Rorate Caeli

Rationality and irrationality

We believe in God. This is a fundamental decision on our part. But is such a thing still possible today? Is it reasonable? From the Enlightenment on, science, at least in part, has applied itself to seeking an explanation of the world in which God would be unnecessary. And if this were so, he would also become unnecessary in our lives. But whenever the attempt seemed to be nearing success -- inevitably it would become clear: Something is missing from the equation!

When God is subtracted, things does not add up for man, for the world, for the whole universe. So we end up with two alternatives. What came first? Creative Reason, the Spirit who makes all things and gives them growth, or Unreason, which, lacking any meaning, yet somehow brings forth a mathematically ordered cosmos, as well as man and his reason.

The latter, however, would then be nothing more than a chance result of evolution and thus, in the end, equally irrational. As Christians, we say: "I believe in God the Father, the Creator of heaven and earth" -- I believe in the Creator Spirit. We believe that at the beginning of everything is the eternal Word, with Reason and not Unreason. With this faith we have no reason to hide, no fear of ending up in a dead end. We rejoice that we can know God!
Benedict XVI, September 12, 2006 (Regensburg)
Zenit translation, with corrections


  1. What incredible clarity. Whatever Fr. Ratzinger was, this Pope is a true Catholic. He may make a slip towards ambiguity on occasion, but that is clearly an abberation, not his true character.

  2. Hi Matt,

    Still fighting with Father Ratzinger? When did Father Ratzinger cease and the orthodox Ratzinger begin?

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. Janice,

    you are in a fighting mood today, but I will accept the jab. I was not criticizing Fr. Ratzinger, only suggesting that whatever a Catholic may believe regarding the orthodoxy of his earlier writings, his Catholicity is shining forth in his papacy, with few exceptions.

    As far as the time when Fr. Ratzinger became unambiguously Catholic, I believe it was shortly after the council when the terrible abuses made the modernist movement so obviously bankrupt.

  5. Well, as much as I disagree with you, I admit that he issued some very stringent disagreements with the way some of the documents, e.g., Gaudium et spes, were written. And, if you want to see his unquestioned orthodoxy at work, read The Open Circle: the Meaning of Christian Brotherhood (1966).

  6. I posted this a while back, but it seems relevant to what you are both are saying. Matt is correct in the sense that Ratzinger has said some objectionable things through the years. But Janice is correct in the sense of saying he always remained orthodox. In other words, his theological wanderings and speculations must be taken as just that...

    Ratzinger gave a series of lectures on reconciling evolution and faith that were later collected and printed in book format. It is one of the worst books I have ever read by anyone. It is poorly written, poorly articulated, it glosses over huge problems and explores minor problems. It contains numerous propositions which seem incompatible with the Church's teaching (dogmatic and ordinary, take your pick).

    I would rather get hit in the face with a major league fastball than read that book again. It was that painful. I am quite certain that Ratzinger-Benedict would chuckle at this paragraph and perhaps even agree. He is a man of profound humility and lively humor.

    But this is what theologians do. They make all sorts of explorations and take all sorts of approaches to answering difficult questions. Sometimes they stumble into heretical propositions. What is important is their steadfast willingness to submit to the Church's authority and make retractions when called upon.

    Cardinal Ratzinger's--not to mention Fr. Ratzinger's--sometimes wayward theological inquiries are of no consequence because he always remained completely docile to the Church's authority.

    Lacking the least bit of obstinacy he cannot in the least be called a heretic. From the first, he has always been "unambigously Catholic."


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