What's Wrong With Reason?

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November 13, 2007

What's Wrong With Reason?

Earlier this year, Slashdot pointed to a set of Flickr photos of someone’s visit to a newly built creationist museum in Kentucky. I have often assumed that many creationists live in households and communities, where access to information was heavily regulated. After looking through the photos, I discovered that many creationists actually do see the same things that non-creationists see, but simply reached different conclusions. Below are three photos from a set of about a half dozen juxtaposing human reason as a faulty device in opposition to God's Word.

image image  image

I guess it make sense, if one takes scripture as absolute, literal truth to think that reason, despite its necessity for understanding scripture, could also lead us astray if it contradicts scripture.

Roman Catholicism (the faith in which I was raised) regards the stories of creation as metaphorical and assures us that reason is fully compatible with truth. Other Christian denominations, lacking a centralized organization and authority, are more willing to accept a literal interpretation. The Koran, the holy book of Islam, even proclaims itself to be free of imperfection.

There were other museum photos touching on topics such as Noah's flood or reconciling apparent contradictions between the world and scripture. I was a bit stunned by the directness of the comparisons, which could potentially introduce doubt to faithful visitors by exposing them to disturbing arguments alongside their creationist explanations.

Maybe, I shouldn't be surprised as I have seen such direct confrontation before. I have, for some time, been following the Uncommon Descent weblog, which promotes William Dembski's ideas on Intelligent Design attacks the "materialist" beliefs of its principal antagonist and promoter of evolution, Richard Dawkins. One of Dembski's frequent claims is the impossibility of computer intelligence, or, indirectly, of my software. I don't agree with most of Dembski's arguments, but reading his posts does help me to recognize any of my own biases and flaws in reasoning.

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