Jesus Made Me Rational (An Introduction)

Writer’s note: what fol­lows is a de­scrip­tive nar­ra­tive of my episte­mol­ogy not a state­ment of uni­ver­sal fact (though some facts are con­tained therein).

In the be­gin­ning was Ra­tion­al­ity, and Ra­tion­al­ity was with God, and Ra­tion­al­ity was God. He was in the be­gin­ning with God. All things were made through Him, and with­out Him noth­ing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the dark­ness, and the dark­ness did not com­pre­hend it.

In a very new uni­ver­sity (for all uni­ver­si­ties were new) as the 12th Cen­tury drew to a close a grand ex­per­i­ment was pro­posed: so grand that its con­clu­sion may never be reached (though of course those propos­ing it made that fun­da­men­tal er­ror of op­ti­mism, be­liev­ing it could be com­pleted in their life­times), and the likes of which had never—in­deed could never—have been at­tempted be­fore.

For a lit­tle over one thou­sand years be­fore some­one had come into this world who changed our un­der­stand­ing of it for­ever. In­stead of an ir­ra­tional uni­verse cre­ated and ruled over by fickle and oft-com­pet­ing gods—where math­e­mat­ics that held true in Egypt had no rea­son to be true in Greece—this per­son had said that not only was the uni­verse cre­ated by ra­tio­nal laws but that he was ra­tio­nal­ity him­self.

So in this (very new) uni­ver­sity this group of men set this grand ex­per­i­ment in mo­tion. If the uni­verse was, as this per­son claimed, made by ra­tio­nal­ity then surely it ought to fol­low ra­tio­nal laws. And if, as this per­son claimed, ra­tio­nal­ity was the same yes­ter­day, to­day, and to­mor­row, then these ra­tio­nal laws must be the same no mat­ter who tests them, and no mat­ter where that per­son is do­ing the test­ing. This grand ex­per­i­ment would be to test the ra­tio­nal­ity of the uni­verse with the ex­pec­ta­tion that the uni­verse would be the con­sis­tent, would be com­mon, and would be ra­tio­nal.

In the cen­tury that was to fol­low the grand ex­per­i­ment would in turn mo­ti­vate men like Thomas Aquinas who defini­tively showed that Aris­to­tle was wrong—and if he could be wrong about one thing, why he might be wrong about many things.

This grand ex­per­i­ment would be tested time and time again over the mil­len­nium which was to fol­low. It would lead Ni­cole d’Oresme to liken the uni­verse to a clock that had been made and set to run its own course. It would lead Rene Descartes in his quest for the laws of na­ture. It would cause Roger Ba­con to cre­ate the sci­en­tific method to en­sure the re­sults of the ex­per­i­ment were valid. It would be the in­spira­tion for the oft-mi­sused William of Ock­ham to cod­ify ra­tio­nal thought. It would be the foun­da­tion of Gre­gor Men­del’s dis­cov­ery of ge­net­ics.

Even­tu­ally it would cause philoso­pher-math­e­mat­i­cian Ge­orge Alfred White­head to de­clare in front of a crowd of un­be­liev­ing scep­tics that faith in sci­ence was a deriva­tive of me­dieval the­ol­ogy. And so this great ex­per­i­ment would end up im­pact­ing the life of a young man who had been raised a Chris­tian and hated that he was in­ca­pable of dis­be­liev­ing in Je­sus no mat­ter how much he tried.

This young man had already (though per­haps un­know­ingly) de­cided to ded­i­cate his life to be­ing as ra­tio­nal as he could be—and with all the pre­sump­tion and thoughtless en­ergy of youth pro­ceeded to make as many un­think­ing, ir­ra­tional de­ci­sions that his brain, drunk on self-im­por­tance as it was, was ca­pa­ble of mak­ing. That was un­til he started study­ing math­e­mat­ics.

here ends the story.

Math­e­mat­ics has changed my life. It is the rea­son that I have pur­sued ra­tio­nal­ity. And it is the rea­son that I no longer hate that I be­lieve in the re­s­ur­rec­tion of Je­sus, but rather test the im­pli­ca­tions of it. HPMoR is the rea­son I have ended up at this par­tic­u­lar site, but math­e­mat­ics is the rea­son I read HPMoR in the first place.

Thank you for hav­ing me here. Sorry my in­tro­duc­tion was so long. I didn’t know quite how to write what I wanted to write, and I am not a good enough writer to do a se­ries of posts on it. I look for­ward to be­com­ing more ra­tio­nal by be­ing here—even as I stand fully aware that my un­shake­able be­lief is the defi­ni­tion of ir­ra­tional­ity—it is, how­ever, ev­i­dence of the truth of a pre­dic­tion made nearly two thou­sand years be­fore my birth. I would love you to ask me about that, but un­der­stand this web­site is not about re­li­gion.