When reading through this section I couldn’t help but thinking of an online discussion I was recently a small part of with a gentleman who wanted to challenge Christian epistemology. Epistemology is, boiled down, the study of knowledge – how we know, and how we know what we think we know. For this gentleman if you couldn’t apply the scientific method to it, you couldn’t know it, and if you couldn’t know it chances are it either didn’t exist or wasn’t true. That’s a very common problem for people today, idolizing as we so often do the scientific method and the scientists who use it (or at least, we hope they do). Yet the Church teaches that just being able to measure it and test it does not mean you actually know a thing – to know requires a relationship that exceeds mere instrumentalization.
But how do you get there? Paragraph 153 puts it quite well: “Faith is a gift of God, a supernatural virtue infused by him.” And again in Paragraph 156: “What moves us to believe is not the fact that revealed truths appear as true and intelligible in the light of our natural reason: we believe ‘because of the authority of God himself who reveals them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived.’(Dei Filius 3)” At some point we have to make the decision to accept the invitation that God through the Holy Spirit is always placing before us – to trust in Him enough to start learning about and getting to know Him.
Once you open up to the possibility of a God who made and knows everything, you begin to make yourself open to a faith which transcends mere human knowledge. Paragraph 157 tells us that:
Faith is certain. It is more certain than all human knowledge because it is founded on the very word of God who cannot lie. To be sure, revealed truths can seem obscure to human reason and experience, but “the certainty that the divine light gives is greater than that which the light of natural reason gives.” (STh II-II, 171, 5, obj. 3)
Faith is an invitation to trust in something that “can seem obscure to human reason and experience” but because of the one in Whom the trust is placed the result is even more sure than anything we come to find through measurement. Although ignored by many modern people as simple medieval credulity, God has also offered miracles as evidence both of His existence and His benevolence. Paragraph 156 again:
Thus the miracles of Christ and the saints, prophecies, the Church’s growth and holiness, and her fruitfulness and stability “are the most certain signs of divine Revelation, adapted to the intelligence of all”; they are “motives of credibility” (motiva credibilitatis), which show that the assent of faith is “by no means a blind impulse of the mind.” (Dei Filius 3)
So… are you willing to take a chance and see what God is calling you to trust? The possible result is something far greater than can ever be found at the end of a ruler or a microscope – these point us the way but they are not the end of the journey.