“Life is hard. It’s harder if you’re stupid” That’s a great meme, isn’t it? It’s often attributed to the Duke, mostly because it sounds like something John Wayne would say. The problem being, he never said it. Nor did any of the characters he played. Odds are pretty good, he didn’t even believe it, although it’s too late to ask him.
Not only did John Wayne not say it, it isn’t even true. I mean, in a subjective world were truth is somewhat relative, who am I to suggest such a thing might be false? What if you just self identify as one of the smart people who really knows how to do life, unlike all the other midwits out there who are not quite as bright as you??
Heaven forbid I ever suggest that just might be pride speaking, rather then intelligence? My bad, whispering such things is most impolite…..
I’ve long been on a social justice campaign to slay the idol of our own capacity for reason. It’s a bit awkward, since I am somewhat reason based myself, but you know, God has never seemed terribly concerned about what I might find awkward and uncomfortable. So the bible says some things like, “lean not into your own understanding,” or “believing themselves wise they became fools.”
Actually, if you want to get technical about it, the entire bible is a tale of really smart people doing really dumb things. Solomon, the wisest of the wise, actually lost his whole kingdom. Solomon actually had an intelligence problem, a reasoning problem. He “rational lied” himself into trouble. So did King David. Jonah. Even Abraham. Peter. Judas….
I quote all the time, “there is a way that seems right to a man…..” Those are called “rational lies.” The smarter you are, the better you are at it. You actually have the capacity and the ability to think yourself into a great deal of trouble. Soon you can even get to the point where you just justify your own self. Then you can build an altar to your own brain, and rational lies away God’s very existence. I mean, who even needs Him? Obviously people are wayyy more capable of evolving and progressing towards some vastly superior state of being than our ignorant Bronze Age ancestors ever were.
Also, who wants to be associated with those embarrassing flat earthers? Young earthers? Fundamentalists? Talking donkeys? Disembodied hands writing on the wall? Burning bushes? An empty tomb and a man rising from the grave? That stuff is all just cray cray! Either the bible is just a collection of myths and metaphors or else it’s some elaborate conspiracy to enslave the population. Regardless, I’m much too reason based to believe in such nonsense…….
Human reason. The science minded. And so abortion is justified. The atomic bomb. Slavery. Communism. The Holocaust. Socialism. The war to end all wars. Chemical weapons. Eugenics. Even atheism itself. Along come Christians loudly proclaiming, but all those things are irrational! Listen to my brilliant apologetics based on pure reason and logic. Aren’t I smart? I’m sure I’ll convert all the secular humanists with my vastly superior reasoning skill and they’ll all see the light and change their minds. Because I’m right.
Of course you’re right! The problem being, secularism IS also based on reason. Reason is not moral and good. Intelligence is not kindness. When you believe humans just randomly evolved from nothingness, basically bags of biological goo, it’s quite rational to reason that women should have the right to remove an inconvenient clump of cells.
I am gravely concerned about this kind of post modern Christian reactionary mentality that tries to claim feelings, emotions, the heart, are all bad, sure to lead us astray. That plays right into secularism, because for the most part, they rather agree with you.
God doesn’t say, etch my word upon your brain, he says “carve it into the tablet of your heart.” God enters our world through our hearts. So, so many kids growing up in Christian homes get to high school or college and leave the faith. Many others do so as young adults and a huge part of that problem is caused because we often arm them with head knowledge, reason, world views, Christian culture. These things are really just sinking sand. Your reason will fail you the first time you are exposed to a professional, some phd atheist who has been practicing is craft for years. Our world views get pulled out from under us in life, all the time. Head knowledge will crumble the first time it faces adversity and asks, “So why does God allow suffering?”
So don’t evolutionists have a valid point? Shouldn’t we listen to scientists? They all seem very smart. Maybe the bible is not really the literal word of God? Wait, if people have lied to me about that, what else about my faith is built on a lie? And so it goes until they completely deconstruct and a new deconvertee is born.
The Truth is not an ideology or a worldview, He is a person. The Truth is not culture, politics, or human intelligence, He is a person. When we know Him, He is written on the tablet of our heart, imprinted on us, woven into our experiences. You can’t reason the Lord away from me because He has slipped in under the radar, bypassed my reason, and entered my heart.
My rationality did not place Him there in my heart, actually it fought to try to keep Him away.
The bible says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” It does not say, everyone will know you are my disciples because you are right and have demonstrated your vastly superior logic and reasoning skills.
So Jesus was tortured, crucified, died, buried in a tomb, and rose on the third day. Don’t try to tell me our faith can exist exclusively in the realm of human reason, because there ain’t nothing reasonable about any of that, and yes, at some point you do have to choose. That is scandalous, irrational, illogical, and counter intuitive. So what is going to take precedent, what is more important to you, the pride you have in your own understanding, or surrendering all to who He really is??
Could I be wrong about this beast I call “reason?” Should I stop saying that man seems to have a real affection for building an altar to his own “rational lies?” Of course I could be wrong! It is quite possible. I could have fallen down a rabbit hole and hit my head. I may have contracted some rare brain infection. However, I actually grew up within atheism. I’ve spent nearly half a century watching young people walk away from the church. I’ve spent decades observing as secular humanism just marched across the land. I’ve asked “why” so many times and and I’ve spent hours listening to people tell me. Heck, I’ve even sat by helplessly and watched pastor’s deconvert. Turns out that a faith built on nothing more then our own reason, our own willpower, our own intelligence, our own favor, can be unbuilt by the very same.
And now for about what we shall call “liberal Christians,” not really related to politics, but “liberal” as in those who take liberties. Does it really matter if Genesis is the literal word of God or if the earth is really millions of years old and God just kind of used evolution create us? Does it really matter if two men want to get married? Does it really matter if we just, you know, start dumping some of these old, outdated, culturally irrelevant rules?
You’re darn tootin it matters. It matters. Somebody smart once told me, “there are really only two religions in the world, God’s and man’s.” Flat out, we either lean into our own rationality or we lean into God’s. If we’re trying to lean exclusively into our own, what are we actually saying? We are saying we’re better than God. We are saying our own capacity for reason is vastly superior to the One who actually hung the stars in the sky.
There is great mercy there and forgiveness, too. Seriously, don’t beat yourself up. A frequent prayer of mine is “Sorry Lord, I once again seem to have forgotten you hung the stars in the sky.”
If you’re a Christian making snide remarks about “flat earthers” and “talking donkeys,” or accusing your sister of, “not trusting in her own ability to reason,” you actually got a heart problem, not an intelligence problem.
I actually do trust in my own ability to reason, because it is God based and rooted in wisdom and experience. So when I tell you that, “yes, it really matters,” yes we should stand on what the bible says, those aren’t empty words or wild opinions that just sprung forth from eating bad pizza.
I know who so often walks in the world together holding hands, as allies, and I know who so often likes to attack me and go for the throat. That would be atheists and liberal Christians, “liberal” in the sense of playing fast and loose with what the bible actually says. I have the scars.
My own faith is not built on my own ability to reason because if it were, that would be a complete house of cards, easily blown away like sand. My faith is planted on the Rock, in the personhood of Jesus Christ, His shed blood, and in the wisdom and experience of thousands of Christians who came before me, many who gave their very lives for our faith. So like, for thousands of years saints have been testifying, writing about faith, hashing out doctrine. They have already been there and done that, they already know.
If you think about it, it is actually the height of all hubris to think or believe that you of all people, just suddenly evolved into a vastly superior creature, whose capacity for reason now far out weighs your brothers and sisters in faith, including all those “bronze age goat herders” who were dumb enough to go and get themselves martyred.
Life is actually much harder if you’re smart. You can often see what others can’t, sometimes even before it comes. When you’re smart, far to often you must just sit by helplessly and observe. People tend to just dismiss you, to call you crazy, to question your reason. They don’t respect you and so lacking any authority, you just become powerless, caring deeply but completely unable to help them, sometimes struggling even just to communicate.
I tell people all the time, question everything, for goodness sakes, do think critically, ask God lots of questions. It’s just that there is a huge difference between asking God questions and questioning the need for God.