Sola Ratio, Sola Scriptura

“Sola ratio” means that only reason can give us a reliable and accurate understanding of reality. This was the sincere belief of the Enlightenment philosophes, the champions of the “Age of Reason”. The exclusive nature of “sola ratio” (only reason) leads inevitable to a left hemisphere dominant vision, which ends up distorting or even ignoring reality through excessive attention to rational models, theories and systems.

“Sola scriptura” is the attempt to base reality on the revealed scripture. Maybe our reasoning faculties are faulty, but the sacredly validated truths of scripture are inerrant. They are the Word of God, so they can’t be wrong. We must defer our fallible human intellects to the unfathomable mind of the Most High. We must not question the sacred texts, but must uncritically see the world through the lenses they provide for us.

When there is only reason, everything is fair game for rational analysis and deconstruction. Everything is dissolved in the universal solvent of objective scientific observation and analysis into its smallest component parts. Everywhere mechanisms are laid bare. Whether or not the cosmic watchmaker is blind, our job is to take the watch apart to see what makes it tick. In rationally constructing diagrams, maps and models of parts of the “watch” we imagine that reality really is just an infinitely complex machine, without realising that our diagrams, maps and models are the creation of our own minds and may in fact have precious little to do with reality at all.

Followers of “sola ratio” are left brain people. In extremis they display autistic symptoms and behaviours. These are the rationalist, scientific materialist, militant atheist, logical positivist, nerd muppets. They are “Type 1 Muppets”. But there are other followers of sola ratio who took a different path. They do not worship reason in the same way Type 1 Muppets do, but take reason to its logical conclusion so that it ends up undermining everything it touches, including itself. These are the postmodern, skeptical, relativistic, nihilist deconstructionists, and their symptoms are more schizophrenic. These are the “Type 2 Muppets”. In both cases, the worlds of art, religion, nature and the body are de-mythologised and de-sacralised.

Followers of sola scriptura are also left brain people, but instead of rejecting all filters on the world and relying solely on pure reason, the scientific method and radical skepticism, they cling tenaciously to one ideology through which they can interpret reality. Their ultimate commitment and loyalty is to seeing the world through the lens of their chosen “scripture”, whether it be a traditional religious scripture or a secular system of thought. They refuse to consider alternative views or try out other “lenses” or multiple “maps of meaning” because that would amount to disloyalty and treason.

“Type 3 Muppets” are ideologically possessed political extremists. “Type 4 Muppets” are ideologically possessed religious fundamentalists. Both types are capable of extraordinary levels of violence in the name of their chosen scripture, whether it’s Das Kapital or The Book of Revelation. They make excellent revolutionaries and terrorists, but terrible lovers.