Religion’s Decline is Reason’s Decline

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In a recent essay in Newsweek, Discovery Institute Director Stephen Meyer makes the case for God by examining new scientific discoveries which suggest His existence. Specifically, he points to the new evidence showing that the physical universe has a beginning, the vast number of physical variables that have allowed life and the physical universe to exist, and the unusually complex structures of DNA and RNA molecules that ”vastly exceed our own digital high technology in their storage and transmission capabilities.”

All this indicates that the universe was designed and put into existence by a Divine Creator. Otherwise, one has to make the case that everything is a product of chance. One can certainly make this argument, and many do, but this becomes increasingly difficult as scientists continue to learn more about the universe. 

Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that any of Meyer’s claims will change anyone’s mind of whether or not God exists. While there may be a few who will feel affirmed in their faith and give thanks to God for His glorious creation, most people, particularly if they’re young, won’t really care. Sure, many of them will claim to have intellectual hang-ups about believing in God, objecting that there’s just not enough evidence to prove His existence, but this is a pretense. For most nonbelievers today, they have dispensed with the very idea of assertions, proofs, and conclusions.

These days, people don’t rely on logic and evidence for most of the decisions they make, and they haven’t done so for some time now. They follow the suggestions of their media, their tribe, and their appetites. Even if Christianity is quite reasonable, it just doesn’t seem necessary to most modern people, and many of them are abandoning their faith as a result. On the surface, this seems like a crisis of faith for Western society, but this is really a crisis of reason. 

The disregard of logic and respect for objective truth can be seen everywhere. Most prominently, it can be seen in the main leftist causes—gender theory, Marxism, defunding the police, abortion—which are incoherent and not based in actual evidence. Although their adherents claim to “follow the science” and have a great number of scientific authorities endorsing these ideas, the arguments are unscientific and contradictory: gender cannot override sex; perfect material equality is impossible and unjust; removing police inevitably makes communities more dangerous; and abortion does not liberate or empower women but instead enslaves them to their careers and a culture of promiscuity. 

What makes these ideas so popular are the positive feelings they bring to those who espouse them. As Roger Kimball explains in his most recent piece at American Greatness, so much of what makes leftism so attractive is its appeal to the feeling of benevolence: “You feel kindly towards others. That is what matters: your feelings. The effects of your benevolent feelings in the real world are secondary, or rather totally irrelevant.” Being benevolent is more important than being right. It definitely feels better, and it happens to be a lot easier than using one’s brain.

That said, it’s worth considering what has led the supposedly most educated generation to substitute their well-trained thoughts for their easily manipulated feelings. Why trade away objective reason which has built up their great and prosperous civilization for subjective emotions which threaten to do the opposite? 

According to Catholic philosopher Edward Feser in his essay “New Challenges to Natural Theology,” there are two major forces leading to this mass abandonment of logic: (1) critical theory which rejects basic notions of truth and frames all rational claims in terms of power dynamics (resulting in a universal rejection of logic, or “misology”), and (2) the prevalence of sexual immorality which compromises a person’s rational faculties. Feser cites these two factors as the main challenges for apologists who have struggled to make any headway in modern societies that “exhibit both misology and disordered sexuality to a very high degree.” 

Due to the great rise of digital media and identity politics, a great portion of the population have effectively become emotionally driven sheep who waste all their mental energy on dopamine addictions and constructing personalized realities. These two factors cloud their thinking and distort their perceptions. However, because these shortcomings are so prevalent, they seem normal and rational despite being neither. 

Christians and conservatives can take comfort in the fact that they have traditionally opposed vice and vanity, but they need to hold fast to this. If they adopt their own version of identity politics or give in to a hedonistic mentality that prioritizes sexual indulgence above all else, they will lose their minds much like the secular Left has. As it stands, the clash between Left and Right isn’t so much a debate between two opposing arguments but a conflict between a reasonable worldview and an emotional one. 

There are many reasons to believe in God, and today’s society would be immeasurably happier and more fruitful if people returned to a life of faith. However, to make it to this point, people must believe in reason itself. This means rejecting the ubiquitous false promises of “benevolent” ideology and easy stimulationand opening one’s mind to the humbling, yet worthwhile, pursuit of truth and virtue.

[Image Credit: Unsplash]

By

Auguste Meyrat is an English teacher and department chair in north Texas. He has a BA in Arts and Humanities from University of Texas at Dallas and an MA in Humanities from the University of Dallas.

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