Monday, March 3, 2008

Can I Trust What I Think?

A newborn baby looks up at her mother and tries to focus on the face smiling down on her. The baby has never seen a face before and has no idea what she is looking at. Her undeveloped brain will not hold the concept that the faces of her mother and father exist even when they are not within her field of vision. But later as her father begins to hide his face behind a blanket and play peek-a-boo, rudimentary reason tells her that he exists even when she cannot see him.

As she grows, she learns to apply reason to her broadening world. She observes facts such as sunrises and sunsets, the disappearance of ships over the edge of the horizon and the position of certain stars at certain times. Applying reason to these facts allows her to determine the shape of the earth is round, not flat. Reason points her toward facts and truths that she cannot know except by exercising the rational facilities of her mind.

But is reason dependable? Can we believe what it tells us about facts and truths that are not readily apparent, or do our personal experiences and conditioning so overwhelm reason as to render it untrustworthy?

1 comment:

David Porter said...


I have "reasoned" myself into a lot of sin over the years. I suspect that reason, just like any of our other human attributes is a useful tool but certainly not one which is 100% infallible.