- Feb 18, 2010
- United Kingdom
The idea that truth proceeds directly from human reason was passed down to us by Christian theology, who in turn inherited it from classical philosophy. The point was never a 'God complex', it was to allow humans the means to draw closer to the ultimate source of truth, through a more perfect form of thought. Medieval and renaissance theology imagined creation as a hierarchical chain of being, with reason being the part of the human soul closest to God.Yes. I am also aware that my position assumes my own fallibility.
The modern philosophical position that truth proceeds directly from reason is called rationalism and associated, above all, with Descartes. Descartes rationalism is deeply, deeply rooted in his Christian faith. It simply does not make sense without the existence of God, which Descartes held to be self-evident. Again, reason is not a superpower humans have that allows them to dictate what is and isn't true, it is only ever imagined as a form of thought that is closer to God, the ultimate source of truth.
Empiricism and idealism, the opposing positions to rationalism, did see reason as valuable, but they were already beginning to see the limitations of reason as a tool. They represent the beginning of an age of critical philosophy, philosophy which is primarily concerned with finding the limitations of human knowledge rather than using formal logic to prove universal truth.
When Nietzche said that God is dead, what he meant in large part is that the entire basis of the Christian worldview was that reason could produce universal truth. The existence of God and the truth of Christian doctrine was all based in the exercise of reason. To "believe" in God was unnecessary, His existence was self-evident. Anyone could use reason to know that God existed. Critical philosophy had destroyed that relationship between religion, reason and universal truth. It had reduced God from an inescapable fact of the universe to an irrational belief, it had killed the reality and replaced it with a shadow.
Nietzche was wrong about a great many things, but seeing churches which once claimed reason as the higher part of the human soul now teach that reason is hubris and that believers should reject any form of thought that might lead to criticism, it becomes very difficult to argue with this point.
You are so terrified that reason will destroy your faith that you don't realize it already has. Your faith is not received, it is forced. You force it into existence because you have "chosen" it. You force the world to conform to it because otherwise it will be too weak to survive. You can "accept your own fallibility" all you want, but you display none of the epistemic humility which should come with that acceptance. You pretend to accept your fallibility only because it absolves you of any responsibility for being right, or failing that for being kind.