Rationalism and Irrationalism in Non-Christian Thought (Part 1 of 2)

A powerful tool for apologetics is the awareness that all non-Christian thought can be categorized by the tug-of-war between rationalism and irrationalism. For our present purposes, we’ll define rationalism as any attempt to establish the fallen human mind as the ultimate standard of truth. This establishing of the intellect as a law unto itself is done when non-Christians reject God’s testimony to Himself in both nature and Scripture. A rationalist, in this sense, states that the human mind is able to fully and exhaustively explain reality. (I continue to qualify what I mean by rationalism here in order to avoid confusion with rationalism, the epistemological school of thought)

Non-Christian thought also is characterized by irrationalism. How is this the case? Because inevitably the finite and fallen human mind cannot fully capture all of reality into a man-made system. At the point in which the non-Christian rationalist realizes that they cannot account for everything (i.e. makes sense of everything within his worldview), they engage in what Francis Schaeffer called an “upper story leap.” An “upper story leap” is when someone arbitrarily appeals to something that their worldview cannot makes sense of by simple appeals to “the facts” of their worldview. The have to do this because they live in God’s world can thus cannot help but affirm certain things. We can’t escape our design

Next we’ll take a look at one example and conclude…

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Posted on July 30, 2007, in Christian Worldview, Philosophical Apologetics. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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