Objective knowledge is the universal quest of humanity. Throughout history, people of every tribe and nation seek to expand human understanding. Plato, the Greek philosopher, wrote of objective values of truth, goodness, and beauty that could be found through human reason and were not subject to individual interpretation. That is, they were universally knowable and applicable. I hope to look at these three ideas in a bit of detail and go a bit beyond to the idea of reason leading to faith in God.
Even in infancy, babies observe and test the world around them, striving to learn how things work. Once children begin to speak, “why” quickly becomes a favorite word. This same drive impels physicists to work to discover the mysteries of the universe and philosophers to aim to answer life’s enduring questions. In every field of human endeavors, truth is the ultimate goal. Reason and rationality are built into our very being. The world we live in follows distinct mathematical laws of physics. If everything is relative, then any attempt to understand or nail down principles is futile. Thus, truth must exist to make sense of any quest for knowledge.
Ethics and morality are a necessary component of a functioning society. Right and wrong are real, distinct entities that do not depend on the observer. There are things that are reprehensible regardless of extenuating circumstances. Goodness is real and definable. Compassion for others, justice, and virtue are lauded and admired whether or not they are practiced.
Beauty is something we revere and seek out for its own sake, irrespective of whether it benefits us in the slightest. Art and music and literature have, at their core, a desire to transcend reality and to communicate loveliness. Although somewhat subjective, there are things that are universally appealing.
Truth, goodness, and beauty: the triad that we seek. Why these three? Perhaps the answer lies in something beyond what we can see and feel and touch. Could there be an underlying cause of this quest? Maybe a God who is Himself Truth, Goodness, and Beauty? Thus faith comes into play.
Faith is not a suspension of reason, but rather a complement of reason. Truth cannot contradict truth. Belief in God is not a regression to magic and superstition, but rather a going beyond what is verifiable. God has left hints and evidence of His existence throughout His Creation, not incontrovertible proof. There will always be room for reasonable doubt. Thus we are met with a choice: to believe in God or not. Faith is that choice.