On ‘Being and Existence’: Irrational vs. Rational

Dear hijas,

On this question of ‘being’, of ‘existence’, one can approach this question in several ways. One can take an irrational approach or a rational approach. The irrationalist says that there is no logical, rational answer to the question of ‘existence’, all is in the end chaotic and absurd. Everything is meaningless, there are no answers, no cause and effect relationships, and that when you sum it all up, everything (including life and our existence on this planet) is irrational. This view, held by many, is summed up in the statement that,  ‘there is no such thing as objective truth.’ It is the thinking behind the modern concept and ideology of postmodernism.

Notice how the Encyclopedia Britannica describes postmodernism in contrast to the thinking before postmodernism came to the forefront. Each point below starts out with the non-postmodernist viewpoint and contrasts it with the postmodern one:

1. There is an objective natural reality, a reality whose existence and properties are logically independent of human beings—of their minds, their societies, their social practices, or their investigative techniques. Postmodernists dismiss this idea as a kind of naive realism. Such reality as there is, according to postmodernists, is a conceptual construct, an artifact of scientific practice and language. This point also applies to the investigation of past events by historians and to the description of social institutions, structures, or practices by social scientists.

2. The descriptive and explanatory statements of scientists and historians can, in principle, be objectively true or false. The postmodern denial of this viewpoint—which follows from the rejection of an objective natural reality—is sometimes expressed by saying that there is no such thing as Truth.

3. Through the use of reason and logic, and with the more specialized tools provided by science and technology, human beings are likely to change themselves and their societies for the better. It is reasonable to expect that future societies will be more humane, more just, more enlightened, and more prosperous than they are now. Postmodernists deny this Enlightenment faith in science and technology as instruments of human progress. Indeed, many postmodernists hold that the misguided (or unguided) pursuit of scientific and technological knowledge led to the development of technologies for killing on a massive scale in World War II. Some go so far as to say that science and technology—and even reason and logic—are inherently destructive and oppressive, because they have been used by evil people, especially during the 20th century, to destroy and oppress others.

4. Reason and logic are universally valid—i.e., their laws are the same for, or apply equally to, any thinker and any domain of knowledge. For postmodernists, reason and logic too are merely conceptual constructs and are therefore valid only within the established intellectual traditions in which they are used. (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/1077292/postmodernism)

What becomes clear, is that this irrationalist approach cannot be held consistently in one’s life. No one can hold consistently that there is no such thing as objective truth, that everything is chaotic and absurd, that there are no basic answers. Theoretically maybe, but not in actual practice in how one lives.

The reason one cannot hold this irrationalist position consistently is that the external world we live in has form and complexity. It is not a chaotic world. There is something ‘there’ and it needs an explanation. We are ‘here’, and we need an explanation for how we came to be ‘here’. If it was true that everything is chaotic, unrelated, and absurd, science would not be possible, logic and mathematics would fail miserably, and communication from one person to another might as well be just as informative as if we were saying, ‘blah, blah, blah’, and the reply, ‘blah, blah, blah…, blah, blah, blah’ .

To live at all then in this world we find ourselves is not possible except in the understanding that the universe out ‘there’, and we ‘here’,  have a certain form, a certain order, and that because we conform to that order we can live within it. There is no other way. Theoretically, the position of the irrationalist can be held, but no one lives with it in regards to the external world, or the categories of their thought and discussion. In our apologetics we need to understand this and make sure to point it out to our ‘hearers’.

Next post we’ll look at the metaphysical question in terms of the ‘rational’ answers.

(Credit to Francis A. Schaeffer, He is There and He is not Silent, Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois, 1984)

Vaya con Dios mis hijas,

Dear ol’ Dad


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