Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Trouble With Reason

So many today seem to worship human reason. They accept or reject truth based on whether it makes sense to them. But the trouble is truth is too big. The human mind can only reason its way to so much truth. So people take short cuts. The convince themselves certain things are rational or irrational without drilling into the details. But it gets complicated. Often there are multiple opinions. Some say something is rational to believe and same say it is not. You have to choose who to believe. Often people choose based on preference. What would they prefer to be true.

Take, for example, stories of miracles. Often the best witnesses affirm the miracle. If they didn't the story would not get very far. But then there are others further removed from the event who declare the thing to be a fraud. So we have a choice what to believe. People often go with what they want the truth to be. If they believe miracles do not happen then they are unlikely to change that view. There are a few exceptions like in this story but mostly people just declare any evidence to be insufficient. There are some who accept miracles when someone prays to Jesus but reject them when Mary or a saint is involved. So even very similar evidence can produce very different conclusion based on whether it fits your tradition or not.

But accepting or rejecting other people's opinions is problematic. It makes the assumption that your reasoning is somehow better than that of the people whose conclusions you are rejecting. The only other conclusion is to admit you have made some assumptions or accepted a certain school of thought or traditional wisdom based on faith. I say "admit" because for some "faith" is a dirty word and for others "tradition" is a dirty word. So the tendency is to assert their opinion is based on pure reason or in the protestant case scripture alone with plain reason. In both cases the only option left is to declare yourself to be smarter than the person you disagree with.

So belief in pure reason leads to the devaluing of other people's reasoning. If somebody disagrees with us we can only affirm their intelligence by accepting they have done well given the traditional framework they are in and the various influences on their thought. You might still have to be careful even saying that. For some it is an insult because they claim to be based on pure reason or scripture alone. Ironically enough, that is an irrational statement demanded by their tradition.. But at least your opinion of them could be charitable. You would still argue your tradition was superior but not based on some imagined ability to evaluate both using your reason.

So with all you hear about religion leading to war it seems like trying to remove faith and tradition from consideration only makes the problem worse. Of course you can't remove them. You can only choose which tradition you have faith in. But even the facade of pure reason seems to lead to less charity, not more.


  1. Is Half of The Story Sufficient For Salvation?

    How many sides are there to a story? If you say two, then you are wrong. If you had one side and I had one side that would make two sides. However, there is a third side, the side of truth.

    Rule # 1... One half of truth does not a truth make. Neither does one half of a story make the full story. No intelligent person can hear one side of a story and decide which side has the truth.

    Both sides have to be heard, then analysed, and then a decision has to be made as to which side (if either) has a valid story, and after that, the right side(s), or truth side, can be determined.

    This thinking holds true for discerning what Holy Scripture tells us.

    Throughout the Bible there are double standards, yet the fundamentalist thinking shows only one standard, or one side of the story, or only one half of the truth.

    Their thinking is in violation of rule # 1. With only one half of truth, you do not have truth. Anything less than the whole truth is error.

    In the following examples, side 'A' is the first side, side 'B' is the second, and side 'C' is the right, or truth side.

    Example # 1... Sola Scriptura...? Only the Bible. Fundamentalist thinking is that the Bible is sufficient and nothing else is needed for salvation.

    First of all, in order to believe in the 'Bible Only' philosophy, you have to show that Scripture says it. Is that not true? The doctrine of 'Sola Scriptura' is not to be found in Scripture.

    A. Tradition is condemned in many places in Scripture, such as Job 22:15, Matthew 15:6, Mark 7:3-13, Galatians 1:14, Colossians 2:8, 1Timothy 1:4, Titus 1:14, and 1Peter 1:18. Look at these verses and grasp their meaning.

    They all address 'vain' human traditions and are rightly condemned. This is one half of the truth.

    B. Tradition is supported in more places in Scripture than it is condemned. Study Isaiah 59:21, Luke 1:2, 2:19,51, Luke 10:16, 2Thessalonians 2:14-15 - "Stand firm and hold the traditions you have learned..", 2Timothy 1:13,2:2, 1Peter 1:25, 1Jn 1:1,2:24, 2Jn 1:12, Revelation 12:17,19:10.

    These are different traditions than mentioned in 'A'. These are the Traditions of GOD, or 'Apostolic' Tradition.' Again, this is only half of the truth.

    C. The truth is, yes, we do condemn the vain tradition of men, as shown in 'A', and we must keep the Tradition of GOD, as shown in 'B'.

    Thus we have half the truth in 'A', and the other half in 'B', and combined we have the full truth.

    The false doctrine of Sola Scriptura adds A and B together and puts the total in A, rejecting all of tradition. A+B=C.

  2. Thanks for commenting Michael. I think the concept of half-truth is really not a mathematical use of the word half. It should be part-truth. We know there is some truth but don't know if it is 50% or 10% or 90%. So adding half and half to get a whole does not really work.