There are in the lives of human beings many more truths that are simply believed than truths that are acquired by way of personal verification. Who, for instance, could assess critically the countless scientific findings upon which modern life is based? Who could personally examine the flow of information that comes day after day from all parts of the world and that is generally accepted as true? Who in the end could forge anew the paths of experience and thought that have yielded the treasures of human wisdom and religion? This means that the human being – the one who seeks truth – is also the one who lives by belief.

In believing, we trust ourselves to the knowledge acquired by other people. This suggests an important tension. On the one hand, the knowledge acquired through belief can seem an important tension. On the one hand, the knowledge acquired through belief can seem an imperfect form of knowledge, to be perfected gradually through personal accumulation of evidence. On the other hand, belief is often humanly richer than mere evidence because it involves an interpersonal relationship and brings into play not only a person’s capacity to know, but also the deeper capacity to entrust oneself to others, to enter into a relationship with another, which is intimate and enduring.

Most people eventually seek an absolute, something to give all their searching meaning and an answer – something ultimate, which might serve as the ground of all things. In other words, they seek a final explanation, a supreme value, something that puts an end to all their questioning. Whether we admit it or not, there comes for everyone the moment when personal existence must be anchored to a truth recognized as final, a truth that confers certitude no longer open to doubt.


Through the moral life, faith becomes “confession,” not only before God, but also before humanity; it becomes witness. “You are the light of the world,” said Jesus. “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”


Our faith, our belief, are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart this desire to know the truth – in a word, to know Himself – so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to know the fullness of the truth about themselves.

Continue to “On Living in the World” or see full list of excerpts.

from Go In Peace, by John Paul II