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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 the input from an experienced pastor.  Here’s his letter in reply.  I’ll let you evaluate it yourself.

(Alert readers will recognize this as an homage to the 1952 “If by whiskey” speech by Mississippi State Representative Noah “Soggy” Sweat, Jr.)

(This is a modified version of a post originally published 11/4/11.)

About Bob Seidensticker
  • http://twitter.com/dwwarnock Dave Warnock

    so we can eat our cake and have it too? perfect. Reason is great unless it bumps up against our narrow faith view (OURS…not anyone else’s around the world- theirs is “merely pleasing and not correct” like his…). It’s good to see that he is open to dialog with you on this…oh wait, he’s not. This is his stand and he will not retreat from it nor compromise. alas…

  • watcher_b

    The issue with making reason subordinate to faith (as many Christians claim to do) is that then there is no recourse when faced with deception. It requires a reasonable mind to maneuver around such things.

    As Dave put it here, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

  • smrnda

    Sometimes reason tells us stuff we don’t like to hear, but it’s best to accept it and use the new information to move on. Let’s take the naive belief that all police officers can be trusted; regrettably, police corruption is a fact of life. I’d like to believe that all cops were honest, but I know it’s not true, and it pays to keep that fact in mind. Doctors have often told me a few things about my health that I didn’t want to hear and that weren’t encouraging, but the truth is, in the end, more useful than false hope.

  • Greg G.

    So Rev. Stopgauge is both for reason and against it, depending upon whether he likes the conclusion. That’s a classic case of compartmentalization.

  • Greg G.

    (Alert readers will recognize this as an homage to the 1952 “If by whiskey” speech by Mississippi State Representative Noah “Soggy” Sweat, Jr.)

    Reminds me of the guy who was asked during a job interview if he drank. He replied, “That depends on whether you are asking or offering!”

  • Rain

    “what we know to be true more deeply than sterile logic can express”

    Sounds a little over the top. The dude doth protest too much, methinks.

  • http://avoiceinthewilderness-mcc1789.blogspot.com/ Michael

    “Our ability to dismantle to analyze and dismantle foreign religions and reveal their legendary origin.” How rich, since every religion is “foreign” to someone who does not hold it. Obviously he would not like someone of another religion pointing out Christianity’s legendary origins.

  • Compuholic

    Wow is that letter written on a typewriter? It has been a while since I’ve seen one of those. But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised: The form follows the content. Both are equally outdated.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Well … a typewriter font.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    But if when you say reason, you mean the tool that gave us medicine…

    Which taught us that illness is not caused by demons, but by naturalistic things like viruses, bacteria, genes and environment.

  • EcstazFredy

    It’s funny when he says: “reject beliefs that are merely pleasing rather than correct”, it seems like he has a double standard, one for his beliefs and one for other beliefs. At least an atheist rejects all supernatural beliefs equally and without culture-related discrimination.

  • Machintelligence

    I think we have a deepity here.

  • Kodie

    As long as reason doesn’t interfere with my blind regard for invisible causes, I am for it. If it serves to wrestle and shatter the particular illusion that comforts me*, I am against it.
    *Instead of “me”, he props up the “innocent” widow or the “precious” child to hide behind and is virtuously against the type of reason that makes this sorry world less secure for those he deems too frail to carry on without faith – not himself of course.

  • Norm Donnan

    I guess it all comes down to just what we consider reason to actually mean.We only have to be in any sort of relationship with another person and it isnt long before they will seem to us to be unreasonable about something.Of course they will disagree that they are at all,it’s a very relative term.

  • stanz2reason

    Bob… I’ll take a crack at this one…

    “If, when you say reason, you mean the arrogance that rejects faith…”

    I’m forgetting, which one of us thinks a personal god who takes an interest in everything you do, created the universe for you, who incidentally he also created in his own image?

    “… that would have us disguard what we know to be true more deeply than sterile logic can express.”

    Even Disney doesn’t offer such condescending pleas to just use your imagination to define the world…

    “… if you mean the heartless drive to dethrone the innocent widow or precious child from their cherished beliefs”

    Believing in Santa Claus doesn’t make him true. Perhaps if you didn’t fill the child’s head with such drivel to begin with (or the widow when she was younger) it wouldn’t fall to us, the adults, to explain this to them

    “… if you mean the pernicious force that shakes the faith of the honest Christian man or woman in almighty God”

    I think we’re confusing ‘reality’ with ‘reason’.

    Incidentally, the following really works:

    Reality (noun): 1) the pernicious force that shakes the faith of the honest christian man or woman in almighty god

    LATER ON

    … if you mean the rejection of pernicious superstitution in favor of scientific explanations.

    … to reject beliefs that are merely pleasing rather than correct.

    ** HEAD EXPLODES **

    Sorry… can’t type anymore… head exploded.

  • swbarnes2

    Funny…of course, it’s all the same reason. The reason that got us to the moon did so because it ruthlessly excludes propositions which the evidence fails to support.

    And funny how reason is awesome for refuting other people’s religions.

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