St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) on Faith and Reason

Today is the Memorial for St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, a German Jewess who converted to Catholicism, became a Carmelite nun, and was gassed by the Nazis at Auschwitz.  Here’s a short biography.

Her thoughts on faith and reason came to mind today as I heard the  priest say a few words about her at the beginning of Mass (I’m quoting from “ESSAY 2: How We Believe…”

“St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) explored the relationship between philosophy and theology, or equivalently, between faith and reason. In her work, Finite and Eternal Being, she proposed a hierarchy, that faith went beyond rational knowledge:

‘Since the ultimate ground of all existence [alles Seienden] is unfathomable, everything which is seen in this ultimate perspective moves into that ‘dark light’ of faith, and everything intelligible is placed in a setting with an incomprehensible background.’
–St. Teresa Benedicta, “Finite and Eternal Being,” p.25

I’ll put this another way:  the fundamental question we ask is “Why are we here?”   Science might be able to say how our physical bodies came to be here, but science can’t answer the question: “Why did we come to be.   Science would respond: “that question is meaningless, can’t be answered by scientific methods.”  Only faith can give a satisfactory answer to that why question.”