Reason is all the rage today, as Sam Harris tries to demonstrate in The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason . If people were only reasonable, he and others argue, all would be right with the world. Harris does not tell us whose version of reason we are to follow. The reason of the French Revolutionaries who didn’t meet a head that didn’t need lopped off or the reason of the Stalinists who believed the Gulag was a good place for someone to “get his mind right”? The reason of those women who consider abortion to be a sacrament or the reason of the sodomites in Congress who believe sex with teenagers is a sexual right of passage?

The facts, we are told, if given a chance, will speak for themselves. A story is told that during the days of the Cold War, a two-car automobile race took place between the United States and the former Soviet Union. An American newspaper reporter described the result of the race this way: “American car beats out Soviet competitor.” The Russian newspaper reported the same race from a slightly different perspective: “Soviet car finishes second; American car is next-to-last.” Both papers reported the same event. Both accounts were factually true, up to a point. In order to put the best face on Soviet technology, the facts were positioned in a pre-determined way to obtain a certain result. The outcome for the Soviets was inevitable in order to create the illusion that atheistic Communism is better than western capitalism. The lesson is obvious: “It’s not that two bits of data contradict one another; it’s that the same bit of data can be read in (at least) two ways.”[1]

Many Christians and most secularists argue as if facts are self-interpreting, that reasonable men will come to the same reasonable conclusion when presented with a reasonable argument based on a fair and reasonable presentation of the facts. This rarely happens. As William Watkins writes, “Facts do not come with interpretation tags, telling us how to view them. . . . Both sides haggle over the facts. Both sides search for new facts to add to their arsenals. Both sides raise accusations, yet it’s a rare day indeed when both sides acknowledge that their differences stem from something much more basic than facts. Their differences are rooted in opposing worldviews, which in turn are permeated with philosophical assumptions and commitments.”[2] For example, Jim Clarke, a meteorologist living in Fort Myers, Florida, describes the debate over global warming, not as a dispute over facts but how the facts are gathered and interpreted:

For the past 10 years, proponents of man-made global warming have been “cooking the books” to further their agenda. They use selective data sources to support their claims while ignoring data from the same sources that would prove them wrong. In short, the whole global warming issue is a global scam.[3]

Facts that don’t fit a pre-conceived global warming model are not considered legitimate scientific evidence. Once again, the same facts are present for both sides, but the presuppositions that are brought to the facts make all the difference when the time comes for interpretation. Since global warming claims are based on computer models, we should not be surprised if those who create the models might have a predisposition toward global warming assumptions since their jobs are dependent on government funding to fight global warming. An increase in temperature over forty years does not mean that such increases will continue at the same rate for the next forty years. Such extrapolations are speculative since we have no way of knowing what temperatures were like even 500 years ago. In a similar way, if the stock market goes up fifteen percent one year, this does not mean that it will go up fifteen percent each year for the next ten years. Stock brokers might want to convince buyers that this is the case, but as history shows, stocks always adjust over time to more realistic levels. We’ve seen the price of a gallon of gasoline decline thirty-three percent after hitting record highs. Oil companies were blamed when gas prices were high, while we have heard nary a peep since the price has fallen. In each of these cases, presuppositions govern which facts are gathered and the way they are interpreted.

Reason has become the new invisible God of the secularists. It’s a God created in their own image for their own purposes. In reality, reason is a gift from God. Without that anchor, it drifts and crashes on the shoals of human autonomy where it can be used to justify any atrocity because someone with power claimed, “But it was the reasonable thing to do.”


[1] David Murray, Joel Schwartz, and S. Robert Lichter, It Ain’t Necessarily So: How Media Make and Unmake the Scientific Picture of Reality (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2001), 86. [2] William D. Watkins, “Whose Facts Anyway?,” Christian Research Journal (24:2), 60. [3] Jim Clarke, “Fear-mongering a greater threat,” Readers Opinion, Atlanta Journal-Constitution (July 18, 2002), A19.