Recently a comment was posted on an entry ( I believe my liver is diseased ) by a person I respect above most in this community. A person who has offered valuable help in writing style and refreshing view on things. Nevertheless I must respond to his recent comment in defense of religion, an attack on reason, and ultimately the affirmation of human nature above both as the unity from which we can say a man is man. In the end of things I see his point though I disagree. The following remarks obviously do not paint a fair picture (though I am hoping that in this dialogue 1poet4man will offer the other side, though all are welcome to post). However I write, not from bias, but out of hyperbolic equilibrium. It is my belief, perhaps unfairly; that the side of reason has distanced itself too much from reality so I have written my response in bigger letters than perhaps they should be. Nevertheless I feel it is an important message as we push further into the new century.
First, 1poet4man’s complete comment:
“It seems to me that if by ‘man of faith’ you mean people who are religious – then far more men of reason have died at the hands of men of faith than that these two groups have ever died side by side…” -1poet4man
You say this, but do you know what you say? Over 100 million people died in the past century because of secular movements (Mao, Pol Pot, Hitler, Sadam, Stalin, Kamir Rouge) – far more than the inquisition and all crusades combine. Let us not forget WWI and WWII (wars of politics, not religions), the Japanese internment camps in America, the Native American Genocide, African American Slavery (All taking place in the secular United States, for secular economic reasons – though all movement were sponsored by religious and non-religious alike, it was conducted under the American regime for a rational economic purpose).
If you are trying to say that reason is any less violent than faith then sadly I must say that you do not understand human nature. The only fact that supports your argument is that we have had no other option but religion for 5000 years, and we’ve only had scientific reasoning for 300. Those 300 years however, are so soaked with the blood of innocents that I believe the man of reason will catch up to his brother in no time.
Also – the man of faith is not inherently the religious man – many would take offense to such an assumption. Likewise the man of reason isn’t inherently non-religious. I personally take offense to that one.
And finally, to assume that a man of reason cannot also be religious and commit atrocities against his fellow man is another trap you fall into. You assume that the man of religion cannot use reason to assault his brother (be they religious or not). Hitler, for instance, could be religious, but on what basis did he assault the Jews? Nationalism, Science, and German heritage – not Christianity – he rarely even referred to them as “Christ-killers” as do many of their Christian critics. I think your primary assumption, which has led you into this unwilling bias, is that faith and reason are any different when in the vacuum of human nature. Either can be used for evil but usually both are. Even religious fanatics offer logical arguments (even if they are false). Can we be so sure the man of religion isn’t also a man of reason?
Your seeming assumption that the life of reason is opposed to the life of faith or religion (in such a way that you can draw such a bizarre contrast) is one of understandable modern bias. But it is one that does not understand the past 300 years and the true causes of genocide, war, and oppression. In most cases the religious tyrannies are mild compared to the monsters of this past century. Religion can sway man just as equally as reason – and neither can understand truth in totality so both can make mistakes. Reason, however, gives us bigger weapons to do it with.
I have taken your comment this seriously because I do believe that it is a major philosophic problem in modern life. If we keep assuming there is any difference between faith, reason, and religion then we will keep walking into Utopia fueled genocides, blind nationalism, and cold-hearted oppression. What we need to understand is human nature and the fact that human nature will use whatever means it has to get what it desires whether it be religion, reason, or art. So long as this is true the only true killer of man is man not his religious views, nor his politic, nor his beliefs – it is just man. When it comes down to it, every genocide, every murder, every oppression is done by man toward man for a reason. Each man does what he does because he feels justified – what difference if he says it is for God or country – does this change the primary desire? No. Man is the killer of man, and he always will. It is the belief otherwise that leads to ideology.
Please accept the previous statements as a desire for open dialogue and not as an attack. All are welcomed to post, any different views are welcome, though a concentration on the content of this statement is preffered. The underlying question of it all is this: What does it mean to be the man of reason? Any and all answers to this question would be greatly appreciated.