Saturday, November 13, 2010

On A Stranded Island Looking For Reason

It is impossible for a man to marry his widow's sister.

Imagine you have made this statement and are confronted with a dissenter. Now imagine your dissenter accuses you of being a bigot, cramming your "family values" down other people's throats instead of actually examining the substance of the quote.

I can't tell you how many times I've been in such arguments. Many times, I find that we bring our own stereotypes and prejudices to the table and react to style instead of examining substance. Why do people fail to examine substance? I see this as the death of reason.

I'm sadly coming to the conclusion that many people do not live by reason. As you can see by this blog, I'm a "why" person. I ask both of others and first of myself, "why do you believe in x?" I believe it takes boldness to ask such questions because the answer could take us to places beyond our comfort zones.

I've been in many, many debates with people and found that when I probed the "why" questions, it didn't take too long before I learned that the dissenter did not have a reason to hold to their position. In some cases, where I might have been successful at revealing this, I would have expected the dissenter to be open-minded enough to consider re-examining their beliefs. And thankfully sometimes this is the case. But more often then not, I have found that the dissenter will persist DESPITE a lack of reasoning for their position and will often accuse me of being defensive because I'm always coming up with reasons for my positions.

Before I proceed further, let me say that I am far from perfect and am wrong more times than I know or would even care to admit. Many times, I'm on the wrong end of the argument. But because I try to follow the truth no matter where it takes me, I have seen growth in my worldview as a result.

I also need to say that I do NOT believe that reason is the end-all, be-all of truth. I am convinced that we need reason coupled with sound presuppositions. At the core, all of our presuppositions are grounded in faith. And because faith is ultimately volitional, meaning that we believe what we want to believe, our hearts must be pure. A pure heart means that we must love the truth more than our pet beliefs or winning an argument. We must even love the truth over our comfort zones.

We don't see the world as it is. We see the world as we are. Anias Nin

With the above said, I am beginning to conclude that the death of reason is the death of communication ifself. When I am in a discussion with a dissenter and discover that they are not deterred if I am successful at exposing their lack of reason and when I see that they lack a curiosity to explore the reasons for my position, the only thing I have left to do is to smile and nod at them. This cuts off the communication. This is why I am suggesting that the death of reason is the death of communication. The death of dialogue is the death of community.
When we lack reason, we vanquish ourselves to islands, stranded from the coasts of truth.

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