Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Problem with Intellect

Ah dogmatism. What are we going to do with it? Our nature seems to long for dogmatic creedal statements regardless of whether they’re scientific or religious. Examples you say? How about,

“There is absolutely no evidence for the existence of God.” Or,

“A loving God would never allow pain and suffering.” Or a long-time favourite,

“God helps those who help themselves.”

Simple. Easy to remember. All of them wrong.

Our nature also longs to dwell in the realm of the intellect. Why? Because the goal of our unredeemed intellect is to avoid our ultimate reality. The reality that drives us lies in the area of morality. That is where we find our true selves, and what we find there isn’t pretty.

Now of course, anyone who challenges the intellect will be met with mockery and derision by atheists. After all, questioning the intellect is holding to account one aspect of the triune god of atheism, with Science, Pride and Intellect making up the whole.

You doubt what I say? If your receptors aren’t already dulled with scar tissue, try listening to your conscience, and I mean really listen to it. You’ll be appalled at what you find. Listening to our conscience isn’t easy to do because our intellect is forever rationalising and making excuses so we can deny, discount or downplay what our conscience is telling us. “Something that feels this right could never be wrong.” Our intellect tries to give us logical reasons for why we do the wrong that we do. The problem with that is, the bedrock of human problems isn’t reasonable, rational or logical. That is why reason and logic will never be able to solve our problems, our hatreds, our bitterness, pettiness and corrupted self-love.
Atheists are infamous for saying:

“I don’t need God in order to be a good person.”

The path of “logic” that follows that belief is:

a) “I don’t need God.”

b) “Therefore I must see myself as a good person.”

The obvious question that comes from the statement, “I don’t need God in order to be a good person,” is, “So why aren’t you a good person? Why don’t you even live up to your own standards of conduct? Why do you judge others by what they do while judging yourself by your intentions?”

I believe that the bedrock, fundamental flaw in human beings is tragic to the core. Our tolerance for the state of our world is empirical proof positive of our skewed sense of morality. Denying that flaw is dangerous to ourselves and to those closest to us. Sadly, the very aspect of ourselves that atheists worship most highly, the intellect, is the part of our corrupt self that tries with all its ability to avoid what is most human about us. The intellect, by denying our true nature, makes us observers of ourselves instead of participants. Intellect in the service of itself, cuts us off from not just others but from ourselves as well. As the saying goes, “The reason we cannot communicate with others is because our lives are so full of contradictions that we can’t even communicate with ourselves.”

Is intellect foul and putrid through and through? Of course not. It’s just that, to be trustworthy and worthwhile, the intellect must be in the service of our conscience, not the other way around. Our intellect needs to submit to objective morality, not create a morality based on the ebb and flow of unregenerate human reason. Reason and intellect can be our guides regarding things as they are, but reason and intellect are totally incapable of explaining why things are the way they are. Only the conscience can give us a hint to the direction where we’ll find the solution to that problem.

The good news is, it doesn’t matter what a person’s moral heredity is, or what tendencies toward evil there are in a person. Because of what Jesus did at the cross for you and for me, we can become all that God says we should be. Our intellect can be brought into the service of self in a manner that is life-giving rather than life-destroying.

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