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The official blog of University of Missouri Skeptics, Atheists, Secular Humanists, & Agnostics

SASHA Guest Post: “Can rationalism become unreasonable?” by Rocket Kirchner

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Today’s article is a guest post by musician, activist, long-time friend of SASHA, and Christian evangelist Rocket Kirchner.

One of the great contributions of Neitzche and Kierkegaard to philosophy, for better or worse, is that they both took the word “irrational” out of the pejorative. These rebels of the 19th century stood against everyone using the Hegelian dialectic, insisting that existence is a category that relates to the individual, not based on axioms or systems. Both Kierkegaard and Neitzche stood shoulder-to-shoulder in their challenge to the mindset that rationalism was the be-all and end-all. Where they differed, however, was that Neitzche’s answer was the will to power, while Kierkegaard’s was surrendering the will to God. Either way, their inner journeys and how they so brilliantly expressed them in philosophical form were never objectively verifiable or subject to the approval of the Vienna school of Popperian falsification, either with a priori or a postiori certainty.

Rationalism, which sprung as a movement from the Cartesian cogito till now, has reached such a hyper-state in our time that–in my view–we need a balancing act (if only for the sake of argument) from these two genuis rebels to be thrown in the dialectical hopper, to see if rationalism itself has lost its sense of reason. Often when I am in discussions with very intellegent and well-meaning atheists, there seems to be a bottom line on an absolute rationality in order to settle issues concerning questions of perception of reality itself. A good case in point would be a conversation like this:

Atheist:

Seeing as you are a Christian practitioner, I like your practical elements of making this world a better place for others, even if you are philosophically coming from a place of unreality. (Substitute Easter Bunny, Spaghetti Monster, et al).

Me:

Yes, we can agree on making this world a better place, but in all due respect, I fail to see why you would posit a tautological statement that I am coming from a place of unreality.

Atheist:

Why do you fail to see that?

Me:

Because in order to define unreality, you must first define its opposite, namely reality, and that is a very tall order.

And so it goes. The atheist  in question here will, 9 times out of 10, define reality in the Hegelian sense that “the real is rational and the rational is real.” But is it?

The question is begged–Can this all-encompassing rationalism take in (or leave out) enough of the big picture to become paradoxically in and of itself unreasonable? Even in this question, Godel’s incompleteness theorem, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, and Schrodinger’s Cat gnaws at the hyper-rationalist, casting doubt on the ever-proving problem of exact reasoning and perfect verifiable measurement, leaving reality itself, as Kant said, unknowable.

It remains a mystery. Or does it? Now, the thinking deist, theist, Christian, Jew, Buddhist, Muslim , et al lets the mystery be. Does that make them unreasonable, solipsistic, naive? Are they living in an unreal paradigm? Or is the shoe on the other foot? Is the atheist being unreasonable when embracing an all-encompassing rationalism that claims to have a patent on reality, something that cannot be proven anyway? In other words: Is the ”-ism” in rationalism an impossible overeach to unreality with a Spaghetti Monster and Easter Bunny lurking in their world?

I trust that the reader will not think I’m going out on a limb when I say that any man who becomes only a reasoning machine, no matter how brilliant, is in real danger of allowing his mind to become an ”interloper” that blocks the potential for a full sense of clarity, which we can embrace as human individuals. The fact of the matter is that as a Christian Humanist myself, I have worked well in Orthopraxis with my fellow atheist Humanist friends with no problems. But we all must be very careful, definitionally, with the word REALITY. Anyone who lays claim to it, or seeks to disprove it, becomes unreasonable, by way of assertion devoid of logical deduction.

Rocket Kirchner is a long-time friend of SASHA. He is a professional musician, pacifism activist, Christian evangelist, and life-long student of philosophy.

Helpful resources:

Godisimaginary.com
Iron Chariots Wiki
Skeptics’ Annotated Bible / Skeptics’ Annotated Qur’an
AtheismResource.com
TalkOrigins.org

YouTubers: Evid3nc3Thunderf00tTheAmazingAtheistThe Atheist ExperienceEdward Current,NonStampCollectorMr. DeityRichard DawkinsQualiaSoup

Blogs: Greta ChristinaPZ MyersThe Friendly AtheistWWJTD?Debunking ChristianitySkepChick

and don’t forget… other SASHA members! We are here for you, too!

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About Danielle Muscato

Danielle Muscato is a civil rights activist, writer, and public speaker. She has appeared on or been quoted in Rolling Stone, People, Time, The New York Times, SPIN, Entertainment Weekly, Billboard Magazine, and on MTV News, VH1, NPR, MSNBC, ABC, "The Real Story" with Gretchen Carlson, The O'Reilly Factor, Huffington Post Live, Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Raw Story, CNN, CBS, and Howard Stern Danielle is the former Director of Public Relations for American Atheists. She is also a board member of MU SASHA (University of Missouri Skeptics, Atheists, Secular Humanists & Agnostics). Her website is http://www.DanielleMuscato.com. Follow her on Google+ Follow her on Twitter @daniellemuscato Subscribe to her on YouTube at www.youtube.com/davemuscato

5 comments on “SASHA Guest Post: “Can rationalism become unreasonable?” by Rocket Kirchner

  1. Dave Muscato
    March 18, 2012

    We don’t need to calculate the exact value of pi in order to know that pi =/= 3.

  2. Keenan Crow
    March 19, 2012

    I agree with many of your points, but I fail to see how “letting the mystery be” (AKA, accepting ignorance) makes belief in a deity more acceptable. I’m a big promoter of existential thought…much to the chagrin of my fellow atheists…however I don’t see how its modern interpretations can ever lead one to anything past curiosity and postmodern inquiry. Using it to posit the existence or acceptance of belief in a deity makes the same misstep as hard rationalism…namely the position that one “knows”.

  3. Dave Muscato
    March 19, 2012

    Keenan, Rocket is having technical difficulties posting comments. We’re working on fixing it. In the meantime, he emailed me his response to your comment. Here it is (copied & pasted):

    ———-

    Keenan , allowing the mystery to be is not accepting ignorance for the Christian practioner . It is facing the cold hard facts of the limits of finite reason , and is responding to the dillema and questions of existence with the testimony of a concrete subjective existential expereince with Christ. This expereince cements the epistomology . Where the ignorance and pre-sumption comes in is when someone seeks to tell the Christian in question that they did not expereince Christ. It is pure folly to seek to interpret someone elses experience in life on any matter. I would never try and interpret what an Atheist ‘s deep inner experiences are. I would take them at their word.

  4. Dave Muscato
    March 20, 2012

    Another response from Rocket, responding to my comment:

    ——–

    Interesting that you should bring up pi Dave. i was just talking about that to a freind the other night .Archimedes Constant has the value of what the German Enlightenment called ”an approximate almost”. This is something that the pre-Dawkins Atheists like Sartre , Camus , and Neitzche understood , and so opted out for irrationality by virtue of the absurd until Frued’s concept of preturnatural knowledge would widen the picture beyond a null set to land on solid epistemic ground . The Christian existentalist claims to be already on that ground , and is sympathetic to the Atheism that sees the limits of reason . In the meanwhile the rational Atheist and the rational Theist movements of the 21st century are caught in a web of the circular. I cant see much progress there.

    • rocketkirchner
      March 23, 2012

      Dave , found the glich in the matrix. will be able to comment directly from here on out . thanks for everything . LOL . Rocket

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This entry was posted on March 18, 2012 by in Author: Guest, philosophy and tagged , , , , .
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