Truth: Reason or Emotion?
There used to be a day when great discussions were seen as art! When opposing views would go toe-to-toe and even though a side was not won over, the two could walk away courteously and even friends! Sadly it seems that we live in a world where only those who hold a common view of politics and religion can be friends. The art of discussion and even civil disagreement is quickly vanishing in this ever increasing highly sensitive culture. To my surprise, there has been a creation of new words and alternative spelling of words in order to accommodate this atmosphere. Behind the surface layer of emotional catering there is a more dangerous disease permeating our world. That my friends is the escape of reason. As Francis Schaeffer predicted 50 years ago in his book we have finally arrived at the day when, “truth is no longer based on reason.” How did I arrive at this conclusion? Let me unpack the reality of the situation.
Let’s use the simple example of respelling (misspelling) words in order to accommodate emotional sensitivity. There was a day when a first grader misspelling the word, “history” would result in losing grade points. The reason being that the truth of the matter is history is spelled h-i-s-t-o-r-y. Yet, at the moment, a new word, hxrstory (not a misspelling), has made its way into academia in order to detach from any form of offensive emotion that can come from the word, history. This is not the only example.
You see this is postmodernism at its finest. Truth is no longer based on fact or reason but rather on emotion. Emotion is the god of our day. Whoever can make the most emotional noise will have the final word! Once we lose truth based on reason, we really have swept out our own feet from underneath us. At which point does it end? What if tomorrow culture decides that murder is emotionally and morally okay (oh wait that happened in 1973.) What if tomorrow engineers whom you trust to safely build your car decide the science once based on truth and reality doesn’t really matter all that much? Resulting in an explosion at the turning of your ignition? I could go on but the point is clearly seen, if we lose truth at the expense of emotion, chaos awaits.
I am not sure what hate means in a postmodern world nor who or what defines it but somehow anyone who holds a view different from the cultural norm is labeled a conduit of hate. A bigot. A Neanderthal that is stuck in the stone ages (hey I don’t think Neanderthals would appreciate that, maybe you shouldn’t attack them). And this is a grievous danger! Rather than assessing someone’s viewpoints based on fact and logic, it is assessed through the filter of emotion. I.e. “How does this make me feel? How does this fit into today’s narrative?” Even if something is true and fact, it can be negated or dismissed if the emotional criterion didn’t line up. When this happens the usual spree of logical fallacies of strawmen and ad hominems quickly follow. Ultimately concluding with an incoherent emotional pouring out of words and nonsense and boom, conversation over. Emotion trumps truth. When we lose the art of civil and peaceful discussion and disagreeing we lose the ability to communicate. When we lose the ability to communicate we lose the means for truth to prevail and are reduced to senseless decisions and illogical conclusions: absurdity. All of which are not conducive to a healthy and purposeful life.
To my politically driven friends, disagreement does not equal hate. I merely ask for truth to have precedence over emotion when discussions arise about the current political and cultural climates.
To my Christian friends, there is even more at stake.
As Christians we should be seeking to live peaceably among all in order that the gospel might be preached. We accomplish this by loving those around us and befriending even those who don’t hold the same worldview as us both within or outside of the church. I understand that this is becoming nearly impossible because of this new emotional driven culture but I must confess that Christians at times don’t do this very well. Christians often feed into the culture by becoming graceless and rude. I’m aware that not everyone will speak well of us, but as much as it depends on us we should be using words, tone, and having conversations seasoned with grace and love. After all, when we lose the ability to communicate we lose the means for the truth of the gospel (Jesus!) to go forth! Faith comes by HEARING. We must truly pray against the current tide that is coming where differing views can no longer engage in discussion. There’s more at stake than merely conservative/liberal ideologies.
“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” – Colossians 4:6