Reason is Overrated

Reason is overrated, at least that’s what our current culture seems to be saying to us. There are so many things going on in our culture that seem to be devoid of reason that it appears reason is no longer needed to function in our society.

Philosophers refer to this approach as “postmodern”. The term “modern” refers to the use of reason and rationality. By adding the term “post” in front of “modern”, we have the term “postmodern”, which is what happens after we abandon reason. Postmodernism seems to be the prevailing mindset in our culture today, even if most people aren’t aware of what the term means. In postmodernism, we no longer rely on a well-thought out approach to the important things. Instead, we take snippets of reasoning from different sources and patch them together in a kind of reason quilt, even if they don’t make sense as a whole. For instance, an Evangelical might be in favor of homosexual marriage, or an atheist might be pro-life.

There are so many reason black holes in our society these days. It’s hard to know where to begin.

  • A woman who was born to two white parents redefined herself as a black woman, reported 8 charges of racial discrimination against her, and became the head of a local NAACP. She believes that, in her heart, she has always been black. Furthermore, there are plenty of people who back up what she did and believe it is okay to change your race whenever you want to.
  • We have a huge national debt, totally over $18 trillion, yet many people in the federal government say we don’t have a spending problem. (We must have a lack of money problem.)
  • Islamic militants are causing death and havoc across the earth, but there are many people who say their terrorism has nothing to do with Islam, even though they quote the Koran, model their lives after Islamic practices, and shout “Allahu Akhbar!” (It must be those Jehovah’s Witnesses again.)
  • One of the most well-known social media networks began allowing its members to identify their gender from a list of 50 different gender types. One of those types was “other”, allowing an individual to define their gender in any imaginable way. (I wonder how this is going to affect the men’s and women’s clothing department at Kohl’s?)
  • A recent cabinet member of the current administration used her own private email account for all of her government emails, even though that was prohibited by the government. Other government officials knew of this, but did nothing to stop her, even though it included communication of the most sensitive nature. This ex-government official tells us that they did nothing wrong. (If I had done that as a government employee or contractor, I would have been tossed out in a New York minute.)
  • The highest court in our country, which should be at the height of the use of logic and reason, handed down a ruling where they said that the law should not be interpreted as written but only as it was intended to be written. (I wish I could have used that on some test answers in school.)
  • That same court, on the next day, decided to invent a right that had never existed, was not in the Constitution, that went against state laws throughout the nation, and that went against millennia of religious and cultural tradition.

These items are obviously false and devoid of logic to many of us. That is because we believe there is an objective logic and truth that exists apart from belief. We know that truth exists whether or not we believe it. It is in line with Jesus’ claim when he said “I am the Truth.” He is THE Truth. He is not A Truth that exists along with many other truths. There are things that are true and things that are false.

Without that, you have to accommodate many possible “truths” at the same time, even those that are conflicting. This leads to a mindset that accepts many things that are simply not based on reality.

The process of suspending reason is difficult to detect. It does not happen all at once, often growing bit by bit until it is full-blown. I don’t really know how it begins, but it seems to include the following components. First, the goal becomes more important than the facts. We envision something that we want to occur, and we begin to focus heavily on that. Our version of utopia must be true, so we can’t see anything else. It’s like when you’re in a big crowd, and you’re looking for just one person. Lots of other people may pass by you, but you are only looking for that one person. In the same way, you can’t see anything else but that one goal.

The second thing that happens is that we selectively dismiss data. One countering fact comes our way. We dismiss it because it couldn’t possibly be true. Another countering fact comes through. No, that’s just a fluke as well. There are a variety of reasons we dismiss the data, such as:

  • We don’t like the messenger (“They’re so mean!”)
  • We aren’t emotionally prepared for the possibility of being wrong
  • We just don’t want to expend the brainpower to investigate the data for ourselves

We desperately want our belief, our vision to be true, so we eventually find ourselves sitting beside a mountain of reasons to abandon our belief. But we don’t see the mountain because we only see the goal.

And once we have gone down the path of idolizing our goals and blinding ourselves to contradictory evidence, it is easy to adopt the third part of suspending reason: abject defensiveness. As Defender of The Truth (whether it’s really true or not), we begin to put up excuses – any excuses whatsoever – in order to deny reality. Examples include “None of us is perfect”, “Who’s to say what’s right or wrong”, or “It’s a vast right-wing conspiracy”.  We use any reasons whatsoever to ignore the other side.

Clearly, any one of us could fall into this mindset. Let us hope that those of us who seek the truth will humbly recognize reality when it clearly shows its face.