Modernity prides itself on proclaiming the supremacy of reason over faith. The tenets of faith are dismissed as superstition and unproven. The Enlightenment found in nature all that was needed to ensure what was thought to be happiness on Earth.
However, modern man soon revolted against the restraints of reason that held the passions in check. This revolt set in motion today’s attempt to make emotions prevail over reason.
Indeed, Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778) with his work Natural Man greatly influenced a flight from reason by writing about a man without limits, able to function according to his instincts, desires and emotions. He, like postmodern man, had no need of faith.
Extinguishing of the Light of Faith
The first step in the process of decadence was to deny the role of grace in people’s lives. In this way, they are deprived of extraordinary means that allow them to practice virtue.
Saint Thomas defines grace as a created participation in the uncreated life of God. It cannot be acquired by natural means; God gives it freely. Grace illuminates human intelligence to know what is beyond its natural capacity. It strengthens the will so that it might act in extraordinary ways. Grace tempers the passions and sensibilities, so they do not enslave man.
Thus, the role of grace is to perfect nature. It also allows the faithful to believe in the truths of the Church that cannot be deduced from reason but are revealed by God. While man can have a limited natural faith, supernatural faith is only possible with the aid of grace. This faith is a gift from God that allows the faithful to believe in that which is beyond the intelligence yet not contrary to it. Faith aids the faithful in the knowledge and love of God.
By denying the role of grace and faith as the means to understanding the God’s plan for everyone, modern secular man quickly enthrones an individual’s reason as the judge of all things deemed good, true and beautiful.
However, experience shows that human intelligence cannot comprehend everything. Naturally speaking, many people, even atheists accept many things without sufficient empirical evidence to support their reasoning and belief.
Believing in matters not completely understood is normal since no one can possess all knowledge. When individuals discard faith, they replace it with a distorted vision of reality. It quickly leads to each person becoming the center of a universe based on a limited capacity to understand things.
Extinguishing the Light of Reason
That is why faith and reason are not contradictory; they must work together. Pope Leo XIII writes that “For, not in vain did God set the light of reason in the human mind; and so far is the super-added light of faith from extinguishing or lessening the power of the intelligence it completes it rather, and by adding to its strength renders it capable of greater things.” The great Saint Augustine attributes reason as “that by which the most wholesome faith is begotten . . . is nourished, defended, and made strong.”
Faith and reason work together to assist the soul to know, love and serve God better and understand His Creation. Therefore, weakening faith works to weaken reason. One should strengthen the other.
Why Emotions Reign
Discarding faith leads to an even greater disaster which is the discarding reason. Since unaided reason can often prove defective, the only basis left for making decisions is emotion. Today too many base themselves on feelings disconnected from reality.
One recent example was the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) constantly referred to Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony as “her truth.” Many others said that it was enough that her testimony be “believable” despite the absence of facts. The hearing turned into a process to discover “personal,” not objective truth. Hearings must consider the facts not the emotions of the testimony. Indeed, novels are believable, but they are not factual!
Another example was an interview on “60 Minutes” with Anderson Cooper and leftist darling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. When Cooper challenged Cortez’s many factual inaccuracies, she responded with an emotional rebuttal. She replied that “I think that there’s a lot of people more concerned about being precisely, factually, and semantically correct than about being morally right.”
Something cannot be both factually wrong and morally right. Employing logic, reasoning and facts bear out the truth. Only this supports a moral position.
However, in the current social environment, the contrary is affirmed. Emotions dominate over facts and reason. People feel free to say that my feelings don’t care about your facts. All that matters is the imposition of an “emocracy,” the rule of emotions.
The Processes of Destruction
All of this happens through a discreet processes of destruction. Renaissance thinkers did not directly attack grace and faith. They used atheistic sophisms to sideline the Church and promote reason as being superior. A similar offense is taking place today with the sidelining of reason with illogical and emotional arguments.
The consequences of this latter phase of the process are much more serious. When emotion rules, it destroys those concepts that once governed Christian civilization: faith, reason, facts, logic and law. Indeed, an order without these elements spells the abolition of society.
While individuals are entitled to their own opinions, they are not entitled to their own facts. For people who prefer not to use reason to make a choice, emotions tend to overpower and overthrow all order. Indeed, when faith and reason are extinguished, there is little left to differentiate man from beast.