“Unless I see, unless I touch, I will not believe!” said Thomas. On the surface it sounds reasonable and logical. It represents the rational approach so much in use today. There are those who feel that everything can be rationally explained. If something is obscure, all we have to do is shed a ray of scientific light on it and it will become clear.
Of course we must be guided by reason, but we must also listen to the imagination and the heart. There are parts of life which cannot be understood by purely rational means. Science cannot explain everything!
If we adopt the approach of Thomas, we risk condemning ourselves to living in a purely materialistic world. Some of the most important things in life can neither be seen nor touched. There is a layer of reality which eludes the senses but which, nevertheless, is absolutely real. The visible world is only part of a greater world, which (as we profess in the Creed) includes invisible realities from which is draws its chief significance. As the Little Prince said, “What is essential is invisible.”
Seeing and hearing can become crutches which present us from thinking, feeling, and imagining. Vision, insight, understanding, perception, have little to do with seeing.
When a person knows something, really knows it, deep down in the depths of their heart, the person does not have to argue about it or prove it. They just know it, and that is enough. We are no longer sufficiently aware of the importance of what we cannot know intellectually, and which we must know in other ways.
We can sympathize with Thomas. After all, he was merely echoing the human cry for certainty. However, here on earth there is no absolute certainty about God and spiritual realities. We have to be content with, as Scripture tells us, “seeing dimly as in a mirror.”
Rationalists approach God and religion as something that can be understood and explained; mystics approach God as something mysterious that can neither be understood nor explained but only experienced. Faith takes us where our senses cannot go. Which is the stronger? Faith without doubts, or faith that contends with doubts?
— Father Dennis, April 8, 2018