Faith and Reason

A Remedy for the Catechetical Poverty of Our Time

Amidst the divisions and frustrations that mark the Church of our time, there are, quietly dispersed throughout the Mystical Body, clergy and laymen striving for the recovery and promotion of the Apostolic Faith. Their good work—and the renaissance it will bring about—is easily obscured, as it is rarely offered a proper place in the tired … Read more

Church Critics Have Long Abandoned the Real World

“The Catholic apologist,” says Arnold Lunn, in Now I See, an account of his intellectual and personal conversion to the faith, “bases his argument on the appeal to external facts.” The apologist’s opponents, then (1938) as now, “agree only in their appeal from objective truth to subjective prejudice, from external facts to personal intuition.” Yet we … Read more

How Amoris Laetitia Reduces Moral Culpability for Sin

In June 2016, the distinguished Austrian philosopher and friend of Pope John Paul II, Joseph Seifert, published a highly critical yet charitable essay on Amoris Laetitia (AL) that led to his dismissal from a teaching post at the seminary of the Archdiocese of Granada, Spain. In his essay, Seifert argued that the view of conscience expressed … Read more

The Protestant Origins of Dysfunctional Education

As a former boarding school teacher, this time of year brings memories of enormous frustration at the chaos, moral and intellectual, that is contemporary American education. While the general disorder is the fault of Adam and Eve, the particular mess has much to do with Luther and Calvin, who not only spawned the Protestant Reformation … Read more

Hope in a Time of Captivity and Persecution

In reading the latest essay by Paul Kengor in Crisis, I was taken aback in learning about James K. A. Smith’s misguided and mean-spirited attack on Rod Dreher, Anthony Esolen, and Archbishop Charles Chaput, whose recent books, among other things, offer the self-evident thesis: American culture is going to hell on a hand basket. As … Read more

Why Facts Matter

“Facts don’t matter.” The first time I heard these words they came from a teacher to an audience of students during a presentation intended to celebrate black history. As part of the presentation, the teacher had intended to illustrate racial injustice in this country by showing pictures of the infamous “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” protests … Read more

Catholic Intelligence in a Time of Chaos

Egyptian embalmers attributed all emotive response and intelligence to the heart, and so they threw the brain away, assuming that it would not be needed in the afterlife. That life to come was not at all like the Heavenly City that was shown to Saint John, with no need for sun or moon in the … Read more

On the Relationship Between Catholicism and Science

At the end of a class in early March, one of my students raised his hand and asked if there was any homework in ethics class. I was somewhat confused by the inquiry, since the student was currently not taking ethics. When he saw the expression of confusion on my face, he responded, “You know, … Read more

Why Doctrine and Pastoral Practice are Indivisible

There has been a great deal of talk in the Church lately about a supposed opposition between rules and reality, theology and life, doctrine and pastoral considerations. Some of the talk has gone to extremes, suggesting that rules, doctrine, and organized thought matter little in comparison with the pastoral needs of the immediate situation. Such … Read more

Benedict XVI and the Roots of Injustice

As 2015 rapidly surges ahead, crashing into us like the waves from Ephesians 4:14, it is tempting to simply view the state of things pragmatically—deep thinking and serious debating on the extraordinary circumstances of today’s world seems simply out of the question. While there is no shortage of opinions, the garrulous talking heads avoid any … Read more

Religious Liberty Is Not Enough

I want to thank those who took the time to respond to my recent article, “Why Religious Liberty Arguments Aren’t Working.” Our focus at the Ruth Institute is crafting sound arguments and clarifying the proper context for their use. Religious liberty arguments are a case in point. While there is merit in religious liberty arguments, … Read more

Reason is Not the Sole Property of Skeptics

A few weeks ago Politico published an article by professional skeptic Michael Shermer—I think when you are the publisher of a magazine called Skeptic, you can be classified as a “professional skeptic,” right?—called “Why Politicians Need Science,” with the subtitle, “Remember: before the triumph of science, we burned witches at the stake and thought that kings … Read more

Are Appeals to Natural Law and Right Reason Still Effective?

Recent months have witnessed an emerging debate among some American conservatives, especially religiously informed conservatives and, even more specifically, Catholic conservatives. This debate concerns how they can (and, in some cases, whether they should even attempt to) engage in a public square that seems ever more rooted in modern liberal presuppositions and preoccupations. At the … Read more

Irrational Disbelief: The Hypocrisy of Scientific Atheism

Somewhere along the line of modern history, the idea has taken root, spread, and become commonly held among seculars that religious people hold to a Faith that is separate from, and at odds with, natural reason. Modern science, following the lead of modern philosophy and modern secularized religion, has fallen for the heretical notion that … Read more

When Atheists Get Religion Wrong

What, in these benighted modern times, ought faithful Catholics to make of atheism? Robert Tracinski’s recent piece, “What Atheists Have To Offer The Right,” gives us occasion for reflecting anew on this question. Tracinski is speaking primarily about politics, and in this realm, making common cause with atheists seems clearly warranted in our time. As … Read more

On Hobby Lobby: Where Ginsburg and Alito Go Astray

As a faithful Catholic with moral objections to forced Christian complicity in both abortion and contraception, I had many reasons to rejoice in the Supreme Court’s majority decision in Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby written by Justice Alito. Unfortunately, the Court’s reasoning was not one of them. Two premises in the majority’s argument were especially troubling: … Read more

On Being and Staying Catholic in the Modern World

Editor’s note: The following is an address delivered June 7, 2014 to the graduating class of St. Michael the Archangel High School in Fredericksburg, Virginia. I love being here at this school. I love what you are trying to do. I am moved by the faith of your parents, and the generosity of your families, … Read more

The Reasonableness of Religious Belief

I have always been a believer. Among other reasons, that’s because I think rationality demands it. When I talk about “belief” here, I mean it in a very broad sense, which is not synonymous with “Catholic” or even “Christian”; Sikhs, Hindus and Zoroastrians might all qualify, and I myself was raised in the LDS church … Read more

Christianity: Foundation of Western Success

In his famous critique of John Stuart Mill, Mill and Liberalism (1963) the Cambridge historian Maurice Cowling underscored just how much the views advanced by self-identified liberals were underpinned by the conviction that their conception of the historical background to any number of events is more-or-less universally accepted. Sometimes they are right in making that … Read more

Invest in Catholic Youth: Build Beautiful School Chapels

  Intellege ut credas; crede ut intellegas  (In order to believe you must understand. In order to understand you must believe.)  —St. Augustine A priest once told me that the best place to teach students the faith is in a church. For it is in a church that they can see a physical expression of … Read more

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