Every Monday, the WoW! community and our invited guests weigh in at the Watcher’s Forum, short takes on a major issue of the day, the culture, or daily living. This week’s question: Does Faith In G-d Bring Common Sense?
Doug Hagin:Maybe it takes a healthy amount of common sense to have faith in God? Common sense often requires not over-thinking things, and accepting simple truths. many Atheists have that problem it seems. So, does faith bring common sense? Or is it required before faith? Hmmmmm
Patrick O’Hannigan:I do think that faith in G-d brings common sense, and although I haven’t heard Dennis Prager’s argument for that, he’s a man who does his homework. The question reminded me of an old book by Catholic apologist Frank Sheed. After 50 years of streetcorner preaching (among other endeavors), he wrote “Theology and Sanity,” which was first published in 1946, and is luckily still in print. If I remember his thesis correctly, Sheed said that it took sanity (for our purposes here, common sense) to recognize a higher power.
Mainline Christian theology teaches that the Holy Spirit is one of three divine persons in the trinity that is G-d, and ascribes to that generous personage (often described as “the love between the Father and the Son”) seven gifts. Those gifts (wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord) read like common sense writ large.
Rob Miller: I have to say, I like Laura’s approach a great deal as always. Before you can say whether faith in G-d brings common sense, you need to define what common sense is, n’est pah? Her definition of it as rational thought or right reason is excellent but it seems it works only so far. After all, look at what passed for common sense even a short time ago and how that has changed 180 degrees now to the point that many of us might find it ludicrous. How many times have you heard people of a certain political persuasion use the words ‘everybody knows’ as a serious argument or a means of ridiculing or demeaning others they disagree with? As someone whose name I can’t recall once said(Cal Coolidge? Will Rogers?) the thing about common sense is that’s it’s very uncommon. My point is that common sense is a loaded term that means different things to different people. Just as everybody imagines they have a sense of humor, they also imagine they have common sense, no matter how inane their opinions and actions are. Bookworm’s erudite example of ‘Gaia Worship’ in our universities is a fine example of how ‘common sense’ ain’t what it’s cracked up to be.
So in trying to peel this particular orange, my first thought is that belief in G-d can give you a kind of common sense, but that depends on how you approach it. Some hideous things have been done and continue to be done in the name of faith. The adherents of belief systems that that tolerate and even promote such behavior as showing ‘faith’ certainly consider what they’re doing to be common sense. The proof that it isn’t common sense can be seen in the retribution and end results of such behavior. There are numerous examples.
On the other hand, if you have faith in G-d and it means that you adopt a moral code that you demands you respect and attempt to act with decency towards all people and even the animals G-d created, not just the members of your particular denomination, that is very different. If you also acquire a desire to live in accordance with His Divine Plan and do so to the best of your ability out of respect and gratitude for His blessings, then I’d say you’re truly on the way to…yes,right reason and common sense! But the moral code I spoke of is imperative. It gives us a roadmap towards successful and happy living, which of course, is the ultimate in common sense, yeah?
Bookworm Room:What an interesting question. I’ll try to avoid simply repeating Dennis Prager, whose marvelous exegesis of Exodus I just read.
The Bible spells out an ordered world, with a single ordered intelligence behind it. This differs radically from all other faiths (at least the ones of which I’m aware), which are predicated on chaos. Think of the Greek, Roman, Druid, Mesopotamian, and Egyptian pantheons, all of which have irascible, child-like, selfish, divine beings randomly creating and destroying their way across the universe. Likewise, all animist faiths are predicated upon assigning little chunks of meaning to everything and, again, endowing their many divinities with some of humanity’s worst traits, including a striking lack of logic.
The same lack of logic applies to the Gaia worship that now controls so much of the Left. At its worst, it’s simply animism and paganism all over again, with an angry Mother Nature continuously punishing humans. In that vein, while I though Disney’s Moana was a visually gorgeous movie and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s music lovely, it too preached the most primitive, unscientific Gaiaism to children.
Even when Gaia worship purports to be scientifically based, it lacks any common sense or logic. The fact that the whole climate change theory functions only by falsifying data bothers no one, because the data is merely a prop for the faith, in much the same way chicken or goat entrails would be for the pagan seer. Understanding that also explains why, no matter how often the data is proven false, the faithful are undeterred. “Global warming” doesn’t work? Then “climate change” will? With that kind of divinity in charge, every thing — heat, cold, wet, dry, etc. — proves that the climate change divinity is firmly in control. That kind of thinking is downright hostile to common sense.
Today’s hard science also defies logic, at least when it comes to our universe. I believe in evolution and the Big Bang to the extent that hard facts, and intelligent inferences, indicate that they are reasonable theories. I don’t believe in them as matters of faith. And most importantly, I don’t believe that the Big Bang is truly the beginning, because common sense says that something had to precede the Big Bang. For a long time, though, science insisted, against all common sense, that nothing preceded the Big Bang.
That lack of common sense has become too painful, however, so scientists are now positing all sorts of things such as endlessly repeating universes, black holes reborn, etc. Occam’s Razor says that the simplest answer is the best and, ironically enough, common sense seems to say that, given the vastness and complexity of the universe, and given that humans are hardwired for God, may God is the answer.
I’ve sort of wandered around here, but I do believe that a book (that is, the Bible) with a completely coherent vision about the universe, about man’s place in the universe, and about man’s relationship to God and to other men, is a necessary foundation for logical thinking — and common sense, after all, is nothing more than baseline logic. All other theories of the world are predicated upon the random and the magical, both of which are the antithesis of common sense.
David Schuler: G. K. Chesterton said that the first effect of not believing in God is to lose your common sense but I’m not sure that’s quite right. He also called tradition “the democracy of the dead”. We are not the only people to have lived, indeed, our little lifespans are only a tiny slice of the entirety of human experience. When you don’t believe in God you cut yourself off from the vast trove of traditional wisdom, the distillation of that experience.
Laura Rambeau Lee:Let’s define common sense as rational thought; or right reason. Humankind existed thousands of years before the written word allowed us to communicate with one another beyond our families or tribes. If one believes in the Biblical tale of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, they lived in a paradise where everything was provided for them. They wanted for nothing. But they did the one thing G-d told them not to do. Eve was tempted by the serpent (Satan) and she ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Becoming fully aware and conscious she convinced Adam to partake of the fruit so he too would become aware. This consciousness is the spark of divinity we have all been endowed with by our Creator. This was the true beginning of mankind’s relationship with G-d. Whether one believes in the story or not, at some point we became sentient beings. And so in our conscious state we innately understand right from wrong and good from evil. Over time and out of trial and error and experience arose common sense. By the time G-d gave his commandments to Moses and his people they were already understood even if they were not commonly practiced. Common sense is right reason and is how we bring order out of chaos. It is how we structure our lives and our societies. But taking the next step, if we know right from wrong and good from evil, we have to question what makes us choose to be a moral and honest person and live our lives seeking a path of virtue, honesty, and goodness. Of what benefit is it to us? The answer is G-d. Our better selves strive to please our Creator. Perhaps the question should be does common sense bring faith in G-d? I believe it does.
Well, there it is!
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