What do you think of human reasoning? What are its boundaries when it
comes to religion? Would you say that using reason is the wrong way to
approach religion? Would you ever say that human reasoning is
inaccurate? I was talking to a pastor and he said that reasoning was
biased and it got me thinking that maybe reason is all made up. I mean,
reason wasn’t even defined until the Enlightenment and mostly people are
TAUGHT how to think through school and such.
So, maybe reason isn’t as pure/accurate/scientific as we think? What do
Do you know how things were published in the first/second century? Were
things actually “published” and put into a library of some sort? When the
books say that the gospels were written in the 70s, 80s, 90s, does it mean
people read them in the 70s, 80s, 90s? I mean, is it possible that they
were just written then, but not shown to people until much later?
The Greeks were the first to develop a carefully defined system of
reasoning and logic. It may be true that the enlightenment in Western
Europe was a time when the power of human reason to determine what is true
was emphasized–virtually worshipped. However, it definitely is not true
that reason was not defined until the Enlightenment. The Greeks
philosophers Pythagorus, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Epicurus
and many others developed entire philosophical systems and even religions
(in the case of Pythagorus and Plotinus) based on reason. The early
Christian church was very strongly influenced by Greek reasoning. In
fact, the Gnostics were a heretical “Christian” group which based their
understanding of Jesus on Greek notions of what is reasonable.
Reasoning in and of itself is neither good or bad. The ability to reason
is a gift given to us by God. Like almost any gift of God, it can be used
to do good or to do evil. As a scientist, I know that human reasoning can
decide what is logical and what makes sense, but human reason cannot tell
us what is true. That is why the Enlightenment ultimately failed.
Nevertheless, reason is a tool which followers of Jesus ought to use.
Although we cannot use reason to determine “truth,” when something is
true, it ought to be reasonable. We can use reason to defeat illogical
arguments. Many false attacks on Christianity can be defeated by using
reason. Although we cannot use reasoning to determine truth, we can use
reasoning to help decide what is the best way to apply truth to particular
Is reasoning accurate? The word accurate does not really apply to
reasoning, as it is applicable to numbers and measurements. I would say
that if one begins with true assumptions, then reasoning provides useful
predictions and assumptions. The problem with reasoning is that it is
only as good as the assumptions used. This is why reasoning alone is a
poor instrument to determine ultimate truths such as the origin of life,
the meaning and purpose of human existence, morality, ethics and so forth.
My conclusion is that human reasoning cannot reveal the truth about God.
In fact, overreliance on reasoning tends to create human pride, not
humility, and can work against spiritual growth. Nevertheless, our ability
to reason is a gift of God which can and should be used to God’s glory.
Things were not “published” in the first and second century. To publish
implies to create a number of identical copies of an original version of a
written work. In the first centuries AD, the only way to obtain copies of
a book was to make copies by hand. This was a painstaking process, to say
the least. For this reason, most books only existed in dozens or hundreds
of copies, even if they were influential and important works.
We know that the gosples and epistles were written in the first century
AD. Paul was quite specific to say that his works were written, as was
Luke and other New Testament writers. You can assume that for those books
which were believed to have apostolic authority, multiple copies were
created very soon after they were originially penned. So the answer to
your question is no. It is not possible that some of these books laid
around unread for many years. If this had happened, they would never have
ended up in the New Testament canon. We do not have a detailed record of
the exact history of the spread of the New Testament books, but we know
that by the mid second century AD, there were copies of the four gospels
and most or all of the letter circulating among all the churches, so by
then there were certainly hundreds of copies of the original in
circulation. It would not be accurate to describe these books as being
published in the modern sense, but we know that they circulated widely.