A Powerful Defense of Reason … or Maybe Not

In wrestling with the issues of faith and reason and how they should be used within society, I asked for input from an experienced pastor.  Here’s his reply.  I’ll let you evaluate it yourself.

I want you to know that I do not shun controversy.  On the contrary, I will take a stand on any issue at any time, regardless of how fraught with controversy it might be.  You have asked me how I feel about reason.  All right, here is how I feel about this important matter.

If, when you say reason, you mean the arrogance that rejects faith, that would have us discard what we know to be true more deeply than sterile logic can express; if you mean the heartless drive to dethrone the innocent widow or precious child from their cherished beliefs; if you mean the pernicious force that shakes the faith of the honest Christian man or woman in almighty God, what Martin Luther called “the devil’s bride” and “the greatest enemy of faith,” what the greatest minds in Christianity have made a slave to faith, then certainly I am against it.

But if, when you say reason, you mean the tool that gave us medicine, the fruits of which are antibiotics, anesthesia, vaccines, and the distant memory of scourges like smallpox and plague; if you mean the technology that teaches us of our glorious universe and that landed men on the moon and brought us the vibrant world we live in today; if you mean the rejection of ancient superstition in favor of scientific explanations; if by reason you mean our ability to analyze and dismantle foreign religions and reveal their legendary origin, and to reject beliefs that are merely pleasing rather than correct; if you mean God’s greatest gift, the gift for which we must stand in judgment for using wisely, the very tool that gets us safely through each day, then certainly I am for it.

This is my stand.  I will not retreat from it.  I will not compromise.*

Rev. Phineas P. Stopgauge

Photo credit: Wikimedia

*Alert readers will recognize this as an homage to the 1952 “If by whiskey” speech by Mississippi State Representative Noah “Soggy” Sweat, Jr.  (No kidding—that was really his name.)

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  • Retro

    “…if by reason you mean our ability to analyze and dismantle foreign religions and reveal their legendary origin, and to reject beliefs that are merely pleasing rather than correct…”

    Ain’t it a bitch when your own religion gets analyzed and has a legendary origin and gets dismantled?

  • RandomFunction2

    To Retro,

    Yeah, I agree, it’s a bit absurd to praise reason for dismantling your neighbor’s belief, but to protest when it turns against yours. Unless, of course, what you are out for is power and not truth.

    • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

      I find it amusing (or maybe tragic) when the typical Christian argues against Mormonism or Islam or any other religion. All of a sudden, he’s as clear-headed and skeptical as I am and uses pretty much the same arguments. But somehow, he doesn’t see the irony.

  • Bob Calvan

    The Christian out of love argues against false religion, for the love of the soul of that lost person..
    And the absolute standard of truth we use for our argument is the Bible.

    What is tragic is your standard of truth is arbitrary and subjective to your opinion.

    • RandomFunction2

      To BobC,

      And what is arbitrary and subjective about sense data and the rules of logic?

    • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

      And your standard is objectively true just because you think it to be? Do you give yourself the power to decide absolutes in all areas or in just this one?

      If your morality is objectively true, why not convince the rest of us of this?