The End of Reason

Originally published in Sunstar Davao.

Photo by Brian Hillegas
Photo by Brian Hillegas

Where Faith Begins
There is an oft-quoted phrase in Christian circles that goes “faith begins where reason ends” and I’m perfectly fine with that statement as it is.

The problem I have is that a lot of people who use this phrase to defend their faith do not really go to the end of reason. They stop short of the end, refusing to take reason past a certain point, and declare that faith is now the operative agent.

I, myself, have been guilty of this many times in the past. When I reached a point when I wasn’t able to understand some theological conundrum, I then declared that at this point, I must have faith. That declaration is often coupled with prayer for more faith as in Mark 9:24, “Lord, I believe, help me overcome my unbelief.” At other times it is accompanied with thanks and praise to God for being so wise that his ways are higher than mine.

I then put the issue away from my mind, feeling assured that I am resting in the hands of a being who loves me and has a perfect plan for me, even if I do not understand it at the moment.

The Tipping Point
That went on for so many years until I was boiling with so many questions I had put away, so many unresolved issues about my faith and belief that it was impossible to simply ignore them anymore. I had experienced many ups and downs in my “spiritual” life. I had experienced putting everything on the line for faith, and I had come out unsatisfied and somewhat disappointed.

Around 5 years ago, I had a realization. God had created me to be an extremely rational being. If I put aside my rationality, would it not be a disservice to the gift that he gave me? Would I not be misusing my “talent” if I turned it off in the name of faith?

And so I prayed, “God, if you really are there, you gave me an abundance of rational ability and I want to know you more and understand you through that gift. You know of my disappointment with faith, but I believe you are also a God of reason and from this point forward, I will use your gift of reason to get to the truth of things — even if it means abandoning beliefs I have long held sacrosanct, even if it means abandoning whatever belief I have in you — because whatever I believe about you I have known from other sources. This time, I want to get to know you as you are, not as other people tell me. I want to know you directly, not just know of you from other sources.”

The Journey Thus Far
It has been 5 years and it seems that every word of that prayer has come true. I let loose with all those bottled-up questions. I talked about them with other people, tentatively at first, but more boldly as time went by. I read books I previously would not have touched and listened to speakers I would have avoided, for fear of being influenced by “the wiles of the devil.”

Over time, I learned to let go of certain “truths” I have cherished and found comfort in, and that was very difficult to do. It was like climbing a spiral staircase in a castle tower, and at every step I took, the previous step dropped back into nothingness. I could not see the top. I did not know where I was headed. Yet, there was no turning back, nothing to hold on to. There was no way to go but forward and upward.

Today, I have a very different concept of God, the Bible, church, religion, and spirituality. I have reached this point because I was willing to take reason past the point where most sensible believers stop. I was willing to cross a line I dared not cross before. I dared to question the existence of God. I dared to question the authority of the Bible, the necessity of church and religion. And when I asked these questions, I did not just dip my toe into the pool and shake off the water and declare proudly that I have already challenged my beliefs and survived. No, I dived in and learned to embrace the cold waters. It was very uncomfortable at first and I had to fight the urge to jump out of the pool and go back to warm embrace of “just” believing. But I stayed there and am still staying there because I need to know how far reason can go.

If, in the future, I do return to faith, then I can truly and honestly say that I have reached the end of reason, and it would not be an empty declaration.

But until then, the journey goes on.

Andy Uyboco is a businessman, trainer and speaker. You may email him at andy@freethinking.me.

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6 thoughts on “The End of Reason”

  1. I really feel the honesty in you and i learn something to become deeper, too. But one thing i discovered, the more i dig deeper to find reasons the more questions come in. i always tempted to answer and have reasons to feel me satisfied yet, the vacuums take place.

  2. In the words of Lesley Hazleton:
    “I’m always asking questions — not to find “answers,” but to see where the questions lead.”

    So don’t fret if you get more and more questions. I think that’s an indication you’re on the right path. If someone could hand you the “truth” in 5 minutes, I would be very suspicious of that. Given how much we don’t know about the universe, and how much we are still discovering, how can we ever get an answer?

    Yet, there is deep satisfaction in knowing that you know a little bit more each day. Keep seeking and thanks for dropping by 🙂

  3. “It was very uncomfortable at first and I had to fight the urge to jump out of the pool and go back to warm embrace of “just” believing. But I stayed there and am still staying there because I need to know how far reason can go.”

    Very honest account, just exactly what I am feeling now. It’s a real discomfort (from trying to “un-practice” the things I used to do to expressing my “journey of search” to others little by little). I am missing the comfort but I know in time I’ll get there.

    Thanks for the pdf by the way! I enjoy reading it. =)

  4. God allegedly made us, and with that comes our rationality. I agree that not using it is an offense to God, if he exists. However, the God we knew since childhood, the God of the bible, never really loved us.

    He regret creating man (Gen 6:6). That God was also the most incompetent God ever, in contrast to his reputation of being omniscient and omnipotent. His incompetence is colossal. Imagine a car factory churning out thousands of units of automobiles, all defective, 100% of them being rejects.

    Romans 3:10
    “As it is written, There is none (ZERO) righteous, no, not one (ZERO):”

    He can’t make one single righteous man.

    That was the God of the bible. The God who loves you and me. The God who forgives. The God who will give you eternal life if you believe in him. The God who wanted to annihilate humankind. The God whose most ardent believers are anti-intellectualists.

    How can we not see that?

  5. “Around 5 years ago, I had a realization. God had created me to be an extremely rational being. If I put aside my rationality, would it not be a disservice to the gift that he gave me? Would I not be misusing my “talent” if I turned it off in the name of faith?”
    “This time, I want to get to know you as you are, not as other people tell me. I want to know you directly, not just know of you from other sources.”

    Doesn’t reason dictate that if there is a God, that He just might use other people to show you who He is? If God is real, and you get to see God in the afterlife today, and He asks you why you didn’t belive in Him, is your answer going to be that He didn’t show you? I think His answer will be that He gave you 66 love letters telling you about Him, a world to show you, hundreds of people to help you (of not thousands), and a seemingly limitless Internet and books to explore. You only seem to quote books that bash God. I cannot remember one quote from the many good authors who refute (or even the ones who attempt to refute, since some are better than others) the people you quote.

    As far as responder Tony goes, I have never been able to grasp why people take text of of context and try to pass it off as smart. You quote Genesis 6. Did you skip over the first chapter? Verse 27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. ” Verse 31 “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day. ” I guess your “He can’t make one single righteous man.” thought goes there. “The God whose most ardent believers are anti-intellectualists.” It is so nice to have discussions with people who are so well endowed intellectually. Should we all bow down to your superiority now? A real discussion without assuming that those who disagree with you are anti-intellectuals would be nice. I am sure that there are many intellectuals that could defend their viewpoints better than you can defend yours. And many intellectuals who could defend an opposing viewpoint from me as well.

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