A Failure of Rationality

The Universe is Not Wasteful

I have been thinking a lot about what is after this life — for most of my life. Big surprise! Most of us probably start wondering after we get over being completely focused on getting dates, whether our friends really like us, etc., what is the meaning of this life? And, really, IS there meaning, if all that we do and are, simply ceases to exist in some 60-80 years?

When I was a teenager, I was a strong believer in the Christian faith. I was VERY devout! In this condition, I did not have to worry about an AFTER, as it was guaranteed. I needed “only” to adhere to the core tenets, love my fellow man, etc., and I would be granted the keys to the kingdom. All good!

As I grew older, I started migrating from the Church of Jesus, to the Church of Rationality.  (Much like western society did during the Enlightenment.)  I was always a thinker, and a great student, and I adored Mr Spock, so it was natural that I focused on what Reason and Rationality could provide to me.  Now, please don’t construe the opening sentence to this paragraph as any sort of disdain for rationality.  Quite the contrary, I am convinced of the value of rational thought, and all the great advances in technology and sciences, due to rationality and in particular, the Scientific Method.  But, I have also come to understand that the strict adherence to Rationality as THE source of truth is not a logical decision as much as a matter of faith.  (Just read any number of post-modern philosophers in the last 100 years.)

Back to my point (and I do tend to wander, not just wonder.)  As I fully started to realize the value of Rationality and became enamored to its results and tenets, I found conflict with the non-rational proclamations and dogma of the Christian faith.  I never lost my love for the core principles that Jesus taught around how people should treat each other — that Love (agape) was the gift of God and our gift to each other; the awesome power of Forgiveness; the true value and power of the Meek.  But, when it came to the After Life, I could not synchronize my rationality with this part of His teachings, and the centuries of resulting dogmatic expressions.  How could one prove that there was something after this earthly life?  How do you construct a scientific experiment to detect the everlasting soul?  How do I KNOW there is a God?

Now, however, I am starting to realize that these were not valid questions. Or more precisely, these are not questions that rationality or the scientific method can address. It is true that we cannot prove rationally that there is an existence outside of our current experience. This seems like an obvious fact: How can a rationality prove or disprove anything about something outside of the realm of the observable? Perhaps, this is simply using the wrong tool for the problem. I am starting to understand that there was a flaw in my thinking — the fact that I cannot rationally (or scientifically) prove the fact of an after life is a negative finding. I can also not disprove the existence of an After Life. The real truth is that Rationality is not equipped to even address this question.

I am actually not quite sure where I’m going with this. I am just now fully aware that my previous thinking was limiting. Rationality and Reason are amazing tools, for addressing questions about this observable world. But, it is NOT the only way to find truth! Armed with this understanding, I can now start to explore other ways to discuss these other realms of question and answer.