I’ve am reading great books this summer, City of God by Augustine, How should We then Live by Schaffer, Miracles by C.S. Lewis. Either from over exposure to great Christian Philosophers or some other reason, I wish present to you this illustration.
You are stuck, alone, in the control room of a nuclear reactor. No one can get to you for hours, at least. The control panel starts beeping, and the screen says, “Error 412: Meltdown in 20:00.” It then starts counting down; you have twenty minutes before the reactor goes critical.
Before you can scream and panic, a voice comes over the intercom, “Hi, this Frank, how are you doing up there?”
“The reactor’s going critical! How can I stop it?” You yell.
“Okay, don’t worry about it okay, I know just what to do.” Frank says calmly. “I knew this would happen today. On the control panel in front of you, there is a big blue button. Push it.”
“Okay,” you say marching over to the panel, there are a dozen buttons on the panel, one is blue. “Are you sure?”
“Oh, yeah, positive, the monkeys told me last night,” Frank says.
“Yeah, the flying monkeys on the wizard of oz. If you listen real closely you can hear them talking to you. They told me to tell you to push the blue button.”
QUESTION: Would you push the blue button? No, why not? Frank could be right. You could need to push the blue button. But you would have no reason to believe that was true. From irrationality, you cannot assume that you can get rational advice. You disregard Frank’s advice because behind his advice is an irrational idea. This is similar to saying that mankind’s reason came from random forces of nature. IF this were true, we would have no reason to believe that mankind was indeed rational. He would be like Frank, basing cool reason on the gruntings of flying monkeys.
Similarly, if Joe got on the intercome. “Hey, we got everybody together down here. There’s 12 buttons on the panel. Let’s assume you need to press one of them.”
“Thank you!” You say, breathing in trying to remain calm. The timer is now at 15 minutes.
“I’ve got a twister spinner here, lets see.” Joe says, “Okay, we spun it. Push the red button.”
“Push the red button. I spun the spinner; it landed on the red button.”
“But that’s idiotic, get me a nuclear scientist!”
“We’re all scientists down here; there’s twenty of us. We agreed that we should just spin the spinner and see what comes up. Now push the red button.”
You would probably have some very unkind things to say to those scientists, but QUESTION: Why do you disregard there advice? Is it because reason doesn’t come from random chance processes? No matter how many people jump on the side of random chance, are you willing to push a button that could kill you and everyone in twenty miles? Now, they could be right, but you have no reason to believe that they are.
“Is anyone else up there?” you yell at the intercom.
“Hello, this is Philip. What’s the problem?” a voice responds.
“The reactor is going critical! It has ten minutes left!”
“What’s the error?” Philip asks.
“It’s error 412.”
“Oh, my. The coolant is down. Okay, to the control panel. Push the blue button. That will start pumping cold coolant into the reactor. Then wait one minute and push the red button. That will start venting the old coolant. And tell me if anything else happens.”
“Are you sure?”
“Of course I’m sure. I built this reactor.”
QUESTION: What would you do? Do you trust this reasoning? Because he built it, he knows how it’s suppose to work. Would you trust that? I hope it’s obvious what that’s like. If you can’t trust irrational reasons for rationality, or random chance to produce rationality, can you trust the Creator to be the source of rationality?