The Rationality of the Christian Faith and the Rationality of Science

Understanding Stanley Jaki

by Paul Peter Rom (Author)
©2022 Thesis 214 Pages


A philosophical analysis of the rationality of the Christian faith and the rationality of science aims at establishing the kind of relationship that should exist between religion and science owing to the human rational capacity as the uniting factor. If the human being is one and that same human being is rational and capable of science and religion, there should be a possibility of a reconciliation of these two domains within his rational capacity. The study takes into consideration the various models of the relationship between science and religion and arrives at the fact that conflicts that seem to arise are always due to lack of intellectual honesty and the failure to accept the limits of one’s competence. This is a product of a scientific doctoral research.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Acknowledgements
  • Table of Contents
  • Abstract
  • General Introduction
  • Chapter One The Concept of Science in the Context of Western Civilisation and the Debate between Science and Faith
  • 1.1 Introduction
  • 1.2 The Problem of Method and Rationality
  • 1.3 The Concept of Science
  • 1.3.1 Limits of Science
  • 1.3.2 The Origin of Science
  • Stillbirth of Science in India
  • Stillbirth of Science in Egypt
  • Stillbirth of Science in Ancient Mesopotamia
  • Stillbirth of Science in China
  • Stillbirth of Science among the Muslim
  • Stillbirth of Science among the Greeks
  • Reasons for the Viable Birth of Science in the Christian West
  • 1.3.3 The Role of Catholic Church in the Development of Science
  • 1.3.4 Hostility to the Christian Foundation of Science
  • 1.4 Stanley Jaki and Other Thoughts on Medieval Science
  • 1.5 Recapitulation
  • Chapter Two Relationship between Science and Religion
  • 2.1 Introduction
  • 2.2 The Models of Ian Graeme Barbour of the Relationships between Science and Religion
  • 2.2.1 Conflict Model
  • 2.2.2 Independence Model
  • 2.2.3 Dialogue Model
  • 2.2.4 Integration Model
  • 2.3 Collocating Jaki’s Thoughts in the Models of Barbour
  • 2.3.1 Collocating Jaki’s Thoughts in Conflict and Independence Models
  • 2.3.3 Collocating Jaki’s Thoughts in Dialogue and Integration Models
  • 2.4 Jaki’s Cosmological Arguments and the Role of Philosophy
  • 2.4.1 Science, Chance and Philosophy
  • 2.4.2 The Problem of Evolution, Religion and Philosophy
  • 2.5 Concluding Remarks
  • Chapter Three The Unity of Reason
  • 3.1 Introduction
  • 3.2 The Need for Rigorous Use of Reason
  • 3.3 Rationality and Natural Theology
  • 3.4 Faith, Free Will and Purpose
  • 3.5 Ethics and Science
  • 3.6 Science and Faith
  • 3.7 Incompleteness of Science, Precision and Faith
  • 3.8 Misconceptions about God and Faith
  • 3.9 Faith, Reason and Science
  • 3.10 The Challenges of Our Time
  • 3.11 Transcending Science and Materialism
  • 3.12 Concluding Remarks
  • General Conclusion
  • Appendix
  • Bibliography

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To deal with rationality is to immediately deal with reason as the fundamental distinguishing mark of the human person. Reason and its rationality make us deal no longer with a thing but a person, whose existence precedes his thinking and whose thinking be it religious or scientific is according to that very faculty of reason. It is therefore, justifiable to deal with science and religion as two realities distinct but integrated by human reason. Science and Christian faith practiced in religion are two human occupations that have gained central attention of the core of the existence of the human being himself. In science, man tries to decipher the content of nature, what it is made of, how it functions and how he can use them for his benefits and the benefit of others. Scientific investigations, therefore, become a natural mission to conquer and subdue the world and render to God the service of the totality of creation. The investigation into natural things by science is only possible because man is reasonable and, because he is reasonable, he finds some patterns in nature that demonstrate it being a product of reason. It is this reasonableness that constitutes the rationality of his operation. Man’s other natural ability is the transcendence of the natural things that object to his intellect and senses. This transcendence leads him into metaphysical questions, the most fundamental of which is why there should be something at all and not nothing. He relates concretely to this reality beyond him in the practice of his religion. Man’s religious attitudes seems to be a natural inclination to look at realities beyond the physical. It is this metaphysical desire that drives him to seek the cause of his own being and that of all beings. These metaphysical questions cannot be arrived at without the use of reason. Nature is so rational that man cannot but see beyond it in his rationality. Religion and science therefore, have two common denominators: reason and natural things. If this is so, and if reason is only one, then there must be an integration in the one without fusing the two. If this is possible, then philosophy, that is the love of wisdom cannot but be the unifying master that will not be ignored. These words of Etienne Gilson summarised it all:

←13 | 14→Where it in my power to do so, I would rather leave you with a gift. Not wisdom, which I have not and no man can give, but the next best thing: the love of wisdom, for which philosophy is another word. For to love wisdom is also to love science, and prudence; it is to seek peace in the inner accord of each mind with itself and in the mutual accord of all minds.1

Stanley Jaki delved deeply into philosophy from his study of the history of science after reading the beautiful book of Gilson, The Unity of Philosophical Experience (1937), a book that demonstrate one of the best of arts of doing philosophy. It is wisdom and prudence that guarantees the equilibrium both in doing science and in the search of the ultimate explanation of all things in religion and the love of that wisdom plays a bridging role between science and religion.

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General Introduction

Many people, even highly educated academics, when they hear of someone studying philosophy, retort almost instinctively: “will you have your feet on the ground?” What will studying philosophy offer to the world? What work will you do after studying philosophy apart from teaching? These are questions that are a clear demonstration of the misunderstanding of what philosophy is and its mission. The mission of philosophy is to seek and consequently communicate the truth in a more systematic, universal and fundamental way. Being the love of wisdom, we acknowledge that wisdom does not come easy. In a world that no longer understands the difference between right and wrong, just and unjust, truth and falsehood, science and non-science – a world in which relativism reigns even for highly learned people, the need for philosophers is arguably greater than ever before. The true vocation of philosophy since time immemorial has been the provision of equilibrium using a rational discourse.

The issues of science and religion have lingered in my mind for over 15 years now, especially when I see the confusion and misconception that continue to pass from generation to generation about science making religion irrelevant. I noticed also that the greatest force behind the secular world is the appeal to science as the alternative explanation of all things, as opposed to the traditionally held view of religious explanation. In the words of Jaki, “science was set up [by enlightenment] as the great debunker of the supernatural, and a proof that anyone engaged in that debunking almost automatically counted as an expert of science.”2 This ideology drives the secular world to an either-or mentality, that is, either religion; the sole authority that can explain why we are here, and what we deal with in nature, or it is science who has the final word. To have no middle ground or point of intersection is reductive and dangerous in the search for a holistic explanation of reality. The biggest question is whether people who think so have bothered to understand science and religion, what they stand for ←15 | 16→and their origins in order to have a fair judgement of their relationship and concerns. In order to be a judge, one must thoroughly inform oneself of all matters concerning a particular case. There is a lot of information about the relationship between science and religion and yet there seems to be growing problems regarding the same. What is the problem? How can we understand the relationship between the two without having to belittle or to eliminate any of them? Could philosophy take up the role of bridging the two streams? Would the elimination of one for the other not directly militate against reason itself?

I soon realized that there is a common denominator that is either ignored or poorly employed in the search for the truth. My principal aim is to argue that science and religion cannot be in conflict, as long as they are both rational human efforts in search of meaning in nature and life. The source of the apparent conflict between science and religion would then not be in science and religion themselves, but in the mode in which they are studied and propagated; bluntly put in modern terminology, it is ‘user problem.’ I would like to demonstrate that reason, being the distinguishing mark of man, is the converging point for a fruitful dialogue between Christian faith and modern science. To take a conflicting position or an exclusive position is to defeat the purpose of reason itself and alienate it from its proper function of unity. If faith is reasonable and science uses reason to investigate into quantitative reality, then harmonic dialogue should be a great option in the relationship between modern science and Christian faith. I specifically used “Christian faith” because of its intellectual rigour as opposed to superstitions, justified by Jaki thus: “of all faiths, Christianity alone has specific formulas known as creedal statements.”3 This is to stay that Christianity has an intellectual formulation of what can be taken as deposits of faith found throughout Church documents and salvation history. I would not like to fall into the traditional arrogance that Christianity is a superior religion or that other religious believes are not rational. My choice of Christianity is motivated by being a Christian myself and also as already stated because the Christian faith is rationally defined in its dogmas and creed. It is convincing to me that the Catholic Church, to be specific, ←16 | 17→propagates faith without contradicting reason. This makes the Christian faith a rational enterprise. When Christians argue from ignorance or cannot defend their faith rationally, it is the failure of Christians and not faith being irrational.

I was greatly influenced by the works of Richard J. Connell, From Observables to Unobservable in Science and Philosophy (2002). This work was introduced to me by the daughter of the author Anita Whims, who claimed to have never understood much of what her philosopher father wrote. A very humble way of acknowledging the great works of a staunch Catholic professor of philosophy. The affirmation of Connell on the fact that observables lead us to the unobservable shows clearly the power of the mind to transcend itself, alluding to the fact that realities do not exist only because we can observe them, making observables only a small part of reality that science deals with and in a constantly provisional way. Later I got exposed to the following books by the same author: Matter and Becoming (1966), Logical Analysis: An Introduction to Systematic Learning (1981), Substance and Modern Science (1988), and The Empirical Intelligence – The Human Empirical Mode, (1988).

The central argument I will be dealing with in this exposition is the rationality of science and the rationality of Christian religion. I chose the works of Stanley Jaki because of its vastness and yet its limitation to one concrete question, the historical reconstruction of the relationship between science and religion and the limits of science. This was attractive because being a scientist and a theologian, Jaki would be the best candidate to defend what he believes and practices. Another motivation was the fact that Jaki historically proved that science, right from its birth, had a lot to do with Christianity. This was a bold stand to take in a secularised world, where politically correct language does not spare even academics. This is important for me because it points to the fact that the apparent conflict must have a better explanation, if a good understanding of the relationship between science and religion is to be reached.

One of the responsibilities of a philosopher is to define his terms to avoid confusions and misunderstanding. I would like to clarify some terms that should be taken univocally throughout this book. The term rationality carries different meanings in analytic philosophy. This is the reason why I would like to define what we mean by rationality in this book. In this ←17 | 18→exposition, rationality refers to reasonableness, the driving principle, the ability to use reason well or rationale behind science and Christian religion. The term rationality is also taken to mean the capacity to reason and think in an organised way that forms within itself an internal coherent structure. It is therefore not enough to have the rational and thinking capacities but also a necessity to think and reason correctly. For reason not to be contradictory, it must adhere to the rigour required of it; that is, it must seek the truth, present it wisely and logically. Christian faith therefore is rational in the sense that what is believed is true and can be rationally presented for the comprehension of a third party. Rationality in this book should not be taken at any rate to mean rationalism which is a form of reductionism. Rationality should be taken to mean an honest use of reason to understand rational things by science and to transcend from the same nature to the realm of religion. Science and religion both need reason to acquire the knowledge of their contents and therefore, according to me, the examination of the unity and operation of reason is the best way of establishing the relationship between science and religion. As reason is gift to man by his very nature, his rationality should be cultivated because it is the mode in which the human being uses his reason correctly to separate and unite different things into a coherent body of knowledge. When we talk of faith, we shall be referring explicitly to the Christian faith, which is a belief in a personal and responsive God revealed in Jesus Christ, unless it is qualified or otherwise indicated to mean something else. When I talk about some form of faith in reference to science, it should not be taken in the same way as the faith of a Christian coming from a revelation but a strong belief that conditions necessary for science will always remain constant. It can also mean trust in the consistency of the law of nature. It is true that the term faith can carry many meanings and therefore the context of its use in this book will determine the sense to be applied to it, apart from faith as a revelation. Science, on the other hand, will refer to that for which a person can be called a scientist and the interplay between human intelligence and reason in experiments, that is what Jaki defines as ‘exact science.’ This makes the human being both scientist and a person of faith. Sometimes science should be understood as the rigorous, methodical and systematic study that covers other disciplines that fall outside experimental ←18 | 19→sciences. The context in which the term science is used will determine what it should mean.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2022 (April)
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2022. 214 pp.

Biographical notes

Paul Peter Rom (Author)

Paul Peter Rom Abim is a lecturer of philosophy of nature, science, modern and political philosophy since 2008. He is an author of The Spill of Blood and the Lamentations of Lamalo. He completed his PhD in philosophy from Pontifical University Urbaniana, and has a masters in theological and pastoral studies, and post graduate diploma in education.


Title: The Rationality of the Christian Faith and the Rationality of Science
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216 pages