A Time to Search and a Time to Give Up

A reasoning, synthesizing mind is both a gift and a hazard. It is a gift because it enables its possessor to see deeply and profoundly into many things, often perceiving systems and patterns that would otherwise remain obscure. It is a hazard because it constantly threatens to enslave the one who owns it.

We must not allow ourselves to become so consumed with understanding that we fail to understand what reasoning is for. Reason is an asset; it is never to be a god. It is the language of truth; it is not truth itself. It is only as powerful as the information it is given. If we could find everything out by discovery, reason would have no limits. But, to the great chagrin of many, there are an infinite number of things which we simply do not and cannot know. Reason does not reveal the unknown. It simply clarifies what is known.

Reason is a tool which is both powerful and necessary. Indeed, it is perhaps the most powerful tool we have outside the supernatural. But when our logic begins to lead us in circles, arriving nowhere and confusing our minds, it is a sign to us that reason has reached the end of its usefulness. We must learn to be its master rather than its subject. We must break our addiction to reason.

For the habituated thinker, this is an onerous and painful discipline. To break the endless cycle of conditions and propositions that dominate our minds — to bridle the desire for dominion over every conceivable problem — is to deny a deep and powerful craving. It conflicts with every instinct to the point of appearing insurmountable.

But it is not insurmountable. I was an addict for years, and it very nearly drove me to madness. Though I am still in recovery, the Spirit is helping me come to terms with my incapacity to unravel every unknown. I find my solace in knowing the One who knows all things, and the peace He ultimately brings defies any attempt at description.

We know that we are not dreaming, but, however unable we may be to prove it rationally, our inability proves nothing but the weakness of our reason, and not the uncertainty of all our knowledge as they maintain.

~ Blaise Pascal, Pensées


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