A Built-In Homing Instinct

Pigeons follow noses

Homing pigeons have long blown the minds of many with their uncanny ability to find their way home, even across great and disorienting distances. Their innate navigational skills are astounding. Someone jokingly said, “I just sold my homing pigeons on EBay… for the 22nd time.”

It has been suggested that if we could teach a homing pigeon about geography it would probably never arrive at its destination. Its inherent bird instincts are a far superior guide for finding its way to its nest.

Could instinctive faith be a more trustworthy compass for humans than cold rationalism? Although in a state of disrepair, could our basic intuition not point us the right way?  It appears that humans are naturally predisposed, or “wired” to believe in a supreme being. The New Testament declares that the divine law is inscribed upon human hearts (Rom. 2:15). Never has a tribe been discovered that did not have some kind of belief in the supernatural. A recognition of God seems to be our default setting, written in our DNA.

It is not merely on the basis of reason and logic that a person must find God. When we consider how often reason has led us astray, it behooves us to give more credence to instinctive childlike faith.  It could well help many to set off in the direction of home.

Logic Is A Tool, Not A Religion

gearsLogic may be viewed, perhaps, as a machine which is designed, at best, to be such that when we feed into it certain data and turn the logic crank, we inevitably get certain conclusions out the other end. Logic is designed to give inevitably true results starting from known true–or assumed-to-be-true–premises. Logic is a wonderful tool when we want only logical conclusions. We should not reject such a machine merely because it is not equipped to handle all of reality. The scientist who commits himself to use a logic machine is doing wisely, qua scientist, for use on data of science. But if he feeds into that machine convictions that there is no God, or ignores God because He is not in his corpus of data, and then draws from his logic the conclusion that God does not exist, his conclusion is irrelevant. Logic is a tool; it should not be made into a religion.

–Kenneth L. Pike,
With Heart and Mind

Logic, Mysticism, and Madness

questions doubtsMen talk of the extravagances and frenzies that have been produced by mysticism; they are a mere drop in the bucket. In the main, and from the beginning of time, mysticism has kept men sane. The thing that has driven them mad was logic… The only thing that has kept the race of men from the mad extremes of the convent and the pirate-galley, the night-club and the lethal chamber, has been mysticism— the belief that logic is misleading, and that things are not what they seem.

— G. K. Chesterton

Post-modernity and rat poison

William Lane CraigMost people don’t for a minute think that there are no objective standards of truth, rationality, and logic. . . [A] post-modern culture is an impossibility; it would be utterly unlivable. Nobody is a post-modernist when it comes to reading the labels on a medicine bottle versus a box of rat poison.

–William Lane Craig

It doesn’t always stand to reason

Jurgen Schulz'12 copyOne of the crucial factors relating to faith and belief is the fact that humans are not merely rational creatures. We often think and act in very irrational, and sometimes downright foolish ways. Reason does not reign supreme in our lives.

Along with a mind, we have a heart—a motive center. Our heart tends to find certain things attractive or repulsive, and encourages our mind to look for logical reasons to support these inclinations. Before long “good” arguments are found to back them up these preferences and desires of the heart.

We often end up eating something we shouldn’t eat, or buying something we shouldn’t buy. At times we act or react in wrong and hurtful ways.

What happened to our rationality?

It got overtaken by our desires. Our mind got highjacked by our heart.

A similar phenomenon takes place in matters of faith. There are things swirling around in our hearts like guilt, pride, lust, resentment, hurtful memories, etc. Our intellect is colored and shaped by these feelings and inclinations. We latch on to certain ideas because we “feel” inclined to do so. It may have little or nothing to do with logic or reason.

It was suggested by Thomas Cranmer that what the heart loves, the will chooses and the mind justifies.

Thomas Aquinas ‏went as far as to say “Most men seem to live according to sense rather than reason.”

So the questions arise: Do people reject belief in God because of cold hard evidence? Or do they do so because they have hearts that prefer it to be that way? Do we honestly seek to know the truth, whatever it may be, or do we seek evidence to support what we really want to believe? How objective are we really?

I am afraid that rationality is only a part of what’s going on. Perhaps a small part. We are often eager to believe what we know is not true. No one deceives us more often than we deceive ourselves.

Even in matters of life and death.

In fact, it’s rather scary.

–Jurgen Schulz