Reason Influenced Dissonance
1. Environmental influence. Individuals develop observing the environment, using family and peer groups to model their behavior to meet implicit reason-oriented expectations (Bandura, 1977; Erikson, 1963). They instinctively respond to what experiences project using mirror neurons to either reflexively alter their behavior, or adapt to situations adopting the behavior of others (Newberg, 2010; Erikson, 1963). If parents or other role models exhibit a secular modernist worldview where self-hood is exalted, then behavior is mirrored and inculcated in their identity.
2. Spatial intelligence. On the spatial intelligence spectrum, many individuals have the propensity to grasp intangibles as a foundation for beliefs, value sets and a locus of control and responsibility (Gardner, 1993). Others, however, are measured reflecting their innate difficulty in relating to intangibles such as faith. They require evidence to substantiate an understanding of the world outside of themselves. For these individuals, they require cosmological evidence to make this cognitive connection.
The post secular modern world reduces existence to those things that reason can explicate. As an atheist, Glynn (1997) sought out to reconcile whether faith held a meaningful place in this world by challenging the immeasurable, maintaining that reason trumps faith because science offers no evidence to the contrary. His investigation into the realm of quantum physics to disprove the cosmological argument paradoxically altered his belief system. Evidence revealed that science held a fundamental misinterpretation of the nature of the universe and that it was far more compatible with the notion of being “designed by an intelligent creator” (Glynn, 1997, p. 26).
Glynn (1997) argues that gravity, electromagnetism, and nuclear force are indispensable laws of nature and remain critical standards of measurement. Hawking (1988) used these systems to prove the big bang theory (cosmological argument) by reversing the black hole theory to evidence that creation could have evolved from a singular event. As such, Glynn (1997) contends science must concede that the causation of the universe with its fundamental laws must accept that any miscalculation of this evolutionary process would result in a world without hydrogen (water), oxygen to breathe, stars incapable of sustaining their systems, absence of gravity (no moon), and atmosphere that would have no protective layering that insulates and protect mankind from the certain cancer causing effects of solar radiation. Finally, Morris (1973) presents unequivocal evidence that, the chance of our creation and everything we know that exists in this universe and beyond, as occurring by accident is one chance in one billion-trillion.
What this suggests is that by design, creation evolved through an unfathomable degree of complexity with no room for error. The only explanation is that there is an intelligent Creator that intentionally created this plane of existence for a purpose. Formatively, scientific evidence requires further inquiry beyond reason within this context to explain mankind’s place within this immaculate design.
Reason Versus Existential Meaning
Buber (1970) explains the reason versus existential meaning dynamic by introducing self-hood as a self-centered pursuit of excellence, comprised of a person living in an “I-It” post secular modern world. Reason becomes an idol, which puts faith and any need for something other than “self,” aside as inconsequential or an inconvenient consideration. By contrast, faith is a belief that mankind exists because of something greater than “self,” to coexist in relation to what he calls an “I-Thou” relationship (Buber, 1970). Transcendent meaning occurs during that encounter, creating a newfound self-understanding that serves as a waypoint to guide individuals in stages of their lives.
Reason dispenses with anything other than “self” as selfhood thrives on being the center of the universe. Glynn (1997) realized that embracing reason as an idol, in an “I-It” world, was the source of his dissonance. Buber (1970) illuminates that the essential dilemma within this mindset is that the “I,” or “self” becomes “deactualized” (p.111). It loses its true nature, “When man lets it [self] have its way, the relentlessly growing ‘It-world’ grows over him like weeds, his own ‘I’ loses its actuality, until the incubus over him and the phantom inside him exchange the whispered confession of their need for redemption” (Buber, 1970, p.96). This creates the ideal condition for an identity crisis.
For individuals who are searching for meaning in their lives, this dichotomy between reason and meaning represents a dynamic tension between the need of attaining selfhood and developing a spiritual identity in connection with an intentional Creator. The post secular modern world has lost its true identity, its existential calling, and adopted reason as its idol, whereby selfhood is preeminent. It is a departure from what creation was designed to become and explains why many find themselves “stuck” during various stages of their lives.
Analogize to this are those who have altered their worldview and actualized “I-Thou” moments where they connect with others. They do not treat others as “It’s” or objects used to elevate their status, rather they embrace the meaning of these authentic relationships. They will have learned that in risking opening their “self” to others, a primal connection is fulfilled. If this embedded drive is subdued in the secular modern world, it can be activated in meaning-driven communion between two, in endeavors that create something unique.
This personification of life is enriching and inhabits an altogether divergent plane of existence. It offers individuals a new lens that reveals a sense of meaning in life (Frankl, 2014). It manifests a belief that they were created to connect with others and live out a life that focuses less on self, and more upon finding harmony in relation to this higher power we call God (Frankl, 2006). When individuals give of their “self,” rather than take, they honor Him in a way that stands in opposition to post secular modernist reason. It augments dissoance and embraces the meaning of mankind’s existence in this world.
Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Buber, M. (1970). I and Thou. New York: Scribner.
Erikson, E. H. (1963). Childhood and society (2nd ed.). New York: Norton.
Frankl, V. E. (2014). The will to meaning: Foundations and applications of logotherapy. NY, NY: Plume.
Frankl, V. E. (2006). Man's search for meaning. Boston: Beacon Press.
Gardner, H. (1993). Frames of the mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic Books.
Glynn, P. (1997). God: The evidence: The reconciliation of faith and reason in a postsecular world. New York: Three Rivers Press.
Hawking, S. (1988). A brief history of time: From the Big bang to Black Holes. Toronto: Bantam Books.
Morris, H. (2003). The Mathematical Impossibility Of Evolution. Acts and Facts, 32(11). Retrieved from http://www.icr.org/article/mathematical-impossibility-evolution/
Newberg, A. B. (2010). Principles of neurotheology. Farnham, Surrey, England: Ashgate Pub.