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Saint Vincent College Faculty Blog

Whatsoever Things are True

Posted by Michael Krom on Fri, Feb 8, 2013 @ 12:02 PM

faith and reason catholic summer programI have tried to be intentional about using images and quotes for the Faith and Reason summer program that help the students, faculty, and monks focus on the Catholic understanding of the relationship between faith and reason.  One of my favorites comes from St. Paul's letter to the Philippians:

"For the rest, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever modest, whatsoever just, whatsoever holy, whatsoever lovely, whatsoever of good fame, if there be any virtue, if any praise of discipline, think on these things."

Here we have a clear admonition to seek out truth, beauty, and goodness wherever these may be found.  In the popular mindset (no thanks to the media and entertainment industries), faith is associated with being closed-minded and even smug, whereas being reasonable has the connotation of being open-minded and humble.  There may be individuals who fit those stereotypes, and there is no doubt that prideful believers do more harm than good when trying to evangelize.  That being said, this is a misrepresentation of authentic faith.

How do we understand faith and reason?

Holy Spirit Dove, Catholic Summer Program

As Catholics, we understand faith to be a grace that helps us to see how God acts in history and in our own lives; through faith, we see more.  Further, faith encourages us to use reason in the pursuit of understanding our faith and growing as members of the body of Christ.  To paraphrase the great Benedictine philosopher, St. Anselm, faith seeks understanding.  And, we could add, reason seeks out faith in order to answer the questions it poses.  As John Paul II puts it, "Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of the truth."

Here are just some of the questions we ask in our Faith and Reason Summer Program in order to think through the relationship between faith and reason:

  • What does reason tell us about true happiness?
  • Can we come to know that God exists through reason alone?
  • How are science and religion related?
  • What does faith add to artistic expression such as composing music?

I hope you can explore these questions with us this summer!

Topics: faith and reason, Michael Krom, John Paul II

About the Authors

Michelle Gil-Montero is an associate professor of English and director of creative writing at Saint Vincent College. She runs the visiting writers series on campus, oversees the student literary magazine, and serves as guru to aspiring poets on campus. She received her MFA from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 2007, and she has been on the Saint Vincent faculty since that year. She is an active poet and literary translator from Spanish. She is spending part of the 2016-17 school year travelling to Argentina on a Howard Foundation fellowship and Fulbright grant. 

Dr. John J. Smetanka has been a member of the full-time faculty since 1997 and currently serves as the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Academic Dean of Saint Vincent College, a position he has held since January 2008. Dr. Smetanka has taught courses in Physics, Astronomy, Chemistry and Geology as well as interdisciplinary seminars. He has published scientific research articles in physics and astrophysics journals, numerous conference proceedings and also works in science education reform and the interaction between science, technology and theology.

Jim Kellam is an associate professor of biology at Saint Vincent College and our resident ornithologist. He received his Ph.D. from Purdue University in 2003, and is taking this semester as a sabbatical. What does that mean? He'll explain in his blog posts.

Dr. Michael J. Urick is Graduate Director of the Master of Science in Management: Operational Excellence program, and Associate Professor of Management and Operational Excellence at the Alex G. McKenna School of Business, Economics, and Government. Dr. Urick teaches courses related to organizational behavior, human resources, culture, leadership, diversity, conflict, supply chain, operations and research methods. Professionally, Urick serves on the board of the Institute for Supply Management (Pittsburgh) and belongs to the Society for Human Resource Management and APICS. For fun, Urick enjoys music and, since 1998, has led and performed with Neon Swing X-perience, a jazz band that has released multiple albums and toured portions of the US. He enjoys watching movies, is an avid reader of fantasy and science fiction, and also likes to fence.

David Safin, C'00, has been a lecturer in the communication department since the Fall of 2003, and has served in a variety of administrative roles since the summer of 2004. Currently, he teaches multimedia in the communication department as an assistant professor. 

Dr. Michael Krom received his Doctorate in philosophy at Emory University in 2007 and is currently the chair of the philosophy department at Saint Vincent. He has authored a book on religion and politics and continues to publish works in Catholic moral and political thought. Dr. Krom also directs the Faith and Reason summer program every summer. 

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