Man Cannot Live By Reason Alone

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Even the wisest of mankind cannot live by reason alone; pure arrogant reason, denying the claims of prejudice (which commonly are also the claims of conscience), leads to a wasteland of withered hopes and crying loneliness, empty of God and man: the wilderness in which Satan tempted Christ was not more dreadful than the arid expanse of intellectual vanity deprived of tradition and intuition, where modern man is tempted by his own pride.

―Russell Kirk,
The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot

Trust

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I demand from my friend trust in my good faith which is certain without demonstrative proof. It wouldn’t be confidence at all if he waited for rigorous proof. Hang it all, the very fairy-tales embody the truth. Othello believed in Desdemona’s innocence when it was proved: but that was too late. Lear believed in Cordelia’s love when it was proved: but that was too late. ‘His praise is lost who stays till all commend.’ The magnanimity, the generosity which will trust on a reasonable probability, is required of us. But supposing one believed and was wrong after all? Why, then you would have paid the universe a compliment it doesn’t deserve. Your error would even so be more interesting and important than the reality. And yet how could that be? How could an idiotic universe have produced creatures whose mere dreams are so much stronger, better, subtler than itself?”

―C. S. Lewis

Something Higher

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An ancient Hebrew songwriter coined a phrase: “Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.”

I think he was on to something.

We need something higher. A vantage point. Something above. Something that transcends us.

In a world where equality reigns, where everyone is in the same boat, on the same level, in the same mess, we are left without a clear reference point. We have no guiding star to show the way. We are without a North Pole to make our moral compass work. No clear guidelines. Just sameness.

We need a Rock that is higher.

If we develop and choose our own values, then what we put in with one hand, we are taking out with the other. We end up building on something no better, no higher than ourselves. Not a promising foundation.

Equality informs us that no one has the right to judge. We are all in the same soup. No one is qualified to say something is wrong or evil, or to suggest their opinion is the best. All ideas are equal—except, of course, the idea that one might be better than another.

If that’s the case, Mother Teresa and Hitler end up on the same level. Heaven and hell would no longer exist. If no one has the right to “judge,” then the Holocaust and hospitals are both equally valid. We have no solid basis to discriminate between killers and caregivers. We are left only with different options, opinions, and personal preferences. We have leveled the playing field, and now it’s all up for grabs.

We have become confused about gender. We don’t know how to differentiate between men and women, or how many variations there are in between. Everyone is free to make their choice from the gender smorgasbord. We don’t know which bathroom to use, or if we should say Mr, Mrs, Ms, or something else. We are at sea without a rudder.

How did we get into this mess?

We need something rocklike—something solid that doesn’t shift or quake with each passing fad. A strong foundation that is resilient and resistant to the changing winds that blow. Something fixed and unmovable.

We need something higher.

Maybe . . . it’s Someone higher that we need.

Someone to define which direction is up and which is down, how things are to work, how life is to be lived. That would sure help.

Maybe there is Someone.

Perhaps we lost our way because we lost sight of Him.

Maybe we need to join the Hebrew poet and said: “Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.”

—J. O. Schulz

The Doubter’s Dilemma

doubtDescartes [the French philosopher] sought to doubt every thought that came into his head (e.g., is he really eating an apple or only dreaming that it is so?) until he would come upon something which was indubitable. Systematic doubt would open the door to final certainty for him. Yet Descartes recognized that he could not ultimately doubt everything…

The modern-day apes of Descartes who claim they will doubt absolutely everything and accept nothing, except upon proof act or talk like arrogant fools. Nobody can doubt everything. Nobody. If a person were truly to doubt everything—his memory of past experiences, his present sensations, the “connections” between experiences, the meanings of his words, the principles by which he reasons—he would not be “thinking” at all (much less doubting), and there would be no “he” to think or not to think. A fundamental (logically basic) set of beliefs—a faith—is inescapable for anyone.

Men only succeed in deluding themselves when they say that they will not accept anything without proof or demonstration—that they allow no place for “faith” in their outlook or in the living of their lives. Accordingly, such unbelievers who criticize Christians for appealing to “faith” are intellectual hypocrites—men who cannot and do not live by their own declared standards for reasoning.

–Greg. L. Bahnsen,
Always Ready