et Ratio he refers to his Encyclical Veritatis Splendor, that it is a grave moral obligation of all humans to search for truth and to cling to it when it is known because every truth, if it is really truth, is universal, and must be the truth for all people and for all times. He goes on to say that this grave moral obligation, once rejected can be the sin that makes all future acts sins even in a clear conscience.
As an example of universal truths he presents the principles of non-contradiction, finality and causality. Truth cannot contradict truth. The unity of truth is a fundamental premise of human reasoning, as the principle of non-contradiction makes clear.
This widespread distrust for universal and absolute truths has corrupted the democratic process to include democratic morals instead of universal morals and truths which if they are true are true for all. These false ideas have spread so far and wide that they have become the common thinking of our time even to influencing Catholic theologians. Because most people agree does not take away the sin because we know in our heart what is a universal truth, even if we have not developed it in our conscious mind, no matter what the majority say is truth.
There is growing support for a concept of democracy which is not grounded upon any reference to unchanging values: whether or not a line of action is admissible is decided by the vote of a parliamentary majority.
Corrupting the Conscience
In Veritatis Splendor, he noted that “once the idea of a universal truth about the good, knowable by human reason, is lost, inevitably the notion of conscience also changes. Conscience is no longer considered in its prime reality as an act of a person's intelligence, the function of which is to apply the universal knowledge of the good in a specific situation and thus to express a judgment about the right conduct to be chosen here and now.
"Instead, there is a tendency to grant to the individual conscience the prerogative of independently determining the criteria of good and evil and then acting accordingly. Such an outlook is quite congenial to an individualist ethic, wherein each individual is faced with his own truth different from the truth of others”. (116)
Truth leads to Faith
“Even if faith is superior to reason there can never be a true divergence between faith and reason, since the same God who reveals the mysteries and bestows the gift of faith has also placed in the human spirit the light of reason. This God could not deny himself, nor could the truth ever contradict the truth”.(65)
Faith requires right thinking and a love of truth.
"In believing, they think and in thinking, they believe... If faith does not think, it is nothing”.(95) And again: “If there is no assent, there is no faith, for without assent one does not really believe”.(96)
Governments support wrong thinking
Without the support of force as in the French Revolution, or force of law as in Roe vs. Wade, or in the force of the majority when they took over the schools, and convinced children that "Most people agree", etc., this new thinking could not stand up to the debate of logic. Those who promoted these new ideas knew this, so they appealed to power and not to truth.
Today if we want to take back our right thinking, we must get more active in government or they are going to force us to believe in wrong thinking, in wrong acting, and this is happening all over the world.
But I see light at the end of the tunnel for the first time, since people are standing up and being counted all over the world. But that is another story.
Think right - find God and salvation, think wrong - be lost forever.