I’m skeptical about the power of reason to effect change outside of the sciences.
At some point in my life I ceased to fear arguments, no matter how well-reasoned. Maybe it began in eleventh grade, in Fr. McCaffrey’s philosophy class. He took us through all the well-worn arguments for the existence of God: the ontological, the cosmological, the teleological. Also arguments against the existence of any God, given the wretched state of affairs down here on Earth, who could simultaneously be omniscient, omnipotent, and all-loving. I don’t remember the details. He must have presented other arguments of all kinds, but I don’t remember them either. What I do remember are his questions, which cut through all the higher philosophical claptrap and jangled our nerves. He would look directly into our eyes and ask in his soft Irish accent, Who are you? Do you believe in God? Why? Do you believe in God because your mother believes in God? Why do you believe God loves you? Why? Do you believe God loves you because your priest told you so? And so on. These were not cheap shots. He was serious. He loved us, he loved his job, and his questions were troubling. Some students wept. At which point he would offer Kleenexes. It was in Fr. McCaffrey’s class that I began to see that all true education is intensely personal.
Good questions are powerful. Better than pure reason for waking us up. When was the last time (outside of scientific work) that you let reason dictate your deep beliefs? Why do you believe what you believe? Is it because you stood aloof above the fray of competing “world views” and let reason eliminate all but the best? Like a cautious consumer? Or do you believe what you believe because you once loved someone or hated someone? Because someone once loved you or hated you?