What the moonlight of reason shows dimly, the sunlight of revelation shows clearly

Some people think, “Reason and revelation are contradictory. If I accept revelation, I will be giving up my rationality and end up believing crazy things.”

Their apprehension is understandable, but it presumes the belief that reason keeps us sane. However, why should reason perform this function of distinguishing the sensible from the senseless? Why should the universe function rationally when it is supposed to be the product of unguided natural forces that had no rational faculty, to begin with? More fundamentally, why should we have the capacity for rationality? If we were fashioned by unguided natural forces, why did we end up with a reasoning capacity? 

The most reasonable understanding of the utility of reason is that it is a gift from a higher source. From where has this gift come? Might it be that the same higher intelligence that has made the universe according to a rational order has also given us a rational intelligence that helps us unravel the secrets of the universe? Might that same higher intelligence have also shared at certain momentous moments in history some far greater wisdom, the wisdom that is traditionally called revelation?

If this were true, then reason and revelation could work in a delightful harmony that illumines us with deeper understanding during our life-journey. 

Considering that the universe is so vast and what we know of it is so little, we could say that what we know with our reason is like what we see in the night with moonlight. But the big picture of what life is meant for might be visible through revelation, which is like the sunlight. 

Echoing the motif of harmonious illumination through various ways of knowing, the Bhagavad-gita (04.39) states that faith is the gateway through knowledge, be it through reason or revelation or both. 

 

Think it over:

  • How does rationality point to a higher source?
  • How can rationality point to revelation?
  • How can reason and revelation work harmoniously?

 

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04.39 A faithful man who is dedicated to transcendental knowledge and who subdues his senses is eligible to achieve such knowledge, and having achieved it he quickly attains the supreme spiritual peace.


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