The words belief and believe get thrown around too often for my liking, and to believe something is not using one of your most important mental tools; reason. Reason is a method of making sense of something using rationality and logic, and reaching a conclusion through evidence. Reason is also a way of reaching a moral decision, as it’s using impartial thinking to give the most benefit to the interests of others.
Reason is what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom, as we can contemplate our decisions and select the most appropriate and logical action, where the rest of the animal kingdom rely on instinct and habit. If we are to believe in the concept of a god providing us with the art of reason, why do so many who worship him fail to understand its concept, and instead prefer superstition and fantasy over facts?
”Beliefs do not change facts. Facts, if one is rational, should change beliefs.” – Ricky Gervais
Reason is the basis of philosophy and the scientific method, as scepticism is the partner of reason, and doubt leads to questioning, and questioning leads to research, and research leads to answers, rather than accepting something on faith. This leads to critical thinking which is about dealing with facts to form judgement, and is an important aspect of science as it attempts to be unbiased and without ego, influence or prejudice.
“I don’t want to believe, I want to know” – Carl Sagan
Those nine words sum up reason perfectly for me. To reason is to question everything, to study cause and effect, and find out why, not assume. Many theists use the following method to justify their faith:
’Allah is proven by the Qur’an, and the Qur’an is proven by Allah.’
Where is the logic, the reason, the rationality and the facts?
’Jesus loves me’
’How do you know?’
’I can feel it in my heart’
Love isn’t reasonable, and it often leads to people making terrible choices as their emotion overcomes their rationality. Love is far from reasonable when it’s claimed that some dude who’s been dead 2000 years loves you, but you’ve never met him. Of course emotions are a good thing as we wouldn’t be human without them, but emotions don’t lead to reason. Take empathy as an example. You view life from someone else’s perspective, and your conscience tells you to help them, or support them, which is what we should do, but at the end of the day, emotions are subjective and are based on personal feelings, opinions and experiences. Emotions can cloud your judgement as you’re making a decision that you think is the right one, and often disregard using reason. Reason is objective as it deals with views that are factual things, such as things that can be verified in experience without opinions attached.
Reason, I think, is quite a complex subject and can cause contradictions in life. As above I wrote that reason can lead to moral decisions by being objective, but using emotions is subjective as is often without using reason, but empathy, humility and compassion are all key ingredients to morality and living an ethical life. What are your thoughts?