Why isn’t it ok to use reason to prove that reason is reasonable?

Last week I was watching the trailer stuff on Collision, here‘s a bunch of it, and there’s a clip (about halfway through the second video) in which Douglas Wilson, he’s the God exists guy, says something to effect of, it’s not fair for you to use reason to justify basing your world view of reason if I can’t use the Bible to justify basing my world view on the Bible. Now, obviously one can’t use the Bible to prove the Bible is right, that’s clear circular reasoning, so what’s wrong with this statement.

The question becomes, why isn’t it ok to use reason to prove that reason is reasonable? And the answer, of course, is that it is ok, because he’s making the logical fallacy of the false analogy. Reason is not the same as the Bible, or any book. Reason is a system of thought, a methodology, whereas the Bible is just a book, a reference. Reason is like the verbal equivalent of math. One can use math to prove more math, in fact, that’s what mathematics is. That’s what those mathematicians do all day, and that’s part of why society is getting better at building bridges and rockets and cotton candy makers.

In attempting to make his arguments, Douglas Wilson is forced to appeal to reason, because it is the only way of getting to the truth. In raising the issue I’m addressing here, he appealed to reason, trying to use reason to disprove reason. Even if he made sense, in his success he’d only be hindering his own argument. He’s trapped in a catch 22 because he’s unwilling to get rid of unreasonable beliefs but is incapable of abolishing reason.

If he really wanted to base everything on the Bible, he’d have to retort any argument with a quote from scripture. He doesn’t do that because there’s isn’t enough Bible to do so, and even if there was, if you hang your whole world view on a single reference, one need only discredit the Bible, which is ridiculously simple, to discredit the worldview.

It’s somewhat difficult to understand what reason is because it is so fundamental, and it is appealing to accept Mr. Wilson’s analogy initially because there is the similarity between reason and the Bible in that those on each side of the debate frequently refer to each. However, upon just a little reflection the analogy clearly falls apart. The Bible itself uses reason throughout trying to convince it’s readers of it’s claims. Reason is the method by which arguments are presented and trying to find an answer or present an idea without reason is ludicrous. Take away the Bible and two people can still debate whether there is a higher power. Take away reason, and the conversation turns into something like,

Statement: “Nuh uh!”

Retort: “Ya huh!”

Statement: “Nuh uh!”

Retort: “Ya huh!”


Statement: “I believe in a supernatural higher power because bubblegum is chewy.”

Retort: “I disagree and I can prove my way of thinking because I’m hungry and I hate asphalt.”

So, if you disagree, feel free to comment. Remember though, no using reason in your argument.